Author Topic: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham  (Read 111 times)

Smiffy

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CAT

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2019, 07:39:52 AM »
A contemporary view of Hooper's Mill, Margate c.1800

bertroid

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2019, 01:12:13 AM »
That's an extraordinary sight, but as for them being 1000 years old, I think there may be a touch of the Ship of Theseus going on here :)


Certainly not suggesting that what you see is original, in any way, and about 20 years ago they were restored, and apparently now under threat again.



They've been there a thousand years, and scheduled a world heritage site.  Some mud dating etc.  I would guess they've been renewed dozens of times over that time, but let's not forget Persian records were a lot better than ours back then.   ;)

Smiffy

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2019, 11:37:50 PM »
That's an extraordinary sight, but as for them being 1000 years old, I think there may be a touch of the Ship of Theseus going on here :)

bertroid

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2019, 08:42:12 PM »



To explain where Captain Hooper got his idea from, we can look at one of the places which the old seafarer visited. 1000 year old horizontal mills still survive and work in Iran, but at a much gentler pace!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ugw7-BwsmI

Alec

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2019, 08:13:08 PM »
The basic idea has been revived for power generation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_axis_wind_turbine

bertroid

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2019, 07:38:45 PM »





As for engineering, to open up half a building with whirring cogs etc, to a gale force wind, could potentially be disastrous and very damaging.  There are tales of regular destruction at all of these mills, and ultimately the reason why they became very expensive failures!


Interestingly Captain Hooper suddenly disappeared from owning a big chunk of Margate.  Perhaps a disaster led him to leave quickly.  He ended up being buried in Islington a few years later.

bertroid

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2019, 07:34:45 PM »



The link from grandarog is of drawings done of the mill at Margate, and a 3D reconstruction of the mill done by John, who is a good friend of mine.


As I indicated, although there is no real proof, the one at Westerham must have been similar to Margate and Battersea, and in some of the sale notices dimensions not given.

It must have been a spectacular sight, the link from Grandarog gives form to the description, and if it was 70ft tall could only have been extremely impressive in an age when radical engineering was not that common.


As sadly there are no pictures of the Westerham structure, here is one of the Margate one, giving an idea of size.

johnfilmer

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 06:32:03 PM »
It must have been a spectacular sight, the link from Grandarog gives form to the description, and if it was 70ft tall could only have been extremely impressive in an age when radical engineering was not that common.

bertroid

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2019, 05:36:02 PM »
Thanks for the link.
 
Examining these illustrations you can see why one of these would be so expensive to build. Being so complex in construction it's hardly surprising there may have been operational issues.
 
Looking at maps old and new all I can find in the area is "Windmill Common" and a building called "Windmill Bank".


That's an earlier post mill.


This extraordinary building stood in the fields numbered 703 and 727, behind Newlands House, towards Crockham Hill, marked on the Tithe map as Mill Field and Great Mill Field from memory.

Smiffy

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2019, 01:15:43 PM »
Thanks for the link.
 
Examining these illustrations you can see why one of these would be so expensive to build. Being so complex in construction it's hardly surprising there may have been operational issues.
 
Looking at maps old and new all I can find in the area is "Windmill Common" and a building called "Windmill Bank".


grandarog

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Re: Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 12:08:39 PM »
I must admit I was a bit baffled by the Horizontal Mill ,Having a look around on Google came up with this very helpful site which explains the system in easy terms for oiks like me to understand. I have put up the link for anyone interested.
http://www.milldrawings.com/html/hoopers.html

bertroid

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Newlands Horizontal Windmill, Westerham
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 02:12:29 PM »

Apologies for putting this up in full.  It's an extract from my book, about a remarkable and largely unknown building/machine which took me a decade to research.  Thought it might be of interest:



"By far the most remarkable mill in this whole study, ‘Newland Mill’ has only recently come to light, and stood in a remote corner of the county for probably little more than 20 years.
 
In 1996, I re-discovered an advertisement in Peter Davies’ Collection, which suggested that an unusual mill stood in the vicinity of Crockham Hill.  Peter was excited by the wording of this advertisement as indicated in his added pencilled notes, as it hinted at a particularly grand mill; he did not pursue any further research into it, and the site has been remarkably reluctant to give up its secrets.  I make no apologies for reproducing the sale notice in full, and the many that followed it:
 
“Kentish Gazette 26/5/1795:-
 
“to be sold by auction, a freehold newly erected corn mill called Newland Mill, situated upon the declivity of Cockam Hill.  The mill contains three pairs of stones, two of them French, the other peak and there is room for a fourth pair.  The French are supposed capable of grinding and dressing more than four hundred loads a year.  All the stones have regulators by which means one man is enabled to conduct the whole business of grinding and dressing at the same time.
 
And oil cake being in great demand in that neighbourhood, where none is to be had nearer than from London; a further advantage is offered, as it might at an easy expense be converted into an exceedingly good oil and flour mill conjointly.
 
To be viewed by applying to G.W. Lewis, Westerham, or on the premises where printed particulars may be had.  Also of Mr Barrett, millwright, Sevenoaks.”
 
A newly erected mill with three pairs of stones, and room for a fourth, would have been remarkably advanced for 1795, and suggested this mill may have been extra-ordinary. 
 
An insurance policy was the next document to be discovered in the Simmons Collection at the Science Museum Library, misplaced under Cudham.  It gives us the name of the man who was responsible for its construction, and indicates that the building was constructed in 1791-2:
 
“Sun Fire Insurance Policy No. 597687:
 
13 March, 1792: George Wenham Lewes of Westerham, in Kent, Esq:  On his Windmill situate at Cockham on Kent in his own tenure brick and timber £1000.  Memo: £500 being insured on the above Windmill in the Royal Exchange Assurance Office is hereby allowed.  Entered 27, November 1792.  (vol 386)”
 
 
The insurance valuation here at £1000 plus a further policy at £500, again shows the mill to be built of some expense (windmills were normally valued at a maximum of £800), and research into George Wenham Lewis indicates he was a man of considerable wealth.  The construction of this windmill appears to have taken its toll on him and in April, 1797 he passed away.  The windmill has the dubious distinction of a mention in an obituary for him  -
 
“At Westerham in Kent, aged 50, Geo Wenham Lewis, esq. in the commission for the peace of that county, and formerly an attorney of Westerham. About five years ago he built a singular kind of windmill on Ockham-hill, Westerham Chart, which cost £4000; but it is said to have been ill-constructed. He had one only son, who was lately a student of Oxford.”
 
An expenditure of £4000 on a windmill, is unparalleled in the county.  The finest smock mills cost less than half such an amount, and it was soon realized that this structure must have been radically different, if not unique.  Advertisements confirm that the mill was a horizontal mill, a ‘vertical axis’ mill, commonly referred to as an ‘air mill’ in the very few examples that were built in the 1780s and 1790s.  It also explains its lack of appearance on maps, as the cartographer and surveyor are unlikely to have recognized it as a windmill, with its unconventional appearance.
 
Kent was the birthplace of the ‘horizontal mill’ in England, and the father of these odd constructions was one Captain Stephen Hooper, a resident of Margate who had made his fortune as a seafarer and merchant.  It is romantically thought, and without any substance that on his travels, he might have seen vertical axis mills in Persia, and brought the idea back to England in the 1770s in the form of a much larger and grander design.  He registered a patent for his ‘horizontal air mill’ in 1777.  The first of these dramatic mills was built by him at his own property at Zion Place in Margate, and was renowned for its size.   It is said to have been 75 feet in height, by some sources and 40 feet in height by 28 feet in diameter by others (although the latter height might just refer to the tower section).  Captain Hooper also invented the ‘roller-reefing sail’, which became popular with millwrights in the North of England, and Wales and Ireland, many years after his death.
 
The operation of these huge machines is difficult to explain, but the wooden tower had lomg louvred shutters around the whole diameter of the tower, which could be opened and closed to let wind inside to turn a giant vertical windwheel in its centre.  The power created by this force would turn a huge shaft downwards and a spur wheel in the base of the building, transmitting power to stones and ancilliary equipment.
 
The most famous of the ‘Air Mills’ built was established by the Thames at Battersea, then in Surrey, and built upon Hooper’s designs by Thomas Fowler.  It powered six pairs of stones, although originally (as with Newland Mill) it was proposed that its primary function would be to produce linseed oil.
 
Problems arose with all of these mills in that ‘opening’ a wooden tower to a high wind could lead to serious airflow problems, in terms of admitted air escaping and causing structural damage.  The powers of nature appear to have wrecked the known horizontal mills on regular occasions and the incredible expense of rebuilding and maintaining them meant that not one survived into the second half of the nineteenth century.
 
Newland Mill was no exception.  Further duplicated advertisements appeared with some regularity in various newspapers, and clearly Wenham Lewis and his heirs were desperate to sell what had become a serious drain on their financial resources.
 
The following advertisement is for the sale of gearing from the mill, possibly placed after an accident, or perhaps after the wooden gear had been replaced in iron:
 
“Maidstone Journal 1794, July 1:
 
To millers and millwrights:
 
To be sold: eight mill wheels, new, with twelve months seasoning, from 3’4” down to 2’6” diameter, geared.  Apply Benjamin Bignold, shopkeeper, Crockham Hill, near Westerham, or John Brewer at the mill there”
 
In 1798, a further attempt was made to sell up, this time referring to the mill as a ‘horizontal mill’ for the first time.
 
“Maidstone Journal, 1798, October 2nd
 
Sale by Auction, by T. Kipps. At the Kings Arms Inn, in Westerham, on Wed 17th October 1798 at 12 o’clock, the following two freehold estates.
 
Lot 1.  A very large and convenient horizontal windmill for the grinding of corn, situated on a suitable piece of land at Crockham Hill; now in the occupation of Mr W Bignold, as tenant at will, at the very low yearly rent of £20.  This mill has been built but few years, on which no expense has been spared, to make it complete; it works two pairs of exceedingly good French stones and one pair of Peak stones, one Boulter and one Machine with every convenient apparatus; flour and corn bins, suitable for carrying on a large trade.  There is a kitchen adjoining the mill, and a small stable adjoined.
 
Lot 2.  A valuable freehold estate adjoining the above, comprising a house, barn, stable, oasthouse and hay farm, a farmyard, large orchard, large garden and five pieces of arable meadow and hops around thereunto belonging; containing on the whole about 20 acres, now at late in the occupation of Thomas Farmer and his under tenant at the yearly rent of £21, but at the time of sale will be in hand.  The whole may be viewed at any time preceding the same by applying to Mr W Bignold, miller and shopkeeper, at Cockham Hill.  For further particulars enquire of J.W. Lewis, esq, Westerham, or of the auctioneers, Sevenoaks.”
 
At this juncture, the flurry of sale notices temporarily cease, and we can assume that someone had finally purchased the mill from the beleaguered Lewis family.  A sub-lease of 1806 reveals the purchaser had been Thomas Bignold of London, who had let the property to his son, William Bignold, the same tenant from 1798.  John Barrett, millwright of Sevenoaks, was also living here as well, leasing some of the outbuildings in 1807, but not the mill.  Mention of him in the 1795 sale notice, might suggest that he had become a live-in millwright.  There is a possibility that Barrett was the original builder of the mill, although history has not recorded him as building any mills or being involved in any spectacular engineering feats up to his death in 1826. 
 
Once again, making a horizontal windmill profitable was a task beyond the new owners, and in 1804 the mill is advertised again, ‘as forming a fifty foot cube’ and with three pairs of stones, screens and sack tackle, ‘now at work’.  In 1806, yet another advertisement pleads almost with an air of desperation for purchase and removal - ‘The above machine is erected as to be removed with great facility, being planned with that express idea’!  In 1808, a final further advertisement was placed for an auction at Garraway’s Coffee House.  The wording of the advertisement suggests that the mill might have been operating very slightly more successfully:
 
Morning Chronicle, 29 Feb, 1808:
 
‘SALE BY AUCTION
 
To Mealmen, Factors, and others – Horizontal Corn Mill,Westerham, Kent – By Mr ISAACSON, at Garraway’s, THIS DAY at 12, (unless an acceptable offer is previously made by private contract)
 
A most superior CORN-MILL, situate at Westerham, Kent, horizontally-built, 45 feet in diameter, and 70 feet high, in complete repair, fitted up in the first stile; comprising 4 floors, 3 pairs of stones, flour bins, sack tackle, dressing machines, and bolting mills complete; will break 100 sacks of wheat weekly, and may, at small expense, be enlarged to perform double that quantity.  The estate also comprises a convenient cottage, garden and stable adjoining the mill.  Half the purchase money may remain on security of the premises.’
 
This advertisement is unique in that it gives the dimensions of this extraordinary building.  A tower 70 feet high and 45 feet in diameter, would make it the largest and most conspicuous building in the parish, and dwarf the tower mills of William Ashby in parishes close by.  At the time it would have been the tallest, widest and probably the most expensive windmill ever built in the county, of which it seems no one has left an illustration.  We have nothing linking Newland Mill and Captain Hooper, but the dimensions and timescale suggest he must have been involved, or at least his designs.  One wonders if Mr Lewis had seen the huge mill at Battersea approximately twenty miles north, and wanted to bring such a technological marvel to Westerham. 
 
All mention of the mill ceases after 1809, suggesting its sudden and arguably belated demise.  A cryptic 1827 entry in William Ashby’s ledger refers to a quotation to John Warde of Squerryes Court, for his ‘hill machine’, but gives very little detail, so connecting it to Newland Mill would be taking a huge leap of faith.
 
The site of the structure is another question which cannot yet be accurately ascertained.  The rural location of the mill would mean that the site is unlikely to have been built on, as is the case with the other known ‘air mills’, and would potentially be a fascinating future archaeological excavation.  Its most likely position would be in the grounds of a large eighteenth house in Stonehouse Lane, aptly called ‘Newlands House’. A ‘Mill Field’ is marked about two hundred yards to the west of the rear of this property on the 1843 Tithe Map, and it seems to be the obvious place.  ‘Newlands House’ is situated on the ‘declivity of Crockham Hill’ and its grounds would be ideal for wind power.  An enquiry to the owner of the house, was met with suspicion and indifference, and an explanation that various deeds in the families’ possession made no mention of a windmill."