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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Windmill gazetteer R-S


Early mill 099876

A windmill and a watermill, valued together at 40s, existed at Ruislip in 1294 according to a survey of the parish(1). The former stood at Wyndmyllhyll to the south of the village. There are no further references to it, but the site continues to be known by the name Windmill Hill. On Doherty’s map of 1750 the open common land on the hill is divided into Great and Little Windmill Fields. The map shows a small patch of pasture, thought to have been the site of the mill, to which a narrow strip of green, perhaps once the approach track, leads from an eastward extension of Brickwall Lane. It is said that the building’s foundations were uncovered when the first houses were built at the top of the hill.

Another old map is said to show a windmill on the common at Northwood.

(1) MOE 106/2/1


17th century mill 311812

In 1615 a tailor named Robert Baker paid rent for grazing ground “near the windmill in the Strand”. This mill stood near St Clement Dane’s Church, at the top of Milford Lane, of whose name it is thought to have been the origin. It is shown in an engraving by Visscher as a typical open-trestle post mill of the period.


(1) 17th century mill  287813 (original site)

(2) St George’s Hospital; standing 18th century 284798

(3) Park Lane, standing 18th century

Ogilby’s Britannia (1675) depicts a windmill at the top of Bond Street; it is later thought to have been moved to Mill Hill Place, off Oxford Street.

 In the mid-eighteenth century a millwright named Thomas Yeoman – perhaps the builder of the Chelsea windpump, with whom he shares the same surname, built a small windmill on the roof of St George’s Hospital – which like the similar mill at Newgate Prison operated ventilators. The ventilation system was devised by Stephen Hales, who was also responsible for that at Newgate. 

 A sketch by William Darling and John Peter Thompson, entitled “London Park Lane 1776”, depicts a rural scene with a post mill with a roundhouse in the background. I am grateful to Mr Ken Kirsopp for drawing my attention to this (1).

 Mill Street, Mayfair, is named after a windmill which stood near the corner of Hanover Square(2).

(1) K Kirsopp to author, November 2004

(2) Sir William Besant, London North of the Thames (1911)


C17 mill  296807

In 1585 a legal dispute about grazing rights over a field called “Geldinge Close” resulted in a map being drawn showing all the land south of Oxford Street down to Trafalgar Square and between St Giles in the east and Bond Street in the west. The field abutted Oxford Street in the north and Windmill Field, where a likeness of the mill is shown, in the south. A coloured reproduction of this map with comment appears on pages 20 and 21 of the History of London Maps by Felix Barker and Peter Jackson, published by Barrie and Jenkins in 1990(1).

 Another windmill was built in the early seventeenth century by Robert Baker on the northern portion of a piece of land he had acquired from John Golightly. The first map to show it is that surveyed by Richard Newcourt between 1643 and 1647 and engraved by Faithorne in 1658. It is thought to be the mill visible beyond Somerset House on Hollar’s “Perspective View of London” in 1647.  Later it appears on Ben Gerlen’s map of 1666. In these days the mill stood on the western extremity of London, with open country to its north and west, to the south of the junction between Great Windmill Street, as it came to be called, and Brewer Street, close to the spot where the modern Haymarket joins Coventry Street.

 According to C L Kingsford, in his Early History of Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Soho (1925), “the windmill itself, which stood to the west of the north end of the street, was fitted with staves and strongly built of brick covered with tile, with large lofts for corn. The residential part of the structure was however old and decayed, consisting of a cellar with three rooms over it, one above the other.” This interesting description suggests a tower mill, or at any rate a smock with a substantial brick base. Although Newcourt’s map shows a post mill, it is at least possible that this was replaced by a smock or tower at some point. I have not yet been able to trace the authority for Kingsford’s statement. It is presumably this remain which is the “windmill at Haymarket” mentioned in passing in the Bedfordshire Times And Independent of 6th October 1866. 

The area was developed comparatively early, and there is no evidence that the windmill existed beyond the mid-seventeenth  century. A few of the nearby houses, shown on Newcourt’s map, survived into the 1880s(2).

(1) Humphrey Ward, letter to author 8th September 1997. Page 47 of Barker and Jackson also shows an illustration of the mill.  

(2) J G Waller, London Windmills, Home Counties Magazine vol.3 (1901), p169-76


Possible mill near Drury lane Theatre

The name “Windmill Tavern”, by which a public house on the site of the present Drury Lane Theatre was known, may indicate the former existence of a windmill in this area.


Newgate Prison, standing 18th century 318185

At Newgate Prison there existed for a relatively short time a good example of the tendency to find new uses for windmills in urban areas where the town had swallowed up most of the agricultural land. In October 1750 the Corporation of London, alarmed by the spread of disease in the prison, appointed a committee to examine the problem. It was decided that the trouble lay with the ventilation system, and at the recommendation of a Norfolk parson, Stephen Hales, a new system was installed, designed by Hales himself and operated by a windmill erected on the roof where it would have less difficulty in catching the wind than if hemmed in by other buildings at ground level. The millwright was a man named Cowper, from Penny Fields in Poplar. The project was not completed until 17th April 1752, partly because many of those employed in fitting the new system became ill from the foul air it was designed to dispel.

 The structure stood about 15 feet high and resembled a hollow-post mill, with an open trestle, in design. The sails were in the form of an eight-bladed fantail, later replaced by four conventional sails if illustration (55) is accurate. A very basic superstructure supported the windshaft, a crank on which was connected by a rod passing down through the centre of the post to a lever 14 feet long which was pivoted to raise one set of ventilators while depressing a second. The mill obviously had to be able to respond to a light wind; when one was not forthcoming the ventilators were operated by hand.

 For the technically minded, a detailed description of the mechanism which appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1753 is reproduced here: {diagram of the mill also appears in Abraham Rees’ Cyclopedia in 1819 {date correct}}

“Fig.2 is one of the crosstrees which support the mill post d, and the spurs or braces e; which crosstrees rest on the blocks a where they are fixed to the floor they stand on, by strong iron bolts, screwed fast under the floor. b, the crowntree, to steady the iron rod that passes there through brass collars, which are contrived so as to screw closer together as they wear away. d is the main oaken post, which is bored hollow for the iron rod B to pass through from the crank of the iron axletree i. f is the girdle on which the turning frame moves; on this girdle lies a broad circular iron plate, on which the brass friction wheels have their bearing, and these wheels are so placed at different distances as to turn on different parts of the plate, and thereby save its wearing all in one circle. These wheels are 3/4 of an inch thick and 5 1/2 inches in diameter, their iron axletrees are an inch thick, and move in brass collars. Of n is the turning frame which carries the axletree ii, and the sails l k, which are turned so as always to face the wind, by vane b. of the double pricked lines, are iron braces, which are fastened at each end with iron screw bolts to keep the frame from wracking. 2 is the crank, which is 6 1/2 inches long and therefore gives a stroke of 13 inches: but the lower end of the iron rod x is fixed to the lever of the ventilator at such a distance from the centre of its motion, as to raise and fall the midriffs 15 inches; there are brass collars at the joyning of the iron rod to the crank, and also at the bearings of the axletree, which collars are screwed nearer and nearer as they wear away. The iron axletree extends forward about 2 and 1/2 feet beyond the face of the sails, from the extremity of which s, 8 iron braces 11, go to each arm, to which they are fastened by iron screw bolts which bind them and the iron circle of pricked lines mm fast together; the diameter of the iron circle is 6 feet.  The sweeps or arms of the mill kk are 7 feet 3 inches long. They are mortised into the knave or drum y of. As an angle of 55 degrees are found, both by mathematical calculations and by experience, with a small windmill placed before the nose of my ventilators, to be the degree of weathering, as millwrights called it, or the angle or oblique position of the sail to the wind, for obtaining the greater force, so an angle near that, viz. of 60 degrees, has been found by experience of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Northumberland, as he informed me, to do very well in such small mills. But in common mills, with very long arms, the obliquity of the sails ought to be less; else their great velocity will, in strong winds, cause a counteracting force at the back of the sails. In order to avoid this inconvenience, Mr Cowper very rightly proposed, not to fill up the whole of the space with the sails, but to leave a void space of about 6 inches breadth between the sails, as is represented by the sails mm, that the direct current of the wind, as it passed through there, might carry along with it, and give a turn to the course of the wind, which else, being drove obliquely from the face of the preceding sail, would thereby be drove to act on the base of the following sail, and thereby aboute the force and retard the motion of the mill. n is the brake pole, and the single pricked line at the end of it is the sword which is to clasp round the nave to stop the mill, by pulling the rope w which is expressed by the scroll line. o is the bottom shore tree of the turning frame. p expresses the manner of screwing the brass collars of the axletree nearer and nearer as they wear away”.

 The keeper of the prison was paid £13 towards the upkeep of the mill(1).

 Just how successful the new system was in practice we do not know, but it was evidently an improvement on the previous one. Dr Hale reported that the number of deaths had fallen off in the four months during which it had been in operation. It was employed up to the time of the old prison’s demolition in 1778, for the mill is shown on a plan of 1777 and is also depicted in Harrison’s History Of London in that year. Afterwards a new system was most likely adopted. By the end of its life the windmill had evidently undergone some modification, for the engraving of it in Harrison is different in one or two respects from the plan of the original preserved at the Guildhall Library. The mill is shown with four sails of more conventional design and has acquired a rudimentary cap, it having been thought best to give the mechanism some protection against the elements.

(1) Edward Marston, Prison (The National Archives 2009), p55

(64) Diagram of the Newgate Prison ventilation windmill (LMA)

(65) The Newgate Prison windmill (LMA)


Standing 1824-26  354807

Greenwood’s map of London, surveyed between 1824 and 1826, shows a windmill by the east side of Shadwell basin.


(1) Early mill

(2) C16 mill near Walton Bridge  090658 (approx.)

A windmill was built on the manor of Halliford in 1381 or 2; it was probably intended to replace one which we know to have been standing in Upper Halliford at an earlier date. The later mill survived for about twenty years before evidence of its existence ceases. The structural fragility of the mediaeval windmill and the consequent high expense of maintaining it, which resulted in many being short-lived, has already been commented upon. In this case research carried out by a student of Dr John Langdon of the University of Alberta suggests the mill’s demise was due to the plague known by historians as the Black Death, which at this time was having a devastating effect upon the life of rural England(1). To embark upon such a risky and expensive venture as a windmill at a time when it had crippled the local economy would have been extremely unwise.

 The construction of the mill in 1381-2 cost £39 5s 9d. The timber for the main structure came from London and Greenford; other components, including two brasses weighing 72 pounds each and costing 15s, were brought from Wandsworth. As well as the estrich boards for cladding the mill twenty made from elm were also required. A cable used in lifting components into place cost 3s 6d. A man was employed to build hedges and a ditch around the mill with two gates to keep it clear. The mill was valued for the year following its construction at 40s 4d and was leased to William Mullen Ward. The records also state that the post had been weakened by a flood. In 1383-4 the mill was of no value because it had no tenant, he having died from the plague or fled the area. However shortly afterwards John Hessendene took out a seven-year lease on it. The value of the mill had now decreased to 26s 8d. The cost of fitting a new “batell” in this year was 22s 1d. Hessendene was still there in 1388-9 but after the expiry of the lease no-one else took it on and in 1398-9 it was reported to be derelict and unoccupied(2).

 A windmill was standing in the parish in 1597 when it was left by will with the proviso that it should not be moved(3). Walton Bridge Green and Walton Lane (formerly known as Windmill Common and Windmill Lane respectively) mark its approximate site.

Windmill Hill and Windmill Field were place names here in 1788, as recorded in a lease of the properties in the Middlesex Deeds Registry(4).

There was evidently a mill on Halliford Manor in the years 1290-91, the stones for use in which came from Horsenden Wood, Greenford (see entry on that parish), but its power source is unknown.

(1) Letter from JL 23/5/1994 and personal communication between JL and author

(2) WAM 27038, 27042, 5004; SC 6/916/2, 5

(3) PCC 2 Cobham (Jo. Tucker) (per VCH)

(4) Humphrey Ward 8th September 1997


(1) C17 mill

(2) Orsman Road, Hoxton 335836

(3) Boston Street, Haggerston 343833

A windmill was standing in Hog Lane, St Leonard Shoreditch, in 1666-8 when it is mentioned in legal documents(1).

 Greenwood’s map of 1824-6 depicts a mill two hundred yards along Canal Road, now Orsman Road, which runs west from a point near the library in Kingsland Road; the symbol is of a post mill. No other map marks it, suggesting its existence was a brief one, but it stood long enough to give its name to nearby Mill Row. A separate mill, with which I had initially confused that at Orsman Road, stood in Boston Street on the east side of the later Haggerston gasworks, off Goldsmith’s Row which runs into Hackney Road(2).

 It was in existence by 1822 when advertised to be let(3). A notice for its sale appeared in the Morning Chronicle of 21st April 1827 following the death of the lessee, Charles Harland. Though described as a powerful “smock mill”, it may have been a tower mill as use of the former term to describe that type of windmill was common at this time. It had been erected but a few years before at considerable expense. It had patent sails and was fitted up with two pairs of French stones, but capable of driving six pairs. The premises were held on a 50-year lease at a “trifling” ground rent.(4) The mill was sold but later put on the market again in accordance with an order made in a High Court case between Harland’s heir and one Bilton, as stated in the advert in the London Gazette of 13th October 1829, which to the technical information given in 1827 adds that the mill has six floors and that there is an iron foundry attached to it; the latter was probably used in forging new components to replace those which had broken or become worn. 

 In the London Archives(5) is an agreement, dated 1858, by which the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company, owners of the land on which the mill stood, lease to Samuel Gates from the 24th June “all that windmill engine house and premises in and at the north end of Boston Sreet, Hackney Road, parish of St Leonard Shoreditch, Middx., as the same were late in the occupation of —{the text is difficult to read here, but the name is presumably Charles Harland}, miller, but are now in the occupation of the said Samuel Gates, together with the gear machinery fixtures articles and things set forth {in the schedule at the end} at a monthly rent of £5, payable on the 24th of each month, the first payment on 24 July now instant…” Pages of conditions follow, after which is the schedule which reads:

 “A 4 Sail Windmill, with a rack revolving Copper head with self-adjusting Fan and Gear {by Gear is probably meant the sails}, iron Wind Shaft with bevil {bevel} wheels, one pair 3ft 10in French Mill Stones one pair 3ft 10in peak Mill Stones with pases{?}, hoppers shoes and damsels, iron spindles, pinions, centre irons, Governors and driving gear complete – A Boulting Machine with iron bevil wheels and pinions strap riggers and straps complete – Sack tackle with rigger {pulley} and shaft complete Upright iron shaft from the sail shaft to the first floor connected to the Sail Shaft by 2ft 4in waller {wallower} wheel – a 4 feet bevel wheel in the second floor connecting the Boulting Machine – a 5 feet 8 inches Spur wheel on the 1st floor connecting the 2 pair of millstones – a 6 horse power bell crank condensing Steam Engine with Governors throttle valve, 8 feet fly wheel, cold and hot water pumps with suction and delivery pipes, all side rods, cross heads and attachments – a 6 horse wrought iron Waggon Boiler with safety valve blow pipes and cocks cold water feeding apparatus with pipes valves levers to work the same complete – a surface logwood chipping machine with plummer blocks brasses knives shaft and hopper, with riggers attached to the Engine to drive the same – a circular saw bench with driving riggers and Gear work complete attached to the Engine to drive the same – a 3ft 10in pair of peak Mill stones with case, hopper shoe and damsel – Upright shaft – pair of Mitre Wheels {probably meaning a pair of small 1:1 bevel gears for a 90 degree change of direction} and a Spur wheel and pinion connected to the Engine – Outhouses – 2 pair 4ft granite edge runner crushing stones with wooden upright shafts, iron spindles, boxes, stop brasses, scrapers sweepers and platform complete with Horse Beams and Yoke {so we are talking two separate horse gears} – 2 large Meal Binns and 2 wood spouts from 1st floor.”

 It can be seen from the above that the steam engine was not connected to the wind-driven stones, driving separately the logwood-chipping machine, the saw mill and the single pair of peaks. But the impression is gained of a large and very modern, for the time, windmill, though driving only two pairs of stones by wind. It must have been expensive to build in the first place, the copper-covered cap adding to the cost as at Smeaton’s Chimney Mill, Newcastle, where this fixture is criticised for the same reason in a sniffy note from the engineer John Rennie.(6)

 Stephen Buckland comments that the relatively late existence of a large working windmill in an area which even by the 1830s was getting moderately built up is unusual. The mill probably did not last for long after 1858 and certainly there is no evidence for its having done so. Mr Buckland adds that for the mill to be let on a monthly tenancy only, as seems to have been the case, with presumably that period of notice either way, was an unsatisfactory arrangement for a business.

 An illustration of Baumes, a large house of 1650 on the west side of Kingsland Road, shows a tall tower mill with a stage about half way up, and a domed cap with a lofty fantail, standing in the background(7). It is possible that this is the Canal Road mill; the sale notices suggest a large and powerful specimen and this is certainly the impression which the illustration gives. However it might also be one of the White Lead Mills at Islington, which stood on the boundary between that parish and Shoreditch; the resemblance to them, down to the bowsprit in front of the sails, is striking.

The site of Boston Street is now occupied by a city farm.

 A windmill was built in or shortly before 1890 on the roof of a warehouse in Great Eastern Street for Messrs Carwardine & Co, then a well-known milling firm, to operate machinery within the building for the production of wholemeal flour. The millwrights were Messrs A Williamson and Co. It was of the type patented by an American named Halliday and frequently used at this time for pumping water, with an annular sail mounted on an open wooden framework which stood some fifty feet above the warehouse. The Miller of 6th October 1890 reports that the mill could give out 8 horsepower when the wind was travelling at eighteen miles an hour. How long it operated for, and when the last traces of it were cleared away, is not known. Possibly its demise was connected with an action taken by the council in 1892 over the mill’s carrying advertisements for the firm. It would certainly have been ideal for such a purpose, for it must have been a conspicuus sight. 

The following account of the matter, from an unidentified newspaper dated May 1893, was found in the Mills Archive in October 2007:

“THE LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL AND THE WINDMILL. At Worship Street yesterday Messrs Williams & Co, engineers, of Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, were summoned by the London County Council for unlawfully retaining a sky sign without the license of the Council. Mr Chilvers appeared for the LCC and Mr McMorran, barrister, for the defence. For the Council it was said that the windmill erection was similar to that which was before the Court when a similar prosecution was instituted against Messrs Carwardine and Co, millers, of the City Road. In fact Messrs Williams, the defendants, were the erectors of Carwardine’s windmill. It was a curious point in this case, however, that the freeholders of the premises in question in Great Eastern Street were the LCC itself. In March 1891, in consequence of its having been discovered that the windmill had been erected, as also had a gas engine, a letter was written by the Council, as landlords, complaining. Correspondence ensued, and in the result the Council granted a written licence for the continuance of the erections: but that was a few days after the passing of the Sky Signs Act, and under the Act it was imperative that the sky sign should be certified by the district surveyor, and without such certificate the Council could not grant a licence. For the defence it was contended that the windmill had been erected for use, and not merely an advertisement. Evidence was called to prove the use to which the windmill was put. Mr Rose reserved his decision.”

 The item is accompanied by an illustration of the windmill, which shows it to have been winded by a large weathervane. The tower is cross-braced above the maintenance platform halfway up the structure, and appears to be boarded over.

 A more detailed account appeared in the London Standard:

““Messrs Carwardine’s Windmill”

At the Worship Street Police Court yesterday, Messrs Carwardine & Co., millers, 84-88 City Road, were summoned by the County Council to answer a complaint of “retaining a sky sign without the licence of the Council.” Mr Burton, solicitor from the office of the Council, said the sky sign was a windmill, which had attracted attention in all parts of London. The windmill was erected over the premises of the Defendants, on a framework some 50 feet in height. It was admitted that the windmill served a useful purpose in that it ground grain, raised by means of a hoist from one floor to another, worked a dynamo for the lighting by electricity of an arc lamp, and did other work, But the vane of the wheel bore an advertisement, in painted words, and round a gallery beneath the wheel was the name of Carwardine. Thus in two directions it was an advertisement, and the wheel was lighted at night by the electric light. He contended that this was a sky sign as defined in Section 2 of the Act 54 and 55 Victoria cap.78. Sections 5 and 6 made it obligatory on the owners of existing sky signs to get certificates for their continuance. If this erection was declared not to be a “sky sign”, London would be overshadowed by various erections, which so long as they worked in some useful degree might be in wood or pasteboard.

 Mr Dobaste, surveyor, in the employ of the Council, produced a model of the erection and explained its construction. The wheel, he said, was constructed of ten-inch timber, pinned to the floor on the 3rd storey of the premises, and rising about 50 feet. The wheel had a span of 28ft and a fan, or vane, at the back bore the words “Oatmeal Carwardine Wheat Meal.” Halfway up the framework was a gallery, on each of the four sides of which were wooden letters, 3ft 6in in height, forming the name “Carwardine.” They were open letters, the sky showing through. The letters on the vane were not open. Witnesses had seen the mill at work, and knew that it drove two pairs of millstones and a dynamo for electric lighting. An arc lamp was fixed on a pole near the wheel. He thought the erection could be seen two miles off. In cross-examination he said he supposed the premises were a factory, since the wheel was part of the machinery for grinding meal. With respect to the gallery, it was necessary for some protection to be given to it for a workman to be safe up there, and the letters “Carwardine” formed the only railing, except a tube or rail along the top. It was better that the fence should be open than closed, as offering less resistance to the wind. He was not aware how long since the arc lamp was used for lighting the wheel, but he had seen it in position four days ago. Mr Burton said he rested his case on the evidence. For the defence it was submitted that the construction was not a sky sign or advertisement at all, but that it was a secondary erection for the factory in question, and as it was bound to do for a miller’s business “went up into the sky”, and was there for use.

 Mr Rose asked if it was contended that where a sky sign fulfilled also a useful purpose the latter fact removed it from the Act, and the solicitor replied that if in place “mainly” for use, though incidentally advertising something, it was not within the Act, though it would be absurd to say that the raising one bucket of water or one section of flour a day should exempt it as a sky sign.

 Mr Williams, an engineer, said the constructor of the wheel in question was called, and brought forward a large model of the wheel, which he worked to show its action, and the self-closing of the louvers of the sails of the wheel, according to the strength of the wind. He said the construction was in no way dangerous. Asked as to the amount of work done by the wheel, he said he believed it was 7 sacks a day. Mr Rose said the amount of work was important, and asked the average.

 Witness said he thought it was from 7 to 11 sacks a day, besides working the hoist, driving a dynamo, and having also a pumping arrangement, though that was not in use. The power employed was about 8-horse in an 18-mile wind, which latter was an average rate. The top of the Defendants’ premises was a good place for a wind. With respect to the letters around the gallery, they were in place of a railing and it was imperative that they should be open. It was necessary there should be a vane at the back of the wheel, as it kept the wheel to the wind.

Mr Rose: That is an ancient arrangement.

It was proposed to call one of the Defendants to prove the usefulness of the mill wheel: but Mr Burton objected that he was not a competent witness, and the objection being held good the son was called, and bore out the previous witness’ evidence as to the work done. With regard to the working of the dynamo he said that the electricity was stored in a 23-cell accumulator, and not used directly from the dynamo, because the power varied with the wind. Nevertheless the wheel raised a 2½ cwt sack in the hoist and did other work, for which it would cost a large sum to supply other power.

 The solicitor for the defence said the Act was posted for the prevention of unsightly erections. Mr Rose thought nothing in the Act provided with dealing with such if they existed. He asked what meaning the Defence attached to the word “device” in the second section. The solicitor said a bunch of grapes outside a licensed victualler’s premises would be a device. Mr Rose: Then if this whole erection were a useless thing would you say that it was without the meaning of the Act?

 The solicitor was not sure. Perhaps the best answer, he said, was to consider the object of the persons who had gone to the expense of erecting such a thing. Here, however, because the useful thing bore two or three words, it was declared to be a sky sign, he thought the preamble of the Act was afterwards found to be too sweeping, and therefore that part of the second section which referred to “any vane or weathercock” was intended to limit its application. Here the objection to the vane could be removed by a pound or two of paint obliterating the words on it, and it ceased to be a sky sign. The words around the gallery were the protecting rails.

 Mr Rose, in giving his decision, said he was impressed with the importance of this case, and agreed with Mr Burton that it was the most important question ever raised under the Act, for if this erection was allowed to be not a sky sign there would be many working erections very soon all over London. He felt however the invention, and of limiting the use of the wind – a serious matter: and, under all the circumstances, he had come to the conclusion that the erection was not a sky sign within the intention of the Act, but mainly a windmill, though incidentally an advertisement. Judgement would be for the Defendants, and he would grant a case for the High Court.

 Mr Burton said he should be compelled to take a case, as the County Council attached the utmost importance to the matter.”(8)

(1) Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 19/4/1922, per B Reynolds

(2) East Sussex Record Office AMSC 3610-3614

(3) Stephen Buckland, 2nd July 2000

(4) Per B Reynolds, “Windmill Hoppers” website 31st January 2014

(5) B/NTG/1383

(6) As (3)

(7) Lysons, Environs of London (1796)

(8) Per B Reynolds, “Windmill Hoppers” 15th July 2012

(66) The windpump in Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, 1893 (Mills Archive)


(1) C17 mill

(2) 18th century mill  294819

In February 1601 a windmill at St Giles in the Field was severely damaged in a gale, losing part of its roof while one pair of stones (the account says “half the millstone”) was also torn out, and the miller and another man apparently flung some distance through the air(1). 

In the eighteenth century a windmill stood in Rathbone Place, at the north end of Charlotte Street, where it worked an elaborate ornamental fountain in the centre of Soho Square. The water was pumped from a pond in the street which was fed by a spring originally on open ground but incorporated within the cellar of a house when the area was developed. Exact details of the mechanism have not been recorded, but it is known the “mill” could only operate when the pond was full, so as to save the workings from unnecessary wear. According to M T Mason it also ground corn, but no evidence is given for this assertion. 

 In 1832 the mill was remembered by the sculptor Joseph Nollekens, which makes plausible a statement that it was standing as late as 1787. Nollekens recalled that the owner of the land on which the pump stood, perhaps also its operator, charged the public a halfpenny each for the privilege of walking in his grounds. He had planted strawberries there and turned the place into a tea garden, which became a popular haunt of Londoners on Sundays.(2)

 The mill is illustrated in a print in Strype’s 1721 edition of John Stowe’s Survey Of London and volume four of Crowle’s Pennant, now in the British Museum. It was a small tower mill with ogee cap and sails of indeterminate type, reminiscent of the 1712 illustration of Clerkenwell windpump. The rolling fields in the background show that it then stood on the fringes of London. The mill may have given its name to Windmill Street off Tottenham Court Road, from which in turn was named the notorious theatre, but the inspiration is thought more likely to have been that which stood in the seventeenth century in the parish of St James (see above) and is shown by Faithorne in 1658.

(1) Contemporary newspaper report, in Camden Library

(2) Edward Walford, Old And New London, volume 4, p479 of volume 4; J T Smith, Nollekens And His Times (1828); J G Waller, London Windmills, as elsewhere; Farries and Mason, as elsewhere, p236; R Thurston Hopkins, as elsewhere; Soho  Square’s Story by Harold Adshead, p6, Middlesex Quarterly and London County Review Summer 1957 (no.12 New Series, no.16 Old Series); Margaret Goldsmith, Soho Square (Sampson, Low, Marston & Co Ltd), p15-16

(67) The pumping mill at Rathbone Place, Soho, 1777 (LMA)


(1) Norwood, standing 16th century and later

(2) Post mill near Grand Junction Canal  144797

(3) Smock mill, near Uxbridge Road 143809

In 1596 the executors of Anne, Lady Dacre, reserved for themselves a watermill and gardens, and a windmill and one acre of land, in Norwood, both copyhold of the Manor(1). It is quite possible that the mill may be the same as that standing in the manor of Southall in 1433(2) and 1496(3), since in a conveyance of the same in 1597 none is mentioned(4).

 After that date there is no firm evidence of a windmill in Norwood until the eighteenth century, although a mill of unknown type was standing in 1611. This, along with the overshot watermill at Northcott, was leased in 1676 to a Mr Hamton. Moses Glover’s map of the Isleworth Hundred, published in 1635, shows a post mill beside the river at Norwood Green. This appears to have a roundhouse, which would have been the earliest for which there is evidence in Britain. However it should be noted that one of the other post mills featured on this map also possesses a feature which resembles a roundhouse, and has been described as such, when it is just as likely to be a representation of the piers supporting the trestle. 

 The mill which stood near the boundary between Southall and Hanwell (and was often known as “Hanwell Windmill”) is first heard of in 1721 when it became the scene of a robbery, reported in the London Gazette of 19th-22nd August. It was probably the same mill which appears as a post mill on “A Plan of the Great Road from Tybourn to Uxbridge and from Brent Bridge to Brentford” 1769(5), and was among the properties owned by the Cooke family, lords of the Manor of Hayes, which they attempted to sell in 1770(6). And the following intriguing reference is found in the Hanwell Vestry Minutes of 20th September 1800: “The Rector reported that the nuisance from the mill having continued, and indeed being aggravated, he had preferred a bill of Indictment against Messrs Wallace and Hawes.”

 In 1806 the windmill, along with Windmill Farm, formed part of the Osterley estate(7). It stood by the Grand Junction Canal, and was presumably the one painted in the same year by William Turner, who depicts it as a post mill with a roundhouse, standing within an idealised rural setting. It was still in existence in 1821 when it is shown in a plan, drawn up by one Lediard, which accompanies the Valuation List for the Norwood Precinct(8). It is noted as being near the Three Bridges, where the canal is carried over the railway and the road over the canal. The mill was owned by the Earl of Jersey and occupied by Jeremiah Sibley, and was worth £15. After this date there is no record of it; it is possible that the structure or its remains were demolished in 1855 when the railway was built from Southall to Brentford(9).

 By the 1820s, when the post mill is last heard of, another windmill had made its appearance in the area. A smock mill, it stood close to the watermill with which it has frequently been confused by local historians. The site was about half a mile from the main Uxbridge road and about fifty yards to the west of where a prefabricated housing estate now is.(10) Writing in the 1960s, D F Kiddle stated that a number of illustrations of the mill were in existence, but the present author’s researches have so far failed to trace any of them. R Symonds was the miller in 1855 and 1862 and the mill is last known to have worked in 1886 when an R P Symonds, most likely the same man, is named in directories. The last map to show the mill is the Ordnance Survey of 1877. In the 1960s an elderly man wrote to one of the local newspapers to say that as a boy he had helped to demolish it towards the end of the previous century. Today the approximate site is marked, most conveniently, by an Ordnance Survey triangulation station. A few bricks from the base of the mill remained into the twentieth century, and a piece of wood said to have come from the upright shaft is preserved at Southall public library(11).

 Some years ago I came across a photograph in the SPAB Mills Section collection at Spital Square of an East Anglian-type post mill, white-painted and in working order with patent sails and fantail, captioned “Southall”. It is now believed to be at the Mills Archive, awaiting cataloguing; due to other commitments I have not so far had the time to attempt to trace it. It is possible that it shows the Heston mill at Hounslow.

(1)   LMA Acc.436/11(2)

(2)   Ibid

(3)   LMA Acc.43s/ED.16, folio 14; CCP25(1)/152/100/II Hen VII

(4)   As (1)

(5)   Hounslow Treaty Centre Library, Layton Collection

(6)   LMA Acc.264/123

(7)   LMA Acc.405/1612

(8)   Southall Borough Library

(9)   Mason, Middlesex Windmills, Middlesex Quarterly 1953

(10) Ibid

(11) Ibid; personal visit to the Library by the author

(68) Post mill at Norwood, from Moses Glover’s Map of the Isleworth Hundred, 1635 (PB)


(1) Early mill

(2) Early mill

(3) C16 mill

(4) Early mill  168940

A windmill existed here in 1352(1); it is not known whether it stood in Great or Little Stanmore but the mediaeval chronicler Walsingham records that John de Maryns, Abbot of St Albans, whose abbacy was from 1235 to 1260, built a windmill and a manor house in what later became the former. 

 In 1547, following the dissolution of the monasteries, a windmill which had previously belonged to St Bartholomew’s Priory – possibly that built by Maryns, or a successor – was granted to Pedro de Gamboa along with two horse mills(2). There are no references to it after this date. “A little house called a mill house” was claimed by a customary tenant in 1665(3); by then the mill itself had long disappeared.

 The cellarer of St Bartholomew’s received 46s a year from a windmill at Grimsditch, in what later became Little Stanmore, in 1306(4). A mill house was among the appurtenances of Canons leased to Hugh Losse in 1543(5) and a mill among those surrendered to Sir Thomas Lake in 1604(6). The mill was said in 1680 to have stood near the boundary with Great Stanmore on the crest of Brockley Hill(7).

(1) CKB 9/66/19

(2) L & P Henry VIII 21 (2) p419

(3) Davenport MSS; Great Stanmore Court Rolls (LMA)

(4) Webb, Records of St Bartholomew’s, 1, 450-1

(5) SC 6/29811

(6) CCP 25(2)/323/2 Jas I Trin. Middlesex

(7) Davenport MSS; Great Stanmore Court Rolls (LMA)


In the mid- and late eighteenth century a piece of land here was known as Mill Acre, suggesting the former existence of a windmill(1).

(1) LMA, Hambrough family Stanwell Estate Deeds List, Acc.0711 Bundle 7 Gp3 1739-1780 no.5


(1) 14th century mill

(2) 18th century mill, Ratcliff

In 1324-5 there was a windmill in Pomfret manor on Stepney Marsh, and one of unidentified type, which may have been the same structure, stood there in 1342. It may have fallen into disrepair because of changes in land usage and the flooding of the marsh. In 1654 a windmill on the manor was included in a property transaction(1), and in 1712-13 Roger Goodcheape insured his house “near the windmill in Brook Street in Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney”(2).

(1) LMA Q/HAL/291

(2) Sun FIP vol.12 no 2947


(1) Early mill

(2) Standing 1591 and 1603, site unknown

(3) C17 and 18th century mill  099699

(4) Windmill Road; survived into early C20  091701

A valuation carried out in 1311 of the rectory and vicarage of Sunbury states the tithes from a windmill to be worth 3s 4d(1). One is again recorded in the area in 1591 and 1603.

 Sometime between 1676 and 1683 Henry Biddle, a millwright from Easthampstead in Berkshire, took over a copyhold windmill on Sunbury Common from Katharine Cotton, widow, surrendering it in the latter year to Henry Thorniworke. On 1st October 1689 Thorniworke transferred the mill to his son, also Henry, from whom it passed in 1696 to George Cromwell. The Thorniworkes probably continued as tenant millers since Cromwell was not a miller himself and lived in Hampton. In 1704 Henry Thorniworke, miller, is shown as a copyhold tenant at a rent of £1 13s 4d. In or shortly before 1705 the mill was destroyed by fire(2).

 As local historian Kenneth Heselton has pointed out, the mill appears to have been the most expensive property in the Manor.  The rent was almost as high as that for genteel residences like Hawke House, the home of Admiral Hawke, which still stands today. This seems somewhat ludicrous, as does the fact that rent continued to be paid for the mill after it had been burnt down, as well as for a ruinous and uninhabited cottage nearby. The only conclusion we can draw is that it was an exceptionally profitable concern(3).

 The mill was evidently soon rebuilt. In 1712 it was let to William Cooper, miller, at twelve pounds a year. It is shown on a 1722 map of Sunbury Manor, standing to the south of the Staines Road and east of the western boundary of the Manor which at this time ran due north from Laytons Lane to the main road. The site was probably on the line now followed by the motorway.(4)

 The Sunbury Common mill was standing in 1754 according to Rocque’s map. It is not heard of after that date but by 1819 another windmill had been erected on the west side of what is now Windmill Road. The mill was a large smock, with room for three pairs of stones, a flour machine, a smutter and a bolter. It stood on a shallow brick base six or seven feet high (something attested to by twentieth-century eyewitnesses who saw the derelict remains of the structure). There was a fantail and probably patent or spring sails. Also on the property were a large storehouse capable of holding 100 sacks of flour, a stable, two cart sheds, a barn, a house for the miller with four bedrooms and two bedsitting rooms, and a washhouse, bakehouse and garden.

 In July 1847 the mill was auctioned at the Flower Pot Inn, and it is from the sale notice in the Sussex Advertiser on the 13th that the above details of it are gleaned. Who bought it we do not know for sure but the miller in 1852 was James Fry, a local man who in the London Gazette of 13th April the same year was listed as an insolvent debtor. This does not seem to be an indication of the profitability of the mill, for it went on working until at least the late 1880s and may not have finally stopped until the 1900s. Millers we know to have worked it after Fry were W Wells (1867), Thomas Winter (1870), Stephen Laslett (1874, 1878), and a Mr Weekes in 1886.

 At some time the wooden smock tower was pulled down and much of the timber from it incorporated in a structure which was erected on the base to form a barn. This survived until c1950. At the time of its demolition only a few beams and one millstone were left inside.(5) Local historian Mr Peter Chaplin and another resident put the site on the right side of Lincoln Way, the latter stating that warehouses were afterwards built upon it(6). The former mill house abutted onto Old Townsend’s Farm, levelled when the land on which it stood was acquired by Thames Water. 

 The mill is still remembered in the locality, though principally as a stump. In 1991 one elderly resident could still recall playing in it as a child around 1903, before the main part was demolished. The sails were then still on but the mill was no longer in use. My informant confirmed the almost entirely wooden nature of the structure; she could not remember if it had a stage.(6) It is extremely regrettable that no photograph, or indeed any kind of illustration, survives of what must have been a very impressive mill. The deficiency is also puzzling, in view of its late survival by Middlesex standards – well into the photographic era – and the size of the property with its extensive outbuildings, which would have made it a conspicuous feature of the locality. One possible explanation is that in the mill’s heyday the land on which it stood was not common property, and it was generally impossible to get close enough for a good photograph to be taken.

 Today the Windmill Road area is a hive of local industry, in which the name of at least one firm, Windmill Plastics, commemorates the mill’s former existence.

(1) St Paul’s MS. A38/1282

(2) LMA Acc.598/Court Book 1680; Acc.598/1, p74

(3) Heselton, article on local mills in Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society newsletter, 1977

(4) MLR 1712/4/89; LMA Acc.598 (map of Sunbury Manor 1722)

(5) Information from local resident

(6) Mrs Alexander of Churchill Way, Sunbury, 9th April 1991