Melin y Bont (Melin Isaf, Bryn Du)
This mill is unique on Anglesey in that it had both wind and water powered machinery in the same building. The water wheel in the lowest floor and the sails on top both connected to a central shaft that ran the millstones. The miller could engage and disengage clutches to select which would drive the stones. This system meant that the sails had to rotate in a clockwise direction, unlike all other windmills on Anglesey. The mill also powered machinery in nearby buildings through a belt drive and a series of connected rods in a stone covered trench.
Some excellent drawings by John Brandrick, showing how the mill worked, can be found here.
This mill is also called Melin Isaf ("lower mill") to distinguish it from the other windmill in Llanfaelog, the nearby Melin Maelgwyn (Melin Uchaf, "upper mill"). A watermill stood on this site in the medieval days, and it is marked on Lewis Morris' 1726 map of the Bodorgan estate. It's thought to have been rebuilt to its current dual power design around 1825.
Perusals of baptism records for Llangwyfan parish show that Robert Owens, miller of Melin y Bont, and his wife Mary had four children there between 1796 and 1807. By the 1840s it had been taken over by Robert's eldest son Owen Owens, assisted by David Williams, who later went to run a mill in Llanrug, Caernarfonshire. Owen was also running Melin Maelgwyn around this time, and by 1851 he had moved his residence there. Thomas Williams from Aberffraw was then living and working at Melin y Bont. He too later moved to the mainland to run a mill in Llanfair is Gaer.
In 1861 the mill was being run by Richard Williams. He died in 1867 and the mill passed to his nephew David Williams. David also took Richard's three young children under his wing, raising them alongside his own. David was the miller until his death in 1907. He was assisted by his son John, who took over the mill and ran it until its closure.
The mill operated under its dual power system until 1930 when the sails were removed. It continued to be worked by water power for several more years. In 1973 a fire, started by children playing with matches, gutted the tower, burning out all the floors and leaving the machinery at the bottom.
In 2004 CADW, the Welsh government historic environment division, gave a £40,000 grant to restore the mill in recognition of its unique nature of having the dual power system as well as being one of the two on Anglesey having some of its machinery still in place. This work was finished in 2008 when it was opened as a holiday rental property (to the disappointment of some). The building contractor behind the restoration, Evan Owen, was given the Conversion of the Year Award in Anglesey’s Building Control Awards for this work and was featured in the local press.
The mill is owned and run by the Bodorgan Estate and photos of the interior can be seen on their web site. As of 2011 it was available for longer term renting rather than as a holiday home.
See other images of this windmill at:
- Windmill World
- Image taken in 1939 of the tower, and 1936 of the stones and pit wheel, from the Donald W. Muggeridge Collection of Mill Photographs, University of Kent, Canterbury
- People's Collection Wales
View Windmills of Anglesey in a larger map