Ta’ Kola Windmill, Gozo
The Ta’ Kola windmill is a step back in time to the trade of the miller and a fine example of the rural economy and domestic life of Gozo in centuries past.
The windmill was built in 1725 during the magistracy of Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena (1722-36). It was equipped with a large water cistern, a workshop, and living quarters for the miller and his family. Its building was financed by the Manoel Foundation, set up to fund windmills in order to sustain the demands of the increasing population of Malta and Gozo. The windmill was so active during the 18th century that it had to be restored several times. Eventually, it was rebuilt in 1787 on the order of Baron Francesco Gauci on behalf of the Manoel Foundation. The mill appears to have been a valuable, thriving business since the annual rent for the building increased as it passed from owner to owner.
The miller would have been a skilled craftsman probably trained in a wide range of trades. Apart from operating the windmill, he would likely have performed several secondary jobs to keep himself employed when weather conditions meant he was unable to operate the mill. When the mill was in working, the miller would let the locals know by blowing through a triton-shell. Villagers would then bring their wheat to be processed into flour. To increase efficiency of the mill, the external antennae were equipped with large canvas sails.
Today, the mill displays a vast array of tools, some of which were originally manufactured by the owners of the mill. On the first floor, the living quarters of the miller have been recreated using traditional furniture and items related to Gozitan crafts such as weaving and lace-making. You can also see the internal and external mechanisms of the windmill, which are still in working order.
This windmill changed hands several times up to the early 20th century when it came into ownership of the Grech family. Grech senior was named Nikola, or ‘Kola for short, hence the local name for the mill today. The mill passed to his son, Guzeppi, who lived there until his death in 1987. The windmill was then acquired by the State to ensure its preservation, and was opened to the public as a museum in 1992. However, it is mainly thanks to the Grech family that we can still enjoy the mill today in such an excellent state of preservation. Ta’ Kola is one of the few remaining examples of 18th century industrial heritage on the Maltese islands.