The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

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RobC
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Location: Sydenham

The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 4 Jul 2009 00:03

Howdy all...


I've had a scan through the threads related to the windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens, and thought it might be a good idea to put up my notes on it here. I've been writing a book on the windmills of South East London/NW Kent for some time.

This is what I've worked out so far:

"Sydenham windmill has always been described as post mill, Peter Davies was in correspondence with the Brigden family in 1960, and they remembered it as such. The Brigdens resided at 50, Mill Road, and in the 1851 census, Francis is described as a ‘Master Miller’ originating from Sussex, with two sons, George and William, working at Coulsdon post mill. William Brigden, later ran Chislehurst Windmill until approximately the same time. It stood at the top end of Mill Gardens, off of Wells Park Road, and was a surprisingly late survivor for this part of London, probably surviving until 1881, when the site was sold by the Brigdens, and presumably rented back.

When it was established is a mystery, but it first appears as a symbol on the 1844 OS map. It was built on the land formerly known as Sydenham Common, which was enclosed in 1810. Interestingly, when the area and the Mill House were flattened in 1961 for a housing estate, flour bags were found marked ‘Established 1817’, which would be a viable possible building date. However, its presence is not detectable in the 1818 ratebook, although it does appear in the 1837 one. The 1843 tithe apportionment describes the Windmill and Yard as being owned by Andrew Beatman, and occupied by Francis Brigden. If the mill was indeed built in the 1830's, then it is most likely to have been moved from another site; mostly likely candidates would be Bree Kill Mill, Dulwich (with stood by Dulwich College until 1815), or Westow Hill mill, which probably disappeared in the 1830's. The pictures currently available show a mill of the earliest form of design, i.e. the post mill, and unlikely to be of an 1830's new-build origin.

The structure was working as late as 1870, and is described by Joseph Gwyer in ‘Sketches of the Life of Joseph Gwyer’, 1876, as ‘a few dilapidated cottages and a dismantled windmill’. The 1874 Ordnance Survey Map marks it as an unnamed disc, suggesting disuse. Demolition was almost certainly in the 1880’s, although the Brigdens were still occupying the yard with the legend ‘Brigden, Millers, Sydenham’ painted on their carts, in 1906. A possible explanation for this is that they were conveying flour from their steam mill in Chislehurst, up to Sydenham, to sell into the London market. The 1893 OS map shows the site as empty.

Some representations have come to light of the structure; the first is a painting from c.1840’s showing a large black post mill in the distance, with common sails and no fan. The second is a crude copy of a painting that used to hang in a local pub (the original is now sadly missing), showing the mill rising above the Cottage of Convenience public house, with common sails."


In addition to this, I understand there is a surviving photograph of the mill, which I am endeavouring to get a copy of.

I can also confirm the 'millstone' in the garden of Home Cottage is not a millstone, or an 'edge runner', it is indeed a whetstone.

Your thoughts please.

Steve Grindlay
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Post by Steve Grindlay » 4 Jul 2009 21:14

A fascinating article, Rob, thanks. I do have a couple of comments.

You say that in 1851 the Brigdens resided at “50 Mill Road”. This is not so, they were living in Mill Lane, later Mill Gardens, which in 1843 had just five houses. “50” is the householder’s schedule number. Each householder was given a schedule to complete with a unique number that allowed the enumerator to link the schedule to a particular address.

Although the Lewisham Enclosure Act was passed in 1810 the process was not completed until 1819 when the enclosure map was published. Very little development began before this date.

I was told that this was an “edge runner” by a knowledgeable member of GLIAS, who showed me pictures of very similar stones in use:
Image
He may be wrong, but why do you think it was a whetstone?

I take it that this is one of the representations you say have “come to light”:
Image
If so, the mill is behind the Woodman, not the Cottage of Content (which was not even licensed until 1855).

Incidentally, I was pleased to see that the under-rated “Potato poet of Penge” was one of your sources.

RobC
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Location: Sydenham

Post by RobC » 4 Jul 2009 22:43

Steve Grindlay wrote:A fascinating article, Rob, thanks. I do have a couple of comments.
It is very much a work in progress, as it is for fifty other mills spread over NW Kent. I add something to it, every time I visit an archive. The problem is 'where to draw the line'.
Steve Grindlay wrote: You say that in 1851 the Brigdens resided at “50 Mill Road”. This is not so, they were living in Mill Lane, later Mill Gardens, which in 1843 had just five houses. “50” is the householder’s schedule number. Each householder was given a schedule to complete with a unique number that allowed the enumerator to link the schedule to a particular address.
I did see this is as bit odd; it was lifted from another source, namely a chap called Peter Davies who was librarian at Folkestone Library and an authority on Kentish mills. He was in correspondence with one of the Brigdens daughters living in Oxfordshire in 1960.
Steve Grindlay wrote: Although the Lewisham Enclosure Act was passed in 1810 the process was not completed until 1819 when the enclosure map was published. Very little development began before this date.
I just can't take an 1830's building date as viable. Everywhere else, windmills were being taken down (e.g. Blackheath (1835), Lee (1836), Bromley (1835)), in a time of recession. To build a windmill of the most basic design in the 'age of steam' is very much against the grain, and highly unlikely. Unfortunately I have no proof as yet. I do have a bankruptcy notice of 1828 re: a George Woodroffe, miller at Sydenham, and a directory reference of 1831-2. There is also a note in my file, which I cannot back-up, saying the site is described on a map dated 1790, as 'Wind-mill Hill'. As i touched upon earlier, if the mill was set up in the 30's, it would almost certainly have been moved from another town, which is a surprisingly common practice, and would explain its early type.
Steve Grindlay wrote: I was told that this was an “edge runner” by a knowledgeable member of GLIAS, who showed me pictures of very similar stones in use:
Image
He may be wrong, but why do you think it was a whetstone?

I've seen many a whetstone lying around in the countryside, and whilst this one is rather thick, it is basically far too small to be an edge runner. The edge runners I've seen tend to have chamfered edges too. Sample picture below is of a pair of very small edge runners working. These are no smaller than three feet in diameter.
Image

My only other guess is that it might be from a miniature cider mill, the type you see in the West Country, in which case it is many miles from home.

One thing I can guarantee is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the mill. There is no surviving or indeed recorded use of edge runners being powered by wind in this country either; they need a steadier power source such as water.
Steve Grindlay wrote: I take it that this is one of the representations you say have “come to light”:
Image
If so, the mill is behind the Woodman, not the Cottage of Content (which was not even licensed until 1855).
Again, taken from another source, and a bit silly of me considering I had a pint in the Woodman today. The Cottage of Convenience was adjoining the mill yard, was it not?

will greenwood
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Post by will greenwood » 6 Jul 2009 09:00

Hi.
In my limited knowledge I cant see this as a whetstone.
Steve may well be right about it being an edge runner though.
heres an interesting site.
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur ... 0%26um%3D1

Steve Grindlay
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Joined: 4 Oct 2004 05:07
Location: Upper Sydenham

Post by Steve Grindlay » 7 Jul 2009 12:44

Rob, I'm sure you're right about the anomaly of a post mill being built during the 1830s. On the other hand, I still have difficulty accepting that it was built before the late 1820s.

In a recent book John Coulter suggests that the mill might have been established by William Atherfold about 1837. Although Francis Brigden does not appear in the 1837 rate book, I believe Atherfold does. He is also in the 1841 census, (mis-spelt as “Artifold”) living next door to Brigden. Atherfold died in 1848. He may have been living in Sydenham for some years as his daughter was born here in about 1830. Might he have started the mill about that time?

Atherfold wasn’t the only miller. There was also Richard Burton (or Barton) who, in the 1841 census, was described as a “corndealer” at what is now about 105 Kirkdale, near the junction with Dartmouth Road. However, in Pigot’s in 1839 and 1840 directories he is described as a miller. This may just be a mistake by Pigot.

You mentioned George Woodroffe, an insolvent debtor. My note on him says “Woodroffe, George, formerly of Bromley-Mill, and late of Sydenham, both in Kent, Miller”. That is slightly ambiguous about whether he was a miller at both Bromley Mill and at Sydenham. There was a George Woodroffe living in Sydenham from at least 1825, when his son was born. In 1841 he was a coachman living in a cottage that would now be 36 Sydenham Road.

You referred to a mill in an 1831-1832 directory. Pigot’s 1832-4 directory lists other mills in Lewisham but makes no mention of one in Sydenham.

I’m not familiar with the 1790 map you mention. This is from an OS map surveyed in 1799, and there is no sign of a mill on the common:
Image
The track running from the top centre down towards the bottom right is Kirkdale. Wells Road runs across the centre, between the three cottages which were at the junction of what is now Wells Park Road and Taylors Lane. The map was produced for military purposes, and the presence (or absence) of buildings was depicted with considerable accuracy.

However, Clark’s Directory of 1858 says that “an old windmill at the back of the road admirably maintains the primitive character of this locality.” So by 1858 the mill was described as "old".

RobC
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Location: Sydenham

Post by RobC » 14 Jul 2009 23:42

Thankyou Steve, for a top quality reply, which thankfully doesn't refer to that stone in Home Cottage, which I'm sure is a red herring.
Steve Grindlay wrote:Rob, I'm sure you're right about the anomaly of a post mill being built during the 1830s. On the other hand, I still have difficulty accepting that it was built before the late 1820s.
The burden of proof is very much in favour of a date of 1830, I fully understand; unfortunately a newly-built mill doesnt fit this.

I've spent a few days looking at possible moves from other sites locally, as I'm moving towards the 'move' theory with increasingly certainty. The majority of local sites can be ruled out, but I'll list them:

1) Westow Hill Mill - Stopped trading in 1853, and pulled down shortly afterwards, so obviously too late.

2) Bree Kill Mill, by Dulwich College. Pictorially a post mill, and of some age. However it was sold for its parts in 1815, and taken down in the same year.

3) Bromley Mill, Bromley Hill. Another post mill of great age. Millwright William Ashby was paid to take the mill down in January 1835, so unlikely to have been recycled for anything more than parts.

4) Streatham Common, Knights Hill/Crown Point. Marked on OS Map of 1816, and Bryants map of 1823, but then disappears without trace. Of unknown type, but possible the most likely site locally.

To throw a spanner in the works, there is a picture on this website:

http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lambeth/s ... common.htm

Which shows a windmill at probably Crown Point, dated 1870. It is suggested to be Westow Hill, but this had gone c.1853. ??

Regarding moves, I'm still baffled, but will carry on plodding along.
Steve Grindlay wrote: You mentioned George Woodroffe, an insolvent debtor. My note on him says “Woodroffe, George, formerly of Bromley-Mill, and late of Sydenham, both in Kent, Miller”. That is slightly ambiguous about whether he was a miller at both Bromley Mill and at Sydenham. There was a George Woodroffe living in Sydenham from at least 1825, when his son was born. In 1841 he was a coachman living in a cottage that would now be 36 Sydenham Road.
The wording of Mr Woodroffe's insolvency notice has crossed my mind a few times; the reason I favoured him being a miller in Sydenham is because there are a number of other mill related insolvency notices from around the same period (particularly at Westow Hill and Bromley Mills), which are worded similarly, but in every case, the journeyman miller has ended up at another local mill, and can be traced there. The insolvency notices all seem to name the mill they were at when insolvency proceedings were begun, and then the town they ended up in, presumably to work in. Journeymen millers were few at the time, and in demand; clearly they were not particularly well paid in the 1820's at least. Perhaps the interesting thing is re: Sydenham, is that out of the many insolvency mill related notices occurring in the 1820's, this is the first mentioning Sydenham.
Steve Grindlay wrote: You referred to a mill in an 1831-1832 directory. Pigot’s 1832-4 directory lists other mills in Lewisham but makes no mention of one in Sydenham.
This is from a website database known as Kent Mill People. I've made enquiries as to the directory source.
Steve Grindlay wrote:I’m not familiar with the 1790 map you mention.
Again, a secondary source, this time from the collection of H.E.S. Simmons housed in the Science Museum Library. Mr Simmons spent five years in the 1930's analysing maps for mill symbols, and is regarded as pretty accurate. I've checked the entry for Sydenham, and sadly he doesn't list the map source or maker. His exact typed words were : ' Sydenham "Wind Mill Hill" so named at Penge Green on 1790 map'. Perhaps Steve you can enlighten us on the area known as 'Penge Green', as I know nothing regarding this.
Steve Grindlay wrote: However, Clark’s Directory of 1858 says that “an old windmill at the back of the road admirably maintains the primitive character of this locality.” So by 1858 the mill was described as "old".
I would love to say this proves my theory, but I've seen the words 'old' and 'windmill' put together too many times, to wonder if it is not just a figure of speech.

RobC
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Post by RobC » 19 Jul 2009 23:02

deleted message
Last edited by RobC on 19 Jul 2009 23:45, edited 1 time in total.

RobC
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Location: Sydenham

Post by RobC » 19 Jul 2009 23:03

Just to add to all this; I've finally tracked down the photo of the mill, which turns out to be a bit of a disappointment, as I've seen it on this site a number of times.

This photo of the Costcutter site:

Image

If you look at the top right corner, there is a silhouette of the mill, I've messed about a bit with Photostudio and come up with this. (not sure why its enhanced in blue)

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/5453/p1030105.jpg

One thing that surprises me is that the mill rises above the houses in Halifax Street so much; it's certainly quite a big mill, but then that might explain why it survived for such a long time.

edit:... not sure why i can't make this picture embedded.

Steve Grindlay
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Post by Steve Grindlay » 23 Jul 2009 21:16

Sorry for the delay in replying, Rob, I’ve been caught up with other things; holidays, talks, walks and so on.

The photograph of the mill looking across the Costcutter site is one of mine. It is a photocopy and “V5-29” in the top right corner is supposed to tell me where my copy of the original is filed. Unfortunately it is not there, and until I find it I can’t say where I got the copy from.

You mentioned the “site is described on a map dated 1790, as 'Wind-mill Hill'.” Could this be John Roque’s map of Surrey (published posthumously in 1768, I think):
Image
This places “Wind Mill Hill” firmly within the present Crystal Palace Park, and certainly over the border in Surrey and some distance from Mill Gardens.

Although my filing system failed with the Costcutter picture it did work with another picture of the mill that I've just found, a copy of a water-colour from the top of Sydenham Hill showing both the mill and St Bart’s. It was published in a local newspaper in 1936. The original was owned by someone who lived in Bishopsthorpe Road, but its whereabouts now is unknown.
Image

This version is appalling; I shall try to upload a better quality copy on Monday.

RobC
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Post by RobC » 25 Jul 2009 23:15

Steve Grindlay wrote:
You mentioned the “site is described on a map dated 1790, as 'Wind-mill Hill'.” Could this be John Roque’s map of Surrey (published posthumously in 1768, I think):
Image
This places “Wind Mill Hill” firmly within the present Crystal Palace Park, and certainly over the border in Surrey and some distance from Mill Gardens.
Yup.. this is almost certainly the map referenced by Simmons, or at least the 1790 one is a copy of it. It would explain why I couldnt find it (being of Surrey). I'm surprised Simmons got the date wrong and more importantly the county, as he was a stickler for these things, particularly parish boundaries. It does introduce a new potential site however, although I'm confining myself to Kent, so it's not really a new research headache for me, thankfully.
Steve Grindlay wrote: Although my filing system failed with the Costcutter picture it did work with another picture of the mill that I've just found, a copy of a water-colour from the top of Sydenham Hill showing both the mill and St Bart’s. It was published in a local newspaper in 1936. The original was owned by someone who lived in Bishopsthorpe Road, but its whereabouts now is unknown.
Image
The Costcutter picture originally came from a baker in the Wells Park Road area, I understand, who died in the 1990's. Apparently much of their archives/papers ended up in the US, sadly.

The picture above is as you say, poor, but once again it does show a big post mill. The only clear representations so far show it with cloth sails, which tended to be phased out from about 1800 and before. I've been trying to get an enhancement on that photo to see if I can see the sail frames, which would tell me if it had cloth or shuttered sails. If cloth, (as the painting of it behind the Woodman shows), then it enhances my 'move' theory even more, as it is extremely unlikely that a new-build mill would have been built with such antiquated technology, especially one of some size.

I thought I had an ideal candidate for my move theory. One of the mills on Blackheath was taken down in November, 1835, and was of a similar size, with cloth sails. It had already previously been moved from one side of the heath when the building plot lease had expired. However, the reports I have suggest it was demolished, and not 'spirited away'; I'm sure a mill being moved from Blackheath to Sydenham would have attracted some media attention, especially as the recorded rate of movement for other mills has been recorded at about 400 yards a day. So I'm back to Square 1 on that one.

I perhaps need to focus more on William Atherfold/Hartifold/Artifold, and his movements prior to coming to Sydenham, or perhaps even the Brigdens.

RobC
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 9 Dec 2011 00:09

Hiya folks...

Sorry to drag up this old chestnut. I've been going through newspaper ads stored in British newspapers online, and came up with an interesting result or two:

From London Standard Sat 02 Jun 1827:

"A freehold post windmill, and garden ground adjoining, situate at Peak Hill, Sydenham; fixtures and utensils to be taken at a valuation; 500l"

This is undoubtedly our windmill, although the location of Peak Hill is a couple of hundred yards away. If the location is correct, then presumably the mill was moved across Kirkdale to a higher point, probably not long after this sale was completed. Having trawled through lots of adverts for windmills for years, it doesn't mention 'newly built' which they always do, if that is the case. It is 'advertising', so a 'newly built' windmill is one of the things frequently mentioned. This puts the date back 10 years from 1837, and now ten years away from the 1817 date found on flour bags when the Mill House was demolished. Would be fascinating to see if a windmill was moved from Peak Hill, to Wells Park. Any ideas?

A second advert from West Kent Guardian 23 June 1849 refers to the sale of a freehold windmill, six cottages and a shop near the Woodman in Norwood, Surrey. I'm not aware of a Woodman in Norwood, so presumably this refers to Sydenham Mill (?)

Falkor
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by Falkor » 9 Dec 2011 19:39

Excellent research, Rob! If there was a windmill in Peak Hill prior to Mill Gardens off Wells Park Road then I would have expected to see it in the painting of Sydenham Common:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegrind ... otostream/

RobC
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 9 Dec 2011 23:05

That painting is dated 1812, so probably too early for the mill at either site.

The problem I've always had, is that the mill is of an older 'post' type, and they were simply not built as new-build structures in the 1830's, from which the Mill Gardens Windmill starts appearing in references. Even if the mill was a new build, it was built with very primitive cloth sails from the illustrations, which is bizarre considering the technology that was available.

As stated a year or two ago, we do know that flour bags marked 'established 1817' were found when the Mill House was demolished in 1961(?), and this date makes a little more sense.

Now the other thing not widely known is that windmills were frequently moved, either when a lease ran out and the land became too expensive, or due to a better siting for wind.

The Peak Hill reference I assume would not pertain to Mill Gardens (unless the whole area was known as Peak Hill back then) so I'm taking huge leaps in suggesting the mill was established in say, 1817 (as per the flour bags) at a plot in Peak Hill, and then moved across and up the hill to Mill Gardens not long after 1827.

I could suggest that perhaps even the mill was moved to Peak Hill from Dulwich which disappeared just after 1815, and is rather similar, but perhaps that might be going too far. Pic of Dulwich Common or Bree Kill Mill below.

Image


And just to add to the newspaper advert before, the advert was placed by a Samuel Closs, an auctioneer from Bermondsey, so presumably representing the vendor.

Falkor
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by Falkor » 9 Dec 2011 23:43

Very convincing and well argued! Good stuff mate!! 8)

RobC
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 10 Dec 2011 13:03

Thank you Falkor, but I will only feel happy once Mr Grindlay has scrutinised the page!

marymck
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by marymck » 20 Dec 2011 13:38

Just a thought, but as Wooster and Stock have now bought The Woodman is it worth asking them if they've come across any of the pictures of the mill that I believe used to be in the pub? Also, would there be any remnants of the mill lurking around in the garden or basement? May be worth a try before it all goes in a skip. I'd offer to rootle round, but I could trip over a millstone and not recognize it as such.

RobC
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 3 Jan 2012 15:20

Hi Mary

Apologies for late reply.

I would happily do that, but I've moved out of Sydenham these days.

I can't imagine you'd turn up a millstone, but a picture would be fantastic.

RobC
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by RobC » 24 Sep 2014 16:41

Just to update all this, many years on.. The book is now published and includes pretty much what I believe to be the story of Sydenham Windmill. Ironically that story begins in 1626 in an adjoining county. It's all in the book, as are the histories of 45 other South London/NW Kent windmills. Apologies it's taken forever, but if anyone would like to buy it, it is available through Amazon and the publisher Stenlake and Co, priced at £20, with just over a hundred pictures, the majority of which are being published for the first time. Thanks particularly to the keen minds in here (in particular Steve Grindlay) without which, I imagine the story wouldn't have been written so fully.

Manwithaview1
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by Manwithaview1 » 10 Oct 2014 18:57

RobC wrote:Just to update all this, many years on.. The book is now published and includes pretty much what I believe to be the story of Sydenham Windmill. Ironically that story begins in 1626 in an adjoining county. It's all in the book, as are the histories of 45 other South London/NW Kent windmills. Apologies it's taken forever, but if anyone would like to buy it, it is available through Amazon and the publisher Stenlake and Co, priced at £20, with just over a hundred pictures, the majority of which are being published for the first time. Thanks particularly to the keen minds in here (in particular Steve Grindlay) without which, I imagine the story wouldn't have been written so fully.
I'll ask the Kirkdale bookshop to get some in.

Lois
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Re: The Windmill that used to stand in Mill Gardens

Post by Lois » 14 Oct 2014 20:46

Hi Rob,
I have only just read this whole thread.
Very eager to read your book :-)

I am about to become a guide at the Shirley Windmill and am an admin to
The Friends of Shirley Windmill Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfShirleyWindmill

Would be great if anyone wants to like the page on Facebook.

I enjoyed the guided tour I attended there on the Open House weekend so much that I decided to become a guide myself.
I have since developed a VERY keen interest in Windmills and I live in Sydenham on Westwood HIll.

Went to order a copy just now but Amazon is out of stock!
Will try the publisher and if that is no good I'll order it on Amazon and wait for them to get them back in stock.

So glad to have found this thread :-)

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