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Author Topic: Feather Mill, Chatham  (Read 8165 times)

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Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2017, 00:18:15 »
I really haven't got the foggiest idea.  Feather Mill seems unique in the UK for a windmill being applied to this process (whatever the process might be!)

As for cabinet making, I guess using the mill as a saw mill might cover that, but its a strange concoction of Heath Robinson style processes going on in there which I doubt will ever be explained fully...

Offline smiffy

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2017, 23:58:10 »
I believe there is a way of pressing and/or drying feathers which reduces their weight and makes for easier transportation. Perhaps the Feather Mill had some connection with this process? I'm not sure why a cabinet maker would be involved in this industry though.

Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2017, 21:09:01 »
Just in case anyone had any doubts that this was used for processing feathers (and don't ask me how that works!) I've found an advert for it, for 1830.  Feather 'production' seems to be one of a few tasks.

Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2013, 16:54:58 »
There was enough to see above ground...  I think it was effectively someone's back garden, so didn't hang around too long to try and figure exactly what was or had been happening here.  There are loads of 'bits' of windmills around.  Someone has just told me that the levelled out brick piers of a post mill still exist at the site of Upper Norwood windmill at Crystal Palace, which is remarkable considering the area is so built up and the mill went in 1853.

There are parts of machinery in a garden of a mill at Hythe, demolished in 1825.....!

Offline smiffy

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2013, 15:35:53 »
Where's Time Team when you need them?  :)

Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2013, 13:05:59 »
Smiffy, I suspect these are the walls that are still there, or at least were in the 80s/90s.  Whether they are the remains of the windmill is open to question, but they certainly looked late Victorian, with bits of iron around suggesting they are the remains of an industrial building.

Offline smiffy

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2013, 22:37:18 »
Looking again at the 1865 OS map I posted, there is an outline of some walls that may have been connected in some way. It looks like it would be about the right size to form part of the square base for a large windmill, and seems to be in the right place. It would be extraordinary if there is still something remaining after all this time.

Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2013, 20:57:25 »
Well it seems more than likely that it went in the 1860s, having had a good look at maps today.  Quite possibly burned down, as it's demise seems a bit quick.

If anyone is local to the site, it might be worthwhile having a look around the back of 46 High Street, as I did find what looked like the remains of an industrial building with the odd charred timber as well.  It looked like one retaining wall, possibly one wall of a four storey square base which would have been quite tall, and loads of unidentifiable junk, including bits of iron and shafting.  Ken Kirsopp took photos in the 1990s, and this one of them, from the Mills Archive.   

Offline smiffy

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2013, 15:35:48 »

First published in 1933.

So if we assume that the "lady who, when a girl, some seventy years ago, daily went past this mill on the way to school" said this in about 1930, that would mean it was still standing in 1860 or thereabouts, giving us the earliest date for demolition.

Offline linyarin

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2013, 10:45:06 »

Like you, I'm pretty convinced that this Windmill had gone by about 1860. Do we know when Finch's book was published?
First published in 1933.

Offline kms

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 01:41:19 »
I believe I've seen a photo of this mill some years ago without sweeps, c.1890, although I cannot guarantee it, nor find it. 

I did go to the site in the 80s behind some shops, and the footings of the base were clearly visible back then.

More research needed.....

Offline smiffy

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2013, 13:21:45 »
Turner is sometimes known as "the first impressionist" and that is what is seen in his view of Chatham - it's not accurate, more of an impression of what you would see, like it was painted from memory and modified to give a more pleasing composition. One of the oddest things is the soldiers near Fort Pitt - they must be about twenty feet tall!

Like you, I'm pretty convinced that this Windmill had gone by about 1860. Do we know when Finch's book was published?

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2013, 01:34:25 »
Found a larger version of the image in engraving form:

"Chatham, open etching by William Miller after J. M. W. Turner, published in Picturesque Views in England and Wales. From Drawings by J. M. W. Turner, engraved under the superintendence of Mr. Charles Heath with descriptive and historic illustrations by H. E. Lloyd. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1838".

Overall view and closer crop of the area in question showing the mill, with a second mill further along (bottom of Star Hill?).  The engraving seems to suggest the mill had a circular base, though I do not know how accurate the engraved copy is.





I believe Turner did his sketching for these images in the 1820s and then published the finished paintings c.1830, and that he used a certain amount of artistic licence.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Feather Mill, Chatham
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2013, 01:08:52 »
Looking at this picture smiffy posted in another thread, showing a similar view to the photo c.1830, the windmill is clearly visible. It certainly seems to be in the same position as the roof I mentioned in my previous post (hard to tell if it is round, oval square or rectangular for sure, but it looks to have a slight curve to me).



This would seem to confirm the mill was demolished sometime in the period 1830-1860, rather than 1890 as mentioned in Finch's book.

This slightly expanded version of the photo includes Fort Pitt and Gibraltar Tower to help compare the positions:


P.S. I think smiffy is absolutely right and the chimneys are actually part of the Best Brewery located where Manor Road is now.
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