Though it might not look like much, this hopper bell was in fact quite a useful bit of kit for the 19th century miller.
The hopper bell was situated within the windmill’s stone hopper, or millstone, which would crush the corn or grain to transform it into flour. Sacks of grain would have been hoisted to the top of the windmill and poured into a grain bin. Grain would then slide down a chute into the stone hopper. When the stone hopper was running low of grain, the hopper bell would scrap against the stone and emit a grinding noise. This noise informed the miller that the hopper was almost empty.
The hopper bell on display at Harborough Museum comes from Mill Hill, a windmill which used to be located just off St Mary’s Road, close to Symington Way. Not much is known about the windmill as it was demolished in 1895.
We are very grateful to our volunteers who researched and wrote this entry.