|The island of Fuerteventura has developed a traditional economy based on cereals and which gave birth and consolidated concrete socio-cultural structures, a specific modification of the territory and a particular configuration of the rural landscape.|
In the twentieth century, a new economic model based on tourism took root and has transformed the traditional structures of the island of Fuerteventura. However, many elements reflect the traditional lifestyle of the island, as the windmills that dot the territory, silent witnesses of a long phase of the island’s history.
Windmills were introduced to Fuerteventura between the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. They are mostly spread in the center and north of the island, because of climatic and socioeconomic factors. The constant presence of the trade winds which were their source of energy and the traditional grain economy of the island favored the establishment of numerous mills and “molinas” along the island territory. They were built in places open to the prevailing winds, becoming one of the most characteristic features of the rural landscape of the island.
The windmill has provided enormous benefits in grain milling, although it has not determined the abandonment of older grinding system such as hand mill, and “tahona” who continued to be used domestically and in periods of no wind.
The traditional windmill on the island called “masculine mill” is a masonry construction made of stone, wood and lime, circular and tapered shape. It is crowned with a wooden cone that rotates through a rudder directing the blades to the wind. The mill consists of two or three stories down, we keep the tools used by millers; to the central floor or room called “cuarto de en medio” the grain is stored; upstairs there are machines to grind. In the mills that were not center stage, the grain was stored with the tools. The base of the building was surrounded by a small dry stone wall.
The majority of the mills had four wings although there are some with six. These consisted of a wooden structure on which a tarpaulin was placed. The machines were almost entirely made of wood although there are pieces of iron, which forms a complex gear whose function is to increase the rotational force of the wings and forward it to the mobile stone to produce milling. The wings propelled by the wind were running gear which in turn moved a coil called “screw”. This was connected to the movable millstone by a metal pin fixed to a rectangular piece of iron called “lavija”, adhered to the inner face of the wheel. The shaft transmitting the movement to the upper wheel, rotating it on the lower wheel causing the grain milling. The entire mechanism can be stopped by a brake that was putting pressure on the sprocket.
The milling process was done by pouring the grain into the hopper; grain slipped in a little gutter that led him to the wheel. Flour or “gofio” fall into a container to the central stage, where it was collected in bags.