The Ballycopeland Windmill was originally built either in the late 18th century or the early 19th century by George Bennet. The site also included a small limestone miller’s cottage where the owners lived.
In the 1830s, George’s son James sold the mill to James McGilton, the first of the McGiltons who stayed on as owners for the next 100 years. The mill was handed over to the state in 1937.
The purpose of the windmill was simply to make food by grinding grain into flour using giant millstones and wind power to slowly crush and slice grain.
However, what makes the Ballycopeland Windmill special is not the food it produced but the Roller Reefing System it utilized in its sails. The system helped control the speed of the sails and the amount of power being directed to the millstones. The system was invented by captain Stephen Hooper in 1789 and the Ballycopeland Windmill is the last working windmill with the Roller Reefing System in the world.
The site is located on Moss Road just outside the small town of Millisle and has car parking facilities, a picnic area, outdoor seating, and also a fully operational café on site for anyone wishing to see the site and also enjoy a hot coffee.
Know Before You Go
The best way to get out to the Ballycopeland Windmill is to drive to Newtownards town in County Down, Northern Ireland and then heads towards Millisle by following the Movilla Road and then turning onto the Moss Road and follow this until you reach the Ballycopeland Windmill site.