A quintessential piece of Australian farming & bush history is this tall piece of rust, our vintage windmill, an original Bryan Bros ‘Cyclone Windmill‘ now between 85-95 years old, a figure confirmed by my research & the boss of AngCon who, with his assistant, did this job for me.
These magnificent foundry-made cast iron pieces once dotted the Australian landscape as important parts of farming communities.
Who remembers the familiar sound of the squeaking, creaking windmill out the other side of the house or out near the bore as it pumped water?
For the sake of completeness, here’s a little history starter for Bryan Bros windmills.
For the full story of this old gal finding her home here at our little farm just scroll down a bit.
Bryan Bros started their windmill making factory on 1 Jan 1888 at Colac, Victoria.
They opened the West Footscray factory in 1925 & operated there until the Depression of 1932-33.
Bryan Bros via Rustys
OK enough background history. Time for a peek into our latest windmill activity:
In these 2 images taken about 2-3 weeks ago, & because I wanted the aged shaft, gears, cogs & associated parts checked & serviced, you see the windmill fellas removing the heavy piece of metal, the fan (also known as the mill or sails or blades), from the stand. They had just taken the tail down when I took these shots. I also wanted to add ‘Fat Lawyer Farm’ (FLF) to the tail.
Don’t get me wrong, the early Australian windmills were well constructed & proved to be very reliable with many operating & pumping water for 50, 60 years or more.
Indeed the fan on this windmill catches the wind & rotates magnificently. It’s just that it is very old & creaks & squeaks a little more than what I felt was right.
And nothing surprising about that given this old gal has been turning for a long time, most likely with little or no attention, for what could be 50, 60 plus years or more. A fair dinkum vintage Aussie gem she is.
A week or two later the guys were back re-installing the fan & tail.
In the short video clip below you see they’ve attached the fan to the lifting harness & started the lift.
The slow, careful raising of the suspended fan.
The fan hangs while they check out its positioning & connections.
It was not attached to the stand while this was going on up there as it had to be brought down again to re-attach the tail.
I worked on the tail adding the name of our property. Nothing flash or arty-farty as I’m not an artist or calligrapher. Plain & simple letters painted with oil based paint as the tail will be weather-beaten up there.
I started off with enlarged paper alphabet letters printed off from the computer & roughly cut out. I kind of loosely taped them to the tail so I could outline in pencil then paint. As I say, nothing very straight or precise … simple, rudimentary design just enough to convey the name.
If you look closely at the tail you can see these very faded words: BRYAN BROS FOOTSCRAY under the new words ‘Fat Lawyer Farm’.
Tail on the ground waiting to be attached to the sails.
Based on a bit of basic research I believe the tail indicates the make or brand name of an Australian windmill. Each of the windmill brands appears to have a defining tail shape.
The fan has been brought down to pick up the tail.
Attaching the tail.
Above 4 shots show the fellas re-connecting the tail to the fan ready to lift it up again & attach to the stand.
Hauling the fan & tail back up.
Connecting the fan & tail to the stand.
It is now September, the first month of spring in Australia.
In the last 6 months or so, we have given this icon of Australian rural life a new home here at FLF.
OK, in case you’re wondering, it’s not a functional windmill anymore. I didn’t get it to pump water.
It’s a piece of Australian history, made in Australia, deserving of preservation in my mind.
While, to some, it’s just a bit of rusty junk, an old piece of machinery fit for the scrap-metal heap, I see it in a more romantic light.
This tall, elegant, old lady, stands proud as we look across & down from the front veranda watching her whirl & turn so magnificently just as she did for all those years pumping water for our rural farming communities in Australia.
*Just a recap to 31 March 2018
The slide show & short video links below feature a look back to 31 March this year, the day the old gal’s journey of resurrection began.
She was brought back to life when moved from her resting place in the paddock, raised up & stood at her new spot.
Prior to moving her, I had organised some local guys to construct the concrete footings (or stand) proportional to her length/height. All measured, surveyed & levelled four large holes were dug in which concrete was poured forming the 4 blocks or pads to which the windmill stand would be bolted.
This was my first shot of the windmill at her new spot on 31 March 2018. The following morning I gave the 4 concrete footings a coat of rust brown fence paint.
Prior to 31 March 2018, this old gal had been laying on her side, out in the paddock, in overgrown grass for some years longing to be picked up & re-homed.
I always felt sad when I went out there, walking past her as she lay abandoned, trapped & hardly visible in the weeds.
If you look closely, as she is being carried, you see remnants of dry grass & weeds hanging off her.
Honestly, if windmills could smile, she was smiling bigly that day. Ok, ok, maybe bigly isn’t a word resurrected by all the lingo purists, yet, but it feels right for this rusty lady 🙂
If you’re interested in more of the story, here’s a few short videos featuring segments of the windmill’s journey on 31 March. Enjoy!