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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Windmill gazetteer I-N


Early mill

According to G E Bate in And So Make A City Here (Thomasons Ltd 1948), in 1264 a windmill, as well as the manorial watermill, at Isleworth was destroyed by Londoners supporting Simon de Montfort in the Barons’ War(1).

In 1370 there was again a windmill on the manor, but it may have stood on the Twickenham portion (see entry on that parish).

(1) Bate, p70


(1) Early mill, Canonbury

(2) White Lead mills, Rosemary Branch  328839

(3) Windpumps at Islington cattle market

In 1306 the manor of Canonbury included a windmill worth 40s a year(1).

 In 1786 Samuel Walker, an ironmaster from Masborough, near Rotherham in Yorkshire, built a windmill at the White Lead factory at Rosemary Branch in Islington. A second mill followed in 1792. They were tower mills, with domed caps winded by fantails whose supporting structures were very long and positioned horizontally, as was the norm at this time. They reflected the millwrighting practices of Walker’s native county, and since he hailed from a region at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution were more advanced technologically than most windmills then operating in the southern half of England. As such they attracted much comment. Of particular interest were their fantails, at that time still a rare commodity among windmills, and the five sails of one of the mills; four sails was generally the rule and exceptions to it were uncommon outside Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. They were also extremely powerful and their output must have been impressive output; a plan shows one to have had eight pairs of stones. The sails were tensioned by stays to a bowsprit projecting from the front of the windshaft.(2)

 By 1811 the five-sailed mill had been converted to a four-sailer. Because of the arrangement of the sails in a five-sailed windmill it had to cease work if one were damaged, remaining out of use until it was repaired or replaced, whereas a four-sailed mill could carry on working with two, the opposite sail to the damaged one being removed; it was probably with this in mind that the alteration was decided upon.

 The mills’ very situation as part of a business in the forefront of technological progress inevitably meant that their life as windmills was short. They were still working by wind in 1822, for an etching made in that year by Jane Smith shows them with sails and fantails in place, but by 1835 a 20 horsepower steam engine had replaced them. A contemporary watercolour by C H Matthews shows them without sails or fantails; the five-sailed mill has also lost its cap. The four-sailed mill retains the iron casting or cross by which the sails were attached to the windshaft – a feature almost universal among windmills in the North-East, whose millwrighting traditions they embodied. The illustration shows that the mill towers were by then integrated structurally with the other works buildings. 

 The mills were both standing in 1868, when they are indicated on a plan of the works by two circles. At some time one was pulled down and the other reduced in height. The latter’s truncated tower stood until 1945 when damage by a V2 rocket necessitated reconstruction of the works, as part of which the remain was demolished. Latterly under the ownership of Champion and Druce Ltd., the works survived until pulled down in the early 1970s.

 It has been suggested that as well as white lead the mills may have been used to make linseed oil, also once an important constituent of paint.

 In complete contrast to these huge tower mills were the two small windpumps erected at Islington cattle market, which was opened in 1836(3). Their purpose was to supply water to the covered enclosures or “lairs” which housed the 4,000 or so cattle. They took the form of hollow-post mills, mounted on low square bases which were nicely ornamented, and had four sails. Each was situated over a well from which the water was pumped to the cattle troughs through pipes. The Mechanics Magazine of 27th May 1837 describes their workings:

“In the centre of a stone building of a quadrangular form is erected the pump (a) of cast-iron, secured by strong iron braces, and carrying on a flange at its top, an iron frame (b), which supports the crankshaft of the pump (c), and also the vane-axle (d); ee are the vanes. A pinion (f), on the vane-axle, takes into and drives a spur wheel on the crankshaft of the pump, the piston being attached to the crank by slings, and the piston-rod working in a guide, which preserves its parallelism; (g) is a brakewheel for impeding, or altogether stopping, the motion of the machine.  The revolution of a set of vanes (h) causes the whole of the mechanism to rotate on the top of the pump and continually occasions the large vanes ee to face the wind. A good well supplies each pump with water, which is from thence distributed by pipes into troughs in each of the cattle yards throughout the market.”

Finally, a history of Islington states that a windmill once existed in the parish of Newington. Its location is thought to have been on the west side of Green Lane, near Newington Green.(4)

(1) Webb, Records of St Bartholomews 1.449

(2) M T Mason, “The Windmills of London”, Middlesex Quarterly 1954; HESS; Waller; Farries and Mason, 1966; Thomas E Tomlins, “Yseldon: Perambulations of Islington” (1858), Rotha Mary Clay, “From Blue Lead to White Lead”, Country Life 23rd June 1950; The Ambulator, 1820

(3) British Museum Crace Collection Folio 32 Sheet 40; Berkshire Chronicle 23rd April 1836

(4) Mason, as above

(57) The White Lead Mills, Islington, watercolour by Julius Caesar Ibbotson. The five-sailed mill is the one on the left (Museum of London)

(58) The White Lead Mills, Islington, by C H Matthews, 1835 (LMA)

(59) One of the two windpumps at Islington cattle market, from the Mechanics’ Magazine of 27th May 1837 (LMA)


(1) C17 mill, Hyde Park

(2) Horizontal mill at Knightsbridge, C18

In the 1660s a post mill appears as a distant feature in a pen and ink drawing of Hyde Park by the Dutch artist Michiel van Overbeek, standing outside the boundary wall of the Park on the ridge which then formed part of the ancient manor of Knotting Barns, now Notting Hill. It was presumably one of the mills mentioned as belonging to the manor in a document of 1543. 

In 1651 ten acres of arable land called Windmill Hill were among properties in the area sold by Sir Arthur Gorges to Sir Michael Warton.

A horizontal mill of a make patented by one Joseph Thornhill was standing at Knightsbridge in 1764(1).

(1) Ipswich Journal 15th December 1764, per B Reynolds


(1) Redhill; gone by 1754

(2) Possible mill on site of Willesden Cemetery 218845 (approx.)

A Mill Field is shown here on a map by Hovendon in 1597, suggesting windmills had an established pedigree at Kingsbury prior to this date even though none was then actually standing there(1). A windmill stood near the Edgware Road at Redhill around 1675(2). It was there in 1684(3) and between 1729 and 1738(4), but had been blown down by 1754(5). It appears on a map of the Duke of Chandos’ estates in Middlesex drawn up in the late 1720s(6). This shows what appears to be a post mill, with a pitched roof and a boxlike body on some kind of supporting structure, and the sails arranged so that one is hidden by the mill itself.

Another mill may have stood on the site of the present Willesden Cemetery, which was previously known as Windmill Hill. A lease of 1681 concerns a piece of land “upon part whereof a decayed windmill some time stood” at or near a place called Bonehill or Bunhill. The site abutted “on the footway leading to Dame Agnes de Clare on the east, upon the highway leading to the Dogg House on the west and upon a lane or passage crossing from the Artillery Wall towards Dame Agnes de Clare to the north.” The property was occupied by John Sheffield, William Burgess and John Williamott.(7)

 The windmill depicted in an eighteenth or nineteenth-century sketch, now held at the London Archives, by one of a family of artists called Havell and entitled “Mill near Edgware” quite possibly stood at Kingsbury, there being no other evidence for a windmill at Edgware itself as Mr Humphrey Ward has pointed out(8). If so, it could have been the windmill at a place called Baker-heath, near the thirteenth milestone on the Edgware Road, where a steeplechase was held in 1830(9) . It is shown as a tower or smock, either octagonal or hexagonal, whose domed cap has a short decorative finial and a rear extension for manual winding gear. The sails are of indeterminate type. The mill is connected to the nearby house by outbuildings.

(1) Museum of London

(2) Ogilby, Map of Middlesex c1677; LMA Acc.262/72/1

(3) Bodleian Library MS DD All Souls b2/34

(4) LMA Acc.262/72/1

(5) Rocque Map of Middlesex 1754; Bodleian MS DD All Souls C245/342

(6) LMA Acc.262/St 71/2-5. Information from Mr Humphrey Ward 8th September 1997

(7) Mr Dave Lee to author, January 2019. Indenture dated 21/6/1681.

(8) Humphrey Ward, as above

(9) Reading Mercury 5/4/1830 p4

(60) Mill at Kingsbury, undated (PB)


(1) Early mill

(2) C19 mill 705055

There was a windmill at Laleham in the fourteenth century(1), and a mill of unspecified type is mentioned in a grant of the site of the manor in 1608(2). There was at one time a Windmill Hill(3).

 In 1808 Andrew and John Drummond lent the Earl of Lucan £2500 on security of the manor farm of Laleham, which among other properties included a windmill with two cottages nearby(4). The mill is marked on the 1816 Ordnance Survey map, and in 1832 and 1834 directories mention Thomas Ryde of Laleham, miller. Very little is known about this mill and there are no clues as to when it disappeared. It stood at the end of a short track leading from the west side of Ashford Road, about halfway towards Staines Road.

(1) Document in custody of Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, Chest D, no 27133, &c

(2) Pat.4 Jas I Part 9, m.17, per VCH

(3) Westminster Abbey no. 27119, 27129, 27128 &c. Grundmulhyll also mentioned.

(4) LMA Acc.0262/035/005


(1) Sawmill, standing 1663

(2) Sawmill, standing 1768

(3) Smock mill, standing 1791

In 1663 some Dutch millwrights built a windmill at Limehouse to drive circular saws. It aroused the opposition of the local sawyers, who feared that this exercise in mechanisation would put them out of business and destroy their livelihood, in much the same way as the Luddites of the Industrial Revolution objected to the introduction of machinery into factories and dockyard workers in the 1960s to containerisation. They expressed their feelings by damaging the mill so badly that it had to be abandoned. History was to repeat itself a hundred years later when another wind-driven sawmill was erected by Charles Dingley, who employed James Stansfield, an authority on the sawmills of Holland, on the project.(1) Shortly afterwards, in May 1768, the following advertisement appeared in the London Gazette:

“Whereas it has been humbly represented to the King, that a wind saw mill at Limehouse, belonging to Charles Dingley Esq., was on Tuesday the 10th inst. unlawfully and with force begun to be pulled down and demolished, and was thereby rendered totally useless, by a mob of people unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled together, to the disturbance of public peace; His Majesty, for the better discovering and bringing to justice the persons concerned, is hereby pleased to promise his most gracious pardon, and also a reward of £200, to any of them who shall discover his Accomplice or Accomplices therein, so that he or they may be apprehended and convicted thereof…”

 It is interesting that the advert did not appeal to the general public for information but instead sought to persuade those involved in the destruction of the mill to “shop” their accomplices; it rather suggests that the majority of local inhabitants supported the sawyers!

 The mill had been built around March 1767 for sawing large pieces of oak, deal, or wainscot, and could handle timber in greater quantities than other methods of cutting it. In the trial of Edward Castle for inciting the attack on the building the superintendent of the mill stated that there was a room under it with a fireplace where two watchmen slept, which formed one building with a brick counting-house. The main part of the windmill was of wood.(2)

 The mill of 1663 probably resembled the “paltrok” type mills then being built for this purpose in Holland, as did that which stood at Lambeth in the early eighteenth century and appears in an engraving by Schenk. This type of mill had a distinctive appearance unlike that of most other windmills in either England or Holland. It resembled a four-sided smock mill and had a curiously-shaped cap which was integral with the main structure, since the whole of the latter, which rested on a low circular base of brick or stone, could be turned into the wind whereas in most smock mills only the cap is rotatable. On the other hand the Limehouse mill may have been perfectly conventional to look at, outwardly at least, as some wind sawmills in Holland were by native standards. Despite Stansfield’s familiarity with Dutch sawmills Dingley’s mill does not seem from the description of it in 1768 to have been akin to a paltrok. It is shown in a cartoon of 1769 as a conventionally-built smock mill standing above a timber building enclosing its base and serving as support for a stage, in a way which does not quite tally with the account of the previous year. There are four sails of indeterminate type, a cap with a gambrel roof and what appears to be a fantail (the earliest in southern England of which there is a depiction) but in view of the fact that it is mounted on a spindle projecting from the rear of the cap with no supporting structure may be in fact a chainwheel for hand winding, badly drawn. Since the purpose of the illustration was to satirise an election in which Dingley had taken part it may not have been intended as an accurate portrait of the real mill.(3) It was certainly not accurate if the diagram of a wind sawmill at Limehouse, presumably this one, which appeared in an edition, the date of which is not known, of The Universal Magazine and Complete Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure (ceased publication 1772) is anything to go by. This depicts the mill structure as extremely short and squat, although its profile may have been compacted for reasons of space, this explaining why the cap is represented by a simple curved line which indicates, accurately or otherwise, a low dome. The mechanical details are probably correct. A windshaft with a wooden poll end, the latter having mortices for the stocks, carries a brakewheel of small diameter engaging with a lantern pinion at mid-length on a crankshaft spanning the width of the mill and to which are attached four vertically reciprocating saw frames. An arrangement of ropes and large and small pulleys hauled the baulks of wood up to the saws.(4)

 According to Heckethorn(5) the mill had been rebuilt, and this time it went unmolested. A smock mill is shown rather indistinctly on a 1791 watercolour by Robert Cleveley(6), and unless this was one of the Millwall mills it is quite likely to have been the reconstructed sawmill. There is no fantail and the roof is pitched. The mill was standing c1795 but had been disused for some years(7).  It may still have been in existence as late as 1817 when J W Norie in his “Sailing Directions for the River Thames from London to the Nore” refers to a sawmill at Limehouse, not stating what the power source is/was(8).

(1) Charles W Heckethorn, London Memories: Old London Windmills, Vanes and Weathercocks (Home Counties Magazine July 1901), in R Thurston Hopkins, Old Watermills and Windmills (Philip Allan 1929), p147-8

(2) Old Bailey website (, ref. t17680706-47

(3) G Hughes, “Windmill Hoppers” 19th September 2015

(4) G Hughes, “Windmill Hoppers” 24th February 2017

(5) As (1)

(6) British Museum, Crace Collection Folio 8 Sheet 1

(7) D Lysons, The Environs of London, vol.3

(8) As (4)


A reproduction of a drawing by H W Brewer shows a windmill at Ludgate (1).

(1) Hounslow Treaty Centre Library, Layton Collection 1981456D


(1) C16-17 mill

(2) Horizontal mill, standing 1695

(3) Standing 1708

A windmill here is mentioned in a claim under a will in the reign of Elizabeth I, the litigants being Henry Somaster and others (plaintiffs) versus. Henry Forset and others, defendants(1). This may have been the mill leased by Margaret Fossett of Holborn, widow, to Richard Fewys of Westminster, hosier, for thirty-one years in 1575. Included in the lease was Windmill Close, part of Windmill Field. The property had lately been in the occupation of Roger Taverner, gentleman. The mill was later sublet to John Bradshawe along with two grinding stones for twenty-five years at £6 per annum. Margaret subsequently demised it to Henry Fossett who in 1581 let it to William Withnell, merchant taylor.(2)

 The existence a windmill in the parish in 1708 appears evident from a curious symbol which occurs on a map of the parish in Marylebone Library: a house above whose roof protrude two windmill sails in the form of a V, and which seems to stand on the trestle of a post mill. The land on which the mill stood was then part of an estate owned by the Duke of Portland.

 A horizontal mill for pumping water was standing at Marylebone in 1695 when the scientist Edmond Halley gave a description of it to a meeting of the Royal Society. The following extract is taken from the Journal Books of the Society:

“Aprill 10 1695. Halley gave in a description of the mill near Marylebone made with Horizontal Sailes, to raise water: viz., that the four vanes were fixed two and two upon moveable Axes, and placed nearly at right angles to one another, so as to have the one vane horizontall and the other perpendicular, and consequently to draw but one at a time. It was ordered that a Model be made thereof.”(3)

Nothing else is known about this mill or how long it survived.

(1) Cal. of P. in C. Temp. Eliz.

(2) Nottinghamshire Record Office DD/4P/52/1121/12/1578; NRO DD/P/6/1/1/46

(3) In Correspondence and papers of Edmond Halley (OUP for History of Science Society, 1932, Taylor and Francis 1937), Appendix 8

(61) Detail from a 1708 map of the Duke of Portland’s estate at Marylebone (PB)


(1) Early mill

(2) Early mill

(3) Unidentified mill, standing 1628

A windmill may have been standing on the demesne of South Mimms by about 1220, when Gervase and Arnold, millers, are mentioned in a contemporary document(1). If one did exist at this time, it would have been the earliest yet recorded in Middlesex. It was standing in 1295(2), 1336(3) and in 1349 when it was stated to be worth 13s 4d(4). Its site is presumed to have been in Windmill Field, possibly somewhere near the manor house(5).

 The mill owned by Isabel Frowyk in 1289 probably stood somewhere between Old Fold and Christ Church(6). It was among the appurtenances of Old Fold held by the Frowyks in 1310(7). In 1639 the same mill or a successor was leased to Thomas Allen(8).  Sometime after this date it seems to have disappeared.

 In 1628 an unidentified mill was the property of Steven Bowman(9); in 1668, having apparently been forfeited as deodand, it was granted to William Bowman, presumably a descendant of Steven, by the Earl of Salisbury, a prominent local landowner(10). It was probably the same as another mill of unspecified type which stood in this year near the Blue Bell Inn at Mimms Side(11). Evidently someone had been killed by the sails or machinery for a “deodand” was any object or non-human animal which had caused the death of person and according to the law of the time could therefore be seized by the Crown.

(1)   Cartulary of St Bartholomew’s Hospital no. 1222

(2)   Chanc.133/72/4

(3)   Chanc.135/47/11

(4)   Lysons, p227

(5)   Windmill Field is on the plan of the manorial demesne, Hatfield (CFEP (Gen) 62/5)

(6)   Fred Brittain, South Mimms, the Story of a Parish (1931) p14

(7)   Year Book 2 and 3 Edward II (Selden Society Vol.19), 162

(8)   LMA Acc.351/683

(9)   Hatfield CFEP Box D/7

(10) Ibid; CCP (Legal) 90/4

(11) LMA Acc.548/39


17th century mill

According to Bennett and Elton it was ordered during the reign of Charles I that a windmill which had been moved from its original site at Monthill should be brought back there. I have, unfortunately, been unable to determine precisely where Monthill was.


(1) Dabb’s Hill Lane  1386 8552 

(2) Mill Post Field  12508250

Northolt has possessed two windmills in its time. One is known to have stood near the Northolt Park railway station, in Dabb’s Hill Lane which according to local historian T L Bartlett (writing in 1953) is a corruption of Dabb’s Mill Lane. Another was in Mill Post Field; it would almost certainly have been a post mill, and it is possible that the substructure remained standing for a time after the rest of the mill had gone, giving the field its name.


A smock mill stood here at one time, according to H E S Simmons. The late T J Mason possessed an illustration of it, which has  unfortunately disappeared along with the rest of his extensive collection of material on the region’s windmills.