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Some notes I've knocked up:
Tunbridge Wells windmills
As has been frequently the case, Coles-Finch didn’t manage to pull the whole story together, and relies on some of the detail from somewhat fading memories. He mentions the two well-known windmills, but misses two other ones that stood briefly. Two out of four isn’t bad I guess, and there may have been more.
Calverley Post mill.
The first reference to a mill on Calverley Plain comes from 1776 and 1777 sale notices. The Kentish Gazette of 28 August, 1776 describes a mill as ‘newly-built’ ‘with the Sweeps, Boulter, and other Fixtures belonging thereto’. A further advert of January 25, 1777 reiterates the same. ‘Newly’ built in advert sales speak might not be strictly true, as an appearance on Andrews Drurys and Herberts Map of 1769 would suggest it was built at least a decade earlier.
A further advert of 24 June, 1783, reveals that the first Calverley Mill was a post mill, owned by Peter Sloman. All of these advertisements do stress that the purchaser has the ‘Liberty to pull down and take away the said windmill at any time during the agreed term’. One would suspect that the post mill wasn’t wanted, and was either moved, or succumbed to fire. It is possible that the mill itself was moved to nearby Frant, just over the Sussex border. It was replaced by the next mill below, a smock mill.
Calverley smock mill.
The newer mill on Calverley Plain was a smock mill of improved and efficient design, very much in tune with with a growing and increasingly affluent Tunbridge Wells. A painting by Thomas Girtlin, reckoned to date from about 1800, shows a smock mill with a London style wooden ribbed circular cap, and a gallery to tend the sails. It’s appearance would suggest it was perhaps constructed in the late 1780s or early 1790s.
From around this time it is in the ownership of John Warde, a very wealthy landowner, who also owned a big estate at Squerryes Court in Westerham. In 1827, Warde asked a respected millwright, William Ashby, who was one of his tenants at Westerham to quote for a new cap, sails and brakewheel for Calverley Mill. This expensive work would probably be required after the windmill was wrecked in a gale.
Occupiers come and go at Calverley Mill, but the most noted name is that of James Dadson. Tragedy occurred in 1848, when one of his employees James Ashby was struck dead by one of the turning sails.
In 1857 the mill was advertised to be let, and was at this point reaching its final years. Martin Brunnarius, in his book ‘The Windmills of Sussex’ states that the mill was demolished in 1861, and the parts purchased by Richard Pratt, and used in the construction of a tower mill at Crowborough in Sussex. The house converted shell of this mill still survives.
The two Culverden Windmills
A mysterious chap by the name of Colonel Wardle was responsible for the erection of two windmills on Culverden Down. Not a lot is known about him, apart from his rapid wealth after establishing a brewery at Culverden. The first of the two mills was erected in late 1814, and was announced as fully functioning and open for business in late January, 1815. It is specifically mentioned that this and the later mill were built to ‘supply the poor and labouring families, with flour and beer at prime cost’. The windmill was an immediate success, so much so that Wardle commissioned the building of a second in early 1815. Both these mills were described as ‘public windmills’, and were almost certainly smock mills.
In June, 1815, one of the mills was consumed by fire.. ‘there is great reason to suspect, that the mischief was produced by the hand of some incendiary, as a pocket book, containing about forty pounds in notes, which the grinder had left in the mill over-night, has since been found in an adjacent wood, robbed of its contents. The persons employed in the mill, have been examined before a magistrate, but no discovery has been made. The property was insured, but much under its real value’.
At this point, Colonel Wardle (perhaps upset or bankrupt by this episode) disappears. In September, again 1815! The windmill (in the occupation of Nicholas Barber) and estate are advertised for sale or rent, by Mr H Ellis, Original Brewery, Tunbridge Wells. It is not known if Mr Ellis was rival brewery owner, or had bought and renamed the one established by Wardle.
The history of the mill passes relatively serenely from then on, being advertised ‘to let’ in 1833, and a ‘first rate windmill, driving three pairs of stones’, ‘the present occupier wishing to leave due to ill health’. The mill is mentioned briefly in an advert of 1857, and was painted twice by Charles Tattersall Dodd, probably in the 1850s.1860s, both pictures differing greatly, but portraying a smock mill. It was probably taken down about the same time as Calverley Mill, the land much needed for development. The windmill stood in approximately the back garden of 29 Culverden Down, and the whole area is unrecognisable now.