Ta Kola Windmill( known in Maltese as Mitħhna ta’ Kola) is located in the village of Xagra on the island of Gozo which forms part of the Maltese archipelago. It was built in 1787 when the Maltese islands were under the rule of the Knights of St John. The design for Maltese windmills was imported from the Balearic islands where stone tower windmills can still be found to this day. The windmill in Xagra is named after the last miller who resided in it, uzeppi Grech (locally known as eppu ta Kola which translates to Joseph son of Nicholas). Uzeppi, an exceptionally skilled millwright, continued to take care of the windmills upkeep, almost until the final years of his life and it is thanks to his dedication that it has survived the ravages of time. In 1992 the windmill was passed on to the State Museums Department and was later taken under Heritage Maltas responsibility. The agency soon embarked on an ambitious project to fully restore the stone fabric of the windmill and rebuild several components of the milling mechanism in order to restore it to full working order  a project which saw its completion in 2016.

I am indebted to Heritage Malta for allowing me to measure the mill. Their Principal Curator of Gozo Museum and Xagħra Sites, the staff at the mill and Mr Toni Cardona for their continual help and with the Maltese terms


It is obvious to most mill enthusiasts there is no brake to stop the mill. Apparently the method the millers adopted was to adjust the RUMANA lever to increase the gap between the millstones, which flooded the top millstone with grain and acted as a soft brake pad. The miller then descended the stairs and accessed the roof. Around the base of the tower 60cm above the roof surface are eight apertures. It was into one of these a piece of timber TEKTUKA (a 90cm long, 10cm x 10 cm wooden arm) was inserted. He would then throw a rope over the end of the arm as it passed and ease out the rope out until the sails stop. The sails once stopped were secured to the Tektuka, or to iron rings set into the tower wall


The cap is turned by using a MANWELLA, an Ash pole about 2metres long by inserting it between two of the IMGHAZEL bars and using it as a lever by pivoting it against a steel pin to move the cap a hole at a time. Once in position the STRINGILL ring was re-secured using iron links located diagonally and secured with more steel pins. The cap ring fits into a rebate in the STRINGILL (curb) to locate it laterally and it slides on two sets of well greased hardwood blocks called PREJJES. There are four sandstone counterweights attached by VITTI which are tied to the FEKRUNA which projects at the rear of the cap.

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The tall, ruddy-faced man in this photo was last miller, Uzeppi Grech, or as he was locally known, eppu Kola. Uzeppi was born into an established family of millers and he took over the operation and upkeep of the windmill from his father Nikola in the late 1920s. At that time, traditional windmills were being edged out of business in favour of steam-driven mills. A shortage of fuel during World War II however, rendered these steam-mills unworkable which is when Uzeppis exceptional skills as a millwright proved to be extremely valuable. As the demand for flour increased, he managed to revive the traditional method of grinding cereals by carrying out repairs on a number of neglected windmills and beast-driven mills! uzeppis demise in 1987 spelt one of the final blows to the traditional milling trade in Gozo. Yet, rather than fading into oblivion his legacy lives on in the windmill which he rescued from ruin!