Posted on

Holman Bros., Millwrights of Canterbury: A history

Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem

Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem
Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem. Source: Illustrated London News, 1858

Judah Touro, the son of a cantor, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, and went to New Orleans in 1801 from Boston. He learned the merchant trade from his uncle and as a commission merchant with investments in steamships and real estate, he gradually amassed a fortune. He willed $10,000 to the North American Relief Society for the Indigent Jews of Jerusalem through their agent Sir Moses Montefiore, the son of an Israeli family which had moved to England.

In 1824, Sir Moses decided to retire from his successful financial career and dedicate his resources to aiding his fellow Jews. He visited Jerusalem for the first time in 1827.

Over the next half-century until his death at the age of 101 in 1885, Sir Moses championed the cause of equal rights for Jews throughout the world. The poor of the Holy Land were Sir Moses’ favourite charity and despite the difficulties involved at that time both in travel overseas and travel within the Holy Land, he made seven pilgrimages to Jerusalem in his lifetime.

In the mid-1850s, Sir Moses who still had financial interests in the City of London, and lived in the Isle of Thanet, interested himself in the plight of the poorer Jews in Jerusalem. Sir Moses and an American Jewish businessman, Gershom Kursheedt were concerned for the poor of Jerusalem and planned to build a hospital for them. All the inhabitants at that time lived within the walled city and conditions were very overcrowded and insanitary.

In 1855, Sir Moses had a bequest made to him by Judah Touro of New Orleans ‘to ameliorate the conditions of our unfortunate brethren in the Holy Land’. The Rothschilds had meanwhile provided an adequate hospital so Montefiore and Kursheedt built a long, one-storey row of apartments to serve as dwellings for the homeless. This was named Mishkenot Sha’ananim, meaning ‘peaceful dwellings’ or ‘quiet resting places’.

Sir Moses went to Jerusalem in 1855 to determine the specific form of the project. On his return home he decided not only to provide a livelihood for the residents of his newly acquired land but also to help the poor by reducing the price of flour. Both of these aims, he felt, could be achieved by the erection of a windmill to grind corn, which had previously been done using hand or horse driven mills.

After seeing examples of Holman mills in Thanet, Thomas Holman and his brother John James were commissioned by Sir Moses Montefiore to erect the windmill under the direction of the Society for Assisting the Jews. An agreement was signed to build the mill for £1,450.

The design was for a tower mill built of local stone which it was hoped would withstand earthquakes. Although the building materials could be easily obtained in Jerusalem, the mill mechanism could not and so all the iron parts and running gear were made in Canterbury and transported by sea to Jaffa.

Early in 1857, Thomas Richard went out to superintend the work. His passport gave free admission to Germany, France, Turkey, and Palestine, in case the overland route was chosen on the return journey. He travelled out by boat via Alexandria. A cheque for £17.10.0 was sent to the Australian Mail Co. in March 1857 – presumably for his fare, taking a foreman with him, and employing Arab labour.

The machinery was all made and fitted at the works in Dover Street, sent by sea to Beirut where goods were transferred to an Arab coasting vessel and taken to Jaffa, where it was landed with much difficulty. The landing stage at Jaffa was not strong enough so the coaster was run close inshore and the individual pieces dragged ashore in small boats by 40 men with ropes.

There were neither roads nor carriages, so everything was taken on camels and horses with the aid of many men, with a guide leading the way, each part being assigned its own cart, horses and a team of up to forty men with Thomas Richard following on horseback. It was 35 miles. Before the paving of a road from Jaffa to Jerusalem in 1869 the trip from the port to the Holy City took sixteen hours. It took 4 months to transfer all the machinery to Jerusalem and during this time the millwright was supervising the building of the tower.

The following were listed in Thomas Richard’s pocketbook:

Contents of clothes box.

Case of Gingerbread, Biscuits, Plum Cake, Cannister of sweets, 5 Pairs socks, 4 Pairs stockings, 6 Scarfs, 4 Neck ties, 6 Towels, 4 Small do., 1 Face cloth, 1 Duster, 3 Flannels, 9 Shirts, 8 Handkerchiefs, 4 Coats, 3 Waistcoats, 3 Pairs trousers, 1 Slop, 2 Pairs drawers, 2 Hats, 3 Pairs braces, Linen Rag, 2 pairs shoes, Shoe laces, Looking glass, Paper & ink, Knife, Fork & 3 Spoons, 4 Books.

Contents of toolbox.

6 Augers, 1 Handle, 1 Axe, 4 Saws, 1 Strait edge, 11 Chisels, 1 Screwdriver, 2 Planes, 1 Rabbit plane, 7 Brad awls, 9 Gimlets, 3 Gauges, 1 Spokeshave, 1 Bevil, 1 Pair pincers, 3 Prs Caliphers, 2 Chalk lines, 5 Punches, Pencils, Spirit level, 1 Mallett, 2 Hammers, 1 Pair trammels, 1 Oil stone, 5 Files, 6 Hand saw files, 5 Cold chisels, 2 Squares, T spanner, 2 Papers, 1 Box instruments, 1 Pair compasses, Sand paper, 3 Brushes, 1 Bottle blacking.

Also listed were wages: Masons 16 Piasters per day, Labourers 5 Piasters, Boys 3 Piasters. Miller requires 20 piasters per day and house to live in. Price of lime – 35 piasters per coutar delivered on the spot. Water 100 piasters per 200 skins. Camel will carry 600lbs. Paid Anna watchman up to July 10th 150 piasters

There was the Arabic alphabet together with some translations from Arab to English, including – Ah teem shwyez saboon – Give me some soap. Enta Sithus – What for. Anna areed shwyez titten – I want some tobacco.

There were lists of names of camel drivers and loads carried and time sheets of masons employed showing which days they had worked. In August 1857, 257 donkeys were hired to transport water, building materials, lime, and wood.

The mill was built at the foot of Mount Zion about a quarter of a mile outside the Jaffa Gate. The first stone of the mill was laid on 5 May 1857. The tower of the mill was built from stone quarried locally, and lime, ashes (from the Baths) and water were carried to the site in baskets and skins on donkeys and camels. Local masons were employed and the hours worked were 6 o’clock until 6 in the evening. The wages paid per day were labourers 5 piasters and boys 3 piasters. It was the custom of the Arabs to demand baksheesh every morning before starting work and the mill was looked upon with an evil eye by the local millers one of whose head men was sent to curse it.

A further cheque for £52.10.0 was sent to the Mail Company in August 1857 when the millwright’s brother, John James, went out as escort to 2 millwrights, Kemp and Mace, who were to install the machinery. Once at Jerusalem the parts were incorporated into the windmill.

The stone tower was round, 21 feet diameter and 3 feet thick at the bottom, then cylindrical upwards for 10 feet, then tapering for 32 feet to 11 feet with 2 foot 9 inch thickness at the top and surmounted by a lead covered, traditional Kentish wagon-shaped cap. The sweeps, manufactured with the rest of the machinery in Canterbury, included what the Illustrated London News was pleased to call ‘the very latest invention’ – William Cubitt’s patent sweep design. They were double-shuttered with eleven bays of 2 shutters each, 6 bays on the midling, and 5 beyond with a span of 60ft. The high mounted fan-tail had a diameter of around 8 feet. A cast iron windshaft carried a brake wheel driving the usual upright shaft which had a six-spoked cast iron spur wheel, with wallowers driving the 2 pairs of millstones. There was also a drive to the wheat cleaner and flour dressing machines. In addition to the ground floor, there were 2 further wooden floors above – the stone floor and the wheat bin floor.

It took about 18 months to complete the mill. At the end of that time Thomas Richard went down to Jaffa to inspect the wells in connection with the irrigation of the orange gardens there. While there he contracted dangerous Syrian fever, and he was nursed back to health by an American lady doctor.

On Friday 27 February 1857 the Jewish Chronicle and the Hebrew Observer, advertised for a miller:

Wanted, for the holy City of Jerusalem, a JEWISH MILLER who thoroughly understands the working of a Windmill with self-acting sweeps, DRESSING the STONES, and the requisite adjustment of a Flour-machine working with a Wired Cylinder and revolving brushes.

Applications by letter, giving reference: respecting ability moral and religious character, &c., to be addressed to Alexander J. Montefiore, Esq., Alliance Office, Bartholomew Lane, London.

Sir Moses Montefiore arrived at Jerusalem to inspect the mill on 20th May 1857. The mill was eventually completed in spite of prophecies that the heavy rains of the rainy season would wash it away. When it was seen to have withstood the rains it was pronounced the work of Satan. The poor Jews, however, were duly grateful. A miller was employed and instructed and he asked for 20 piasters a day and a house to live in.

One report has it that the Arabs were fond of drinking lubricating oil, and even licking greased bearings for sustenance. A leg or pork was eventually hung in the oil storage barrel which stopped the practice. The instructions of Sir Moses, that the price of flour be cheaper for the poor, were at first followed.

A picture taken by M.J. Diness in April 1858 shows that the mill was complete with the shutters of the sweeps closed, indicating the mill was still working by wind. This and other old pictures show white paint on the roof and woodwork of the sweeps which, in the hot climate of Jerusalem, would have been a practical colour.

In 1866 the Holmans replied to questions sent by Isaac Rosenthal, Moses Montefiore’s agent, as to whether repairs were required to the mill. They confirmed that the midlings were in good condition, but the sweeps, fantail and sweep rods needed painting. All the shutters had been blown out and 200 new ones were needed, framed and covered with stout canvas and finished with three coats of best white paint. The ironwork of sweeps was not broken. The brake wheel needed 72 new cogs of seasoned apple or beech timber.

The spur wheel was in good condition, but the stone pinions were worn, all 50 cogs needing to be replaced. The stone The spur wheel was in good condition, but the stone pinions were worn, all 50 cogs needing to be replaced. The stone spindles were not damaged. Two new step brasses were needed for the bottoms of the stone spindles and 50 new cogs for the stone pinions, to be made of well-seasoned apple or beech timber. Four new neck brasses were to be fitted to the lower stone boxes. Nothing was broken in the flour machine, but the brass boxes which the bottom of the stone spindles ran in were worn through and new ones were necessary. The roof of the mill was damaged in several places and the rain was coming in. A long new rope from England was also requested, as it could not be obtained locally. There was a request to send out ‘white colour’ ready and prepared to whiten all the damaged places, and for four mill bills with handle to furrow the millstones.

The mill worked until around 1876 with sundry repairs, but gradually fell into decay. The establishment of other flour mills, operated by steam, and the expense of spare parts and their transportation made Sir Moses’ windmill uneconomical and it stood unused for many years. By the early 1930s it was in poor condition

It is as a landmark that the mill is best remembered in Jerusalem, but even though the landmark was cherished, nothing was done to preserve it.

Eventually a concrete roof was put on which incorporated (i.e. cemented in) the original cast iron windshaft. This may have been a mistake because the mill was used as a Haganah observation and machine gun post during the 1947–48 war. To hinder the Jewish defence, the British Army blew the top off with explosives in 1948; this became known as ‘Operation Don Quixote’ and must be unique in the windmill world.

Eventually the tower was restored to its original height. In 1968 a copper cap, together with stocks and dummy sweeps were installed and the tower was repointed. Peter Halben, Director of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, remarked at the time that ‘a cherished landmark of Jerusalem’ – the Holman Brothers’ windmill was still in existence.

The mill has passed into Jerusalem history as it has been represented on banknotes, greetings cards, stamps, and is a significant exhibit in the museum area of Jerusalem Mishkenot Sha’ananim.


It is planned to restore to working order, the famous Montefiore windmill, originally built in 1857 and a significant landmark in Jerusalem, on an initiative by the Dutch organisation Christians for Israel as a part of the celebrations to mark 60 years of the State of Israel.

Herman Schotanus and Gerrit Keunan from the organisation visited Jerusalem in 2008 for a preliminary examination of the project. Herman worked as a landscape architect while Gerrit was involved in measuring and planning the restoration of historic buildings, including many windmills. At the time the mill consisted of a stone tower capped with a concrete cover which enclosed the iron windshaft, which in turn supported four dummy sweeps. There was a dummy, round copper cap covering the top of the tower. A tower scaffold erected inside the tower and a hydraulic platform outside, enabled them to examine and measure the upper parts of the tower. Gerrit produced measured sketches, later used to produce detailed plans. It is hoped to start the renovation in 2010.

The design put forward is as close as possible to the original design of the Montefiore Mill, given the information available to date. Further details are still being sought and minor adjustments may be necessary if any relevant details come to light.

As a member of the Holman family who originally built the windmill, I was first approached at a Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings meeting to ask whether my name could be given to the organisation as a possible source of information. Subsequently I received an email from Holland saying that a group was coming to Kent and asking whether I could help them with details of the construction of a Holman mill and enable then to visit existing examples.

I asked Vincent Pargeter, a millwright with experience of working on Kentish mills, if he could spare the time to join the group and give technical assistance. Herman and Gerrit came over from Holland, together with Dr.Shaul Sapir and his wife Ann from Israel. Shaul is a Professor of Geography and Archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is a local contact for the project; he has done a lot of research and written an historical account of the mill.

The machinery of the Montefiore Mill is not documented but it can be assumed that it would have been similar to other Holman mills. The group’s first introduction to the layout and construction of a Holman mill came with the inspection of a large scale model, made by my father, of Stelling Minnis mill, a Holman mill built in 1866. In my own collection I have material relating to the construction of the Jerusalem mill including a pocket book belonging to John Holman who went to Jerusalem which contains much useful information on the construction of the mill. Also there are the results of research done by my father, who assembled information on the mill and produced an outline drawing with measurements.

To help arrive at an authentic design, I had arranged for three Holman-built mills, those at Sarre (1820), Margate (1845) and Stelling Minnis (1866), to be opened for the group to inspect.  Gerrit made measurements and drew sketches which aided the production of plans for Jerusalem. Although these are all smock mills with wooden towers, the layout of machinery would have been similar to the one in Jerusalem with its stone tower. I have got several pictures of the mill from various archives. The earliest is an engraving in the Illustrated London News dated 1858, followed by photographs of it in working condition in 1865 and then several showing its gradual decline over the years. These have provided valuable information to help build up a picture of the details of the construction of the mill. From these, together with material from the Holman archive and measurements from existing Holman mills, Vincent produced designs and scale drawings which will be used to plan the restoration. Vincent visited Jerusalem to present his drawings to the interested parties and to answer any questions. He visited the windmill for the first time but there was no access up the tower for him to take accurate measurements


The existing stone tower built on solid rock, measures 45 feet from the ground to the top. It has a diameter of 22 feet at the base and narrows to 11 feet 6 inches at the top. The walls are 42 inches thick at the base reducing to 21 inches at the top. At present it has a stone floor at ground level. The stonework has been kept in good condition by repointing over the years. The top has been capped off with concrete which has enveloped the cast iron windshaft, and a dummy copper cap and sweeps added. There are information boards about Moses Montefiore fixed around the interior walls on the ground level. Various groups are given access to the mill at times to see the interior and to look at the boards, as the mill is part of a historical tour of the City.


From the research it has been established that the curb on top of the tower which supports the cap and sweeps, would have been of quite thick wood with cast-iron plates on top to support the cap. There is no clue as to how it was held down to the tower.

Cap and fantail

From photographs it can be seen that the cap was of traditional Kentish shape, and it is estimated that the 6 bladed fan was 9 feet in diameter.


The position of the original 4 floors can be determined by 3 inch wide ledges in the tower’s stonework to support the joists. The beams were fitted into pockets in the stonework, which today have been filled up with pieces of what could be the original millstones. The sizes of the beams were taken from the original millwright’s pocket book, used when the mill was being built.


Again photographs have provided most of the information on the originals. The overall span was around 64 feet. There were 6 bays of 22, 11 inch wide double shutters up to the end of the midling and a further 5 bays beyond. The sweeps were around 6 feet 6 inches wide.


The original cast-iron windshaft, upon which the sails and brake-wheel were mounted still exists, embedded in concrete on top of the tower and may be reusable with some re-machining of the bearing surfaces. The exact dimensions are not known. The exact size and shape of the windshaft will need to be known before construction of the new cap can commence.

Brake wheel

When the mill started to deteriorate, and the cladding of the cap fell away, it was possible to see from photographs that the brake wheel inside had cast-iron spokes and a wooden rim.

Drive shafts and gearing

The shafts and the gearing would have been of cast iron. Each pair of gears had one fitted with wooden cogs to allow for easy replacement in case of breakage. There was a cast iron spur wheel with 6 spokes driving 2 gears on a shaft to turn the millstones with another gear to drive the flour dresser. The upright shaft was also of cast iron.

Flour machine

There was a flour dressing and wheat cleaning machine. If, as most likely, it was the same as others installed in Holman mills, it would have had a 16 inch diameter cylinder with 4 sheets of mesh. A replica can be constructed using existing machines in Kent as a pattern.


John Holman’s pocket book shows 2 pairs of millstones. These would have been 4 feet in diameter – the standard size for Victorian Kentish millstones – and made of French burr stone.

On 26 March 2009, Nir Birkat the Mayor of Jerusalem wrote the following to the Dutch Christians for Israel organisation:

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to write and thank you for the wonderful initiative of the Dutch Christians for Israel in the restoration of the Montefiore Windmill. Support by Dutch communities, Jewish and Christian alike, for the State of Israel and in particular, the city of Jerusalem, inspires a sense of unfailing friendship.

This is an important historic landmark in Jerusalem and your commitment together with the Jerusalem Foundation, to restore the Windmill, built in 1857, to its former glory will make a meaningful contribution to Jerusalem and the tourism industry that is so important to the city’s economic growth. 

The Windmill is one of the most significant parts of the historic Mishkenot Sha’ananim complex. Together with the planned Open Museum including a special interactive exhibition about the life of Sir Moses Montefiore, the Windmill will provide a window into the history of modern Jerusalem and the special contribution made by philanthropy.

We eagerly anticipate the dedication of the restored Windmill on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Mishkenot Sha’ananim and the message of hope and renewal this will bring to the people of Jerusalem and around the world.

Vincent then reported on the next steps to be taken. The top of the tower must be inspected to check its condition, make measurements and check how best to fix the new curb. When the windshaft and concrete slab have been removed, together with the dummy cap and sweeps, the top of the stonework can be prepared to receive the new curb and cap. Some repairs to the masonry will be required using matching stones.

From a laser survey, it was found that the top of the tower is not circular, possibly due to movement of the stonework, or erosion. The laser survey also gave Vincent more precise measurements to incorporate into his plans. Accurate measurements, correct to 20mm, need to be made of the top of the tower to ensure that the new curb, to be made in England, would fit. A reinforced concrete ring beam will be needed for the new curb to rest on.

The existing stone wall is approximately 20 inches wide on top, so the stonework will need cutting away from the outside edge to provide space for the ring beam to be cast in situ. The outside of the ring beam will need to be formed by circular shuttering, with the remaining stonework forming the shuttering for the inside. Suitable mesh or bar reinforcement will need to be incorporated when casting the ring beam. The finished top surface of the ring beam must be level and flat.

When the top of the tower is finished, a temporary roof will be needed to keep the interior dry pending the erection of the new curb and cap. The roof may be covered with corrugated roofing material and some clear plastic panels incorporated to provide some light in the tower while the new top floor is being installed.

When this plan was seen by the Jewish Foundation, the owners of the site, they realised that the mill would be without its dummy cap or sweeps for some time. Due to the importance of the mill as a landmark, it was ruled that an alternative plan be produced which would not leave the mill without cap or sweeps for any significant time. Unfortunately this will add to the cost of the project.

To accommodate the authorities’ request, the plan was amended to erect a semi-permanent, load bearing scaffolding inside the tower to give access to the top levels, and to allow for any dismantling. The ground floor will need to be checked to find out if it will carry the weight of the scaffolding and loads. The scaffolding will need to be footed on suitable spreaders to avoid local damage to the floor beneath from the loads carried. The floor surface itself will need to be protected with a complete covering of 15mm plywood. Fully boarded-out work levels will need to be provided at 10 metres and 12.5 metres above the ground floor surface for access when the reconstruction work eventually takes place. The upper level must be able to bear the weight of the cast-iron windshaft (approx.1,250 kilos) plus fragments of concrete as the slab is broken up. It would be designed so that visitors can still view the mill’s interior. The scaffolding could be purchased so that a rental is not payable, and the components then sold at the end of the job.

This plan will also ensure that a start has been made, thus complying with the permits rule to start within a year. Holes would be drilled horizontally through the tower stonework at intervals to check its thickness and the internal diameter measured at intervals. An access hole would be cut through the concrete roof and some concrete cut away to allow inspection and measuring of the windshaft. The Jerusalem Foundation did not agree to this and favoured a temporary tower scaffold be erected inside to allow for all necessary detailed measurements to be made and then for this to be removed whilst off-site construction work was undertaken. The load bearing scaffolding could then be erected whilst the major work was undertaken.

It was getting increasingly important for detailed costs to be ascertained as potential sponsors would need to be given the possibility of choosing to donate the cost of specific items. The estimates needed to include detailed descriptions of parts, transportation, taxes, and insurance.


A new curb of oak, 2 layers, complete with cast-iron track plates incorporating the rack teeth and attachment rods would cost £13,720 (woodwork £7,300, ironwork £6,420). This would be ready to fix on top of the stonework of the tower once the latter had been prepared. Construction time about 1 month.

Cap and fantail

A new cap and fanstage of oak with ash or elm ribs, boarded with cedar, all painted and ready to assemble would cost £60,605.

It was suggested that Dutch millwrights could make the entire cap and fantail to Vincent’s drawings but it would be difficult to make sure iron parts made in England married up to the woodwork and in any case, it would be cheaper to do the whole job in England.


A suggestion that floors could be made from recycled timber was discounted as, after research, it was found it would cost the same as new timber.


Four new sweeps complete with front striking gear and shutters, painted, would cost £65,800. Time to make about 6 months. Ironwork including rear patent sweep and fantail mechanisms would cost £36,000.


Vincent needs to visit Jerusalem again to check whether the existing cast iron windshaft, embedded in concrete at the top of the tower, is reusable. If it is to be reused, its exact measurements have to be taken before any construction of a new cap can commence.

A new cast-iron windshaft would cost about £12,000, including making the pattern, casting, fettling and machining. The old cast-iron windshaft would remain in place, and a new windshaft would be cast in England for the new cap. When the new cap etc. is installed, the old windshaft would be removed and could be displayed at ground level outside so that visitors could see it at close quarters.

Brake wheel

A new brake wheel with cast-iron spokes and wooden rim (elm) with wood cogs (beech or hornbeam) and brake would cost £22,000, time about 6 weeks.


It is not known whether there is any suitable stone for millstones in Israel. Originally the stones were quarried near Paris, and the stone blocks imported into England where the millstone builders would shape and fit them together. The stone is very hard, and doesn’t make much grit when working. It may be possible to get some secondhand French millstones in England, or perhaps use millstones made in the Netherlands.

When the outline plans were finally agreed, a permit, dated 7th April 2009 was issued stating that the work had to be started within a year and that it agreed ‘for the reconstruction of the operating system for the sails of the mill and its roof.’

From all the assembled historical documents and photographs, initial working drawings would be made to include the whole mill, front, side and rear outside elevations. Also plans of the cap and fanstage, brake wheel, windshaft, curb, fan gearing, sweeps, shutters and striking gear, with an overall section and floor plans, these would cost in the region of £7,000.00. The plans would take about 6 weeks to prepare. This does not include the drawings necessary for metal castings.

It might be possible to detach and lift off the existing copper-covered dome complete and reuse it as a temporary cap. However, its construction is unknown, and it may not be possible to adapt it satisfactorily. Another option would be to leave the existing cap and sweeps as they are until the new ones are ready. In this case, it would be necessary to take accurate measurements of the tower’s top by putting a full-height scaffolding inside, and drilling through the stonework at intervals to check the wall thickness. The old cast-iron windshaft would remain in place and a new windshaft would be cast in England for the new cap. This option is favoured, as the old shaft may not be serviceable anyway due to damage or corrosion.

It was recommended that the removal of the existing cap, sweeps, windshaft and the concrete top should be entrusted to a local Jerusalem firm experienced in this type of historic work, as they would have access to the necessary equipment, including cranes, scaffolding and labour, and have appropriate insurance to cover all eventualities that may occur. They could also get an accurate diameter for the top of the tower so that the new cap would be guaranteed to fit.

One suggestion was that the woodwork could be made in the Netherlands to give the project a more “international” flavour. But the ironwork would need to be “married” to the woodwork at an early stage, and this would be best done before it reaches Jerusalem. In Jerusalem the components will need to be ready for rapid assembly and fitting to obviate the need for hired craftsmen.

One thing we need to investigate is whether there is a suitable place near the mill tower where components can be assembled safely before lifting. If there isn’t such a place, the cap and fantail may need to be assembled elsewhere, preferably under cover, before bringing them to the site. They will need to be placed where the crane can lift them and put them up on the tower in one operation. There will also need to be a suitable place for the crane to stand within reach of the mill, without damaging buildings, gardens, kerbs, or overhead cables.

Transport costs are not yet finalised, but a 40 foot container would cost £2,652 to get from the UK to Jerusalem, taking about 3 weeks to do so. The components will most probably need 2 containers.

A new, long ladder will be needed to get up to the new top floor in the tower. Perhaps it would be better if this were to be made in Jerusalem? A steel ladder with a cage round it would probably be required. Could Haim get a price for that too? I* can supply the details of length etc.

[*Is this all copied from Vincent or is I Herman/Gerrit? LH]

Vincent’s insurers have advised him not to work in Jerusalem himself, but merely to act in a consultant/supervisory role. A local construction firm will be needed to do the assembly under his direction.

An instruction manual will be needed for the working and maintaining of the mill. This would need translating for local people to read. In English it would cost about £700 to produce. A day with the prospective custodians to show them how the mill works and how to do any maintenance is recommended.

A self-assembly cardboard model of the mill has been produced in Holland to sell as part of fund raising. The model of a Holman mill is on loan to the Christians for Israel head office in Nijkerk for display for fund raising. The old temporary copper cap cannot be reused, as it was decorative only and not practical. Possibly the Jerusalem Foundation could either sell it for scrap, or perhaps it could be used to make souvenirs to sell for the restoration fund.

Zwi Sella, advisor to the Jerusalem Foundation, recommended that the concrete slab was inspected via a hole in the cap rather than via a hole from below as it was not known whether there was any iron reinforcement in the concrete.

A long steel ladder with a cage round it for safety would probably be sufficient. Cost about £2,500 and best made locally in Jerusalem.

Emails between Vincent Pargeter, Herman Schotanus, Zvi Sella, and Geoff Holman between 2010 and ’11:

1 February 2010:

Hi Herman,

I’m glad Zvi has agreed to my alternative suggestion. I’m not too bothered which way the access is arranged as long as it’s ready by the time we arrive.

I will be booking my flight to-morrow. I’ll arrive at Ben Gurion Airport at 18.35 on Monday 1st March from Luton by Easyjet. The flight is much cheaper than El Al, and Luton is easier for me to travel to in England. My return flight will be at 19.25 on Wednesday 3rd March.

Looking forward to a closer examination of the mill this time!

Best wishes,


1 February 2010:

Hi Mr. Zwi Sella and Vincent,

Thank you Zwi for your reply to Vincent.

Is there no device for examining the presence of iron in the concrete? Something like an x-ray for steel detection? 

I am sure there is such application to be found in Jerusalem.

First Haim will construct a safe platform up to two meters under the concrete slab. This has to be there in time, and ready on March 1st.

When Haim or/and Vincent is/are near the lower side of the concrete slab, the detector can scan the concrete for evidence of steel presence, place and spaces in between. 

The slab is approx. 30 cm thick and according to my brothers advise, civil engineer from Delft Techn. University, the floor has to be reinforced.

Irresponsible construction without. Size and location of the steel has to be determined first.

Assuming that steel is evident there, a start can be made drilling a hole, or holes, into the concrete close to the windshaft as Vincent suggests and even widened unto the size of a manhole.

In the unrealistic event there is no steel to be found, the opening in the copper roof, access by crane, etc. has to be arranged the same day March 1st or 2nd.

The job has to be finished March 3rd.

In the meantime we may start to anticipate the way the top of the tower, incl. concrete and windshaft will be removed…. 8 – 10 tons of concrete are not a piece of cake to bring down.

Let me know what your reactions are.  Herman.

Jerusalem, February 1st , 2010

Hello Vincent,

Since we have no documentation about the reinforcement of the concrete slab, the anchoring of the shaft and the connections between the slab and the walls I have been concerned about cutting a 600 mm hole.

Your alternative suggestion described in your e-mail from 31.1.2010 is safe and I approve it.

Regarding the existing wind shaft:

As far as I know in the past it has fallen and even has been exposed to an explosion. I am sceptic about the possibility to use it.

Any decision to use the shaft is subject to thorough examination.


Zvi Sella 

31 January 2010:

Hello Zvi,

At Herman’s suggestion I am contacting you direct to discuss my needs for the 2/3 March inspection.

I am redirecting my e-mail of 30/1, which explains what is needed.

I think you propose reaching the mill’s domed cap using a hydraulic platform, from which a hole could be cut through the copper to give access to the roof space inside. This would be fine, used in combination with a 25mm drilled hole through the concrete, described below. Scaffolding would still be needed inside with a platform 2 metres below the concrete.

I have thought of an alternative to cutting a large hole through the concrete. Instead I suggest drilling a 25mm hole through the concrete very close to the cast-iron shaft, at right-angles to its axis. This hole to be drilled in the area shown for the “manhole.” This hole would allow a straight, square metal or wooden bar to be pushed through the concrete to provide a datum to connect measurements made above and below the concrete. I trust that this will be acceptable.

I also want to drill some 25mm holes horizontally through the stone work, just below the concrete. This is to measure the thickness of the wall in several places, which seems to vary according to the laser survey. These measurements would be used in combination with internal measured diameters to ascertain the correct maximum external diameter of the stonework of the tower. This diameter will be used in the final design of the new cap, together with dimensions of the cast-iron windshaft.

The hydraulic platform would also be useful to measure the external part of the windshaft that carries the sails – the “canister.”

Please consider the above suggestions, and reply accordingly.

Best wishes,

Vincent Pargeter

30 January 2010:

Hi Haim,

I see from your copied e-mail that Zvi is against making a hole through the concrete top, and suggests using a crane instead.

Unfortunately, if only crane access from the outside is used I won’t be able to take the necessary measurements of the windshaft. The hole is essential to this.

The windshaft is embedded in the concrete at an angle so that the rear end of it is visible/accessible from below the concrete, and the front end with its “canister” accessible only from above the concrete. This means that it is not possible to measure, accurately, its length without access through the concrete.

I need an accurate measurement of the windshaft’s length and other dimensions to allow me to either use it in the new cap, or to make an accurate replica of it.

What are Zvi’s objections to making this hole? It could be left there afterwards, maybe with a plywood cover to keep out birds, and wouldn’t need any making good.

I look forward to hearing any comments or suggestions.

Best wishes, Vincent.

11 June 2011:

Hi Geoff,

Sorry, yes, the photo came out fine.

Work on the Jerusalem Mill has started. I am organising some of the first casting patterns, several of which are ready for the foundry. Willem has started the curb, and will be starting the floors next week, I think. Nothing happening on site yet, of course. Strangely enough, we haven’t had a contract yet! I shan’t go much further until I get some payment (My first invoice is in now).

Willem is currently making the floors for the Montefiore Mill, and I am starting on the castings etc. We had a bit of a shaky start as the Jerusalem Foundation failed to come up with some of the cash, but I gather that this is now in place. I recently had an Order through from Arjen Lont, so we have definitely started, though rather late. It looks as though the job will drag on into next summer, so I’m not quite sure how we’ll cope with the heat!

[Willem is a Dutch millwright working with Vincent to provide extra labour on the project LH]

Some of the points that Vincent Pargeter made with regard to the renovation included:

  1. A local firm which has the necessary lifting gear, scaffolding, insurance and skills would be needed to remove the existing cap, sweeps, windshaft and concrete top.
  2. When this had been done, a millwright would need to measure and check the top of the tower for a new curb to be fitted, and to see whether the existing windshaft could be reused.
  3. A new cap and fan stage of oak with ash or elm ribs, boarded with cedar, would have to be made, together with flooring inside the tower.
  4. An area next to the mill needs to be established as a yard where work can take place.  The cap, sweeps and other items can be assembled there before lifting. If there isn’t such a place, some components may have to be assembled elsewhere, perhaps under cover, before bringing them to the site. These will need to be placed where a crane can safely lift them and put them up on the tower in one operation.
  5. The copper cap cannot be re-used, as it is decorative only. Possibly the Jerusalem Foundation could either sell it for scrap, or perhaps it could be used to make souvenirs to raise funds.
  6. A new curb of oak, 2 layers, complete with cast-iron track plates incorporating the rack teeth and attachment rods would have to be made and fitted on top of the stonework of the tower once the latter had been repaired.
  7. Items also to be made and installed are all the necessary ironwork including patent sweep and fantail mechanisms. A new brake wheel with cast-iron spokes and a wooden rim of elm with wood cogs using beech or hornbeam incorporating a brake. New sweeps complete with front striking gear and shutters. A long steel ladder with a cage round it for safety would probably be sufficient for access to the upper floors. This could be made locally.
  8. It may be possible to obtain second-hand millstones in England, or use some made in Holland.
  9. All travel costs together with shipment fees for the machinery from England have to be incorporated in any estimates.
  10. Instructions for running the mill would have to be given. A detailed manual would be.