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Holman Bros., Millwrights of Canterbury: A history

New Mill (Denton Mill), Swingfield

Denton Mill, Swingfield
Denton Mill, Swingfield. Photo: John Angell Holman

Built in 1885 to replace older mill blown down by gale in 1884 by Thomas Richard Holman for Mr. Prebble and reputed to be the last mill built in this area for the grinding of corn.

Estimate & specification for a windmill to be erected on Swingfield Minnis for Mr. Prebble [Although the quote sates ‘a brick tower’ it was a smock mill that was built.]

Namely. A brick tower about 42 1/2 ft high from ground & 20 1/2 ft diameter at bottom & 10 1/2ft diameter at top. To have a stout elm curb fitted on top, with cast iron toothed segments bolted to do. To be fitted with oak framed cap covered with best yellow weather board & fitted with self-acting fan tail.

The tower to have 4 floors viz the ground floor, spout floor, stone floor & the wheat bin floor, each floor to have two windows, the spout floor to have two doors & the bottom floor to have 1 door with a loading porch and to be made sufficiently high from the ground to run sacks in from the bottom of a cert or wagon. The mill to be fitted with a cast iron wind shaft, the canisters to take in a midling not less than 11 1/2 ins to be fitted with gun metal head and tail bearings fitted in iron carriages. Elm brake wheel fitted with apple tree or beech cogs & iron arms. Cast iron wallower with wood facing bolted on & iron sack rigger with wood roll, bridges & bearings complete.

Cast iron upright shaft fitted in 2 lengths with joint box to do. & gun metal step bearing to do. & iron bridge tree for carrying bottom of upright shaft.

Cast iron mortise spur wheel about 6ft diameter geared with wood cogs & iron stone pinions about 1ft 6ins diameter, with iron cogs turned and pitched and trimmed for driving stones & 1 iron cog pinion for driving dressing machine shaft.

The mill to be fitted with one pair of good quality French stones 4ft diameter & one pair of 4ft 2in diameter Peak stones. The stones to be fitted with iron poppets, bridge trees, spindles, quants, stone boxes & brasses bored to necks & each pair of stones to have a pair of improved regulators with steel yards and lighter irons.

An improved 4 sheet 16in flour machine fitted with iron bridges & improved feed roll, with jumper for separating the offal. The whole of the girders to be of good sound Dantzig or Memel timber & fitted with 11/4in flooring.

To be fitted with 4 self-acting sweeps 32ft long from centre of shaft & 6ft wide, with canvassed framed shutters & quadrants, cross, poppets & striking irons and the sweeps to be made to work by a lever from the tail of the mill and fitted on two best quality pitch pine, Memel or Dantzig fir midlings not less than 42ft long with spring backs & bolts and all necessary gripe iron to do.

The whole of the above to be fitted in a substantial & workmanlike manner for the sum of seven hundred and ninety five pounds. £795-0-0.

Or for a mill fitted in all respects the same as before specified but without a porch or stage, the spout floor to be raised 3ft from the ground for the sum of seven hundred & five pounds. £705.0s 0d.

Letter dated April 1884:

Dear Sir,

We herewith beg to enclose you an estimate for the mill with a sketch showing the proportion of the mill. We have specified for 20ft 6ins at bottom instead of 20ft which makes the price a trifle higher.

Soliciting your order which shall receive our best & prompt attention, we remain,
Yours etc.
Holman & Collard

Terms of payment
1 fourth when cap is on.
1 fourth when the first pair of stones is started
1 fourth when the mill is finished
1 fourth 3 months after it is finished

It was still in the ownership of Mr. Prebble in 1891 because Holmans supplied new millstones to him at that date. In 1894 the firm supplied 4’ 2” Peak runner stones for Mr. Frederick Gammon. Later owners were Mr. Finn in 1897 and G.W. Barwick in 1899. At around this time an 11hp Blackstone engine was installed, but an explosion of paraffin vapour from this engine caused a fire which destroyed the mill in August 1911. The Dover Express and East Kent News reported the fire on 4 August, p.6:

Photos from the report on Swingfield Mill fire
Report on Swingfield Mill fire. Source: British Newspaper Archive. Image (c) British Library Board. All rights reserved
Report on the fire at Swingfield Mill
Report on Swingfield Mill fire. Source: British Newspaper Archive. Image (c) British Library Board. All rights reserved