Eight Mile Mill, Sarre
Once called Eight Mile Mill as it was 8 miles from everywhere, in particular the towns of Canterbury and Margate, Sarre Mill was built by a John Holman in 1820, possibly using some of the timber from Monkton Mill.
It originally had a base of a few courses of brick, with the tower having 3-storeys. The original stocks were of pitch pine. For the floor beams, he used some timbers from the sweeps of the previous mill on the same site, which had been built by his uncle, John Holman of Sarre. His initials are on some of the base bricks, which also bear the date 1820.
When built it had a Kentish wagon cap, centered by five truck wheels. There were four patent white anticlockwise double shuttered sweeps, a six-blade fantail and an auxiliary gas engine. The lower part of the brick base houses a cellar that connects to the engine house. The mill has an iron brake wheel with wooden rim and iron cogs mounted on a cast iron windshaft, a small wooden wallower with iron cogs, and a timber upright shaft. The spur wheel is of iron, engaging with wooden cogged iron stone nuts. There are two pairs of over drift stones, one with a metal band inscribed ‘T. Middleton, Millwright, 5 Stoney Lane, Tooley St. London’, both driven from an iron Great Spur Wheel, and a roller mill by Henry Banford & Sons dated 1902.
John Holman of Sarre was the first miller at the new mill. He was followed by his sons William in 1826, and following his death in 1842 by Thomas until his death in 1862. [It was later owned by Ann Holman, the widow of Thomas. George Steddy was her nephew and a miller and as she had no children of her own he probably inherited the mill. He married Isabel, the niece of William Mascall, another miller who was also married to a Holman. Their first child was called Holman Steddy. The Holmans also intermarried with the Woottons who owned Chislet Mill. LH]. The family connection to the Canterbury Holmans has been difficult to prove and likely goes back several generations. However, this family tree shows the know relationship.
In 1854 the brick base was heightened 10ft to give an extra storey, the whole wooden structure being raised on jacks with the brick base being installed underneath.
A steam engine was installed for auxiliary power in 1861, involving the construction of an engine room, boiler house and brick chimney stack as tall as the mill.
In 1861, it became the first windmill in Kent to have steam power; this was later replaced by a gas engine which was in use from 1907 to 1940. The miller was George Thomas Steddy in 1878, followed by Ebenezer Wood to 1883 and later by the Hogbens.
Repairs carried out over the years included in 1883, a new iron band for the curb, when the spur wheel also required fresh hanging. In 1886 a new length of wrought iron upright shaft was fitted together with a new universal joint. The drive to the stones was also amended. A new oak weather beam was found to be necessary later that year.
The specification for a new Cornish boiler and mountings were recorded as a boiler, 14ft long by 4ft 6 ins diameter fitted with 3 Galloway cross tubes, Lowmoor plates over the furnace tube 2ft 4 in diameter. Steam chest 2ft 3in high, furnace front dead plate, fire bars & manhole cover. The above to be of Messrs. Horton’s manufacture & delivered on rails in London for the sum of ninety pounds £90.0.0
The mountings to be as follows:
Pressure gauge, water gauge, stop valve, safety valve, blow off cock & connection. Back pressure valve.
The price for the above to be ten guineas £10.10.0
Time fitting on do. estimated at one pound £1.0.0
Nett cash on delivery
1 fir post 22ft long 41/4 square at top 31/4 square at bottom
4 long cleats for striking rods 8 long to be drilled to the nos. 1 & 2 forks
Neck of windshaft 14in diameter
Cut out 30 pieces for nut cogs (special hard) 61/2 long x 41/2 wide 21/4 thick.
New cogs to be 15/8
Spur wheel cogs 11/8 x 33/4 wide
Repairs required to engine. Take out piston, turn up rod, bush gland, rings etc. require looking to, new pair of bearings to crankshaft 47/8″ dia 41/2″ between collars. Turn up pump plunger, bush gland, New pin to joint.
2 turned pins to slide valve rods
1 turned stud to rock shaft lever & fit up connecting rod to do.
Remake blow off flange joint on boiler. Remake safety valve.
Spur nut on upright shaft to be geared same time.
Henry Banford roller mill.
Engine repairs for Mr. Champion.
Grinds 5000 sacks pa – 1500 by wind and 3500 by engine.
Needs new midlings and sweeps
Letter to Messrs. Steddy & Co., Sarre mill, dated 20 August 1907:
We enclose herewith details & approximate cost of three plans which it appears to us you have the choice of in working your mill & the estimated cost of grinding by each plan.
We think in the long run that the first plan would be best as you have the advantage of having the two powers to run together when you are extra busy.
Your present engine & system of driving is most extravagant the cost for fuel, & wear & tear working out at about 6d per sack & we would not advise you to work it longer than you can help.
You will see that we have taken no account whatever of the cost of labour in working the mill.
With a suction gas engine you would take 20 min to 1/2 hour to get started in the morning & you would only have to put on a pail full of coal about once every hour.
You can easily compare this with the labour attached to your present engine.
We can take you up to Sevenoaks & show you one at work if you wish
No 1 plan
Repair sweeps take out present engine and boiler put in new suction gas engine & connect same direct on to1 pair present stones
Driving gear £40.0.0
Annual cost of working the mill on this plan
5% on outlay £4.10.0
Wear & tear £10.0.0
Mill will work 100 days year 10 hours day driving 1 pair stones grinding 2 sacks hour = 2000 sacks year
£14.10.0 / 2000 = 13/4 per sack done by the wind
5% on outlay £240 = £12.0.0
Wear & tear on engine 5% on £200 = £10.0.0
Fuel for running say 1500 hours year £12.10.0
Engine will grind 3 sacks hour 3 x 1500 = 4500 sacks
£34.10.0 / 4500 = 17/8 per sack done by the engine
Total cost of running combined mill
5% on outlay £330 = £16.10.0
Wear & tear = £20.0.0
Fuel & oil for engine = £12.10.0
Total = £49.0.0
£49.0.0 / 6500 sacks = 17/8 per sack
No 2 plan
Take off sweeps from mill take out present engine & boiler put in suction gas engine same size as above & connect in to one pair stones only
Driving gear to stones £40.0.0
Sack hoist £20.0.0
Cost of working the mill on this plan
5% on outlay £260 = £13.0.0
Wear & tear on engine 21/2%? = £5.0.0
Wear & tear on engine 5%? = £10.0.0
Fuel for running 2000 hours £16.13.4
Total = £44.13.4
Engine will grind 3 sacks hour 3 x 2000 = 6000 sacks
£44.13.4 / 6000 = 13/4 sack
No 3 plan
Take off sweeps from mill take out present engine & boiler put in suction gas engine large enough to drive mill as at present
Estimated cost engine and connections £320.0.0
Cost of working mill on this plan
5% on outlay £320 = £16.0.0
Wear & tear = £16.0.0
Fuel & oil for grinding 6000 sacks 21/4 hr = £13.15.0
£50.15.0 / 6000 = 2d sack
Estimate Nov 15th 1907
Estimate & specification for new gas engine & suction gas plant & fixing at Sarre mill for Messrs. Steddy & Co
One ‘National’ gas engine R size capable of developing 18 BHP as maximum at 200 revs per min fitted with two fly wheels standard driving pulley & holding down bolts. One suitable size gas plant for generating the necessary gas for above engine.
Two standard size water vessels. The necessary connecting pipes between engine & water vessels & generator & atmosphere.
Delivered to mill put on your foundation & set to work – £239
Provide & fix the necessary shaft pulleys & gear wheels for driving the present well pump off the new engine – £7.10.0
Provide & fix suitable fast & loose pulleys & belt striking gear on the main shaft in mill – £7
Provide & fix new cast iron bridge tree with step bearing & bolts & co to your stones & fit your 32in pulley on the spindle – £10
Get out the old engine & boiler – £10
No bricklayers work preparing foundations cutting away or making good buildings is included in above prices.
We will superintend these & charge at actual cost which we do not think will exceed £12 – £15
Repairs to canister. Gas engine installed.
In WW1 supplied 240 sacks flour a week to Chatham barracks – delivered by train from Grove Ferry.
Wind working ceased 1922 when the four sweeps that were on the mill at the time were sold to Union Mill, Cranbrook, and the fantail also removed. Milling was continued using the gas engine. Mr. Gambrill was the miller around this time.
New larger roll mill.
Oat rolls shaft.
During its working life the mill served most of the nearby villages with flour as well as sending much of it as far away as Chatham Barracks.
Used in WW2 as observation post.
In 1958, the cap was removed and a tin roof added – a section was cut from the brake wheel to accommodate the lower roof level, and the tower was boarded up.
Now in a sad state of disrepair due to the ravages of time and weather.
Poor condition. No sweeps. Windshaft and 2 pairs stones remain.
The mill was bought by Malcolm Hobbs in 1985 who, together with his son Robert restored the mill to working order over the next 6 years. New sweeps were fitted, a six-blade fantail added and the site opened to the public.
The mill was advertised for sale in December 1998. Extracts from the sale particulars give a good idea of the state and contents of the mill at that time:
Having completed the mill restoration, the present owners leased the adjoining former mill buildings and granary including a traditional range of farm buildings, approximately 3 acres of amenity land and car parking area. The Vendors now run an excellent rural business producing 10 grades of flour and having converted many of the mill and farm buildings to include a retail farm shop, tea room/restaurant and bakery. The remainder of the buildings and farmyard are developed as a small rural museum, with craft workshops, children’s play area and pens having a number of farm animals. Being in the prominent position as described under ‘location’ of these sale particulars, the whole site with all its attractions mentioned above makes an ideal tourist attraction with frequent visits from school parties, families and individual enthusiasts of the traditional rural way of life.
The mill is contained on five floors connected by steep wooden stairs to all levels. Hatch doors at each level are used for easy transportation of sacks via chain and rope pulley system.
Basement containing the bagging up and weighing room together with the auxiliary 25hp 3 phase electric motor. Separate Engine Room including 1925 National 9.5hp open crank gas engine with twin flywheels also used as auxiliary power supply.
Meal Floor containing the Simon Plan Sifter, a Fountain Mixer and Flour bins, Tentering gear, Line shafting, Governors, etc.
Stone Floor containing a pair of 54” French Burr Mill Stones, a pair of 48” Derbyshire Peak Mill Stones and a Bamford Rapid Mill. At maximum working, the mill is capable of producing one ton of flour every four hours.
The Bin Floor has seven wooden storage bins of approximately 4 ton capacity. This floor also contains 2 Simon-Barron electrically powered flour dressers.
The Dust Floor (Top Floor) – Housing the sack hoist mechanism and grain storage area. Access to the cap and fantail is from here by means of a ladder.
Further details list the outbuildings.
Over the past five years the vendors have established a small profitable business, supplying flour to nearby local bakeries and other specialist food shops, a regular bread-bake, together with a significant throughput of visitors who make use of the Restaurant/Mill Shop and the Museum/Playground area.’
Fully restored and grinds corn. There is a gas engine in the basement.
In 2002 the sweeps were damaged but there has been no break in milling activity, such is the demand for the stone ground flour produced here. Power driven stones have kept the mill in operation since one stock was severely damaged in October last and had to be delicately removed with a chain saw.
New steel stocks and sail frames are nearing completion by the mill.
Much of the wood is in excellent condition. Nevertheless water and mould growth had penetrated to the centre of the timber resulting in failure.
New whips are laminated from Douglas fir and are intended to be fitted to the stocks with a pin and slot system which should enable the sail frames to be removed relatively easily for servicing and painting
Mills Archive has 1820 scale drawings of mill.
Wooden upright shaft
A complete smock mill, re-built in 1820 by John Holman of Canterbury. For the floor beams, he used some timbers from the sweeps (sails) of the previous mill on the same site, which had been built by his uncle, John Holman of Sarre.
A smock mill has a fixed timber tower, in this case sitting on a one and a half storey brick base, and a moveable cap with the sweeps attached. Sarre’s tower is four and a half stories high. When built it had a Kentish wagon cap, four patent white anticlockwise double shuttered sweeps, a six-blade fantail and an auxiliary gas engine. The lower part of the brick base houses a cellar that connects to the engine house.
The mill has a wooden brake-wheel with iron cogs mounted on a cast iron windshaft, a small wooden wallower with iron cogs, and a timber upright shaft. The cap is centered by five truck wheels. There are two pairs of over drift stones, one with a metal band inscribed “T. Middleton, Millwright, 5 Stoney Lane, Tooley St. London”, both driven from an iron Great Spur Wheel, and a roller mill by Henry Banford & Sons dated 1902.
The first miller was John Holman of Sarre, followed by his son Thomas Holman who died in 1867. His initials are on some of the base bricks, which also bear the date 1820. The mill was raised by some 2.75m in 1854 by Thomas Richard Holman of Canterbury by the insertion of extra brick courses in the base. G. Steddy & Sons ran the mill at the end of the 19th century, then Hogbens. A steam engine was introduced in 1861, replaced by a gas engine in 1907.
The last of the Holman family ran the mill until 1914. Wind working ceased 1920-2, when the four common sweeps that were on the mill at the time were sold to Union Mill, Cranbrook, and the fantail also removed. Milling was carried out using the gas engine until around 1940.
The black tarred tower then stood idle for many years. It was used as an observation tower in World War II. In 1958, the cap was removed and a tin roof added — the brake-wheel was cut to accommodate the lower roof level.
Malcolm Hobbs and son Robert restored the mill to working order in 1985-91. New sweeps were fitted, a six-blade fantail added and the site opened to the public. It remains open and visitors can buy flour milled on site.
[Update: Since this page was written, the Mills Archive has recieved additional information on the Holmans of Sarre from Gillian Taylor. Her report and findings can be viewed here. However, the connection of this family to the Holmans of Canterbury is still unknown.]