Adopt a collection and protect the legacy of incredible individuals who are widely recognised as having had a significant impact on the way in which mills will be repaired, recorded and remembered in the future.
James Venn Collection
The story starts with Stanley Freese, who in the 1920s and 1930s cycled across the country sketching, photographing and gathering information on rural England, particularly the mills of rural Buckinghamshire. Stanley had planned to write a book but his plans were put on hold. James Venn met Stanley while a teenager and remained friends with him, inheriting his research on his death. He intended to publish Freese’s manuscript with additional information. While the work was never published, we now have the combined research notes, sketches and photographs of both collectors.
Rex Wailes Collection
The leading mill expert of his day, Wailes revolutionised the country’s attitude towards mills. He campaigned to survey the remaining windmills in Great Britain and acted as a Technical Advisor for the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) for this project. An enlightening piece from his collection is his own annotated copy of the hugely successful book he wrote, English Windmills, which provides an insight into the mind of this influential man. Our Archivist wrote an article that gives a glimpse into this man’s life – to read it, click here.
Arthur C Smith Collection
An exemplar mill recorder, Smith was most likely to be found riding his bicycle in pursuit of a windmill. He traversed the country for his research and created the systematic County Windmill series from his notes. An anecdote from which reveals that during his travels, he fell head first off his bicycle into a 6ft deep ditch. The collection also features beautiful colour photographs of mills that he visited, diaries, the book series, and his research notes. One of our blog posts – “The top 4 adventures of Arthur C Smith” – provides a humorous insight into the life of this man – to read it, click here.
E M Gardner Collection
A passionate watermill advocate, Gardner was the driving force behind the SPAB’s decision in 1946 to change the Windmill Section of the committee to the Wind and Watermill Section. She wrote 4 watermill booklets, informing the public about the work of the SPAB and occupied the position of Chair of the watermills publication for the first six issues. She recognised that watermills are as important as windmills to our heritage and saved them in the form of pictures for millwrights to use and learn from. Click here to read her biography. We have also recently discovered that Ms Gardner was a suffragette – read our past blog post about this fascinating detail of her life here.