Across the pond with Rex Wailes: Boyd’s and Thurston’s Mills

November 05th 2019 by Nathanael Hodge

Part 8 of a weekly series of blogs about Rex Wailes' 1929 trip to the USA and Canada.
Poster Image

Boyd's Mill, still standing. Photo Kksgram, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Thursday 9.5.29

On Thursday the 9th I was at the Historical Society's office at 10 a.m. sharp. They were very kind; gave me a paper on the Rhode Island windmills, shewed me all their photographs, from which I made notes and shewed me a paper, published 1917 on the Stone Mill. This compares it with Chesterton Mill; describes and illustrates both and reconstructs The Stone Mill. It is out of print and their only copy is bound, but they contemplated reprinting it and have promised me a copy. On their advice I took the 11 a.m. bus to Boyd's mill - 6 miles north on the West Road.

There was no one at Boyd's mill when I arrived. I asked at the nearest house but they were Portugese (they call them "Portugene" here) and couldn't even understand French. However a lad ploughing in a field told me that all would be well.

While I was photographing Mr. Boyd arrived in an old Ford truck. He was filthy dirty and very garrulous, but I got a good many grains of information out of his chaff of verbosity.

Rex's photo of Boyd Windmill

The windmill is a smock mill, 3 floors with a hemispherical cap, the top is turned with a Y wheel and endless chain and the whole mill is shingled. It is set up from the ground on rough stones and has 8 arms, with much bracing, I have noted all the details elsewhere.

I took a number of photographs inside and out, the weather was windy and cloudy. I didn't leave until about four o'clock and then struck across country to Thurston's mill. It was about two miles east and south of Boyd's mill and the roads, until I reached the East Road, mere farm tracks.

Rex's photo of Thurston's Mill. The mill was destroyed by fire in April 1959

There were a number of prosperous looking farms about, peopled, as far as I could see, with Portuguese. There are a number of orchards. Boyd himself had one, which he had just been spraying. Incidentally, Boyd was a well read and travelled man. He has been up to this year on our equivalent of the Rural District Council and fancies philosophy and verse, which he quoted to me. He lives alone with his brother - an invalid - in the house near the mill.

Thurston's Mill is a fine smock mill, like Boyds, but with 4 cloth sails and in working order. Boyd works with a gasoline engine only. Most unhappily it was shut and the house was shut also, though the live stock were all around and loose.

I could only take exterior photographs. I got tea at a wayside garage and tea room. I took the 5.30. bus back to Newport and did a little shopping.

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Take an online tour of Boyd's mill here: