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Technical descriptions of English windmills



Smock mill, gone


The mill was very squat, consisting of a bricked ground floor with two floors in the smock frame above, to which access was by boarded stairs instead of ladders. There was a minimum of ironwork throughout, which rendered the mill of particular interest to the viewer in the 1930s as representative of the older millwright’s craft. There was an all-wooden windshaft carrying a pair of single-shuttered spring sails and a pair of commons turning anti-clockwise. A pair of heavy timber clamps to the outer middling flanked the sides of the wooden poll. The neck journal of the shaft was composed of some 20 iron strips sunk flush into the wood and secured fore and aft by two bolted iron hoops. Behind lay a compass-arm brakewheel, braced forward to the shaft in the manner still to be seen at Lacey Green mill, Bucks. Behind the wheel the square on the shaft was neatly stop-chamfered to produce an approximately circular section. Of the principal gears, only the wallower was obviously of later vintage, being an iron mortice wheel. The great spur wheel was of clasp arm construction, with wooden cogs, and the stone nuts planked solid, driving two pairs of French stones from below. The stone floor was directly above the base, and below its ceiling and mounted on the wooden upright shaft was a downturned wooden face gear for sack hoist and dresser drives. The round staves of a “cow-pop” or trundle gear took the sack hoist drive; the cogs were held at their rear by tapered wooden pins. The upright shaft was footed in a bridging box with screw adjustment, but was formerly “trued up” by a system of mortices and wedges at the ends of the bridging beam, subsequently blocked in when superseded. The wooden upright shaft was possibly itself a later replacement, for the original is likely to have followed local practice and to have carried a spur wheel of compass-arm design, as still to be seen at Tiptree and Baker Street, Orsett.

 The mill cap, with a straight ridge, had a steep pitch when viewed from the front; the whole turned on a live curb by the use of a Y-wheel and hand rope. It was centred by truck wheels of wood. A newer curb had been laid over an older one, replacing a rack with outward-projecting cogs by one in which the cogs were upward-turned on the outer circumference, leaving room for the cap rollers inside.


Smock mill, base remains


By the surviving brick base {the mill} is seen to be of modest proportions. The opposing octagonal sides are 16ft across internally and 8ft 6in high. The sills would have measured 6ft 6in inside, compared with 10ft 6in at Upminster. {The mill had} a stage with lattice floor, at least one pair of shuttered sails and an iron upright shaft.


Post mill, gone


The undoubted post mill of the latter days had four single-shuttered anti-clockwise and probably spring sails, with tailpole winding and a single-storied roundhouse.


Post mill, gone


This mill is recorded in scale drawings by P Brown (1950) and in the fine set of photographs made in 1956 by the National Monuments Record.

 The post carried the names Timothy Weedon and Thomas Dagnall over the year 1715, which we may reasonably assume was the date of erection. The alleged move from Stortford {Hertfordshire} may have occurred in 1743, which date was on the post in the roundhouse, and the mill was certainly on the Essex site in 1767. The post was supported by 6 quarterbars 9in by 12in resting on 3 crosstrees. The crosstrees ran straight through on their undersides, but were cut down 3-6in on their upper faces to form abutments directly against the post, which in its lower section was 6-sided, changing to 32in sq at base. The crosstrees were apparently of elm, and the lowest was bowed down to a marked degree, with templates on the piers trimmed to suit. The horns were cut as dictated by the crosstrees, but were crudely finished compared to those at Chinnor mill, another of this rare breed. The quarterbars entered the post in the normal manner at the same level, and carried, at any rate in later years, a curious iron plate in lieu of a wooden collar for the sheers to ride over. This was circular and of about 3fr 6in diameter by 3½ in thick, held in place by vertical lugs extending downwards on either side of each quarterbar, to which they were spiked. The lugs extended through the iron collar and were probably riveted with countersinks to preserve a smooth bearing face. The sheers had iron strips, suitably curved, about 3ft 6in long, attached to their undersides to ride over the collar below.

 The substructure was enclosed by a red brick roundhouse with tiled roof, and the single floor lay 2ft below ground level. The height of the mill was about 42 ft, of which 26½ ft was accounted for from spout floor to roof ridge. The spout floor measured 19½ ft by 11ft overall, including a 2½ ft extension to the rear of the main (heavy section) rear corner posts, but the door in this was oversailed by a further 1ft, above which there was formerly a dresser, not present in 1960.

 The centre post was undoubtedly prepared originally for three crosstrees, but whether truly pioneering a new development remains open to question. No clear connection between Moreton mill and the half-dozen or so other recorded examples of this construction has been established. Several had two pairs of stones set on a hurst on the spout floor in front of the post, with a wooden upright shaft to take the drive down to them, but this feature was not traceable at Moreton. Neither did Moreton have rollers under the body riding a track supported from the quarterbars – a refinement at Chinnor, Oxon, and Bledlow Ridge, Bucks, unlikely to have been present from the start. Although 6 quarterbars gave steady support, they involved more cuts than normal in the post at a point where it was liable to snap. They also required more outlay on timber, and left less storage space below. The crosstrees at Moreton were at chest to head height.

 The body, which was winded by tailpole, was quite differently framed from all other known Essex post mills. In the absence of side girts, the crowntree, 22in by 21in deep, carried at each end a vertical member 12in fore and aft by 8in wide, extending down to the bottom side rail, into which it was tenoned. These posts were sightly tapered upwards to enter the top side rails by tenons also. The joints at the crowntree ends are illusrated in Fig.10b. In each case the crowntree was rebated full width to a depth of 3in. From below this level a section 11in fore and aft by 8in as seen in plan was then removed by vertical cuts, but leaving intact full depth a central tenon 3in sq for entry into the post. The post was notched slightly on its sides, so that when applied to the crowntree the latter was secured by an iron rod passing through horizontally and brought tight by a cotter bolt.

 The main intermediate horizontal framing members, 9in deep by 8in wide, which replaced the normal side girts were made to enter the central posts beneath the lower surface of the crowntree at 16in on centre for the forward member, and 6½ in for the rear, all being tenoned into the main four corner posts. The front corner posts were thickened out forwards at top to attain 17in by 9in from 10 by 9 below, and the rear two were thickened inwards. The rear right corner post had a very pronounced “gunstock head”, and was of particular interest as containing both the notched abutment for a side girt and the sawn-off tenon of the former girt, with 3 pins still securing it. This joint matched up with the crowntree rebate and invited the presumption that Moreton mill originally had normal framing but that at the rebuilding only one of the original corner posts was reused. The crowntree rebates appeared to carry remains of vertically set dowels, obscured at centre, if present, by the posts already described. This suggests the possible mode of attachment of former girts, perhaps in the absence of lap dovetails.

 Given the seven principal members for the side frames, excluding the extension, all of which have been mentioned above, the four panels on each side were provided with diagonals so arranged as to stagger the mortises in the intermediate posts, to triangulate the intermediate horizontals and thus give the corner posts effective support, and to hold the central posts upright above their most vulnerable point at the junction with the crowntree. The lower panel in the mill prow had diagonals to support the prow post, and hence the weatherbeam, from the corner posts, while the rear lower frames between the main corner posts, retained after the extension of the mill body, had diagonals set in the other sense. These ran from the door posts upwards and outwards to support the main corner posts indirectly from the sheers.

 With regard to the efficacy of this whole scheme, we can at least pay tribute to the designer by recalling that there was little deformation within the frame in 1960, whereas Bocking, Ramsey and Mill Green mills and others had developed cracked side girts or badly sagging principal timbers.

 The sheers measured 15in by 11in and were on 2ft 6in centres, running through to the rear, where they supported the rear extension. Both the rear main sills of the body, between the main and “false” corner posts, were thickened where they passed over the sheers with well moulded stops on their undersides, an unusual refinement of construction in those members. At the front, the lower sill, meal beam, weatherbeam and prow post were placed as at Mill Green, Ingatestone. The weatherbeam was of oak, 11in sq at the ends, and shaped forward at the prow, where it broadened to 18in fore-aft. The transverse beams below carried the prow forward to a lesser degree. At the original rear of the mill, further transverse beams fulfilled their multiple roles in the normal manner, where the door, studding and boarding were preserved, and formed a partition behind which, on the left side of the spout floor, was a space containing a flap desk; this was the miller’s office.

 The mill was re-roofed in 1918, using as a basis two 7in by 3in timbers set flat over the top side rails and extending from front to rear. The top rails were 10in wide by 8 ½ in deep, and the left one was scarfed, possibly for extension to the rear when the end section was built on; the right rail was probably then completely replaced. Cotter bolts were used to hold the scarf tight, recalling the method of fixing at the crowntree end.

 Minor but interesting details of the mill’s construction were too numerous to be described here, but as examples one may cite the following: the forward end of the left-hand intermediate horizontal member forward of the crowntree was actually shaped at its joint with the corner post to follow the damaged outside rear corner of that post, another pointer to the use of old timbers in the construction. Where an iron plate is commonly found under the crowntree at centre, a template of wood with nicely shaped edges had been attached and plated with iron strips below. The crowntree

did not sit squarely on the post but was off-centre to the rear, and the iron tie rods running from crowntree to sheers were also oddly positioned, the one on the left being well towards the forward edge of the crowntree, the other slightly rear of centre. The rods were somewhat further apart than usual. Possibly a compensation was sought for upsetting the former balance of the mill when the spur drive to two pairs of stones was introduced sometime before 1832. The forward stones had diameters of 4ft 2in on the right and 3ft 10in on the left, on 4ft centres from the crowntree, and the rear pair of 4ft stones was 6ft on centre behind the crowntree. The turning moments fore and aft relative only to the stones were therefore approximately in the ratio 4:3. Whether the mill was prone to headsickness is not known. There was probably one pair of stones only in the head in the early days, and the stone bearers and bridgetrees for these could have been reused to the left of the great spur wheel, where, as seen in 1960, they were in sharp contrast with the dressed pine stone bearers for the right stones.

 The drive to the stones in the mill as last used consisted of four anti-clockwise single-shuttered spring sails set in a plain iron canister on an iron windshaft, with brake wheel and tail wheel driving the forward stones from below and the rear stones from above – the exact reverse of the arrangements at Ramsey. With the exception of the compass-arm brake wheel, modified to a clasp-arm, this machinery was probably of a later date even than the change to spur-gear installation at the front, most of it consisting of iron mortice wheels and iron-toothed segments. The iron wallower, on an iron upright shaft, had mortices for 60 cogs but carried only half that number. R Hawksley, who recorded the gear ratios, gives 72:30 and 72:74 in the breast, equivalent to a ratio of sails to stones of 1:7.2 and 96:15 in the tail, or 1:6.4.

 Three parallel bridgetrees, running fore and aft, carried the stone spindles and upright shaft, and the brays in the mill prow were parallel to the crowntree, with inner ends pivoted and outer ends controlled by one governor. All these members were in wood.

 The tail beam, 10in sq, was of oak and an addition to the rebuilt mill. It was wedged against short horizontal timbers tenoned at their rear into the main corner posts and at front into applied vertical timbers dogged to the top side rails and supported by diagonals below. The clasp-arm tailwheel had two rings of iron segment teeth of different pitch bolted separately onto the face and rim of the wheel, rendering it a combined face gear for the stone nut and spur gear for machine drive.

 The sack hoist drive was by slack belt from a wood pulley built up on the forward side of the tailwheel to the hoist under the roof, the traps being directly behind the post. A short ladder footed on the left end of the crowntree and steeply inclined to the rear led up to a small platform over the windshaft, on either side of which the bins were carried by longitudinal members resting on the forward spindle beam in front, and hung from roof spars at the rear. At this level the tail wheel was boarded over. The mill interior could have changed little by the date of demolition from the time when it was last worked, and a minor feature which tends to be obliterated in preserved mills was still observable until the end. This was the small port at eye level beside the prick post on the spout floor, from which the miller could watch the weather ahead.

 The empty frames of two sails remained in 1962. One of these came within 3ft 4in of the ground and was 6ft 2in wide at the tip. The effective length of the sail frame was 25½ ft. 10 sail bars formed 9 bays of 3 canvas-covered wood-framed shutters in each, and leading boards 8in wide and 5/8 of an inch thick were used, not at a constant angle but following the angle of the bars. The bars, 2¾ in by 1½ in, were at 34in pitch, and the back stays, 2¼ in by 1½ in. A timber just over 1½ in sq was set 5in on centre from the edge of the whip to carry the inner shutter pivots, as measured at the tip, where the intervening space was covered by a 5in wide board, and this ran to the heel of the sail where the middling and the 1½ in sq timber came together. The shutters were all of the same length, and discarded ones in the roundhouse measured 46½ in by 11½ in. The shutter bars had gone.


Post mill, standing today


From 1914 four spring sails of the single-shuttered type were in use, one pair having half-elliptic springs mounted towards the ends of the whips on their rear faces. The thatched roof of the roundhouse, infested with rats, was replaced by tarred boards.

 The surviving two mid-county post mills – at Mill Green and Mountnessing – are poles apart in important respects. Mountnessing differs in having a later-style construction with fewer refinements. Mill Green was literally the lord’s mill, well maintained, having well-shaped timbers and not a few subtleties in design. Its junior by about half a century at Mountnessing evidently had to await for some years the addition of a roundhouse – a 16-side. The lower crosstree was rounded and chamfered at both ends, but the extremities of the upper crosstrees were cut obliquely to allow the roundhouse roof to pass over. These 22ft long crosstrees are about 13in deep by 10in wide, and are deeply trenched on their upper faces where they pass over the post, having the very large clear gap of 10in between them. They are wedged against the sides of the post, which appears to be of elm. The quarterbars have a section similar to that of the crosstrees, and the whole substructure stands on tapered piers much taller than those at Mill Green, the lower ones reaching a height of 5½ ft. The post has an overall length of about 19ft and is 29in square at base.

 The substructure follows orthodox design, and carries a double-morticed collar housed on to the quarterbars over which lie the sheers 11in square on 3ft centres. Photographs of the mill in working order show it perfectly erect, but in the lean years after work ceased and before remedial treatment it became increasingly headsick, having no diagonals to stiffen the failing side frame. The collar would have aided the mill’s survival before a set of sag irons was fitted by Lennard and Pargeter in the 1960s to prevent further distortion.

 The mill body measures slightly less than 18ft by 11ft overall in plan, and has deep side girts about 20in by 9in running between the corner posts for the entire length of the mill, and sunk 4in onto the crowntree ends. Thus the mill is not of the “extended” type but had head and tail stones initially, later switched to two at the head. The corner posts show no increase in section on the side or forward faces to take the top side rails or other heavy members, and the only horizontal spacer between the intermediate upright or window posts is, most unusually for Essex, just below the crowntree. It is about 10in deep by nearly 30in long as seen between the window posts, and the clear gap between it and the crowntree is a mere 7in. Although at first sight purposeless, it was apparently part of the scheme to ensure the rigidity and rectilinearity of the side frame, given the absence of any triangulation. The window posts, 10in wide by 5in, were, as reported by Vincent Pargeter following renovation, reduced to half their thickness at their intersections with the side girts and the bottom rails, being let into trenches cut across the faces of the girts and achieving a flush finish outside. The exceptionally deep girts – 22in as measured at centre – give a large contact area which, allied with the spacer or bridge piece below, held in the posts by wedged dovetails, secured for the whole frame an unyielding square or “hub” near centre, until eventually the posts were weakened by worm or rot.

 The crowntree, about 22in square, has survived well, though scarred on its underside by a 1in wide by 10in deep shake running most of its length; it appears to receive a 10in diameter pintle from the main post, which has only one iron band at its top.

 The front framing has diagonals in each of its three panels, and the rear framing also, in the upper two sections. The roof is attractively shaped, having spars bowed out below the purlin to give a “tumble-home” effect, and brought down to the top side rail with a “birdsmouth” cut. Thus at 3ft over top side rail, the weatherboarding overhangs by about 12in, giving the mill a distinctive cross-sectional silhouette.

 The iron windshaft, formerly with a built-up neck bearing as at South Ockendon, and closely guarded by an iron keep near the tail bearing, has a square mounting for a tail wheel; if this were present, it would be within 5ft of the rear frame, which suggests the former use of a forward-facing wheel, and the supposition is strengthened by the position of the rear stone bearers, now redundant. There may have been no rear spindle beam, as at Moreton and Mill Green, the tail beam serving a dual role. All the gearing is now in the head of the mill, and the stones were underdriven. The wooden brake wheel is an original clasp-arm face gear with 77 cogs of 4in pitch meshing with 21 cogs on the old-style solid wooden wallower, and thereby turning the upright shaft with a spur wheel having 66 cogs and meshing with stone nuts of 32 cogs each. For one revolution of the sails the stones turned nearly 8 times. The great spur was an iron casting, 6-armed, of 42in diameter, and wood-cogged, while the nuts are in solid wood and of 22in diameter. These were each raised out of gear on a taper with one feather, and since they were wooden nuts, special inserted castings were used to mate with the tapers on the stone spindles. There is evidence of the further emplacement of a single pair of head stones, and the conversion was done somewhat clumsily, probably at low cost. The former forward bray was placed across the old meal beam from which to drop hangers of suitable height for the bridgetrees and sprattle beam opposite similar pendants applied to the crowntree. Above were set the stone bearers, 11in wide by 5in deep. The bridgetrees were pivoted at their forward ends, with governor control at the rear, the governor being belt-driven from above the great spur wheel and brays being dispensed with.

 The forward spindle beam, 10½ in square, is now set some 9in to the rear of its position when used with a single pair of head stones; the old glut box housing is preserved on its rear face, and it holds the bearing for the present upright shaft on its forward face. The two pairs of stones in the head were set well back towards the crowntree to maintain balance about the post, which was distant on centre 8ft from the prow and 10ft from the tail of the body. The two pairs of 4ft and 4ft 2in stones can just be accommodated between the side girts. There is no evidence of a backwards shift of the body in relation to the crowntree such as was engineered at Bocking mill. The footstep bearing of the iron upright shaft is set in a four-screw bridging box, but this in turn is set in a cut-away section of the presumed old bridgetree in which wedging adjustment had clearly once been used.

 In matters such as brake, sack hoist and dresser there is little worthy of special comment, save that the sack hoist was driven by belt from a wooden pulley behind the brake wheel built up around the iron box on the windshaft. The provision of rope controls showed a strong practical bent. At 50in over spout floor level the brake rope passed obliquely down a hole in a stud to hang outside for use when the spring sails were being set. There was also a 7in diameter (effective) wood-turned pulley spiked on the forward face of the left main door post about 4ft over floor level to control the rope for lowering sacks on the rear ladder slide.

 Vincent Pargeter: when repairs started in 1979 it became clear that the mill was in very poor condition and many timbers would have to be replaced. The buck roof was losing aluminium sheets and was leaking badly, so it was decided to replace it entirely. The new roof was built on the ground upon the base frame of the new upper side girts, weather beam and tail tree, with the intention of lifting it into position with a crane complete with weatherboarding. This would not be possible with the windshaft in position, so the shaft and the remaining pair of sails were lifted off by crane leaving the brake wheel supported by shoring. When the roof, weighting about three tons, was complete it was lifted onto the body, the tenons on the head corner posts entering the mortises in the upper side girts. All other tenons were sawn off, as all the other upright timbers were to be replaced. A new tail frame was built up on the ground and lifted into place by winches. The original doorhead, doorposts and some stud work were incorporated into this, and the tenons on top of the corner posts entered the mortices in the upper side girts which had been jacked up slightly. The new tail was then swung in to engage the side girt and lower side girt tenons. The dovetails on the sheers were rotten and had to be cut away, the new threshold being secured with steel plates.


Post mill, gone


A faded photograph shows four double-shuttered anti-clockwise patent sails, with fantail winding over a high tail ladder footed on “travellers” in true Suffolk style. The roundhouse survived until 1948 when it was accidentally burnt down; two clear photographs of this exist showing a two-floored construction with an upper loading door and the crosstrees at some 14ft over ground level. The mill was doubtless jacked up at some date as were so many, and what presumably were the extremities of the piers as originally built may be seen protruding from the roundhouse wall.


Smock mill, gone


South Ockendon mill was a combined wind and watermill, having three pairs of wind-driven stones and one pair water-driven. The mill was built on sloping ground, which allowed the water to enter from the moat a few yards to the north-west and to discharge eastwards into the Mardyke. The exit channel is now largely filled in. The earth to the south of it was formerly banked against a brick wall built out from the mill base. A single door gives entry into the base from the north west, and above it is a loading door, one of three at stage level. The ground floor presumably once contained a substantial part of the watermill gearing, but when this was removed the floor was reboarded and water now lies directly beneath, concealing any remains. The brick base, whose wall is 28in across at top and thickens slightly downwards, is vertical outside for about half its height and then takes on the angle of the frame above. It had a whitewashed interior and a tarred exterior.

 The windmill had the boat-shaped cap common among former south Essex smock mills, and was very well constructed. It started life with two pairs of wind-driven stones and doubtless the water-driven pair also. It was possible to add a third pair powered by wind without the grievous assault on existing timbers seen at Baker Street.

 The smock frame rises through a vertical height of about 30ft 6in and contains four floors: dust 4ft; bin 7ft; stone 8ft 9in; spout 9ft 7in. It tapers from 26ft 3in across the flats on the outside of the sills to 16ft 2in across the curb exterior, or 24ft 5in to 14ft 6in internally. The overall mill height is estimated at about 48ft from ground-floor level. The cant posts, shaped from an 11in by 11½ in section, the transoms, and the main floor beams were cut from pine, and the floor beams alternate in alignment, the spout floor beams running northeast to south-west, and the stone floor beams from north-west to south-east. They rest on dropped transoms, and are cut back on the sides to make a clean contact with the complex angle presented to them by the cant posts, to which they are splay-bolted. These cuts on the floorbeams have a part-locking effect on the cants, as of a half dovetail, and the floor beams do not appear, as in some mills, to have been lap-dovetailed onto the transoms. All joists above the ground floor are lap-dovetailed into the floor beams, and the mixed elm and pine floorboards are grooved on their edges and have hoop iron set between them or, in some cases, beneath the joins, giving effective dust- and draught-proofing. The panels in the lower framing typically contain an intermediate “vertical” member 6in by 5½ in, a pair of diagonals 3in by 4in, and three studs on either side of the vertical, the diagonals and studs being cut away to form windows as required, of which there are two on the bin floor, five on the stone floor and four on the spout floor. Some of the faces had small ports let into the framing just under the petticoat on the dust floor; these allowed the miller to scan the south-west quadrant and admitted light for sack handling. The smock frame itself was in a state of advanced decay by 1975, and as in the case of Baker Street was then supported mainly by floor beams and stanchions. The ground and spout floors each have four stanchions or storey posts where the floor beams above and below come into opposition, the lower set having folding wedges at their heads, as at Upminster. A stage surrounded the mill at sill, or first-floor level until work ended c1928. By 1966 almost all trace of it had gone.

 The cap structure included the sheers, on 11ft centres at their widest, and partly shaped to the curb, with 14 pairs of cap spars making up the boat shape, and a ridge piece. The weatherbeam, 11½ ft long and 12in across at centre by 10in deep, lies over the sheers and is shaped to conform to the forward profile of the cap. The cap covering is of horizontal weatherboarding over a vertically boarded petticoat, and resisted the elements for over half a century of total neglect.

 The 10in sq wood curb is in 7 segments, and carries a 3in iron track inside for the centring wheels, three on each side and one at the tail. The cap ran on 32 iron rollers of 3½ in diameter, the curb being of the shot type, and the cap circle built to run on the rollers is 9in. The curb carried wood cogs of 9in pitch and offset from the vertical for the massive wooden winding worm in the “five to five” position, as viewed from the ground through rents in the petticoat. The cogs entered blind mortices. The winding arrangement was, as far as is known, unique. The fantail turned clockwise and was 8-bladed. A bevel on its shaft drove a bevel on the second shaft, which sloped down to the left rear of the cap, and carried at its lower end a worm to all appearances of iron, but in fact turned of hardwood. The worm drove a planked wooden gear at the left end of a wooden shaft, square in section and neatly stop-chamfered. This shaft descended obliquely to the right, and by means of an iron gear approximating to a spur passed the drive to a similar but larger iron gear ring set on the right end of the horizontal winding worm block. The two wooden shafts for the second intermediate and final drive to the curb were set across hangers well braced to timbers above, and also to one another by a tie rod under the worm. To turn the mill cap through a complete circle would have required approximately 2350 revolutions of the fan. A key was kept in the cap for hand winding, which was by a short horizontal shaft running back to the inclinded iron shaft descending from the fantail, contact being made through a pair of bevel gears. The short shaft had a squared section on its forward end to receive the hand crank. A dog-clutch severed the drive from the fan.

 The 9ft 2in brake wheel has 4 wooden cants to which is bolted a 6-armed iron spider in one casting, replacing cast arms. The iron windshaft has the built-up front neck journal seen also at Baker Street, and in this case the iron and wooden strips were measured. The journal is 11in in diameter, the iron strips 7/8 in wide and the wood strips ½ in wide. They were fixed in position, as at Baker Street, by two circular clamps. The brakewheel meshed with a solid-planked wallower mounted on the wooden upright shaft, which, unusually, consists of four parts bolted together and iron-bound at top and bottom. The shaft, of pine, is 21in sq at the wallower and 16-sided below. It descends to the spout floor, whence 3 pairs of stones were underdriven, and is supported in a bridging box with 4 adjusting screws with holes drilled for tommy bar insertion. The elm sprattle is very large, being 9ft 4in long by 20in wide and 15in deep; and lies at only 12in on centre over spout floor level. It is carried at its ends on two horizontal timbers passing between the opposite pairs of the four storey posts on this floor; these timbers are bolted to the floor beams below. The sprattle was wedge-adjusted between stub timbers let into mortises in the cross members and its ends contrary to the method employed at Baker Street, though this arrangement no doubt became fossilised when the bridging box, not used at the older mill, was provided for the footstep bearing of the upright shaft.

 The great spur gear has no cants, but consists of a circular wooden rim 7½ in by 7in with a double set of clasp arms of pine, approximately 5in by 4½ in each, and set 3in apart. About 3ft below the spur gear is an 8-armed iron, wood-cogged, upwards-facing bevel gear about 4ft in diameter, fitted for engine drive from the brick and timber engine shed which formerly stood southwest of the mill. Apart from these two wheels and the wallower, the upright shaft carries a machine-drive gear below the dust floor; this is a solid wooden bevel gear of 4ft diameter, made in halves, with upwards-facing teeth.

 The engine drive was by belt to two 3ft 2in fast and loose pulleys on the first floor. The pulleys are on a 3in diameter iron shaft with a 14in diameter iron nut on the inner end meshing with the 8-armed bevel gear on the upright shaft. A hand crank raised the nut out of gear when the engine drive was shut off completely, though it was necessary first to remove the top bearing of the drive shaft. When the engine was running, but needed to be disconnected briefly, the use of the fast and loose pulleys would have answered.

 The machine-drive bevel on the upright shaft under the dust floor drove a nut on a horizontal 2in sq iron shaft with a solid wood 16in sack-hoist pulley towards the outer end, and three other wooden pulleys of various sizes in between. The sack drum, of wood, is mounted low on the top floor radially, and a solid wooden pulley at the inner end took the drive from below, which was slack-belt operated over a jockey pulley raised by an iron lever, rope-controlled from below. The sack traps are in the north-east quarter. The drives from the other pulleys on the machine shaft went down to the stone floor, where is a lineshaft 19in on centre below the ceiling, also set radially and parallel to the shaft above. The line shaft is of iron, 1½ in sq, and about 6ft long, and its inner end is carried in a bearing capable of being raised and lowered. This enabled the sack hoist to be run from the floor above without also turning the lower shaft and pulleys. No doubt the machines on the stone floor – a wire dresser in the ceiling near centre, a bolter at floor level in the north-east quarter, and a grindstone, could be put in or out of gear independently, but in 1966 parts were missing, and the permutations in power extraction not fully checked. All these shafts driven off the upright shaft are on the south-east side of the mill. The ladder wells are on the west side.

 The great spur gear drove three stone nuts; these are iron-mortise gears for the original stone positions in the north west and south east, and an all-iron gear for the added south-west stones. All nuts are four-armed and have twin-spindle screw jacks to lift them out of gear. These devices were partly slotted into the bridgetrees in an unusual manner, probably to preserve headroom below. The stones are all French burrs, the north-west and south-west pairs being of 4ft diameter, and the south-east pair 4ft 10in. The bearers for the added pair run between the south-west floor beam and a transom. All the stones discharged into bins between the storey posts below.

 The bridgetrees and brays are supported by the 10in square four-storey posts which form a rectangle 8ft 10in by 8ft 4in overall. The customary positions of bridgetrees and brays are reversed. The brays run between the posts tangentially to the great spur, and the bridgetrees extend towards the smock frame. Hence the concern to preserve the fairway underneath when equipping them with nut-raising gear, which concern is clear in the planned height of the spout floor at 9ft 7in.

 The original brays, which run parallel north east to south west, are of elm, and pivoted at the north east, where they have single tenons set in blind mortices in the posts. Both are strengthened on the outer side, full length between the posts, by timbers bolted to them. As an example of sizes, the north-west bray is 4in wide by 12½ in deep, and is doubled by a pine timber 3in thick by 7in deep. The elm bridgetree 7ft long by 11in wide by 8in deep has its 4-screw bridging box only 12 in on centres from the bray, and both it and the box on the other initial bridgetree have the square screw heads drilled with holes for a tommy bar, as seen below the upright shaft. Each screw was individually marked for its respective position, for they were not interchangeable. The bridgetree for the added stones is 8½ in thick, and pivoted at the south-east end. This bray could not readily be mortised into the pre-existing posts, but is set between chocks bolted to them. All three brays were controlled by a single twin lead-ball governor on the south-west side, taking its drive from a 30on “pulley” consisting of a series of pine blocks spiked on to the upright shaft above the great spur wheel. A belt drive was used. Three steelyards run to the controlled ends of the brays, those to the north-west and south-west stones being linked.

 The bridgetrees are held to the brays by the projection of a tenon through them, which is slotted and wedged against the bray. The mortise in the north-west bray for the bridgetree tenon is 5in deep by no less than 16in wide, giving much latitude for the bridgetree to bray adjustment within the overall tentering system. The weakening of the bray explains the use of the timbers applied to them. The bridgetrees head towards the smock frame, but do not necessarily succeed in reaching it. The north-west bridge was angled 1ft to the north of its radial direction to clear a doorway not originally present while the south-east bridge, which once ran full course across, was cut off short about halfway when the engine drive was added, its end then being suspended by an elm hanger from a stone bearer. The south-west bridgetree is for the added stones, and is probably as first installed.

 The machinery in the mill was unusually well-guarded, probably belatedly, at such engine points as the wallower and engine input. An iron handrail was set up inside the rear of the cap, a feature seldom seen; this accompanied the rudiments of an internal gallery. Wooden shields or guides were present at various points but the general layout was well-conceived and probably gave impetus to the alterations at Baker Street.

 A pair of double-shuttered and a pair of single shuttered sails were the last to turn. They were anti-clockwise and spanned about 64 feet. The single-shuttered pair, on the rear middling, had leading boards about 18in wide, with a detachable section extending nearly halfway from the tip; one end of this pair had  also rough iron and lead pieces fixed on to balance them. The double sails had 11 bays of 3 shutters on each side of the whip, and the single sails had 9 bays of 3, an overall total of 186. The spider was of laminated spring construction, and was pushed out to close the shutters; the wind pressure, acting on the shutters, would combat the springs as well as any weights that might be hung at the mill rear. The weight wheel was situated in the cap.

 Reference to former water-driven stones has been made above. What were probably their bearers in the first floor were noted by Denis Sanders in May 1968. These were a pair of pine timbers 7in wide by 9in deep on 3ft 6in centres, mortised into the south centre of the south first-floor beam and built into the base brickwork at their outer ends. A 6in sq pine timber post was halved and bolted at top to the east of these presumed stone bearers and was mortised for a possible bray or other control. It would appear, therefore, that the stones were situated on the first floor.

 {After the mill’s collapse in 1977} an effort to resolve the layout of the former water-driven installation proved abortive, as water occupied the basement to the end. The date 1895 was uncovered by the removal of the weatherboarding, probably indicating the year when most of the cant posts were plated with pine on their outside faces and many of the transoms replaced, the latter being skew-bolted. The cap rollers were – most unusually – spherical, and each was located within the retaining iron circular frame by a fixed bolt through its centre. The iron channel or cap curb through which the weight of cap, fantail, sails and windshaft bore on them was cast in several pieces and attached by short coach screws. The sheers and the other timbers were trenched where they passed over this unit, and the cap circle itself was similarly trenched.

 Prior to the fitting of the shot curb, the curb had been dead. A wrought iron ring was let into the curb, and the cap circle was fitted with numerous iron plates to act as skids. Probably the friction was very high indeed before conversion.


Smock mill, gone


This was a sturdy smock mill with a family resemblance to others across the south of the county, as disclosed by the only known view of it – one in which a hedge cuts off the lower portions, but shows a boat-shaped cap, fantail and four single-shuttered anti-clockwise patent sails. There was a deep petticoat as in certain other Essex smocks.

 The base survived as a storehouse until 1970, when planning permission was given to convert it into modern rooms for habitation. As then examined it had walls 3ft thick at ground level tapering to 19in under the sills through a height of 9ft, the interior walls being vertical. The octagon measured 24ft 6in across the flats inside. A pair of pine first-floor beams were supported by four oak sanchions 6 ½ in square standing on wooden sole plates and having folding wedges on top.