8 Sail Brewery
The unique eight-sailed windmill at Heckington near Sleaford in Lincolnshire is the sole survivor of only seven of the type ever built in Britain. Three of the seven were in Lincolnshire and the county still boasts the remains of 136 windmills, several of which are open to the public with five still working and earning their keep.
Heckington's eight-sailed museum-windmill owes its survival to John Pocklington (1865-1941) who combined the machinery from Skirbeck with the tower at Heckington in 1892. He kept the mill in working order even when it became obsolete and was commended by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings for his restoration of 1933.
Kesteven County Council (later absorbed into Lincolnshire County Council) purchased the mill in 1953 and the building has been administered by the Friends of Heckington Mill since 1982. John Pocklington's descendants still own the site with Martin Pocklington and sons responsible for upgrading the 8 Sail Brewery building attached to the windmill.
Tony Pygott set up his six barrel brewery here in June 2010 and there can few situations better than this one! The plant was fabricated and installed by Dave Porter of PBC with the test brew taking place on the 22nd June. The first two commercial brews were of a well-hopped (using Tony's personal favourite, Bramling Cross) pale amber beer named "8 Sail Ale" at 3.8% and these were followed by a mid-brown, easy-drinking session beer called "Merry Miller" (4 %, using pale, crystal and brown malts, Fuggles and Goldings hops).
Currently, Tony is building up his distribution network but his beer can always be found, straight from the cask, in the mill tea-room next door to the brewery. Tony's future plans include a bottling plant and shop to retail "8 Sail" bottle-conditioned beers and those of other Lincolnshire brewers. Once the commercial arm is fully established the final development on site could make this brewery as unique as the windmill itself. It will not just be another brewery and a shop. Eventually, the visitors' centre will incorporate a Victorian period bar where you can drink from authentic glasses and admire the extensive exhibition of superb antique pub and brewery memorabilia.
Although Heckington is a pleasant rural village situated on the edge of the Lincolnshire fens it is by no means remote. The A17 from Boston to Newark is not far away and Heckington still retains its nineteenth century railway station (and model railway museum), right beside the windmill and brewery, on the main line to Skegness. Trains to that famous coastal resort stop at Heckington so this must be one of the most accessible places of pilgrimage for the discerning drinker! Don't hesitate....beat a path to its door!
Tony hasn't quite given up the day job yet (he's only half way there) so if you want to visit the "8 Sail Brewery" (and windmill....and tearoom) contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 01205 723839 or 07866183479.
8 Sail Brewery website