Sussex Mills Group
THE LOST WINDMILLS OF SUSSEX Guy Blythman
BOREHAM STREET, Waterling
IDEN Post Mill
NINFIELD Post Mill
SELSFIELD COMMON, West Hoathly
UDIMORE Post Mill
LOST MILLS OF SUSSEX
This is a series of articles, which I hope will be of interest and enjoyment to members. I have decided to concentrate principally on windmills, since I have less of a "feel" for watermills and am consequently less able to write about them with enthusiasm or authority.
My main source of information has been the HES Simmons Collection in the Science Museum library, although I have tried to make use of as many others as possible. I am aware that Simmons needs to be treated with caution as a contains a number of inaccuracies, but have done my best to spot these and eliminate them. If any should have been missed and consequently reproduced in the articles I offer my apologies.
It should be assumed, unless indicated otherwise, that all other information is derived from the Simmons Collection. The same will apply to future articles in this series.
This impressive tower mill, one of the largest ever built in Sussex, was for many years a familiar feature of the Littlehampton coastline. It derived its name from its position close to the mouth of the River Arun.
The mill was built in 1831 by Henry Martin of Bognor, millwright, on land leased to him for the purpose by the Duke of Norfolk. In the following year Martin sold the completed mill for £726 to William Halsted Boniface, who later added a dwelling house, storehouse, two cottages and various other buildings to the property. In March 1836 Boniface granted a 21 year lease to Robert Canter of Lewes. On 10 January 1840 the lease was transferred John Woodhams Jnr. in whose family the mill was to remain for over 60 years.
Boniface died in November 1849 the mill was heavily mortgaged, and was disposed of by his executors to the mortgagee, Charles Newman. Woodhams remained as tenant miller. On Newman's own death, which occurred in 1853, the mill and property were sold by auction to Thomas Crunden. At the expiration of the lease originally granted to Robert Canter, Woodhams bought the property. He died in August 1879 but the business was carried on by his sons until 1901. From then until 1904 the miller was Percy Sherrell, who was followed by CA. Bailey. Bailey worked there for only a year before being succeeded by Norman Ashby. Ashby left in 1910, after which the last to use Arun Mill were William Cook & Sons, until 1913. The remaining lease of the property was taken over by Miss Leila Streeter from whom permission to inspect the mill could for a while be obtained for a small fee.
After the lease expired in 1930, it was hoped that the by then derelict mill would find a purchaser who would ensure its survival. Certainly, the enlightened would have appreciated the asset a restored windmill could be to a seaside resort, especially if opened to the public. But in the last resort (no pun intended) taste was spurned in favour of a cheap vulgarity. In December 1932 the mill was pulled down and its site became an amusement arcade and funfair. Its loss was one of the most regrettable in the history of Sussex windmill preservation. The mill spent the last few months of its life ignominiously festooned with hundreds of coloured lights as a tourist attraction, in a symbolic desecration of the old by the brash and tawdry new.
Arun Mill was built of stone faced with cement and had four floors, with a stage at the level of the second braced to the tower by diagonal timbers. The cap was of the kind found on many smock and tower mills in the Arundel/Chichester area, a dome with the material used to proof the corners of the boards where they meet being particularly noticeable. Thus it had a polygonal appearance, and a number of vertical boards extending part of the way along the fantail sheers. Another good example of this form of cap could be seen until fairly recently (i.e. 1978-9) on Eamley smock mill. Also characteristic of this part of Sussex were the low arched window openings.1 Littlehampton also had a skirt of vertical boards at the base of the cap, a feature not present at Eamley. The four patent sails came from Climping mill when that ceased work in 1900. They replaced a set of the same type but with wide leading boards which the new ones did not possess.
As built the mill had only two pairs of stones, but by 1840 a third has been added as the notice for an attempted sale tells us. The notice also mentions a flour machine and smutter, and to emphasise the power of the mill states that these and the stones could all be driven at the same time. About the mill's interior we have no further details, except that the wooden upright shaft, fitted to replace an earlier one during renovations c.1870 was once part of the mast of a yacht belonging to the above-mentioned Duke of Norfolk.
Finally it may be added that Henry Martin also built the fine mill at Bamham, which has been luckier than Littlehampton and is currently being restored.
Barcombe mill was erected in 1817-18 by millwright Jesse Pumphery, who worked it until 1825 when he left to live in Lewes. Following his departure the mill was owned by John Holroyd and tenanted by Richard Jenner (1). Holroyd advertised the estate for sale in 1835, 1836 (twice) and 1837. Jenner was still tenant in the latter year, but by 1839 had been succeeded by Henry Guy Jnr. In 1848, when the property was put up for sale again by court order following the death of Holroyd, the mill was being let jointly to Guy and a Mr Good. At some point Good seems to have left and in 1851 Miss M Guy is given as miller, with Henry Guy being listed again in 1855. Guy was followed by Henry Gaston. Later the property was acquired by a Mrs Hemsley and by 1882 her miller was John Locke, who remained at the mill until it ceased work in 1890.
In 1891 the mill and the ground on which it stood was sold by Mrs Hemsley to Mr E W Bunney, a well-known local flower grower. Mr Bunney intended to pull down the mill but the millwrights wanted £30 for the job, and also requested that he supply all the necessary materials. He considered this proposal unreasonable, and so the mill remained standing, the roundhouse being utilised at one stage as a chicken house, until burnt down in 1907 or 8. The cause of the fire, which appears to have started in the upper part of the mill, is a mystery. A gale was blowing at the time and pieces of burning timber were carried quite a distance by the wind. Many of the timbers and machinery were saved and afterwards sold quite profitably by Mr Bunney.
In the 1930s the mill house still stood with one of the millstones in use as a step. The bakehouse, which adjoined the miller’s cottage, had been converted to a garage.
The mill was a large white one with a single-storey wooden roundhouse. It was reputed to have been very solidly constructed and thus very heavy; owing to the consequent difficulty experienced in turning it by hand a horse was employed for the purpose, a concrete track being laid around the mill for it to walk on. It is also said that the sweeps were exceptionally large. There were two pairs of stones. A photograph of the mill in 1905, without sweeps and tailpole but otherwise in good condition, appears in Sussex Industrial History Issue 17.
(1) Sussex Industrial History Issue 17, which contains an article by Martin Brunnarius on Jesse Pumphery and the work he did at Barcombe mill and others.
The first evidence of a windmill at Bolney comes from the parish register, which records the burial on 2 December 1743 of John Davy, "killed accidentally by the windmill". We cannot say whether the mill was one of those mentioned below.
Later one is shown on Cream's map of 1795, about half a mile north of the church, and another is said to have existed on the south side of the road between the Fox and Hounds and a place called Long Wood, on land still known well into the twentieth century as Millfields.
Of principal interest to us though will be the smock mill which stood to the north-east of the church, opposite the Queen's Head public house. This is first shown on Faden's map of 1795, although it is described in a sale notice four years later as "newly built" (the claims made in these documents are often exaggerated). It may have been the mill put up for sale in 1778 along with a house and half an acre of ground, but so could Cream's. Certainly H.E.S. Simmons could find no evidence of its existence before then. A timber inside the mill on which was painted "T F 1828" probably came from elsewhere, unless the date commemorates repairs.
The mill is next mentioned in the Defence Schedules of 1801. Schedule 1 records it as being capable of supplying 1 sack of flour every 24 hours, but in Schedule 2 the amount has risen to 20 sacks - surely an error as such a huge increase in output does not seem likely! The miller at the time was John Barber, who in 1813 disposed of it along with a newly erected watermill to William Packham. Packham in turn sold it to John Bennett, in 1818. The following years were bad times for millers, due to a slump in the rural economy, and by 1825 Bennett was bankrupt. The next two incumbents, Robert Brazier Rice and Thomas Terry, were both short-lived, meeting the same fate. Then things seem to have stabilised, with Henry Leppard at the mill from 1839 to 1859. Later millers were H. Payne (1866), Thomas Ashby (1870, 1874), Messrs. Packham and Comber (1876, 1882), John Packham (1887), and finally a man named Pierce. The mill was purchased c.1878-80 by a prominent local dignitary, Edward Huth JP of Wykehurst Park. According to him it was by then out of use, but this of course conflicts with the evidence of the directories, besides which remarks made by a local inhabitant to Gurney Wilson imply that it stopped in 1891 or 2 when one of the sweeps broke off.
Huth carried out no maintenance to the mill, as he preferred it in an ancient and dilapidated state and thought restoration would spoil its romance! The remaining sweeps were removed in 1905, and at the same time the millstones were taken out and placed on either side of a new lych gate at the church. Latterly the derelict mill saw service as a coal merchant's store and a chicken run. It was finally demolished in 1916, having been condemned as unsafe.
Bolney mill was a small one, about 36 feet high, with two pairs of stones. The cap roof was straight-pitched, with the boarding carried down vertically to form a skirt around the top of the tower.1 The mill was of particular interest in that it seems to have been virtually untouched for the whole of its working life. Few other Sussex tower or smock mills - if any -remained so primitive in character until the end. It was one of the last in the county to be winded by hand, the others being Hammond's Mill, Billingshurst and Black Mill, Bognor.2 The sweeps were commons, and most of the machinery was of wood apart from the iron windshaft. Not only the machinery but the whole of the structure was wooden; there was no brickwork in it apart from the foundations.3 Only one other Sussex smock mill, at Guestling, is known to have exhibited this feature.4 It is not necessarily a sign of age, being found on mills dating from well into the nineteenth century, but is comparatively rare and associated mainly with eastern Kent.
Brighton Reference Library
BREDE POST MILL (TQ 823 187)
The mill was listed in the 1802 Defence Schedule as being capable of producing 24 bushels in as many hours. By this time Woodhams had been succeeded by John Bourne who put the mill up for sale. A Mr Baker occupied it in 1815. In 1846, according to the Tithe Apportionment, the windmill and the watermill were owned by David Smith Senior and the aptly-named Mary Miller. Tilden Miller had it from about 1866 to 1882, afterwards operating it in conjunction with his two sons George and David. In 1885 the partnership was dissolved, George and David continuing to work the mill on their own. The mill ceased work in or after 1905 and was later pulled down by a traction engine, an event which caused great excitement in the village,
Typical in appearance of post mills in the far east of Sussex it had a two-storey roundhouse and four single-shuttered spring sweeps serviced by a travelling stage. Latterly it stood with the frames of one pair of sweeps missing, but otherwise in good condition The brick piers supporting the trestle were blended with the surrounding roundhouse walls and projected beyond them. (1)
(1) Photocopy kindly supplied by the late Frank Gregory of a photograph in his possession.
BROADWATER POST MILL (TQ 136 058)
This post Mill stood off Mill Road on St John's Common, not far from Wivelsfield station. Although it has been thought of as belonging to Burgess Hill, the site was actually in Keymer parish. It was built by a P. Dove in 1769, according to an inscription carved on the post (others to be found there were '"C.P. 1806", "W. Harding 29. 5. 1860" and "S. Upton 1871"; what connection these persons had with the mill is unclear).
The first documentary proof of its existence is the Defence Schedules of 1801, in which the miller is given as John Eager. The mill was capable of producing four sacks of flour daily, provided wheat was supplied for the purpose. In 1811 it was owned by William Tobutt, who put it up for sale in that year. It was sold again in 1815, 1816 and 1822; on the last occasion it was in the occupation of Mr. P. Woolven.
Millers we know of include John Gainsford (1834), J.W. Mercer (1845), and Charles Avery (1858). The mill ceased work c.1885-90, the last man to work it being a Mr. Wood.
During the First World War, when troops were billeted in the area, the roundhouse was used as a store for provisions and rations were issued daily from there. The mill was demolished by 1920 at the latest, after which the timber is said to have been reused somewhere in London. Latterly it stood with sweeps and most of the roundhouse missing.(1)
Gurney Wilson visited the derelict mill in December 1914 and took down a few details. An iron windshaft had been installed by Medhurst in 1874, and the brake and tailwheels were also of iron, with wooden teeth. There were two pairs of stones, each 4 ft 6 in. in diameter. Two of the sweeps were patents, with the striking wheel and weight box on the side of the mill(2); the other two were commons and are said to have been difficult to set, especially in cold weather
BURWASH - ROCKHILL MILL (TQ 632 232)
COOLHAM Post Mill TQ 116232
The old post mill at Baileys Farm, Coolham is believed to have stood originally at Kirdford, where it was erected between 1770 and 1780 and been moved to Coolham around 1800. According to the Defence Schedule of 1801 it and the local watermill, which were run in conjunction, could supply between them 20 sacks of flour in 24 hours.
The first miller that we know of is Sarah Killick, who was there in 1847. A Henry Killick was using the mill in 1855, 1858 and 1862. Possibly the Killick family had been working it for many years before him, as their ancestors had erected the watermill in c 1780.
In 1866 an E. Joyes was at the mill and from 1870 to 1887 James Thorpe was there. John Alfred Hams is recorded in 1890. The last man to use the mill was Henry Naldret, during whose time one of the sweeps blew off, the opposite sweep then being taken down. In 1898 the other pair of sweeps was also removed, and the mill ceased operation. It survived until 1915 when it was pulled down by carpenters from the Burrell estate, to which the property belonged, and the main timbers used in the construction of furniture for the Knepp Castle estate offices. In the 1930s various other parts could still be seen lying about the farm, and one millstone was embedded in the ground at the entrance to the mill house.
The mill body had a steeply-pitched roof - a feature which this writer at any rate associates with relatively old post mills as did the brick roundhouse. Michael Yates notes that the boards at the bottom front of the breast are heavily angled downwards and there appears to be an upward extension of the roundhouse roof. 1 Latterly the mill worked with two common and two spring sweeps, mounted on an iron windshaft which would have replaced an earlier wooden one. There were two pairs of stones.
(1) Photograph in National Monuments Record, Swindon and in "Bygone Com Mills In The Horsham Area" by George Coomber. (Editors note: My understanding from an neighbour who died a few years ago and lived in Coolham in his youth told me that he remembered being lifted up as a boy to see the windmill on fire. This being so perhaps the removal of timbers above refers to the watermill.)
A sale notice of 1782 describes the Beacon Mill as newly built. It was then in the possession of Thomas Hoadley, upon whose bankruptcy in 1785 it was acquired by Charles Hoather of Malling Mill, Lewes. Hoather later sold it to Mr J Moon. During the latter's ownership, on the morning of 3rd March 1793, the mill was struck by lightning and set on fire, but the blaze was extinguished in time to save the greater part of the structure.
In 1839 the mill was owned by Farah Ashby and tenanted by Reuben Ashby, presumably a relative. Samuel Wickens was miller in 1845. The mill remained in the Ashby family until 1861 when Thomas Ashby, who was also connected with Fletching watermill, sold it to Richard Pratt. Pratt shortly afterwards bought Crowborough tower mill, which remained in the family for many years and which survives today without cap or sails and with the tower reduced in height and converted to a house. The post mill passed from Richard to his brother Samuel, who worked it from at least 1874 until about 1890, when the stocks broke and the sails were subsequently removed. After the mill closed down a square turret was built on the roof, forming a look-out from which a marvellous view of the surrounding countryside could be had. To this were added at some point a brazier and a flagpole. The owner of the mill said he did this because he had grown tired of being asked by visitors to Crowborough where the Beacon was; he could point to the mill, and they would go away satisfied. These features rather spoilt the structure's appearance, as did the four white wooden crosses nailed to its sides. Although aesthetically marred, the mill appears structurally to have remained in good condition for many years.
At some point between 1940 and 1944 it was burnt down (one trusts nobody had actually tried to light a fire in the brazier!) The charred main post and trestle still stood in the late 1960s; the lower portion of the former, along with the pintle, was later taken to Argos Hill mill.
Beacon mill had one of the largest post mill bodies in Sussex. It was tarred black with a metalled roof and breast and a single storey vertically-boarded wooden roundhouse. The post stood in an immense cast-iron shoe which rested on brick or stone foundations, and the spout floor was supported by the trestle. The sweeps, said to have been springs, were mounted on a round wooden windshaft. Wooden brake and tail wheels drove two pairs of stones, both 4 feet in diameter and each with its own governor. Auxiliary machinery consisted of a flour machine and a smutter. The sack hoist is said by Mr R Hawksley to have been of an unusual type.
The tar with which the mill was heavily coated would have assisted in prolonging its life, but also aided its eventual destruction by fire.
This post mill was built in 1824 to replace one destroyed by fire. Shortly after its construction it was sold to George Holman, son of Samuel Holman the original owner. He disposed of it in 1831 to James Martin, who in turn sold it in 1841 to a Mr E Morris of Lewes. Subsequent millers included G Norman (1851), Stephen Douse or Doust (1855, 1870), David Mercer (from 1872 to 1878), Caleb Woodham formerly of North Street Mill, Hellingly) (1882), Lewis Hampton (1887) George Davis (1890).
In 1836 the mill was severely damaged in what the Sussex Advertiser described as a 'Tremendous And Destructive Hurricane'.
In December 1891 it suffered the same fate as its predecessor. No apparent cause for the fire, which destroyed the structure within two and a half hours, could be ascertained. At the time the mill was in use and in good condition; it is believed to have been insured. The blaze was said locally to have been started deliberately.
This was a handsome-looking white mill with a roundhouse, fantail and four patent sweeps, the latter having leading boards extending their whole length.
(1) Black Mill
By 1830 the owner was a Mr Hardwick of Bognor. In that year the tenant miller, Covens, died and was succeeded by Joey Lager. The mill was on the market in 1841; the sale notice in the Brighton Herald describes it as having patent sweeps and two pairs of stones. As far as the sweeps are concerned the notice would appear to be incorrect; a photograph which must surely have been taken after the date in question, since photography had barely begun then, shows the mill with four commons 1, and although two of the sweeps were replaced with springs or patents at a later date it is not likely the mill would have reverted from four patents to four commons. The property, which also consisted of two cottages, a two-stall stable, and two piggeries, was stated to have been lately put into repair.
Who bought the mill is not known. Laker was still there in 1841-2 but the Tithe Apportionment of 1844 gives Henry Hobbs and another person as the occupier. Thomas Reynolds was the miller by 1882 but had been succeeded by Henry Reynolds by 1887. At or shortly after the latter date the mill ceased work due to the building in the vicinity, of new houses which 'had robbed it of its wind.' In about 1894 the sweeps were removed in order to reduce the rates for the property. It is not likely that the building would ever be used again as a windmill and it was getting into a dangerous condition. The owner Mr Sparshott narrowly escaped injury on one occasion when he chanced to be inside it, the floor of the upper storey and collapsed beneath him; so in due course it was decided to demolish it. As it was an important seamark permission for its removal had to be sought from the Admiralty, which prolonged its life by a couple of years. The demolition was carried out in December 1902, the body being dismantled by Thomas Richardson and Levi Witchef and the roundhouse by Mr Sparshott himself, assisted by his son.
As its name suggests the mill was 'tarred black'. The breast beam projected forward of the front of the mill, a feature which marks it out as being of early or mid-eighteenth century vintage (Felpham is the only example of this which I have so far come across in Sussex). 2 There was a "cartwheel" on the end of the tail pole to assist in winding. The photograph shows that at some point two of the four common sails were replaced by shuttered ones. The sides of the body appear to be clad in metal sheeting.3 The roundhouse was a two-storey brick affair, the lower storey being a cellar.
(2) White Mill
For some reason prior to 1839 and up to at least 1845 Henry Hobbs was the miller. An R.L.Boniface is named in directories of 1851 and 1855. The mill was advertised to be let in 1876 and was presumably taken on by Charles Digweed, for he was running it in 1878. The mill is said at one time to have been owned and worked by Henry Feaver. The last owner was a Mr Stubbington.
The mill ceased work and was dismantled, in 1879 due to encroachment on the site by the sea, which now obscures all traces of the building (although in the 1930s the foundations were said to be occasionally visible at low tide).
White Mill appears to have been one of the largest smock mills, perhaps the largest ever built in Sussex. It stood on a substantial battered two storey base with a stage, above which the smock tower tapered sharply. It had a typical West Sussex domed cap with horizontal weatherboarding carried down to form the petticoat over the curb, four single-shuttered patent sails, and a fantail whose sheers were boarded over and beneath which was the striking wheel for the sails. 4.
FRAMFIELD, BLACKBOYS POST MILL
(TQ 520 206)
Guestling - Jenners Mill
(TQ 843 124)
The mill was a white one, large and roomy with five floors and able to accommodate four pairs of stones, two of which were overdrift while the others were underdrift and capable of being disconnected and driven Independently by a steam engine. Unusually for a smock mill of Its size It stood on only one foot of brickwork. The sails were double-shuttered patents and the Kentish-type cap was winded by an eight-bladed fantail. The mill was considered to be one of the finest In the area.
HEATHFIELD, BROAD OAK
Robert Haffenden Jnr. was the owner and occupier in 1842 according to the Tithe Map, and he was still there in 1845. At some time after the latter date, Stephen Boumer from Battle took over the running of the mill, residing both at the Mill House and at Broadhurst Farm two and a half miles away, where he was found drowned in January 1850. The mill seems to have remained in his family, for an H. Bourner is given as miller in 1851 and a James Boumer in 1858. The mill was advertised to be let in March of the latter year. The notice in the Sussex Advertiser stated that the present tenant - presumably James - was leaving the neighbourhood. William Bourner was miller by 1862, and between 1883 and 1887 was able to purchase the mill. At some point a steam mill was built on the property and this appears to have taken away much of the windmill's trade, for in 1889 a directory lists William Bourner as milling by steam only. However the windmill was still in use, and in good condition, when burnt down on the morning of 11th March 1890. The Sussex Express reports the incident thus:
The cause of the fire was not known. Fortunately Mr Bourner was insured. In the 1930s the site of the mill was still easily discernible behind a house called York Lodge and a shop, which was formerly the mill house and baker's shop. Among grinders employed at the mill were Daniel Deopham, T. O. Drury, John Guest, and George Mockford, the latter being the last before she was burnt down. John Guest later became Wlliam Bourner's son-in-law. He became owner of the post mill at Flimwell in 1880, but later returned to Broad Oak having in the meantime acquired the steam mill there. After leaving Broad Oak, Drury worked for a time at Swingate Mill, Guston, near Dover.
The mill was a white one with a single-storey wooden roundhouse, and two common and two shuttered sails working two pairs of stones, one peak and one burr.
A comparatively late arrival on the Sussex scene, this mill is said to have owed its building to an exceptionally good crop of hops. It was built by Thomas Knight, who was there in 1842. Knight was succeeded in 1858 by his son Henry, whose widow later took it over from him. The last owners were Henry's sons Walter and George Knight. Latterly the miller was George Walker and for 30 years one Fred Meopham was the grinder.
At some time the mill ceased to produce flour and the French burr stones were removed. Although the mill appears to have been in very good order when demolished in 1916, certain vital repairs were in fact needed. Their cost was felt to be prohibitive and when a good offer was received for the timbers, the mill was pulled down by the millwright Frederick Neve of Heathfield (whose firm had been responsible for much of the mill's maintenance during its working life). The fall of the mill caused rats, which inhabited the structure, to flee in all directions.
The mill was a small white one with a single-storey wooden roundhouse. It had four sweeps each with leading boards and single shutters controlled by elliptical springs. These drove two pairs of stones and a smutter. The windshaft was of iron while the brakewheel, from which the sack hoist was driven, and the tail wheel were wooden.
HELLINGLY, NORTH STREET POST MILL
Henfield New Mill, as it was called to distinguish it from another, older post mill in the village, was built around 1820. In 1827 the owner was Richard Gates and the tenant miller Robert Stevens. Stevens later succeeded to ownership of the property, the first in a series of tenants to do so. He employed a Mr. Barringer as miller from about 1850. By 1863 Barringer was the owner and his miller was Stephen Gardiner, who himself came into possession a few years later.
In 1844, like a number of other Sussex post mills in the mid-nineteenth century, Henfield underwent considerable modification. Patent sails and a fantail were fitted, and whe previously it had two pairs of stones it now became a three-pair mill with two pairs in the breast, underdriven by spur gearing, beside the one in the tail. A number of wooden or largely wooden components, such as the tentering gear, were reworked in iron. In these modifications the mill benefited from the presence locally of the millwright James Neale, later of Neale and Cooper, who carried out the work as an inscription on the massive casting supporting the crown tree testified. As a result of it Henfield mill can be said along with such as Cross-in-Hand to represent the peak of technical advancement attained by Sussex windmills.
After two steam mills were built in the village, the first in c.1860 and the second by 1874, the windmill's working days were numbered. It ceased to grind regularly in 1885, although it was brought back into use for a short period two years later, the miller being Charles Packham who at one time operated Cobb's watermill at Sayers Common, happily still with us today.
From then on deterioration must have been a gradual process, for at some date the bin floor was converted into a pigeon loft, ventilation being provided by a louvred structure on the roof which rather spoilt the building's appearance. The mill had become visibly derelict by the 1930s, and during the Second World War it was badly treated by the Home Guard, who used it as an observation post; the roundhouse walls were pulled down and the body reduced to near-skeleton condition. This damage eventually led to its demolition, in October 1953. In the following January an account of this event appeared in the Sussex County Magazine:
The fires before and after demolition suggest attempts on the part of the owners to be rid of the structure as soon as possible.
Henfield's demise left High Salvington as the only post mill remaining in Sussex west of a line running north-south from the Surrey border to Hove.
Fortunately detailed notes of the mill's construction and workings were made by ???linologists such as Denis Saunders and Stanley Freese during visits to it in the 1930s and 1940s. It was a large one and had been extended at the tail by 4 feet 3 inches. The post wa in four quarters; it bore the date 1859 and therefore had probably been replaced in that year. The brick roundhouse appeared to be single-storey but actually had two storeys, the lower one being partly below ground level. There were four double-shuttered patent sails, all of which had gone by the end of the mill's life along with the striking chain wheel and weight box (the latter mounted on the tail of the mill to the right of the door) and most of the fantail assembly. The sails were mounted on an iron windshaft which had four small ribs along its length. The brakewheel was an all-wood clasp-arm, with a large wooden pulley in front of it from which the sack hoist was driven; the tailwheel also appears to have been wooden, although latterly most of it was missing. The wallower, upright shaft and great spur wheel were of iron. Each pair of stones had its own set of governors, driven by belts from the stone spindles. The iron bridge trees were suspended from the crowntree on iron brackets. There were two flour dressers, both driven from the tail wheel via a set of bevel gears.
In 1935 Bodle Street Mill was said by Mr. W.H. King, the last man to have worked it, to be 180 years old; however a sale notice of 1807 describes it as newly-erected. By 1810 it was in the occupation of Henry Blackman of Warbleton, who insured it for £400. In 1822, when the mill was owned by Jesse Smith, James Easten was charged with breaking and entering both it and a watermill also belonging to Smith. In July of the following year the mill was again broken into and this time 8 bushels of wheat were stolen.
Jesse Smith, or a relative of the same name, was still at the mill in 1858, but J. Golbome had succeeded him by 1862. William Bristow worked it from 1866 until his death in 1891. The last millers were David Frank Baker (1895) and the above-mentioned King (from 1899).
The mill ceased grinding in 1924, not long after the breast had been entirely renewed. From then on it rapidly deteriorated. The property was at some stage put on the market, and remained unsold for a long time during which the SPAB was behind unsuccessful efforts to buy the mill for preservation. When it was finally purchased the new owners had no use for the derelict structure, and on 2nd July 1935 it was pulled over by a steam ploughing engine.
The mill was a small one with a tarred wooden roundhouse and four double-shuttered s ring sails. The breast was metalled, with the metalling extending a short distance along the sides, and is said also to have been painted black. The rest of the mill was white; this kind of colour scheme is unusual in Sussex, but was at one time common in Essex, where it may be seen today on the restored mill at Mountnessing. There were two pairs of stones, a flour machine and an oat crusher. The sack hoist was driven from the brakewheel cogs via a spur wheel.
Visiting the mill in 1929, five years after it had ceased grinding, Gurney Wilson found the interior swept clean with tools arranged ready for use. A half burnt candle was evidence that the last work had been carried out by night. On a timber was carved "Wind strong 4/3/ 1818." This referred to a gale which caused the structure considerable damage.
ICKLESHAM Telegraph Hill Mill
(TQ 866 162)
This mill is first heard of in 1774, in which year it was lucky to escape with only slight damage when a severe storm hit the area; 5 barns and a stable nearby were blown down and a number of houses destroyed. In 1778 the miller was John Oliver, who insured it for £300; by 1792 it was John Harmer. In the Defence Schedules of 1801 the mill is stated to be capable of producing 60 bushels of flour every 24 hours. In 1829 it was being worked by a Mr. Meads. At some time between 1824 and 1843 it was moved a short distance to the northwest, to slightly lower ground; probably the original site was regarded as too exposed.
In 1845 the mill was rented by George Bushby, who it seems did not actually work it himself, the task being undertaken by a Mr. Mobsby. The latter was an accomplished musician who played the harmonium every Sunday at Coombes church. A piece of timber taken from the mill, which in the 1930s was in the possession of local resident, bore his initials and the date 1849.
In about 1860 the mill was partially rebuilt and it was probably then that patent sails were fitted. On George Bushby's death in 1866 his widow Elizabeth, followed by his sons William and Charles, took over the tenancy. William was running the mill on his own in 1878. By 1882 William Bushby had been succeeded by James Cass, who was still there in 1887. Cass gave it up when he became too old to work it after which the owner, Mr. Carr-Lloyd, employed a man to do some occasional grinding until 1900 when the mill finally stopped.
After this it stood in a derelict condition, with one sail missing and the weatherboarding in disarray, until pulled down in 1905. Its demolition was probably precipitated by the danger to the local children, for whom it was a favourite haunt and who used the tailpole as a slide. The post remained at the site for some years after the mill had gone.
Lancing was a tall-bodied white post mill with four patent sails, whose weight box and striking wheel were located on the side of the superstructure, and a single-storey wooden roundhouse. It appears to have been well-maintained.
In the 1930s the earlier site was marked by a mound beside a grass track proceeding eastwards from the top of Mill Lane, and the later one by another, with indentations, on the south side of a track coming up from Coombes Road.
The date of construction of this mill remains unknown, but it is shown on Gream's map of 1795. For a number of years it kept company with a post mill situated a little further to the south. H.E.S. Simmons was told that the two were known as the North and South Mills to distinguish them and that at one time a man named Hutchinson worked both. The post mill had disappeared by 1842 according to the Tithe Map of that year.
In 1823 the smock mill was occupied by William Cooper Woodhams, who had put it up for sale. For a short period up to December 1841, when their partnership was dissolved, it was rim in conjunction with mills at Playden and Rye by William and James Edmonds. Afterwards James Edmonds operated it on his own for a time. He may have departed by 1845 when one directory gives no miller at Peasmarsh, suggesting the mill was then out of use. It was for sale again in 1849, and for a few years in the 1850s was worked by Thomas Dengate before being taken over by William Bannister Jnr., whose family were to run it for most of the rest of its active life apart from an interval at the end of the century when it was operated by the Bashfords - William in 1890, Albert in 1895 and George in 1899. The Dengates and the Banisters are also associated with the mills at Northiam, the former with that at Mill Corner and the latter with the High Park mill which survived until 1949.
By 1866 a steam mill had been erected on the premises and was being run in conjunction with the windmill; it had a platform connecting it with the stage of the latter. About 1909 the Kentish millwright Frank Pain put on a new pair of sweeps and did some work to the curb, but the mill was not to remain in use for much longer. Peter Hemming states that it closed in 1919, his source probably being a Mr. Offham who once worked at the mill and gave him some information about it1, although one directory gives Charles Banister, who is first recorded there in 1903, as miller until 1922. The mill certainly could not have worked for very long after the latter date as it was soon in a very bad condition. In the late 1920s optimism was expressed that the structure might be saved for posterity, as the then owner, Miss Sybil Arundale, a well known actress of the period, planned to convert it into a summerhouse. The work was started but later abandoned, perhaps due to the state of the building, and it continued to deteriorate. By 1934 the fan and one sweep had gone; a second sweep fell shortly afterwards and was nailed to the smock in what had been roughly been its original position. The sweeps appear to have come to rest when the mill stopped work in more or less the form of a +. This one being the lowermost, presumably to avoid having to dispose of it, was nailed back. The mill was demolished in 1943.2
Two accidents occurred at the mill during its history. In 1826, a labourer working in the mill yard was struck by one of the sweeps and killed. Forty years later William Banister was more lucky; he was also bit by the sweeps but survived although considerably stunned and suffering severe head injuries. He was able to return to work shortly afterwards, though feeling the effects of his mishap.
The mill was a small one, with a single-storey brick base which had a cellar. The cap was a rather squat version of the Kentish type, and there were four spring sweeps mounted on an iron windshaft. Latterly the body of the mill was covered with tarred canvas while the cap was painted white.
Although mills in this region of East Sussex often resembled those of Kent in various respects, Peasmarsh is the only one I have seen a photograph of which had the type of stage common in the adjoining part of that county, i.e. supported from ground level by vertical posts braced diagonally at their tops to the horizontal platform.3
Though modernised externally at some point, internally the mill appears to have remained relatively unchanged throughout its working life. The gearing was mostly wooden and exhibited one or two quite primitive features. The wallower was of solid construction demonstrating sometimes what may lie beneath the late nineteenth or early twentieth century skin of a mill which began operating in the eighteenth. Two pairs of stones were overdriven and a notice of 1866 advertising the mill to be let mentions a flour machine and a smutter. The brake wheel was of a comparatively rare type, with a central boss like that of a fantail having sockets into which the arms fitted.
As a final word, the Kentish millwright William Warren claimed that a man who put a new fantail on Peasmarsh mill managed somehow to gear it to turn the mill out of the wind, and had to correct this mistake at his own expense. Rex Wailes, in whose book The English Windmill the anecdote is related, states however "this jibe has been told by many millwrights about their rivals."
C.W. Daniels, Windmills in Sussex (1936)
This mill is a comparatively recent departure from the Sussex scene and Silverhill smock mill is still fondly remembered by people in the area today. It was built in 1866 by Upfields on the site of a mill destroyed by fire the previous year, which for reasons of space I will not attempt to deal with here. The mill had been extensively improved shortly before its destruction, so the new one was more or less an exact replica of it.1 This large white mill stood on a two-floor brick base which sometime after 1890 was enclosed within a square structure, the roof of which served as a stage.2 In this respect it resembled a number of mills in Kent. Other Kentish features were the shape of the cap, the construction of the fanstage and the lattice-framed dormer windows in the smock. There were four patent sails, the frames of which began furth out from the canister than was usually the case, making for a less aesthetically pleasing appearance. In all other respects though the mill looked very handsome.
As might be expected in a mill which remained in use well into the twentieth century, the machinery and fittings represented the ultimate in windmill technology. The windshaft, brakewheel, wallower, upright shaft, great spur wheel, stone nuts and from 1931 one of the cant posts were of iron.3 Among various refinements was the provision of screw grease cap lubricators to the rollers on which the cap turned.4 The size and power of the mill were emphasised by the four pairs of stones, which were overdriven.5 The drive to the sack hoist was taken from a gear ring mounted above the spur wheel in a shallow dummy floor. A massive timber frame supported the upright shaft.6 At one time there would have been smutting and dressing machinery but this had been removed by the 1930s when Simmons and others examined the interior of the mill, flour production having ceased. Auxiliary power was provided first by a steam engine, then a suction gas plant, and finally an electric motor installed in the base.7 For the whole of its working life the mill was owned and operated by the Draper family, first William (until c.1899) and then John.8 From remarks made in the 1960s be a former employee it may not have been really economical in its latter days.9
After ceasing work in 1941 due to problems with the curb the mill seems to have deteriorated rapidly.10 As with many late surviving English windmills whose future was threatened, preservation was discussed, but nothing happened and its condition worsened until it became dangerous. The failure to preserve the mill seems deplorable when one considers that it was owned by a member of the Council (and sometime Mayor), but desire to save it appears to have been sincere. The real problem was of finding enough money in the difficult post-war conditions. By the time it might have been available the mill had deteriorated too far. Its fate was probably sealed by a gale in 1961 which blew away part of the cap roof. The estimated cost of repairs was now £5,000, a much larger sum than it is today. Demolition was decided upon, which prompted a vigorous correspondence in the local newspaper. Most of this was in the mill's defence. About the only dissenting voice was a gentleman who saw little value in spending money on obsolete buildings which were "only preserved to be looked at". He commented, "How many of the rising generation of today are interested in the windmill? You can't rock 'n' roll on the sweeps so the verdict is let it go." 11
For some reason the work was not carried out, and there followed a curious period in which the mill lingered on, evidently forgotten about, the controversy about its future having spent itself. In 1966 the property was purchased by a furniture removal company. The new owners applied for permission to dismantle the mill on account of its perilous state. This time there was no outcry, and after nearly a century of existence Draper's Mill passed into history.12
So disappeared the last windmill to stand in the Hastings area and one of the finest mills every built in the county. The only windmill lost to Sussex since has been Winchelsea. destroyed in the 'hurricane' of 1987, unless one counts those like East Wittering and Nyetimber which were gutted of their machinery after having already lost their sails and caps, and thus ceased to be "mills" in any meaningful sense. An industrial estate now covers the site.
I am indebted to Mr. Brian Purdey of Hastings Central Library for drawing my attention to the relevant newspaper articles.
RUSTINGTON, SEA FIELD
MILL (TQ 052014)
RUSTINGTON, BRIDGE MILL (TQ 056029)
There was a mill on this site in the sixteenth century. its miller being John Hide. It may have been the same as that used by one Rennalls, who in 1638 was presented for " takinge excessive toll of gristes," a charge which occurs repeatedly against him.
Sutton Mill is thought to have been built around 1773 for William Washer, a sale notice in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of 26th December 1774 states it to be newly erected. Apparently contradicting this is another sale notice in 1802, according to which the mill was held under a lease which had commenced in 1769. It is possible that the wording is ambiguous. and that the lease was of the property as a whole, the mill itself not being built at the time. Shortly after its erection the mill had become the property of Thomas Washer, but he soon vacated it after which William Washer is again recorded as the owner and occupier until 1779. After this date he appears to have continued as owner only until his death in or shortly before 1802, when the tenant was Richard Bull.
It is known that William Bull was working the mill some time during the early nineteenth century; he was presumably a relative of Richard Bull, as was Henry Bull who is recorded there in 1828-9. A directory of 1832-4 gives Charles Osborne as miller and coal merchant, and according to the Tithe Map he was still there in 1839, when the owner was Thomas Allwork. Thomas Chambers worked it in 1845. but by 1851 he had been succeeded by Thomas Allwork. At one time Ade's grinder - the man who actually operated the mill, the "miller" being, as at a good many other Sussex windmills, essentially a foreman - was a man named Jack Osborne. Osborne was very good at his job when he felt so inclined, but was very independent and frequently left his place of employment without obtaining permission or giving prior notification, returning later as unexpectedly as he had left. He was said to have been the only man in the immediate vicinity who understood this type of work (or he would probably have been sacked') Eventually he left Sutton Mill to take up a fresh situation nine miles away at Eastbourne. He set out for his destination and arrived there three weeks later, having meanwhile spent the greater pan of his time in the Tiger Inn at East Dean. Sometime between 1855 and 1860. Ade had the mill reconstructed. raising it and adding a fantail and patent sweeps. He was to continue in occupation until 1887. after which Thomas Sayer used it until it closed in c. 1900. Latterly the mill stood with stocks and the fantail carriage still in position. It was demolished in 1909 after which houses were built on the site obliterating all trace of the structure.
During its life the mill saw perhaps more than its fair share of accidents. In 1773 when it had only been standing for a short time, a boy named James Stevens was struck by one of the sweeps and killed. Not long after Thomas Ade took possession of it, a sweep knocked down one of his relatives, fortunately without causing them serious injury; and some time previously had cut a sow in two. These incidents were a contributory factor in his decision to rebuild and raise the mill.
On 20th December 1856 the following item appeared in the Brighton Herald
In the same paper on 31st January 1857 we read:
The mill was a white one, with a brick roundhouse. The sweeps were double shuttered. The fan, a very large specimen. had five blades and drove the carriage wheels via two worm screws. At the time it was fitted the millwrights who did the job said there was only one other windmill fantail working on the same principle, in Kent. As reconstructed the mill had two pairs of stones in the breast and one in the tail.
Close to the site of the mill, bordering Sutton Road, there still stood in the 1930s the Old Mill House, built by Thomas Ade and consisting of one floor only so as not to take the southerly wind from the mill. I don't know whether it is still in existence.
(It is - Editor) The drawing of the mill by Ron Martin is based on a photograph in the Frank Gregory collection.
It has been stated that this mill dates from 1747. It has also been referred to as Black Horse Mill as it originally stood close to the inn of that name, about half a mile from the site to which it was later moved. The move to Telham took place about 1800 but the mill that was demolished in 1961 appeared to be of mid to late nineteenth century date. This might suggest that this was not the same mill unless it had been subject to a substantial rebuild some fifty years after its move.
The following item from the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of 13 August 1804 is thought b refer to this mill, a John Shaw having been the owner during the early nineteenth century:
"MIRACULOUS ESCAPE — On Thursday last some boys were amusing themselves in the mill plot belonging to Mr. Shaw of Battle, by running between the mill sweeps which were then going with great velocity. One of them, a child of about 4 or 5 years of age, whilst in the act of passing the sweeps had the brim of his hat completely cut from the crown, and wonderful to relate without the smallest injury to his person."
In 1834 the miller was Ebenezer Weller but by 1862 he had died and the mill was being worked by his executors. Around 1870 it was taken over by John Fry. Fry was later succeeded by George Edmund Morris, who was there in 1882. George J. Wallis was in charge by 1890, and the firm of Wallis & Co. continued to operate the mill until its closure in 1914 or 15.
It remained for some years in quite reasonable condition, although minus its sweeps, and at one stage the roundhouse was turned into a tea-room (curiously the same was proposed a few years ago for Windmill Hill mill). The venture did not really prove successful and had b be abandoned.1 By the 1950s the mill was in need of considerable repair, but an appeal for funds for this purpose failed to produce enough.2 The side girts had become badly bent at the crown tree, and it was this defect which led to the mill's partial collapse on 13 September 1961, following which it was pulled over by a tractor to avoid risk to those living in the nearby houses.3
Telham was a fairly typical East Sussex post mill, similar in some respects to Windmill Hill, though not quite as big. It was nevertheless a large mill, with a two-storey brick roundhouse through whose walls the piers supporting the trestle projected very noticeably, a feature not common among South Eastern post mills. The roof, breast and sides were clad in white painted metal sheeting, as at Windmill Hill, Cross-in-Hand and others, but here it terminated at the level of the sheers. It was a fine mill, with four patent sweeps whose striking chain wheel and weight box were on the tail to the left of the door. Latterly "WALLIS & CO. HIGH CLASS BREAD AND FLOUR" was painted on the metalling on one side of the body.4
The windshaft was of iron, with a wooden brake wheel and iron tail wheel. Unusually (but not uniquely) there was room to stand in front of the former. The tail wheel was cast in two parts, with wooden teeth. There were two pairs of stones, both 4 ft 6 in. in diameter. A flour machine was installed while on the spout floor were two wooden mixers, with a common spout which was horizontal and contained a brush for moving the meal along. The sack hoist was driven from the inside face of the brakewheel.
WORTHING, HEENE MILL TQ 132 028
Heene Mill was an old one, shown on maps of the mid-eighteenth century; however, the first non-cartographic record of it does not occur until 1825, when the Sussex Advertiser of August 15th reports the following incident:
"During the tempest at Heene near Worthing on Wednesday last, some harvesters sought shelter in a windmill (the most dangerous that can be resorted to in these cases) when one of them, a boy, was struck by lightning which singed his hair and rent his clothes, but happily without inflicting any material personal injury."
In 1839, according to the Tithe Apportionment, the occupier was William Parker. In 1851 a tithe account gives Jane Lephard (or Leppard as Directories spell the name) as occupier of the mill, mill plot and cottage.
Jane had either inherited the mill from her first husband, a miller, or continued to rent it after his death, and by this means it came to be used by her second husband, Edmund Lephard of Heene Farm, from 1853. In 1868 and 1882 Lephard's miller was Henry Ball.
The mill was next used by Charles Bolting, who had a bakery at nearby Egremont Place. Botting had died or given up the business by 1893, and the mill then stood derelict until its demolition ten years later, in June 1903. In the 1930s the site of the mill was still evident on the south side of Mill Road, between numbers 33 and 37, just west of Grand Avenue.
Heene Mill was a large black post mill with a shallow roundhouse and common sweeps working two pairs of stones. A fine detailed drawing of it by A. Elliott, executed in 1844, could at one time be seen at Worthing Library; I do not know if it is still there.
All views presented here are those of the respective authors any do not reflect those of the Society or its officers.
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