Lee, Edmund

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d. mid-1763 Brock Mill, Wigan, England
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English inventor of the fantail, used to turn windmills automatically to face the wind.
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On 9 December 1745 Edmund Lee was granted letters patent for his invention of the windmill fantail. In the preamble to Lee's patent he is described as a smith of Brock Mill, near Wigan, where he ran a millwright's business. Brock Mill is known to have been a substantial water-powered iron forge by the River Douglas to the north of Wigan. The drawing accompanying the patent shows a tower mill with its tail pole reaching the ground, and this is connected to a frame or carriage supporting a seven-bladed wind wheel. This tail projected some distance from the back of the tower, and when the wind caught it and turned it the cap was turned to face the wind by means of the gears which linked the cap to the fantail. The next logical step from Lee's invention was to place the fantail at a high level on the cap or at the foot of the ladder of a post mill. There is also an inferred connection between the Lee fantail and the annular sail of the wind engine or of a windmill such as that at Haverhill in Suffolk.
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Further Reading
Stephen Buckland, 1987, Lee's Patent Windmill, London KM

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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