National Mills Weekend

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (Mills section) run this event every year on or around the second weekend in May.  Denby Dale Radio Society co-ordinate the radio side of this event.

It is not a contest, DDRS prefer people to have a good time and promote Amateur Radio while helping to preserve some of our heritage.

Mills on the air
National Mills Weekend

National Mills Weekend 2014

National Mills Weekend 2014 will take place Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th May 2014.

It is  hoped that  even more mills than in previous years will open their doors and welcome visitors. Until the advent of the steam engine, wind and watermills provided the only source of power for many different processes - from making flour, paper, cloth to hammering metal and extracting oils. You
can explore mills that produced, or still produce these products, some restored to working order, some derelict, some still working commercially.

National Mills Weekend - 12th and 13th May 2012

There’s only one stone windmill with 6 sails working in the UK and that’s at Heage near the town of Belper in Derbyshire.  Nunsfield House Amateur Radio Group (NHARG) has operate from that site for several years using GB5HW and once more DADARS were invited to go and assist.  mills_operator Once the tent was up, mains connected, kettle on, mast extended with the 80/40 dipole and the Cushcraft R5 vertical aerials connected to the Groups radio by about 10:45 - after a coffee of course!  With quite restrictive opening times we tried what we could to work as many other Mills stations as possible and over both days with yet again awful band conditions 38 stations on 40m, 5 on 80m, 10 on 20m, 1 on 15m and 2 on 17m. 
We could hear stations in East Coast USA, Japan, Greenland, Canada, etc., but just couldn’t work them.  However there were visitors asking what it was all about so a bit of ‘public enlightenment’ was the order of the day.   Thanks to NHARG for asking us to assist once more and it’s good that two clubs can work together.  

National Mills Weekend - 11th and 12th May 2013

Saturday, 11th May 2013 saw a group of radio amateurs from various radio clubs arrived at Heage Windmill near Belper about 10 miles North of Derby  to assist the Nunsfield House Amateur Radio Group (NHARG) to put their GB5HW station on the air. Your Scribe arrived Saturday just in time to help put their frame tent and erect the mast with the 40m half-wave dipole. A check was made to ensure the electricity supply was working by putting a 1.7ltr dummy load across it and before long the kettle had boiled and tea or coffee flowed.

We hooked up the HF transceiver as well as a TS2000 and a linear to give 100W of 2m FM and off we went.  First contact on HF was with a station who was suffering S8 noise (obviously lives in a town then) and as we drew the contact to a close he said he was to move to another part of the band with less noise so we were able to use that frequency.  Within minutes we had a pile-up and it continued unabated until we closed just before 16:00 BST.  As the log is kept by the organisers I can’t recall how many were worked on the Saturday but we didn’t do too badly.  I had a message from one of the DADARS membership to say we hadn’t got a pile-up, but a pile-up and a half! 

Trying to sort out callsigns to work was a struggled and there would be many who were disappointed that we couldn’t work them.   We all arrived for the 10:00 opening on Sunday to find that there was also a vintage tractor event so old Fordsons, etc., were lined up for people to see and drool over.  Even the owners were dressed in the period of the machine. Impressive.

Job number 1 was a re-checking of the kettle for mains leakage (in other words, tea’s and coffee’s all round) then attention was turned to operating.  Ditto re the pile-up on HF.  The 2m station was making several contacts as well and I was told that there had been about 100+ stations worked on HF, but I wasn’t aware how many were worked on 2m so there I can’t help.  They sounded nicely busy anyway.
So next year if DADARS are asked to assist please volunteer to assist with either operating or logging, or if operating from home then to work as many of the Mills as possible.,  Details are usually available from the internet as to which stations are on the air and there is an award available which would look good amongst the QSL cards on the shack wall.
Thanks to friends at NHARG for inviting the members of DADARS to assist with the running of the station again and making us welcome once more.
Dave, G1VAB

Heage Six Sail Windmill
Click the photograph for better view.

The photograph above is a six sail windmill at Heage near Belper.

"The first recorded reference to a windmill in Heage is an advertisement in the Derby Mercury of 16th June 1791: Heage windmill, to be erected – any mason inclined to undertake the stone building to attend at the mill, all materials laid down in place."

More historic detail is available at the Heage Windmill dedicated site.