Lincolnshire Heritage Woad Dyeing at Moulton Windmill

Myself and Angela were invited to demonstrate woad dyeing at the Moulton Windmill Open Day on Wed 29 April.

mill 1

With a very early start of 7am, creating a woad dye vat is a very labour intensive process, we turned one corner of the mill into a mini chemistry lab.  Measuring, heating up, cooling down, stirring, sprinkling, leaving to stand, more warming up…..and we had 2 dye vats for visitors to drop in their free handkerchiefs and watch them turn blue as they were retrieved from the vat and the oxygen worked it magic!

After a cold and wet start the sun appeared and with it lots of visitors eager to learn about woad.  We’re always surprised that the important heritage Lincolnshire dye plant is little known, we even spoke to a lady who had lived in Woad Farm Road in Boston but didn’t realise the origin of the name.

We soon had a washing line of dyed fabric and handkerchiefs that stretched the full length of the marquee!

woad 2 credit moulton mill

photo credit Moulton Windmill

woad credit moulton mill

photo credit Moulton Windmill

mill 4

We were given a tour of the Mill, before being treated to a toasted sandwich breakfast and learnt that the sails are actually made from canvas stretched over and hand stitched to a wooden frame rather than solid wood – now you might know this already but it was news to us.

mill 5

The mill has a reliable group of volunteers who keep the sails turning, mill the flour, maintain the equipment, give mill tours and work in the cafe.  Geoff was wonderful, bringing us tea, coffee and food whenever we looked as though we were flagging, we couldn’t have managed without you Geoff.

mill geoff

We managed to grab a few minutes to eat lunch while the folk band were occupying visitors inside and Geoff stood in as project photographer.

mill 8

Anthony deserves a mention, he was keen to dye a handkerchief for his grandson Alex and even dispensed with the washing line by wafting his own woad square in the sun

mill anthony for alex grandson

A great day, thanks Moulton Windmill.  We shared lots of information on woad; from the actual plant, it’s importance in the heritage of Lincolnshire’s agricultural industry, the smell of the dye vat to the magic of chemistry as oxygen is introduced.  We also learnt a lot too and gathered more information for our upcoming woad project.


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