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Newsletter 128 Spring 2020   © Hampshire Mills Group



Two Kent Windmills


Ruth Andrews


Draper’s Mill, Margate: 

Driving round Margate, we saw this mill on the skyline and went to investigate.  It wasn’t open (only on Summer Sundays), but the information boards outside included this excellent diagram of the mill, and the ancillary buildings attached to the mill, which have survived, as has the machinery in the mill.


It was built in 1845 by John Holman, a Canterbury millwright, and is the only survivor of a line of mills which once overlooked the town.  It is a four-storey smock mill with four 26ft (8m) patent sails driving three pairs of stones, on a single-storey brick base with a gallery stage at first-floor level. 


The mill was worked solely by wind until 1916 and then by a 20hp (15kW) gas engine until the late 1930s, with the sweeps and fantail being removed in 1927.  It became a depot for animal feed, coal, and corn distribution.  Its last commercial use was as Miss Hart’s Tuck Shop, much visited by children from the nearby schools. 

Threatened with demolition in 1965, the Drapers Windmill Trust was formed by the then headmaster of Draper's Mills School, Mr RM Towes.  In 1968 Kent Education Committee acquired the mill, which was restored at a cost of over £2000.  It is now in the care of Kent County Council who are supported by the Trust, who are responsible for the running and restoration of the mill, with larger projects financed by the authority, and with HLF grants.

Information from the mill’s website draperswindmill.org.uk and Wikipedia.


Sarre Windmill: 

Returning from Margate, we passed Sarre Windmill, which has deteriorated considerably externally since the 2004 photograph on the right, when it was a prosperous working mill and tearoom.  We think it closed in 2018.  Fortunately we met Adam Evans, the keyholder, who allowed us to look inside “as we had come all the way from Hampshire”.  Internally the mill is in good condition, weatherproof, and with no sign of woodworm, but with lots of accumulated clutter overlying the machinery and ancillary equipment.  The following information about the mill is from Wikipedia.


This windmill was also by John Holman, but in 1820. Originally built with a single-storey brick base, in 1856 the base was raised to 14 feet (4.27m) high, with an extra storey built under it.  It was the first windmill in Kent to have a steam engine installed as auxiliary power, added in 1861.  It was worked by wind until 1920, when the sails were taken down, and installed on Union Mill, Cranbrook, and a gas engine was fitted, which worked it for a few years longer.  It ceased milling by the early 1930s. 

After recommissioning in the late 1930s, again powered by the gas engine, it finally stopped in 1940 as the engine had been damaged by frost.  The mill was used as an observation post during the World War 2.  It remained semi-derelict until 1986, when restoration was started, and then worked commercially again.

Hopper and quant,
with a portable winch on the tun

Rotary sieves
for separating bran

Bamfords Rapid Grinding Mill
for rolling oats




… and one in Warwickshire


Keith Andrews

Berkswell windmill

is a grade 2* listed building and a scheduled monument.  It is privately owned.

A tower mill with four sails, two patent and two common, it was built in 1826 on the site of a former post mill in the village of Balsall Common north of Kenilworth.  The windmill is constructed in brick with a wooden boat shaped cap, and is turned into the wind by an endless chain winding mechanism.  

It was historically used to grind flour and animal feeds, and in 1927 the stones were adapted to run via a diesel engine.  The mill continued to work commercially until 1948, when it finally closed after the last miller John Hammond died. 

It was first restored between 1973 and 1975 by the millwright Derek Ogden for it's then owners George and Betty Field, and was complete with sails and all internal machinery and tools for making flour and animal feed.  However, after the death of the owners the windmill again fell into some disrepair until purchased by the current owner in 2006.  It was restored to workable order in 2013 and is occasionally open to the public.

Information from SPAB and Wikipedia.



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