Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Windmills and Watermills - 20 June 2017

Some of the United Kingdom's surviving windmills and watermills are over 400 years old and many are still in working order. As a tribute to these iconic and endearing structures that have played an important role in UK socio-economic history, Royal Mail have selected three windmills and three watermills from around the UK.

A windmill is defined as a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades, with those that are used for generating electricity being commonly known as wind turbines. A watermill comprises a mill whose power is produced by a large wheel that is turned by moving water.

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The Stamps - three se-tenant pairs of 1st class, £1.40 (Worldwide 20g letter); £1.57 (Worldwide 100g letter)

  Windmiall and Watermill Stamps.
1st class: Nutley Windmill (East Sussex) and New Abbey Corn Mill (Dumfries and Galloway)
£1.40: Ballycopeland Windmill (Co Down) and Cheddleton Flint Mill (Staffordshire)
£1.57: Woodchurch Windmill (Kent) and Felin Cochwillan Mill (Gwynedd)

Harnessing the power of the wind to provide motive power for transportation and to grind grain between stones to produce flour has been carried out since ancient times. It is believed windmills are of Persian origin, with the concept spreading into Northern Europe as a result of the Crusades. The Greeks invented the two main components of watermills, the waterwheel and toothed gearing and were, along with the Romans, the first to operate undershot, overshot and breastshot waterwheel mills. The first powered mills turned by animals and watermills appeared in Britain shortly after the arrival of the Roman army in AD 43.

Originally developed for milling grain for food production, windmills were gradually adapted for many other industrial uses including the pumping of water. European millwrights became highly skilled craftsmen and as Europeans colonised the rest of the globe windmills spread throughout the world.

As steam power developed, the uncertain power of the wind became less and less economic and as a result, only a small number of these elegant structures that once extracted power from the wind still exist. These remaining windmills are an historic and photogenic reminder of a past technological age but a number of mills have been restored either visually, or in some cases back to full working order, as a result of the growing demand for organic and non-manufactured foodstuffs. Conversely, whilst watermills were once commonplace many have lost their watermills and machinery and the buildings have been converted for other uses. Fortunately, the original structures of a number of others have been lovingly restored and they have become local tourist attractions. There are two basic types of watermills - one powered by a vertical-waterwheel via a gearing mechanism and the other equipped by a horizontal-waterwheel without such a mechanism. The former can be further divided, depending on where the water hits the wheel paddles, into undershot, overshot, breastshot and reverse shot waterwheel mills. The pinnacles of windmill design include those built by the British who developed many advanced "automatic control" mechanisms over the centuries.

Technical details and details of background images:

The stamps were designed by Atelier Works with photography by Philip Sayer, and are printed by International Security Printers in lithography.  The 35 x 37 mm stamps are printed in vertical se-tenant pairs in sheets of 30/60, perf 14.5 x 14.   

Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2017

Products issued, available from Royal Mail: 

Set of 6 stamps (3 vertical se-tenant pairs) -- First day cover -- Presentation pack -- Stamp cards (set of 6)

This page is for information only, we shall not be stocking these stamps.

Special Postmarks

Postmarks available for the day of issue will be shown in Royal Mail's Postmark Bulletins (download here).

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This page created 19 June 2017

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