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Technical descriptions of English windmills



Smock mill, base survives


A nice touch here was the circular windows in the base(1). The curb was dead. The machinery was mainly wood, with iron stone nuts.(2) The gearwheels were very neatly made with ornamental mouldings. The elm wallower was solid and fashioned from what must have been a very substantial tree. It was geared on its underside to drive the sack hoist via a pair of friction wheels.(3) The compass arms of the great spur wheel were morticed through the upright shaft(4). Three pairs of burr stones were underdriven on the third floor(5). One of the quants was two-piece(6). The shoes were fitted with slides. The flour machine was mounted high on the spout floor; it, the shaker connected with it, and apparently a grindstone were driven by countershaft from a pulley wheel off the crownwheel(7). 

(1) Photographic evidence

(2) HRH in HESS

(3) RW 1955

(4) PD 1939, in HESS

(5) HRH in HESS

(6) RW 1955

(7) HRH in HESS


Smock mill, standing today


Thought to be of early nineteenth-century date, this mill originally stood at nearby Farningham and was moved to its present site in 1880. Last worked in 1928, it was restored in 1960 and is now owned by the County Council who lease it to the owners of the mill house and grounds. It was kept company for a time by a post mill which was destroyed by fire in 1909.

 West Kingsdown is a rather plain and visually unremarkable mill, but does have a certain chunky simplicity which is appealing. The tarred octagonal smock was re-erected at Kingsdown on a single-storey square red brick base with a foundation stone let into one corner commemorating the move and dedicated to “Minnie Louisa Norton {probably the wife of one of the owners} April 21st 1880”. It was not clear exactly how the smock was footed on the base but the spout floor beams, which run northwest-southeast appear to rest directly on the brickwork with horizontal members going from them to the corners. There was a stage but it was removed many years ago.

 The framing of the smock is different from that of all other surviving Kentish smock mills, excepting the stump of Higham mill which exhibits the same interesting feature. Other than those supporting the window frames it has no uprights, just a set of diagonal timbers within each panel running alternately northwest-southeast and northeast-southwest. Occasionally horizontal members are provided for additional rigidity. The dust floor is framed conventionally.

 The Kentish cap, with chainwheel for hand winding, was fitted with a fantail which unusually had seven blades; the present skeletonised version has only six. The associated gearing has gone but the timbers which supported it still remain within the cap. There were two common and two patent sails, which have been restored as bare frames (which are currently missing leaving only the bare stocks).

 The wooden rack is laid on top of an iron curb of the dead variety. The cap frame is of typical Kentish construction with the sprattle beam, into which the two rear longitudinal timbers are tenoned, extending the width of the frame. The tailbeam is fixed between the rear longitudinals and the diagonal members of the fan frame terminate at the sprattle. The truckwheels are arranged in pairs, each one mounted in a wooden block bolted to the underside of a cap frame member. There are at least four, one on each end of the sprattle and on the ends of the rear longitudinals, with probably a fifth on the breast beam although I could not make it out.

 The brakewheel, operated on by a wooden brake and lever, is of the usual Kent type with iron arms and wood rim and cants. It is mounted on an iron windshaft.


This is shallow, with no windows, and rather cramped. The stairwell is on the north side. The wallower is iron with eight arms and a friction rim which appears to be made up of a number of small blocks of wood. The sack hoist is mounted low down on the southwest side on just two vertical posts. On the wooden bollard, whose thickness is much reduced through wear at mid-length where the chain bore on it, is mounted a four-armed iron mortice pulley on which the cogs have been sawn off leaving the shanks still in place, and a ring formed of wooden blocks and matching that on the wallower substituted for them. The wallower also has a row of cog shanks on the inside so it would seem that the hoist was one of the relatively small number that were gear- rather than friction-driven – hence there is no arrangement for disengaging it – but this method was later dispensed with for one reason or another.

 On this floor the upright shaft is of iron, square, and unusually tapers above the wallower towards its top bearing.  


Here the upright shaft is of wood and square in section. On three sides, the southeastern, eastern and northeastern, the framing is boarded over vertically on the inside. The northeast side is mostly taken up by a raised boarded-in section of the floor. On the east are located the sack trap and the ladder to the dust floor, while the stairwell spans this and the northwest side.

Most of the rest of the floor space is taken up by a bin divided into three compartments with the upright shaft turning in the largest, central one.


There are windows on the northeast and southwest sides. The ladder to the bin floor is on the southwest side and the stairwell the northeast. There is a large chute from one of the bins on the southeast. A rack of mill bills is fixed to one of the transoms.

 On this floor the upright shaft is iron. It is supported by the usual bridge beam carried on two long timbers (here also acting as the main bin floor beams) whose ends rest on those of the transoms in opposite panels of the framing, abutting the cant posts. 

 An 8-armed iron mortice great spur wheel overdrives three pairs of stones on the east, southwest and northwest sides. Their vats, hoppers and horses are missing. One dismantled stone casing may be seen.

 The stone nuts and quants have gone, but the nuts and vertical shafts for the two engine drives (one of which probably superseded the other) remain on the southeast and west sides. The nuts are all-iron and of large diameter with four arms. The western one is provided with two large screws turned by handwheels for taking it out of gear with the spur wheel.


Here the windows are on the north and south sides, and the stairwell and ladder to the stone floor the southeast. Doors on the east and west sides opened onto the now bygone stage. Above each door a horizontal timber is fixed between two cant posts and the ends of the two main longitudinal beams in the ceiling rest on it. In the boarding in more or less the exact centre of the floor is a circular hole which may indicate that the upright shaft at one point passed down to the ground floor and took up the engine drive there, although that is pure speculation.

 The bridgetrees, all wooden, are on the south, northeast and northwest sides, and run north-south. They are carried between hangers from the main ceiling beams on one side and from ceiling joists on the other. The governors for the south and northwest  stones remain; they are mounted in simple wooden frames depending from the ceiling as at Sarre and Cranbrook, and both have cylindrical rather than spherical weights. All have four-armed iron belt pulleys. That for the southern stones retains its steelyard, which runs southeast to the bridgetree. The southern quant extension remains, with an iron belt drum. The upper bearing of the engine drive shaft is mounted on a horizontal timber between two hangers off the southern side face of the south main ceiling beam. At its lower end is a four-armed iron mortice bevel gear; the apparatus driven from this has now gone. The engine drive shaft continues down to the ground floor, with a coupling in it on this one. 

 On the southern side of this floor, near the governor, is a wooden belt drum on an iron spindle mounted in the same way as the governors; I could not work out its purpose.


The entrance door is on the south side, the ladder to the smock on the southwest. The main ceiling beams run east-west. On the east side the second engine drive shaft is footed in a timber carried between the beams on iron flanges. A bevelled all-iron gear engages with a bevelled iron mortice one on a layshaft which passes through the east wall of the base. The engine itself is said to be buried among rubbish in the garage built on at the side. 

The mill contains a great deal of bric-a-brac including a number of sack scales and modern milling tools.

Based on survey carried out by Guy Blythman 16th August 2008


Smock mill, standing today


Built in 1815, Black Mill at Whitstable ceased work in the 1890s, but its part conversion to a residence, carried out fairly sympathetically, has served to keep the structure and machinery in sound condition to the present day (in fact it has been converted longer than it was a windmill!). My thanks to the owners for granting access in September 2009 to the interior to a group of enthusiasts including myself. It should be remembered that the mill is private and not normally open to the public.

 The octagonal tarred smock tower has four floors – dust, bin, stone and spout – and stands on a parallel-sided single-storey brick base. There was formerly a stage, on vertical supports, at first-floor level but this has long gone. The cap is of the typical Kentish kind, resembling the roof of a post mill. There were four patent sails struck by rocking lever, which has now gone along with the chainwheel for hand winding. New stocks and a dummy fantail were fitted some years ago, but there is no prospect as yet of the mill being returned to working order, especially as a house has been built onto it with which the base, which is entirely given over to living accommodation, forms a complex. Apart from the spout floor the upper part of the mill has always remained unconverted, and untouched with the exception of necessary repairs.

 Much of the machinery is of wood and relatively primitive, probably dating back to the mill’s original construction. Like many other Kentish smock mills it may have begun life with no brickwork in it apart from the foundations and common sails and manual winding, later being raised and modernised to some extent.

 The cap turns on a dead curb which is entirely of wood, including the teeth on the rack. As is common practice in Kent there are five truck wheels: one on the rear end of each of the sheers where the tailbeam meets them, one on the end of each of the lateral members projecting at the side in line with the sprattle beam, and one under the breast beam. The latter is of solid wood in contrast to the others, which are of iron with spokes and mounted in wooden shoes on the underside of the cap frame members.

 The brakewheel consists of a six-armed iron spider with wooden rim and cants and wood cogs. It shows no signs of having been converted from a compass- or clasp-arm wheel and so was probably new when installed, dating back to the mill’s original construction unless it came from somewhere else. It is mounted on an iron windshaft with the arms being nicely webbed to the central boss.


The all-wood wallower is solid and made up of two segmented rings. It acts as its own friction drive for the sack hoist, which is of iron mounted in a wooden support frame and taken in and out of gear by a hinged timber connected by an iron strap to that supporting the bearing at the neck of the spindle.

 The upright shaft is wooden and 16-sided. Its top bearing is located on the underside of the sprattle beam.


There is one window, on the north side. The ladder to the dust floor is on the northwest side next to the stairwell. The floor is empty apart from the upright shaft and the bins, which are in a boarded-off section occupying the southern, southwest and southeastern quarters.


The windows are on the north, south and west sides. The main timbers of the “dummy floor” run north-south.

 The method of supporting the upright shaft is different from that adopted in most Kentish smock and tower mills. Usually the bridge beam is directly tenoned into the main “dummy floor” beams, or carried between cheek pieces on their undersides; here, two pairs of hangers depending from them carry lateral timbers on which rest the ends of the bridge beam, which is bowed. The hangers are notched to allow the great spur wheel to turn. A horizontal timber which serves no apparent purpose is mounted between the northeast and southeast hangers parallel to and in front of the eastern main dummy floor beam. To the north of the great spur wheel is a third lateral timber, again suspended on hangers from the main dummy floor beams; there is a similar arrangement running off the upright shaft support structure on the west side, and a short timber between two hangers on the northeast side to the right of the eastern dummy floor beam. Each of these timbers must at some time have carried bearings for shafting forming part of a machine drive. The various hangers are braced to the transoms of the smock frame and main dummy floor beams by wooden struts and iron stays.

 Like that at Herne, the all-wood great spur wheel has four straight cants into each of which is tenoned a short compass arm. This is a relatively old design and again the wheel is probably contemporary with the mill. It overdrives three pairs of stones, each resting on an octagonal wooden plinth, on the north, southwest and southeast sides. The southwest pair are complete, but of the others only the beds remain. The southwest quant is complete with its nut, which is iron and of large diameter with four arms. The quant is cylindrical with four ribs cast on it to act as a damsel. A second quant may be seen leaning against the upright shaft support frame; the third is missing. 


There are modern windows at the main compass points. The main ceiling beams run north-south, with four iron columns, two to each beam, supporting them from the ground floor. Between them going north-south, on hangers from the inside faces of the beams though due to internal alterations as part of the house conversion this is not always apparent, are the bridgetree for the north stones, and the support beams for the governors, of which there are two; it is not clear whether the second controlled both the southwest and southeast stones or there was a third which is now missing. The support beam for the northern governor is on hangers from two short north-south timbers fixed across a couple of ceiling joists.

The steelyard from the northern governor goes northeast to the brayer of the northern stones, which runs parallel to the eastern ceiling beam, depending from the side face of the latter. The steelyard hangs at one end on a chain from a block of wood fixed to the beam.

 The bridgetrees for the southwest and southeast stones are mounted parallel to the western and eastern ceiling beams respectively, and carried on hangers from their side faces.

 The steelyard from the southern governor appears to have been in two stages, the first of which is now missing so that the governor does not appear to be connected to anything. The second stage runs northeast from the southern end of the southwest bridgetree to the northern end of the southeast bridgetree (suggesting this governor did in regulate two pairs of stones), with a link at that point passing down through a timber which serves as an extension to the bridgetree.

 All three quant extensions carry wooden flanged belt drums, with corresponding arrangements on the governor spindles. The drum on the northern quant extension has partly rotted away. The weights of the southern governor are spherical, those of the northern slightly different in shape.

 Just to the right of the northwest cant posts is a flanged wooden pulley (above which is a chute from the stone floor) on a square iron spindle terminating at the wall in a casting on an iron bracket bolted to a short timber fixed across a pair of ceiling joists, and at the other end in a bearing on a timber on hangers, between which the chute passes, suspended from a ceiling member. A steelyard goes from the southwest bridgetree to the southwest end of the timber supporting the neck bearing of the spindle, so it appears that whatever apparatus we are looking at here, at a guess some kind of agitator, was regulated by the northern governor.

 The spout floor being included in the conversion, though not at present occupied, the timberwork of the tentering gear has been varnished to fit in with its surroundings, the effect in fact being somewhat surreal!


This having been entirely converted there are no real points of interest to note. Large modern windows have been put in, obliterating any trace of the originals and thus their positions. 

(Description based on survey by Guy Blythman 15th September 2009)


Smock mill, standing today


One of the finest smock mills in Kent, and indeed in England, this large white mill is a familiar sight to motorists on the M20 as it bypasses the town of Ashford, of which Willesborough is now effectively a suburb. It is a relatively late example, built in 1869 by the local millwrights Hills, and thus “high-tech”. It incorporates the windshaft and brakewheel, and probably some other parts, from a smaller smock mill which previously stood on the site. It worked by wind until 1938 and by electricity into the 1950s after which it served mainly as a store with the base used as living accommodation. It was restored at one point, but later fell into disrepair. Finally it was acquired by Ashford Borough Council and under their aegis returned to full working order, its day-to-day management being entrusted to the Friends of Willesborough Windmill. 

 The mill was described by the late Paul Davies as “very substantially framed”(1) . It stands on a square two-storey brick base, the walls of which are corbelled out at the corners so that it supports the smock at all points, with a stage, the latter being braced to the brickwork with diagonal struts and having a cross-braced safety rail. There are four double-shuttered (eleven bays of three and one of two on either side of each stock) patent sails with leading boards, struck by rocking lever. The cap, which is fitted with a chainwheel for hand winding as well as the fantail, is an example of the more rounded version of the traditional Kentish type, and characteristic of Hills’ work. It turns on an iron dead curb, against whose inner face the truckwheels, mounted in iron castors on the undersides of the cap frame members, bear. The wheels are large and have four spokes each. There are five: one at the front on a timber attached to the breast beam, one on each of the short timbers projecting on either side in line with the sprattle beam, and two on the tailbeam. Tne curb is in segments, with which the teeth of the rack are cast integrally; they are fitted with lugs via which they are bolted to the tops of the cant posts.  

 The iron windshaft is squared for the brakewheel mounting, after which it is octagonal and tapering. The wheel has an eight-arm iron spider in two sections bolted together and with wooden cants, rim (in eight segments) and cogs.


The stairwell is on the northeast side to the right of the sack hoist, and the sacktrap on the east to the right of the wallower. The wallower is iron with a wood friction rim for the sack hoist. The wind-driven hoist was at some point replaced by an electrically-operated one which is located on the northeast side.  

 The upright shaft is iron. It is extremely long, passing right down to the ground floor where it is connected to the engine, this being the means by which the latter drove the machinery, with a coupling on the spout floor. This arrangement dates back to when steam power was installed three years after the mill was built, in 1872; previously the upright shaft would have been supported in the usual fashion by an “H-frame” on the stone floor.


This is on two levels. There is a window on the north side. The stairwell and the ladder to the dust floor are on the southwest. A bin takes up the whole of the south-eastern quarter and part of the north-eastern.


There is a dummy floor here which would originally have supported the upright shaft. Its beams of run east-west and rest on the inner ends of the horizontal timbers near the tops of opposite panels of the smock frame. Between them at mid-point a pair of short longitudinal members flank the upright shaft beneath the great spur wheel, carrying a lateral timber (the former bridge beam?) with a steady bearing on it. There are windows on the north), east and south sides. Willesborough is one of a number of Kentish smock mills to have a door on this floor which serves no apparent purpose except perhaps aeration, opening into empty space. Here it is located on the west side. There is a large spout on the northeast side and a smaller one on the east.

 The mill being very roomy it can accommodate four pairs of stones, overdriven from an eight-armed iron mortice great spur wheel. The north-west pair are missing their tun. The northeast are complete with their furniture, as are the southwest although the runner has been removed as has that of the southeast pair. The large iron stone nuts, each with four arms, are mounted on square quants in two sections with flange couplings. The upper section of the southeast quant with the nut remains. On the north side the spur wheel drives auxiliary machinery, but not directly; it engages with a bevelled iron mortice gear on a secondary upright shaft whose lower bearing rests in a cross-beam in the floor. In turn the iron mortice gear meshes with a bevel nut on a north-south layshaft which carries two pulleys, one of which has been utilised to drive a Bamfords oat crusher; the other, currently disused, at one point drove a small set of stones, in an iron casing on a hurst frame, for flour production during a time when the mill, though still in use, was like so many others largely given over to livestock feed. There may have been other gearing and shafting off the secondary upright shaft, as in the past the mill also had a maize cracker, a chaff cutter and a pea-cleaning machine(2). The later along with the small stones and the pea cleaner were on the spout floor.


There are windows on the north and south sides. Doors open onto the stage on the east and west sides. The stairwell is on the southwest side with the ladder to the stone floor just to the south of it. The main ceiling beams run north-south. The upright shaft passes through a raised beam on the ground floor, which gives it additional support, into the base.

 The bridgetrees are all of iron. The western (northwest and southwest) bridgetrees are on cheek pieces from the western main ceiling beam, to which the bridgetrees run parallel. The northeast and southeast bridgetrees have brayers and like them depend from the eastern main ceiling, to which the bridgetrees are parallel, on hangers. There are four governors, one for each pair of stones;

they are located on the far north and south sides of the floor, their upper bearings turning in spars fixed to ceiling joists and their lower in brackets from the horizontal timbers in the panels. Long curved steelyards, parallel to the main ceiling beams, go from them in a straight line to links on the near ends of the bridgetrees on the west side and the brayers on the east. Each governor is fitted with a four-armed iron pulley receiving the belt from the quant extension. 

 On the southeast side is a Robinsons grain cleaner, probably built between 1890 and 1915 and overhauled during the recent restoration.


This is used mainly for storage. There is a miller’s office on the southeast side. On the southwest side is the stairwell, with to the right of it a staircase, in two levels, to the spout floor rather than a ladder.

 The main ceiling beams run east-west; between them on the east side is a longitudinal timber with three holes in it for cloth spouts from the grain cleaner.


The entrance door is on the south side. The main ceiling beams run east-west. Between two shaped timbers on their undersides is carried the beam supporting the upright shaft, which also rests on an iron column from floor level. On the base of the shaft is a large six-armed bevelled iron gearwheel meshing with an iron bevel nut on an east-west layshaft, turning in an iron bracket bolted to the southern main ceiling beam, on which, at the other end, is the iron pulley that received the belt from the engine which latterly supplemented wind power. The latter was originally steam-driven but was replaced by a Campbell gas-oil engine in 1912; the boiler and boiler house still stand. As the Campbell engine had been partly dismantled another gas-oil engine, a 1906 14 h.p. Hornsby, was installed in its place, and linked to the auxiliary drive, as part of the 1990s restoration.(3) The miller’s cottage still stands nearby.

Based on surveys carried out by Guy Blythman 25th May 2008 and 17th May 2009

(1) In HESS

(2) RH/PD in HESS

(3) Willesborough Windmill website


Tower mill, main part demolished 1964, stump cleared away in recent years


The tower and cap were both white-painted. The shutters in the sails were of wood. The iron wallower had 27 teeth and the upright shaft, also iron, was hexagonal.(1)

 Technically the mill was interesting as it appears wind power was abandoned long before it stopped except for hoisting and driving the peak stones. The burrs were underdriven by steam for some time  prior to 1882 by when a gas engine had been installed. There are said to have been three pairs of stones in the building adjacent to the mill, erected in 1906.(2)

(1) RW 1955

(2) PD 4/2/1963, in HESS


Post mill, standing today


Stocks Mill, Wittersham, is interesting in that unlike many mills nowadays it retains a considerable amount of its original structural fabric, which offsets the disappointment of finding much of the machinery gone. It has been very carefully restored and any new timberwork integrated most skilfully with the old. The latter still contains a lot of the oak pegs used to hold it together. 

 It has not worked since the early 1900s and consequently the timber structure, although basically sound, is fragile through disuse, the main reason why the mill has not like others been restored to working order. Much of the plant was removed after the mill ceased work, but some new machinery, either built from scratch or salvaged from other mills, was put in during repairs in 2003(1). The prick post, along with the roof framing, dates from a major restoration in 1980-81 but the side girts, crowntree, corner posts and much else appear to be original.

 The mill is larger and at 38ft taller than other surviving Kentish post mills and this together with the absence of some of the machinery gives a certain sense of spaciousness, as well as making one more aware of structural features which might otherwise have been missed. In common with most south-eastern post mills the breast is pointed.

 The main post is square with chamfered corners. The crosstrees rest on brick piers which have sloping sides and protrude slightly through the roundhouse walls, here being tarred along with the rest of the brickwork. Short angled timbers go from the sheers to the quarterbars; these must be a reinforcing measure undertaken after the mill ceased work as otherwise the buck would not turn. In addition, three diagonal struts go from the central ring of the roundhouse roof frame to each of the quarterbars, one to each of the sides and one to the inner face of the timber, in order to strengthen the relatively fragile roof. The latter, now covered with tarred felt, is vertically boarded and the walls low in comparison to it, as was often the case here in the far east of Sussex/south-western corner of Kent.

 As originally worked the mill would have had small windows closed by shutters, like most post mills in south-east England, but at some point after it stopped new windows of a then modern design were put in, so some of the framing around them will date from that time or have been altered. They are out of keeping with the mill’s overall design and appearance and it is a pity the opportunity was not taken to replace them during the restoration of 1980-81.

 The main post, dated RV 1781, is clearly original. It has a large split in it.

 On the spout floor the prick post is braced to the lower transverse beam by diagonal timbers which break the second and third, going downwards, of the three pairs of horizontal timbers, angled forward, which here form the shape of the breast, the arrangement presumably being similar on the stone floor although I did not have time to examine it closely. The first pair appear to pass through the diagonal members to be tenoned into the prick post. In front of the post a horizontal beam, tenoned into the side faces of the front corner posts to which it is braced by large, nicely curved cheek pieces, runs the width of the mill. From this is suspended the right-hand hanger for the bridge tree and brayer controlling the headstones; the left-hand one depends from the western of the two fore-aft stone bearers. Both hangers are “new” so it is unclear if these were their original positions.

 The side girts are quite high above floor level and provide convenient rests to sit on!

 Access to the bin floor was not possible on the occasion of my visit, but I was told that the sack hoist was no longer present (2). According to Wailes it was driven from the inner corners of the brakewheel cogs; it was put in by Hill of Ashford as a replacement(3).


The windshaft is a graft shaft, wooden for most of its length but with an iron rear section which incorporates the tail wheel mounting, and is square behind the wheel. The brake- and tailwheels are both wooden clasp-arms with straight cants. The tailwheel differs from the brakewheel in having no separate rim, the cants being shaped to form the circumference of the wheel. The mountings for the wheels are different; for the brakewheel there is a square boss bolted to the windshaft, to which the arms of the wheel are wedged, while the tailwheel is fixed between two square flanges on the iron section of the shaft. The brake is of wood above and of iron below the centre line of the brakewheel, as at Rolvenden. Wailes measures the brakewheel at 8ft 9in diameter and the tailwheel at 7ft 9in(4). The former was believed by the late Vincent Pargeter to be older than the mill.

 In recent years new head- and tailstones have been installed to replace those removed after the mill ceased work. The tailstones, which are second-hand and very badly worn, are in an octagonal vat with replica stone furniture, while the Peak runner of the headstones is completely exposed.

 The windshaft turns partly between the bins suspended from the floor above, which is a not uncommon feature of post mills in East Sussex and the adjacent part of Kent, but less marked here than in, say, Windmill Hill mill. On the beam behind the tailwheel in which the upper bearing of the quant for the tailstones was located there is a semicircular recess which suggests the former presence on the windshaft behind the wheel of a flange from which the sack hoist was probably driven, the recess having to be cut to allow it to turn. On each side the beam is tenoned into a horizontal timber fixed between two vertical members of the intermediate framing just before the corner post.

 The hook for the brake lever hangs from the upper side rail. The lever itself is hinged between the right front corner post and a cheek piece which is tenoned into it.

 The ends of the beam in which the upper bearing of the quant for the headstones is located are tenoned into cheek pieces on the undersides of the upper side rails. The tailbeam is fixed between the corner posts which are nicely shaped where they meet it in “gunstock head” fashion.

 The headstones are driven via a solid wooden stone nut of “cartwheel hub” type which appears to be old and to have come from another mill, and a quant which is obviously new. Also on this floor is a wooden roller, like a rolling pin, which probably acted as a guide for the rope or chain of the sack hoist/brake lever.

 The floor is raised slightly behind the crowntree so that the tailstones are higher than the headstones. The ladder well is on the right, awkwardly placed beneath the tail wheel in a fashion that must have been dangerous when the mill was at work, and the sack trap to the right rear of the tailstones, within the extension.


Here is found the tentering gear for the headstones, another recent replacement. The bridge tree is positioned east-west rather than fore-aft; a belt goes from the flanged wooden disc on the stone spindle to another, smaller one on the spindle of the governor which is on a line with the bridge tree and mounted on a bracket built out from the side framing. This arrangement is probably conjectural. The tentering gear for the tailstones is missing.

 In front of the prick post is a new flour bin and a French Burr stone leans against the wall. The ladder to the stone floor is on the right.

The Friends of Stocks Mill, who look after the structure for Kent County Council (the owners) are in process of making measured drawings of the mill; I understand it is the intention to donate these to the Mills Archive.

(Description based on survey by Guy Blythman 6th July 2008)

(1) Information from guide at the mill

(2) ditto

(3) RW 1955

(4) Ibid


Smock mill, rebuilt 1980s on existing base


One of a pair of mills which stood close together here until the other, the Upper Mill, was demolished in 1935, Woodchurch mill was probably built c1820 (this being the date found on the lid of the flour dresser). Ceasing work around 1924, it was later restored but due to the cost of maintenance fell into disrepair and eventually the smock had to be rebuilt with new timber (modern features such as a steel curb being added at the same time). The machinery is mostly original, however, and complete. The mill is maintained in good condition by a Friends society.

 An attractive white mill, she stands on a single-storey tarred brick base, stepped in near the top, with a stage on vertical supports, braced to the horizontal platform near their upper ends by short diagonals, after the fashion typical of this part of the county. The cap, with provision for hand winding, sails and fantail are characteristic of the county. The sprattle beam extends the width of the cap frame with two rear longitudinal timbers tenoned into the sprattle, as are the diagonal fan cradle members. There are truck wheels on the ends of the sprattle and of the rear longitudinals; I could not see if there was a fifth on the breast beam. 

 The brakewheel is unusual for Kent in being an all-wood clasp-arm, instead of having iron arms and wood cants/rim. The windshaft is iron, the brake wood.


The stairwell is on the west side, the sack hoist on the north-east, and the sack trap on the east.

 A solid all-wood wallower is mounted on a wooden upright shaft, octagonal on this floor. The wallower friction-drives the sack hoist direct and in order to bear against its bevelled underside a cone clutch is used. The pulley is of iron, with four arms, and mounted on a square spindle carrying an iron-straked wooden bollard. The neck of the spindle rests on the usual hinged timber, with wooden support frame, and turns in a wooden block fixed between two uprights of the intermediate framing.


The layout of this floor was not examined in detail.


The upright shaft is footed in a cantilevered (not naturally curved as suggested by Rex Wailes) bridge beam depending from the deep main ceiling timbers, which was put in when a secondary cog ring was fitted to the great spur wheel for the steam drive(1). Both the spur and the secondary cog ring are of iron mortice construction; the latter is mounted on the undersides of the arms of the former.

 On the western, eastern and southwest sides respectively three pairs of stones in octagonal are overdriven via large solid wood stone nuts on square quants. The southwest stones are currently dismantled, with the burr runner leaning against the wall and the nut lying on the floor.

 On the southeast side is a fourth nut of the same type as the others, on a vertical shaft: this is the engine drive.

The stairwell is on the southeast side.


Again the stairwell is on the southeast. Doors open onto the stage on the east and west sides.

 The bridgetrees run east-west. The governors for the western and southwestern stones appear to be missing. Those for the eastern pair remain. The drive is indirect, a belt going to the lower of two drums on a separate spindle and then another from the upper to the governor belt drum; a similar method is employed for one of the stones at Polegate mill, Sussex. Both belts are still in place. The governor rests in a simple frame from the ceiling as at Sarre and West Kingsdown mills.  

 On this floor the vertical engine drive shaft ends in a four-armed iron mortice bevel gear meshing with an iron nut on a square iron layshaft carrying a solid wood bollard from which a belt goes to a pulley on the flour machine suspended from the ceiling on the southwest side. It is not clear how the drive from the engine itself was taken up.

The framing of the smock was, and is, plastered on the inside.

Based on survey by Guy Blythman carried out on 27th July 2008

(1) RW 1955