Posts Tagged ‘Buckinghamshire’

Brill Mill

January 2, 2016

Brill Mill

Windmills are lovely.

Brill Mill is particularly lovely. It is one of the oldest windmills in England and seems to have survived really well. It is set on a delightful hill in Buckinghamshire to the northwest of Aylesbury.

It must have been in the early 1980s when we took a look at the outside of the mill – and here it is.

image002There we see the mill, with four plain sales. These are the simplest kind and they need to be covered in canvas to enable them to catch the wind and drive the milling mechanism. The mill may look as though it sits on the brick built roundhouse but in fact it is perched just above it. It sits on the massive post that gives this kind of mill the name of post mill.

All of the wooden structure is able to rotate so that the sails face the wind. In more recent mills this process was automated with a fantail but at Brill, once again, there is the simplest system. Another hefty post out of the back of the mill can be pushed by the miller. It’s as simple as that although no doubt it is quite hard work.

My photo print is quite small and when I enlarged it I was surprised to see my son on the hillside leading up to the mill.


Yep. That’s him. These days he and his wife and our granddaughter live in Buckinghamshire about twenty miles from the mill. Maybe we should visit it sometime – on a Sunday afternoon between Easter and the end of October so we can actually go in the mill.

A Yellowhammer

May 25, 2015

A few days ago I was out walking in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, with wife, son and granddaughter. We were lucky enough to see a yellowhammer. That’s not a painted device for knocking in nails. It’s a bird in the bunting family.

Not only did we see it. The bird sat on a rather roughly chopped hedge and posed for us.


Isn’t that a glorious sight? I certainly thought so as did the adult members of the walk. I think granddaughter had fallen asleep by this time.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of birds this species is severely endangered. They are on the red list. The population of these birds ‘dropped like a stone’ in the 1990s but there are still thought to be about 700000 pairs of them which is, I guess, about 1 pair of yellowhammers for every 100 people.

I certainly don’t often see these more or less sparrow sized birds  so that lovely fellow was enough to draw gasps of wonder from us.

We suspect there were others about but this was the one which stayed and could be identified.


A Railman’s Holiday

March 23, 2014

Taking a trip or holiday to do what you normally do at work is often referred to as a busman’s holiday’. But quite by chance I recently came across what was very much a railman’s holiday, or at least, a day out.

We (my wife and I) had been away on grandparent duty – and very enjoyable it was too. Our route home took us through Chinnor in Buckinghamshire and I knew there was a heritage railway based there. But when you pass by on a rather dull Wednesday in March you don’t expect the line to be active. Rather, I expected pleasant surroundings whilst we studied maps to actually plan our route.

I was surprised at the number of cars in the car park and there was, indeed, a train at the platform. Well, I had to have a look, didn’t I? I discovered that the volunteers of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway were welcoming their colleagues from Network Rail. That’s the national company that owns all the main line rail network.

There was a scene utterly redolent of the 1960s. Now of course, I’d have preferred a steam train but for a generation or more this was what a local railway station might have been like.


The jarring blots on the scene, as a recreation of the past, are the hi-vis jackets of the network rail men.

The ‘train’ is a single car diesel built by Pressed Steel in 1960. It is on home territory for this line was a part of the Western Region on which this carriage saw service.

The backwards 5 sign is actually a speed limit sign. Trains that pass that point must go no more than five miles per hour.

This really does capture a time which has past and the Network Rail boys were enjoying access to all of the facilities.


Chinnor Signal Box looks to be well filled with the orange jacketed fraternity. The box carries an authentic looking GWR name board, but actually is a double rescue from a Cheshire Lines location via a private garden. It dates from at latest the 1890s and experts ponder on it being older than that.

Most of the Network Rail chaps had done what many a person does on a day out. They’d made for the café.


The café is an old coach body. It is an attractive coach and our Network Rail men appear to be enjoying a cuppa inside whilst others chat on the platform.

That metal ramp thing in the foreground, between the tracks, looks like an old Great Western Railway ‘AWS’. Even on the old steam trains, it was a system which gave drivers an audio signal as well as the more normal visual one. It meant speeds could be maintained in fog and train brakes were applied automatically if drivers ignored the warning they got.

And now I shall have a little gripe about the railway’s web site. Most of it, at is admirable, but the stock list, I should say, has been written by real nerds for real nerds. I wanted to find out more about that lovely café coach and maybe it is the Cambrian Railway vehicle of 1895. This is described as ‘iu’. Scrolling down reveals that this means internal use. But does this mean it’s the tea shop? The same stock list describes the diesel car that I saw as a BR DMBS single car and goes on to tell us that its wheels are 2-2w-2w-2 DMR. Now that is just incomprehensible jargon. What I’d like to have known is: when it was built and by whom – and it gives us this; where it was used and on what kind of service; when it was withdrawn from service and what happened to it subsequently. By all means tell us it was a second class carriage, with a diesel motor, had a guards van and a driving cab at each end (which is roughly what that DMBS means. If you feel the need you can tell us it had mechanical transmission using cardan shafts and a four speed epicyclic gearbox but tuck that away for the nerds to find.

But it’s a minor gripe for what looks to be a pretty little line.