Community service take on stewardship of Fife’s last windmill

From left, Henry Sun, Lesley McNaughton, John Kinsman, Anne Kinsman and St Andrews cluster venue manager Louise Logan.
From left, Henry Sun, Lesley McNaughton, John Kinsman, Anne Kinsman and St Andrews cluster venue manager Louise Logan.

A community emergency service has taken on the stewardship of the last windmill in Fife.

Coastwatch St Monans currently uses the windmill to the east of the village to monitor incidents at sea.

And, in a new volunteering initiative with Fife Cultural Trust, the six members of the group have offered their time to allow the public more regular access to the centuries old facility.

St Monans Windmill will now be open to the public seven days a week, for a set number of hours every day.

John Kinsman, Coastwatch St Monans station manager, said: “We’re really happy to be able to help keep the doors open to such a unique part of Fife’s history.

“Visitors have come from as far afield as Canada and Australia to see the place on their travels.

“It has been a popular destination for locals and tourists for so long, but access isn’t always easy. We hope that our manning the station will help bring consistency.”

“It’s a well preserved building but we still need a few minor upgrades to make it that bit more inhabitable – basics such as plug points, a kettle and a lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss!

“We would be incredibly grateful for any donations.”

Lesley McNaughton, colunteering development officer at Fife Cultural Trust, said: “Six fabulous, enthusiastic volunteers are keeping this beautiful venue open seven days a week for us – and all they want in return is a kettle, a landline, a heater and a wee bit of paint!”

The windmill is a regarded as a fine example of sustainable engineering from the 18th century and of the local salt industry.

Salt mining began at the behest of Sir John Anstruther, who became local laird in 1753.

The role of the windmill was to provide power to pump sea water from tidally-fed reservoirs cut into the rocks offshore into the salt pans.

Coal continued to be produced to feed the salt pans into the early 1800s, but history books indicate that the entire operation ceased production by the time tax changes took hold in 1823.

The stump of St Monans Windmill survived, and has been restored and re-roofed since the end of the 1980s.