Muscle mills

This is a new section for me covering mills that were operated by either humans or animals which I hope to add to and eventually when I have sufficient I will create separate pages for the different types.

Mainly the drawings have been prepared from old advertisements, drawings, photographs and descriptions in books etc, although the Romanian ones are based on scale drawings of buildings that have been relocated into the Astra Museum at Sibiu in Romania. A fantastic site and well worth visiting


The stepping mill above was for the Bedford Prison or ‘House of Correction’ and was used to grind corn into flour and also powered a set of malt rollers

3d-building-1-horse ring-2

This is a horse powered corn mill in the Astra National Museum complex at Sibiu in Romania. The drawings I have worked to do not show that the one end of the driving ring gear overlaps the tail end of the previous section so they parts are staggered. A colleague who had visited the site from the Mills Research Group pointed it out to me. I shall be visiting the museum again in September so I shall pay particular attention to this detail and adjust my drawing accordingly. The winch on the platform tilts the main vertical post so the ring gear touches the floor to allow the horses to step over it when entering and leaving.

dog-forge dog-forge-2a

This dog wheel was used to power a centrifugal blower

This dog wheel was used to operate a set of bellows


These three drawings are loosely based on a book about dog mills called ‘Hondenmolens’ by Jan Delacour in Dutch but very interesting

The angle of the track for the treadmills shown below is adjusted to suit the weight of the animal and the work it is required to do. The power available from a treadmill is dependent on the weight of the animal and the angle of the tread, not on the strength of the animal.  The dog  simply climbs the tread to maintain his position and gravity does the work..

This dog wheel was used to provide rotary power for a butter churn


This treadmill operates a horizontal rocking butter churn

This treadmill was used to provide power for a butter churn

treadmill-lathe-2 treadmill-lathe

This treadmill operates a lathe but could power any rotating piece of machinery

horse saw3
horse  saw-opp horse saw

This is a horse powered sawmill at the Astra museum in Sibiu below is manually operated grain mill at the same museum


One clever designer in the Victorian era came up with a sewing machine powered by a dog. German inventor Heinrich Feldt designed and patented The Feldt Dog Engine in 1888, and intended for it to offer seamstresses a bit of relief when it came to mending and sewing clothing


A treadmill operated washing machine that could be powered by a dog


Field or Carriage Mill 1735

A refinement of Targone's mobile mill is described and illustrated in 'Theatrum Machinarum

Field or carriage mills were used by armies in camp where more permanent mills were unobtainable, the carriage being drawn by two pairs of horses on the march and one pair when milling.

Note Wheels are partially buried for stability

From information in Mills at War by Ron & Mildred Cookson - The Mills Archive

Below is a reproduction of the recently rebuilt 15th century Horse Gin (short for Engine) at Swannington Heritage Trust (click on the drawing belowto go to their website)

bucket-1A PU1

Click on this image to view several woad mills of which two were powered by horses. This one Parson Grove used three and the other, Brothertoft used eight

turntable-3a turntable-3

An oblique dog-driven wheel from Dulellog, Rhostryfan, Caernarfon operating a butter churn


Multi-tasking is not new. This invention allowed the busy Farmers wife to knit while churning butter and rock the baby all at the same time

swing-churn-20 swing-churn-22

Swing operated butter churn. Julius Restein received a patent in 1888
for this swing device for operating churns, washing machines etc.

There are many more types of mill to add so watch this space