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Holman Bros., Millwrights of Canterbury: A history

Haifa Windmill, Mount Carmel

The cap for Haifa Windmill waiting in Holmans' workshop to be exported, 1874
The cap for Haifa Windmill waiting in Holmans’ workshop to be exported, 1874. Photo: Holman Brothers Ltd


Thomas Richard was employed by a German firm to send out machinery for the erection of a windmill at Haifa, on Mount Carmel in Israel, a then thriving German colony. On this occasion one important piece of machinery was lost at sea owing to the difficulty of landing heavy goods at Jaffa. The windshaft was made in three parts for ease of transport.



11 November 1870

Dear Sir

In reply to your favour of yesterday we beg to thank you for interesting yourself on our behalf respecting the tackle for wind mill, we have again gone through the matter & propose to make the following alterations. To make the revolving top of mill with curb 9ft instead of 9ft 6ins diameter, keeping the bottom of the tower the same size, & to make the frame of top of good pitch pine timber well secured and bolted together.

The large bevel wheel of wind shaft to be made of good and well-seasoned elm with dry beech or apple tree cogs to do., the wheel to have iron arms for firmly securing on shaft, the main wheel in the Jerusalem mill is made of elm and stands the climate well & in the event of a cog getting broken, this would be easy to repair. The outside rim of wheel would be clasped by the brake for stopping the mill. The shutters or vanes of sweeps, we should make of thin boards, strongly cleated instead of framed shutters covered with canvas; these would also be very easy to replace at any time.

We should also make a socket head to the main shaft, similar to our first sketch shown & to take a midling 10 x 9ins, with 2 main pitch pine, Memel or Dantzig timbers or midlings to go through for carrying sails or sweeps, under this arrangement the midlings require rocking tight into the iron sockets, but we could give full instructions as to the manner of fixing them; we should like to leave the midlings  32ft long if not too inconvenient to carry as they are a great support to the sweep rods; they would be 10 x 9ins at centre and 6 x 6ins at each end.

The foregoing alterations would not at all diminish the efficiency of the mill & we could fit the same up complete & deliver for cash to rail in London for £350 or with the whole of the machinery of same dimensions as specified, but with tackle to drive 2 pairs of stones instead of three for £320.

We do not possibly see we can quote a lower sum than this to make a job that will do us credit and give satisfaction.

We remain, Dear Sir,

Yours respectfully

Holman & Collard

We should like to keep the socket head of wind shaft to weigh 6 3/4cwt. if it could be carried, as it is an important part to have safe and strong.


Copy of Letter sent to Haifa

Canterbury October 2nd 1873

Dear Sir

We are in receipt of your letter dated Sept 12th and we think your suggestion for the alteration of tower as shown on your plan is very good and it will do very well. We will proceed at once with the revolving cap and sails with all requisite gear for them. When you build your tower, please to make the top smaller as shown on the enclosed plan, which we send you with this. You will observe by the plan that the outside diameter of tower at top is to be 3 metres 70 centimetres or 12 English [feet] measurement which will be just the right size for our top.

Please to send word by next mail the distance from the top of your present upright shaft to the top of stone work as shown by the red marks on plan. In carrying up the tower, you must build two cross timbers, the distance from the top of tower to top of cross timbers to be 3 metres 70 centimetres or 12 English feet as shown on plan.

We shall send you 4 long iron bolts to run down from the curb to secure it firmly on the tower. The timbers should be about 30 centimetres square. Also send word how thick your stone work will be at the top. Please to mark on a piece of paper with compasses the exact full diameter of the top of your main upright shaft for us to fit the joint for it, also say whether the end of the shaft is rough or has been turned in a lathe.

By replying to this as soon as possible you will oblige

Yours truly

Holman & Collard

[The reply from Mr Schumacher could not be found]

Mr. Schumacher


Nov 26th 1873

Dear Sir,

In reply to your favour we beg to send you herewith an estimate & specification of machinery for grinding & pressing olives which you will find on the other side. Should you favour us with an order it shall receive our best attention.

We remain, dear Sir,

Yours respectfully

Holman & Collard

PS We can send you an estimate of a larger mill if you wish it or you could have one arranged to go by wind power.

Estimate for a small set of machinery for crushing and pressing olives.

One edge runner mill with cast iron revolving pan 4 ft. diameter. Two edge runner stones 27uns diameter, 8ins wide on face, the pan to be driven by a horse power gear with one strong horse or two mules & cattle, the necessary shafts & draught poles all fitted complete.

One hydraulic hand power press with 5in ram, 15ins lift single 1 1/4in pump & cistern with safety & stop valves & pipes to connect cylinder complete diameter of pressing cylinder 16ins depth of do 12ins.

The price of the whole fitted complete & packed for shipment & delivered in London will be One Hundred and Eighty Pounds

Holman & Collard



Copy of letter


Feb 27th 1874

Dear Sir

Your telegram was duly received enquiring if the mill tackle was shipped.

We are just now finishing it off & we are going to London next week to look out for a ship to send it in & will send you word by the next mail boat.

If you send an order on a London Banker for £200 on account of the work we will send you the bill of the whole with the shipping expenses & you can then remit us the balance.

If you have room, we should advise you to put one or two more pairs of stones in your mill as you will have plenty of power to drive them.

Have you got a good long rope about 300 feet (English) & pulley blocks, you will want some for lifting the tackle to the top of the mill. If you have not got them we had better send you some by steamer if required. Will you kindly let us know whether you will want us to send them.

Yours respectfully

Holman & Collard

Copy of letter


23 March 1874

Dear Sirs

Your letter of the 19th respecting the steamer for Beirut is duly to hand.

Will you kindly let us know by return of post if convenient what will be the latest date that our goods can be taken in at the docks for your next vessel as they are not quite ready yet.

We should have preferred sending them via Alexandria if you had ships going there but we can write and advise our friends that they will come via Beyrout.

Yours truly

Holman & Collard

PS Our freight is not tanks as you name in your letter but machinery for a wind mill & two of the pieces will be 42ft long as I stated to your Clerk.

Messrs Westcott & Lawrence

Copy of letter


March 24th 1874

Dear Sirs,

In reply to your favour of this morning our Mr. Holman stated to your Clerk that the freight we had to send was machinery including some long pieces of prepared timber. We now send you a description as near as possible as we have not quite got them ready for packing.


2 long pieces of Pitch Pine timber 42 feet long each 12 x 12ins at middle & tapered each end to 7 x 7ins, weighing about 14cwt each. 4 pieces Fir timber 32 feet long each 7 x 7ins square.

The remainder of freight will consist of 2 pieces of cast iron weighing about 14 cwt each, these will be sent packed in hay & can go down any hole about 3 feet square and packing cases weighing about 4 or 5 cwt each. Total weight of the whole say from 6 to 7 tons. We could give you the exact weights or measurements in a few days.

We require this to be sent to Caifa [Haifa] in Syria & we thought that Alexandria would be a better Port to reship them from than Beyrout, but we will leave that to your discretion which will be best.

Waiting your early reply as we should like to get them off without much delay,

We remain

Yours truly,

Holman & Collard

Messrs. Westcott & Lawrence

April 9th 1874


The machinery for the wind mill was shipped from London on board the steamship Califa bound for Alexandria, we found that this is the best way of sending goods out from here as the Bayroute ships are no longer going. The goods are addressed to J. Schumacher, Haifa, but they are consigned to Alexandria to Mr. Edward Archer, the ships agent there, so will you please write to him at Alexandria and instruct him how to forward them on to you at Haifa.

Some of the packages are heavy weighing about 2200lbs English each. The way we landed our machinery at Jaffe for the mill at Jerusalem was thus – we had our goods brought in an Arab coasting vessel from Beyroute and then we ran her in nearly close to the shore to unload.

You will find everything plainly marked with chisels to show how they are to go together. You will first have to put the large iron cog wheel, bolted in six pieces perfectly level on the top of your tower. Be sure to screw the nuts up tight with spanner sent to bring the joints perfectly close together, the four long stay bolts to be then put on and then fill in the open spaces of the iron work with pieces of stone and mortar or cement level with the top as this will all help to keep the wheel from shifting on the tower. After this is fixed you can put the top framing on as marked with the five iron wheels fixed on to keep the top in its place. You will notice that al the woodwork belonging to the revolving top is painted stone colour and the iron work black. We have not sent you any board or zinc for covering the top as we thought most likely you have some there.

After the main framing of top is put on as shown in tracing sent you, you put the two iron brackets on that carry the worm shaft that gears into the cog wheel for turning the cap. After this is done you must lift up the brake wheel and block it up about in its place. Put the iron carriage on for carrying the back end of the main shaft with the brass. You can then lift up the tail end of the shaft and pass it through the centre of the wheel laying the back end in the bearing. Mind when you do this to see that the cross marks on the shaft and on the wheel come both the same way. After fixing this end of the shaft the other end that carries the main timbers of the sweeps may be lifted and put into position. You will find the two posts that fit one on each side of the shaft at the head of mill with the braces belonging to them marked X on the photograph – put these in their place and then put the bearing piece under the neck of the shaft with the brass. You can then put the whole of the framework on, as everything is marked to follow in its place. In fixing the wood bearing piece under the neck of the shaft please to take notice that there are two key pieces of wood go under it to bring the bearing up to the right height.

You will find a number of short pieces of wood framing marked to fit round the under part of main framing, they are not shown in the photograph but I have marked three of them with ink. This lower part must be covered over with boards the same as the top of roof about where the dotted line shows. This will prevent the rain from driving through inside the mill. Then let your board that comes on the main roof project over the rafters 4 or 5 inches. You will have to make a scaffold for boarding the cap thus – First sling two stout pieces of timber from the back and front corners of the openings in framing with ropes. Then run two more long pieces through from one to the other and that will enable you to get all round outside to work at it. You had better not put the fan tail or sweeps up until the top is finished and the scaffold taken away as there is a small wheel with handle fixed for you to turn the top with if required. Mind and oil all the bearings and put some grease on the large iron wheel where the top runs round on it.

In putting up the wind sail or sweeps you must first fix on the two large timbers that go through the main shaft. You will find marks on the shaft and timbers to show which way they go through. The timbers are made the right size sideways to work in quite tight in the socket. To work them in their place you must do thus – first put some grease inside the iron socket then sling your long timber and pull it up with blocks and pulleys as far as it will go into the shaft with pulling. As the top end comes just through the shaft put a strong rope through the hole in end long enough to reach to the ground. Also put a similar rope in the hole at the other end. After you have pulled the timber as high as possible in the shaft. turn the main shaft round the opposite way by means of the ropes you have fastened on. Then you can work the main timber down into its place with the ropes. You must get 6 or 7 men on each rope and stand out a good distance in front of the mill. First let the men pull the top rope altogether with a snatch then the bottom men at the bottom rope must do the same, the top ones slacking their rope altogether. This must be repeated until the timber works itself down in its place in the socket. After the two main timbers are fixed the wind sails may be put on. You will find everything marked to come in its place. Do not put the shutters or vanes into the sails until the frame work is all securely bolted and fixed in its place.

We send you a list of the things as they are sent in the steamer so that you may know when you receive them all.

Should you want any further information we will send it you directly.

We also send you our account and shall be glad of your draft as soon as possible.

Your mill gear will be strong enough to drive 4 pairs of stones if you have room to put them in.

Gebruder Kaltenbach
German American Colony,
Near Haifa,

December 3rd 1874

Dear Sir

We sent out in May last to your address per Steam Ship City of Exeter two cases of machinery, eleven separate pieces, two stones, one case of zinc and one package of felt, making a total of seventeen pieces, the whole to be forwarded on to Mr. Schumacher, Caifa. One of the eleven separate pieces was lost overboard from the City of Exeter at Alexandria and the Austrian Lloyds Bill of Lading only acknowledges the receipt of sixteen pieces and one of them as broken.

We have sent in a claim to the Insurance for the recovery of the lost piece but they will not acknowledge that we have any claim as the Captain of the City of Exeter states that he delivered all safe and sound.

Will you kindly send us word a contradiction that they were all delivered safe to your order, or any other particulars you can furnish us with respecting the lost piece. We have had to replace it at great expense to ourselves and having fully insured the Goods are anxious to lay our claim for the damage.

Apologising for thus troubling you

We remain
Yours respectfully
Holman & Collard

Edward Archer Esquire


Messrs Kaltenbach, Haifa, Syria


Apr 3rd      A strong framed revolving top for windmill etc       496 – 19 – 0
Apr 6th      Carriage of windmill machinery                               49 – 0 – 0
May 9th     25 sheets of 14 zinc                                                13 – 7 – 7
                   28lbs galvanised nails                                             1 – 3 – 4
                   1 frame of hair felt                                                   3 – 6 – 0
                   Carriage                                                                  0 – 10 – 0
                                                                                                564 – 22 – 0
Apr 22nd    Cheque                                                                200 – 0 – 0
Aug 4th       3 Months Bill                                                        345 – 19 – 0
        15th     Cheque                                                                 18 – 6 – 11
                                                                                                564 – 5 – 11