This old windmill was sited on the edge of the valley where its sails harnessed the power of the wind. The sails turned the grinding stones, which ground wheat into flour. There was plenty of wheat to be milled, provided by the farmers of Heaton.
For centuries wind and water were used to power a variety of mills and they played an important role in the economy. Windmills built from stone or brick and topped with a wooden cap for the sails, were once common on Tyneside
Gradually windmills declined as bigger mills powered by steam engines appeared.
By 1844 this mill was a ruin and the surrounding countryside was beginning to change. the farms disappeared to make way for more housing for shipyard and factory workers
In 1827 there were 49 windmills, 12 watermills and 18 steam mills in and around Newcastle.
In 1870 fewer than 400 people lived in Heaton, in just 76 houses, it was a small village surrounded by open country side growing crops and herding cattle was the way of life before the village began to expand in the 1880s for centuries cattle had been drive down to pasture by the River Ouseburn from the fields above the valley. The cutting below follows the line of the old cattle which cut through Lord Armstrong’s estate.
The path you are on was the main carriage way through the woods to Jesmond Dene. When William Armstrong was given this land he had a deeper path dug, so that the cattle could follow the old track and be kept away from visitors and their carriages.
William Armstrong was an inventor, engineer and industrialist. His factories built bridges, cranes, guns and warships on the Tyne.
He was a dab hand at using construction materials from his own engineering projects and he often used these on his country estates.
As you look down the cattle run, notice how it is lined with sandstone blocks like those used on Victorian Railway Bridges.