alias Pyrleston
(Nr Diss)



Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills

March 1934
March 1934

Billingford tower mill was five storeys high and built of red brick by W. Skinner in 1859-60 at a cost of £1,300 on the site of a postmill that was destroyed in a gale shortly before. White's directory of 1845 and 1864 lists Billingford as alias Pyrleston. The west door had white bricks either sides of the door jambs some 5 feet from the ground that were carved Mr. G. Goddard March 1860

May 1957
May 1957

The boat-shaped cap with a petticoat was tarred in the latter years of its working life but was painted white during restoration. An unusual 6 bladed fantail replaced one of a more traditional design in the 1930s. Drive from the fan spindle to the rack on the curb was via a spur pinion. After restoration the mill had four wide double-shuttered sails each with 8 bays of 3 shutters that were operated by rack and pinion striking gear. The wooden clasp-arm brake wheel has iron section teeth and bears a tablet W. SKINNER 1860. The cast iron upright shaft was 4½ ins in diameter and the 5ft 4½ ins diameter spur wheel was the smallest recorded by Rex Wailes.The stones were on the second floor and overdriven via wooden cogged iron stone nuts. The mill originally drove two pairs of stones, one of which was restored to working order. A hurst frame supported a pair of composition stones that were sickle dressed and driven via an outside pulley on the second floor by an oil engine that was installed in 1928. The tower had two doors on the ground floor.


George Goddard who had been working the postmill at the time of its destruction, became the first tenant miller in March 1860 after William Chaplyn of Diss Rose Lane mill built the new towermill. Edward Woodrow took over the mill c.1869 and brought with him his one year old son Charles Edward, who became the owner and miller at Lakenham Peafield towermill. Edward Woodrow moved to Scole towermill in 1875 and then to Horsford towermill in 1883.

Houses etc.
WINDMILL TO LET at Billingford near Scole.
Brick tower with Patent Sails, driving two Pairs of Stones, Flour Mill etc. A small Bake House attached.
Possession at Michaelmas.
Apply to W. Chaplyn, Diss.
Norfolk News - 5th August 1871

Diss County Court Wednesday
(Before J. Worlledge Esq., Judge)
A Curious Mixture
Henry Pike, miller of Billingford sued George Jukes of Brome for £4.17s. for flour & meal supplied.
(Summary:- Defence – some barley meal not fit to eat, a quantity of whiting mixed with the meal. Plaintiff admitted some starch fibre mixed in.

Judgement for plaintiff, but less 30s. because of adulteration. “Plaintiff” ought to be ashamed of himself”. Not allowed costs)
Norfolk News - 17th August 1872

Oil painting by James Govier c.1950
Oil painting by James Govier c.1950

Valuable mercantile & residential Properties comprising an excellent Steam & Flour Mill, Post Windmill, four capital Maltings with Barley Stores above & Maltsters houses adjoining, three pleasantly situated Dwelling houses with Gardens, Stables & Outbuildings attached, five Cottages & valuable piece of Building Land situate in the Victoria Road, Diss.

Also an excellent Brick Tower Windmill situate on Billingford Common.

Salter & Simpson are favoured with instructions from the executors of the late Mr. William Chaplyn to Sell by Auction at the Kings Head Hotel, Diss on Tuesday 21 June 1881 at 3 for 4 o’c in six Lots the above valuable Properties.

Lot 3. The Brick & Tiled Steam Flour Mill containing four floors with excellent 14 horse power engine & new fitted 20 horse boiler driving four pairs of 4 ft. French Burr Stones with Flour mill & all necessary gearing.

The Four-sail Post Windmill with brick roundhouse driving two pairs of Stones, Flour mill & gearing complete. The above are in the occupation of Mr. William Button.

Lot 4. Residence. 0a.1r.32p. Victoria Road in occupation of Mr. Button.

Lot 6. In Billingford

A substantial built brick Tower Windmill containing five floors etc… Also Bake office, Stable & Cart shed attached situate on Billingford common now in the occupation of Mr. William Button.

Possession of all Lots may be had at Michaelmas next.

Particulars of Mr. T.W. Salmon, Solr. Diss or the Auctioneers, Attleborough.

Diss Express - 6th May to 10th June 1881

20th May 1958
Daines Billingford signwritten on tower
20th May 1958


Diss & Billingford
Salter & Simpson are favoured with instructions from the Executors of the late Mr. William Chaplyn to Sell by Auction at the Kings Head Hotel, Diss On Tuesday June 21, 1881 at 3 for 4 o’c in Six Lots as follows:- IN DISS
Lot 1. DWELLING HOUSE, Victoria road, Diss …
Lot 2. White Brick & Slated RESIDENCE …
Lot 3. Brick & Tiled STEAM FLOUR MILL containing four Floors with excellent 14 horse power Engine & new fitted 20 horse Boiler, driving four pairs of 4 ft. French Burr Stones, with Flour Mill & all necessary gearing. The Four Sail POST_WINDMILL with Brick Roundhouse, driving two pairs of Stones, Flour Mill & Gearing complete, Stable, Harness & Hayhouses, Cart Lodge, Granary & Loose Box.
The above are in the occupation of Mr. William Button.
Also two MALTINGS.
Lot 4 RESIDENCE in Victoria Road in the occupation of Mr. Button.
The above Properties are most advantageously situate within a short distance of the Railway Station & the rapidly improving Town of Diss. A lucrative Malting & Milling Trade has been carried on for many years & an unusual opportunity is afforded to those seeking a Mercantile Business or a safe investment for Capital.
Lot 6. A substantially built Brick TOWER WINDMILL containing five floors, driving two pairs of stones & all requisite gearing for wind or steam power; also a Bake Office, Stable & Cartshed attached, situate on Billingford Common, now in the occupation of Mr. William Button.
Possession of all the Lots may be had at Michaelmas next.
Particulars of Mr. T. W. Salmon, Solr. Diss or the Auctioneers, Attleborough & Bury St. Edmunds.

Norfolk Chronicle - 28th May & 4th June 1881

Mill for Sale or to Let
A well built brick Tower Windmill with patent sails, two pairs of stones, wind & steam tackle with good machinery.
Situate at Billingford, near Scole.
Apply to W. F. Chaplyn, Diss

Diss Express - 29th September, 6th & 13th October 1882

1st June 1971
1st June 1971

The last miller was Arthur Daines who used windpower until 1956. By this time the mill was down to two sails and following further wind damage he reverted to auxiliary power before ceasing to work the mill in 1959. Billingford towermill was the last wind powered windmill to commercially work in Norfolk using wind power and after milling ceased it was sold to Mr. Valiant who restored the mill for future preservation that curiously included demolishing the surrounding mill buildings. On completion of the restoration work, with the help of donations from Norfolk County Council, SPAB and the Historic Buildings Council, Mr. Valiant donated it to Norfolk County Council and thus the mill became first to be acquired by the Norfolk Windmills Trust for preservation.

April 1993 31st March 2008
April 1993
31st March 2008

23rd March 2007 23rd March 2007
23rd March 2007
23rd March 2007

31st March 2008
31st March 2008

Busy Year at Billingford Windmill

The busy schedule of events has been announced at Billingford Windmill by the Norfolk Windmills Trust.
The Grade II listed mill, built in the mid 1850s, is currently awaiting restoration to full working order. The trust is hoping to raise funds to complete it as soon as possible. On Monday, April 21, there will be a display of vintage tractors, an Easter egg hunt for children from 2.30pm, plus an art exhibition in the mill. The mill will then next be open on Sunday, May 25, Sunday, June 8 will see a talk by the last miller to work the mill commercially at Brockdish Village Hall from 2pm, admission £3. There will be a raffle and books on the mill available, with the mill open afterwards. A week later. classic cars will be on display, while on Sunday July 6th there will be hand bell ringing from the Starston Pealers at 2pm.

The mill will also be open for tours on Sunday, August 17, and on Sunday, September 21, a harvest exhibition of machinery and historic signs and books will take place.

On all dates, except for June 8, the mill will be open for guided tours, between 12.30pm and 4.30pm, priced at adults £3, senior citizens £2, and children free. Admission to events on the common are free, while their will be buckets for donations at the gate.

Billingford Mill is also on the lookout for an assistant to the present miller in a volunteer role. The job is to learn how the mill operates and to be able to operate the mill on completion of restoration, also involving health and safety issues for visitors and staff. The volunteer would be insured by Norfolk Windmills trust and once training is complete will be required to assist visitors tours of the mill. For information or to arrange a special visit for a group, club or school, call 01379 853967.
Diss Express - 24th February 2014

As south Norfolk landmark Billingford Mill takes a step closer to restoration, a talk will take place on its history by the son of its last commercial miller.
The sails, removed in 2009, are set to be replaced, along with replacement stocks from steel to wood, the restoration of the cap to its original shape and the salvaging and repair of shutters.
They are all part of the works planned for April 2015.
On Sunday, June 8, Ivan Daines, who is 89, and the son of Arthur Daines, the last commercial miller in Norfolk to use wind power in the 1950s, will give a talk on its history.
Mr Daines’ grandfather George bought the mill in 1924, before passing it to his son, so he is uniquely placed to talk about the mill’s history, including the period when it was first built in 1860.
Mr Daines said he worked on the mill for about two years from 1949 to 1951 when he received a “letter of distress” from his grandfather and father saying they were both ill and were struggling to keep the operation going.
Mr Daines openly questioned the decision of his elders to buy and continue to run a business that was to be superseded by more efficient milling methods.“I think they both could have done much better for themselves. I don’t think my grandfather should have ever bought it,” said Mr Daines.
Owned by the Norfolk County Council, and under the responsibility of the Norfolk Windmills Trust, efforts are ongoing with South Norfolk Council to access grant funding.
A preferred millwright for the work has been identified.
A local fundraising committee, led by landowner Sir Rupert Mann of Billingford, is hoping to raise the £126,000 needed for the works.

Diss Express - 6th June 2014

Big milestone in £150,000 Billingford Mill restoration project is ‘capped'

A huge milestone has been reached in a large restoration project at Billingford Mill in a bid to see it return to full working order.

A 65 tonne crane had arrived to remove the stock and cap but, due to soft ground, the mill could not be accessed. Using about 20 tonnes of crushed concrete was used as a foundation, and a wooden road was installed. A few days later, with crane in position, the first stock seized in canister, and it took millwright's team three-and-a-half hours to ready the extraction by crane.
The second took nearly four hours to free off ready for lifting, and a day later the cap was removed and transported to the millwright's works for restoration. Martin Wilby, Chairman of EDT at NCC said: “I would like to thank all of the Friends of Billingford Windmill and all of the local volunteers that have raised the funds required over the last three years to make this day happen. “This shows that the project of restoration is starting and I look forward to the day when the Mill is in full working order with its new sails turning in the wind and the flour being ground. The Billingford Mill restoration and education project will cost almost £150,000 and include repairs and alterations to the cap, new timber stocks and sails along with training for new millers and guides, an updated guide book and a sponsors board in the mill. The works will be completed in 2018 when the mill will once again produce flour for demonstration purposes.
The project is led by the Norfolk Windmills Trust, working in partnership with the Friends of Billingford Windmill and Norfolk County Council. The Trust was founded by the County Council in 1963 and looks after 20 corn and drainage mills throughout Norfolk. As part of the project volunteer training will be provided in particular to prospective millers and guides. Those interested should contact or 01362 869394.

Diss Express - 1st March 2017

  1859-60: Towermill built by W. Skinner for William Chaplyn of Diss at a cost of £1,300

March 1860: George Goddard, miller (tenant)

Census 1861: George Goddard (35) b.Billingford, miller
Maria Goddard (38) b.Pottendean, Suffolk
William Skinner (22) b.Pulham Market, miller (boarder)
Jamers Aldous (10) b.Framlingham, Suffolk, visitor

White's 1864: George Goddard, corn miller

1869: Edward Woodrow, miller

August 1871: Mill advertised to be let

1872: Henry Pike, miller

August 1872: Henry Pike, miller, prosecuted for selling barley meal not fit to eat

1875: John Button, miller

1881: William Button, miller (wind & steam)

1881: William Chaplyn died (owner)

May 1881: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with Diss Rose Lane postmill

September 1882: Mill advertised to be let or sold by private contract

White's 1883: Robert Weaver, miller

Kelly's 1892: John Cross, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1896: John Cross, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1900: John Cross, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1904: John Cross, miller (wind)

1908: Richard Wood Crawshay, miller

Kelly's 1912: Richard Wood Crawshay, miller (wind & water)

Kelly's 1916: Walter James Staff, miller (wind & oil)

Kelly's 1925: George Arthur Daines, miller

1928: Oil engine installed for auxiliary power

Kelly's 1929: Daines & Chase, millers

1930s: Original fantail replaced by a new 6 bladed version

Kelly's 1933: G. A. Daines & Son, millers

Kelly's 1937: G. A. Daines & Son, millers (wind)

19th January 1948: National press report that mill restored to working order by Arthur Daines

1956: Arthur Daines, miller ceased milling using windpower from the two remaining sails - last in the county

1959: Milling ceased after the 1958 outbreak of fowl pest took away the trade

1959: Mill bought by Victor Valiant with all machinery intact

Land Certificate 6th March 1959: Victor William Valiant, cycle agent of Waveney House, Billingford

1961: Mill restored at a cost of £4,000

1962: Columbian pine stock fitted

1964: Mill restored to non working condition

2nd-3rd January 1976: Fan blown to pieces in a gale

2nd March 1976: New fan fitted by Lennard & Lawn

14th July 1977: Columbian pine stock replaced with a 52 ft steel stock by Lennard & Lawn

1998: Mill restored to full working order

2004: Norfolk Windmills Trust

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 01263 713658 or

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004