Author Topic: Upchurch Windmill  (Read 23124 times)

Offline DaveTheTrain

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2020, 11:49:02 AM »
That is an interesting photo and yet a little deceiving to the eye.  The mill house and buildings seem much closer to the photographer than they are in reality.  I think the confusing thing for my brain is that Horsham lane is just out of shot.


I think only one of the semis on the left now remains and is much altered.  I believe it was on the TV recently in a make-over program.

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2020, 10:21:17 AM »
That is a great picture Mike that I have never seen before, despite living in Lower Halstow for ten years with an active interest in local history.  The window display makes interesting observations, what on earth were those masks for? 


At the very large risk of going off-topic (sorry) there is potentially another thread about how these shops were serviced by "commercial travellers" before the days of the distributor and wholesaler.  I recall one Mrs Gillingham who ran a group of commercial travellers specialising in fancy goods.


Back on topic, DTT




Ellen Whiddett was the owners name for the shop at 131 Wallbridge Lane, Upchurch. The building was pulled down in 1983 and the site cleared, but has remained an empty plot since. She sold everything, so perhaps the picture was taken near bonfire-night when everyone used to make a Guy Fawkes. The image is from the book Upchurch in old picture postcards.

Mike Gunnill

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Offline DaveTheTrain

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2020, 10:37:17 PM »
That is a great picture Mike that I have never seen before, despite living in Lower Halstow for ten years with an active interest in local history.  The window display makes interesting observations, what on earth were those masks for? 


At the very large risk of going off-topic (sorry) there is potentially another thread about how these shops were serviced by "commercial travellers" before the days of the distributor and wholesaler.  I recall one Mrs Gillingham who ran a group of commercial travellers specialising in fancy goods.


Back on topic, DTT

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2020, 01:20:47 PM »
No problem, Mike.  I've actually got Medway down as Vol IV of my books, so it may not be around for a decade or more.  I started with the same sources as yourself, but just noticed an increased number of anomalies in Coles-Finch as I looked deeper.  Me and Smiffy on the old forum were finding all sorts of oddities in e.g. Chatham, which was a bit alarming as it was Coles-Finch's home town!

For the record, Coles-Finch missed up to 20-25% of mills, including a couple that were standing at the time of survey.


How did his books become so important?  Seems very strange research.


Regards




Mike


He was the only one mad enough to do it.  I can't vouch for his others, but with the Windmill one, most of the groundwork was done by a chap named Alfred Tiffin from Staplehurst, who at the time, felt it better to let an established author do it, with his way with words.  Alfred actually write to every parish vicar, who in turn went to the oldest people in the parish for info.  There was a questionnaire to fill in, which did provide amazing info from good memories, but also a lot of not so strong memories as well.   I've seen some of the returned ones.   To be fair, in the 1930s nothing on that scale had been attempted, and there are bits gathered which are invaluable.  The problem since, is that we just rely on a book written 87 years ago as a windmill 'bible' without questioning it.  Ironically, the entry for Wakeley's Mill at Upchurch is pretty strong.


I exchanged a couple of letters with Alfred in the 80s, then living in Australia, and in his 80s.  And he just said he did it for fun, and not any money.


Strange I go past the old Windmill site every morning on my walk. Across the road was a row of terraced cottages and along Wallbridge Lane a shop selling everything and anything and popular with the barge captains from near by Otterham Quay.



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Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2020, 12:36:36 PM »
No problem, Mike.  I've actually got Medway down as Vol IV of my books, so it may not be around for a decade or more.  I started with the same sources as yourself, but just noticed an increased number of anomalies in Coles-Finch as I looked deeper.  Me and Smiffy on the old forum were finding all sorts of oddities in e.g. Chatham, which was a bit alarming as it was Coles-Finch's home town!

For the record, Coles-Finch missed up to 20-25% of mills, including a couple that were standing at the time of survey.


How did his books become so important?  Seems very strange research.


Regards




Mike


He was the only one mad enough to do it.  I can't vouch for his others, but with the Windmill one, most of the groundwork was done by a chap named Alfred Tiffin from Staplehurst, who at the time, felt it better to let an established author do it, with his way with words.  Alfred actually write to every parish vicar, who in turn went to the oldest people in the parish for info.  There was a questionnaire to fill in, which did provide amazing info from good memories, but also a lot of not so strong memories as well.   I've seen some of the returned ones.   To be fair, in the 1930s nothing on that scale had been attempted, and there are bits gathered which are invaluable.  The problem since, is that we just rely on a book written 87 years ago as a windmill 'bible' without questioning it.  Ironically, the entry for Wakeley's Mill at Upchurch is pretty strong.


I exchanged a couple of letters with Alfred in the 80s, then living in Australia, and in his 80s.  And he just said he did it for fun, and not any money.


bertroid


Many thx, let us know when you have the corrected items available. It should make interesting reading.

Mike
Mike Gunnill

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bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2020, 12:30:16 AM »
No problem, Mike.  I've actually got Medway down as Vol IV of my books, so it may not be around for a decade or more.  I started with the same sources as yourself, but just noticed an increased number of anomalies in Coles-Finch as I looked deeper.  Me and Smiffy on the old forum were finding all sorts of oddities in e.g. Chatham, which was a bit alarming as it was Coles-Finch's home town!

For the record, Coles-Finch missed up to 20-25% of mills, including a couple that were standing at the time of survey.


How did his books become so important?  Seems very strange research.


Regards




Mike


He was the only one mad enough to do it.  I can't vouch for his others, but with the Windmill one, most of the groundwork was done by a chap named Alfred Tiffin from Staplehurst, who at the time, felt it better to let an established author do it, with his way with words.  Alfred actually write to every parish vicar, who in turn went to the oldest people in the parish for info.  There was a questionnaire to fill in, which did provide amazing info from good memories, but also a lot of not so strong memories as well.   I've seen some of the returned ones.   To be fair, in the 1930s nothing on that scale had been attempted, and there are bits gathered which are invaluable.  The problem since, is that we just rely on a book written 87 years ago as a windmill 'bible' without questioning it.  Ironically, the entry for Wakeley's Mill at Upchurch is pretty strong.


I exchanged a couple of letters with Alfred in the 80s, then living in Australia, and in his 80s.  And he just said he did it for fun, and not any money.

bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2020, 06:39:50 PM »
No problem, Mike.  I've actually got Medway down as Vol IV of my books, so it may not be around for a decade or more.  I started with the same sources as yourself, but just noticed an increased number of anomalies in Coles-Finch as I looked deeper.  Me and Smiffy on the old forum were finding all sorts of oddities in e.g. Chatham, which was a bit alarming as it was Coles-Finch's home town!

For the record, Coles-Finch missed up to 20-25% of mills, including a couple that were standing at the time of survey.

KeithG

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2020, 10:55:11 AM »
I'm not arguing with your greater knowledge of mills, but would just like to point out that most mills seem to have a fair amount of flour dust lying around the place as, well just plain dust.  Mines likewise try to get the coal out ASAP, but dust gets everywhere, behind and on equipment, up on shafting brackets, in the floor crevices - the list is endless.


Agree totally what you say... Having been in the building trade all my life wood dust in its finest form is also very dangerous and the finer the worse it is.
Not only is the dust that settles high on light fittings a great danger to our lungs as it goes really deep down as its particles are lighter and smaller but the dust can explode by sudden pressure or compression and does not necessarily need a spark to ignite or cause an explosion.

There was also a theory into why the RMS Lusitania sank so quick off the Irish Coast in 1915 when it was torpedoed.
It was thought that the torpedo entered the nearly emptied coal storage bunkers after its crossing and the dust also ignited causing a greater explosion thus blowing a larger hole in the hull?

bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2020, 10:02:16 AM »
Thanks Bertroid,  I had assumed it was bearing related. 


Tallow is funny stuff, it can be really good and then suddenly disappear (by running thin like water) causing the bearing to run hot.    I would imagine that as a miller, the greater risk to life is to get caught in the motion or line shafting.  There have been even very recent fatalities caused like this.
DTT


There are loads of horrible tales of millers being killed by their own mill, being dragged into a gear by a loose scarf etc

bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2020, 09:59:13 AM »

Just to correct a few bits on the history, which looks like it is taken from the book by William Coles-Finch, which is sadly riddled with errors.  I'm slowly correcting it in five volumes.  Coles-Finch lived in Medway all his life, and missed mills which he might have known as a young man.


The windmill was built in 1802, by a chap named John Peak.  The first lessee was a lady named Elizabeth Medhurst.  The Wakeley Brothers took the mill in the 1850s, and raised it then, rather than in 1902-3.  They worked it until the 1890s, when they gave up probably due to the advent of steam.  So it had a continuous working life of 90+ years.

It's interesting that they still renewed the insurance premiums every year up to 1910, which could suggest foul play, as with many other windmill fires around this era!


There was also an early windpump on Upchurch marshes, recorded in a sale notice of 1810.

Upchurch windmill in 1903 on Windmill Hill, Upchurch. A working mill from 1819-1843 + 1858-1872 + 1903-1910. Owned by William Wakeley who raised the whole structure on a brick base in 1902/1903 to get better wind-power. Fire completely destroyed the mill in September 1910 and it was never rebuilt.


The general view of the windmill burning. A local photographer had taken the scene a few years earlier. He added a few dark marks for smoke and put the postcard out for sale again!


Pictures from Upchurch in old picture postcards by Mike Gunnill




bertroid

Not totally disagreeing with your comments, but the picture was taken from a local Upchurch family who had relations involved in the Mill. My written detail comes from the same local source. It was after I compiled by book, Upchurch in old picture postcards that I came across [size=0px]William Coles-Finch. Which was/is treated like a windmill bible by Maidstone Archives and Library.  The photograph was an original and was hanging in the families lounge, where it was returned there after copying.[/size]


Mike, I'm certainly not questioning the authenticity of the photo, but the information that came with it, is a mangled version of what was in Coles-Finch.  For example, the dates given as a working mill, '1819-1843 + 1858-1872 + 1903-1910' are the surveying dates for the first,second, and third Editions of the Ordnance Survey, as given in Coles-Finch.  I.e. not the dates the mill was working.  I could happily go on about Coles-Finch's inaccuracies in detail, but I'll leave it there.

Offline DaveTheTrain

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2020, 09:28:46 AM »
Thanks Bertroid,  I had assumed it was bearing related. 


Tallow is funny stuff, it can be really good and then suddenly disappear (by running thin like water) causing the bearing to run hot.    I would imagine that as a miller, the greater risk to life is to get caught in the motion or line shafting.  There have been even very recent fatalities caused like this.
DTT

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2020, 02:34:08 AM »

Just to correct a few bits on the history, which looks like it is taken from the book by William Coles-Finch, which is sadly riddled with errors.  I'm slowly correcting it in five volumes.  Coles-Finch lived in Medway all his life, and missed mills which he might have known as a young man.


The windmill was built in 1802, by a chap named John Peak.  The first lessee was a lady named Elizabeth Medhurst.  The Wakeley Brothers took the mill in the 1850s, and raised it then, rather than in 1902-3.  They worked it until the 1890s, when they gave up probably due to the advent of steam.  So it had a continuous working life of 90+ years.

It's interesting that they still renewed the insurance premiums every year up to 1910, which could suggest foul play, as with many other windmill fires around this era!


There was also an early windpump on Upchurch marshes, recorded in a sale notice of 1810.

Upchurch windmill in 1903 on Windmill Hill, Upchurch. A working mill from 1819-1843 + 1858-1872 + 1903-1910. Owned by William Wakeley who raised the whole structure on a brick base in 1902/1903 to get better wind-power. Fire completely destroyed the mill in September 1910 and it was never rebuilt.


The general view of the windmill burning. A local photographer had taken the scene a few years earlier. He added a few dark marks for smoke and put the postcard out for sale again!


Pictures from Upchurch in old picture postcards by Mike Gunnill




bertroid

Not totally disagreeing with your comments, but the picture was taken from a local Upchurch family who had relations involved in the Mill. My written detail comes from the same local source. It was after I compiled by book, Upchurch in old picture postcards that I came across [size=0px]William Coles-Finch. Which was/is treated like a windmill bible by Maidstone Archives and Library.  The photograph was an original and was hanging in the families lounge, where it was returned there after copying.[/size]





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bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2020, 11:52:38 PM »

You'd be surprised how little flour is around in a working mill with a broom.  I've actually spent the BH weekend grinding a few sacks in another county, and it's not really noticeable.  Certainly a few derelict mills out there I visited in the eighties were covered in all sorts of dust, but in the end you still need a spark to ignite it all, and the combination of wood and dust would give a local Fire brigade little chance.


Compared to coal mines and large flour 'factories' though, it's relatively miniscule and far more airy.

I'm not arguing with your greater knowledge of mills, but would just like to point out that most mills seem to have a fair amount of flour dust lying around the place as, well just plain dust.  Mines likewise try to get the coal out ASAP, but dust gets everywhere, behind and on equipment, up on shafting brackets, in the floor crevices - the list is endless.

Offline MartinR

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2020, 11:39:19 PM »
I'm not arguing with your greater knowledge of mills, but would just like to point out that most mills seem to have a fair amount of flour dust lying around the place as, well just plain dust.  Mines likewise try to get the coal out ASAP, but dust gets everywhere, behind and on equipment, up on shafting brackets, in the floor crevices - the list is endless.

bertroid

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Re: Upchurch Windmill
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2020, 11:34:07 PM »



I suspect it occurred more in areas where flour was less confined, i.e. not quickly put into sacks.  A windmiller would tend to be given corn, grind it using two or three pairs of millstones, and put it in sacks in small quantities, almost certainly ground for immediate sale.  Also they are reasonably ventilated, often having opposite loading doors on the stone floor, normally open, ready to unload sacks.  Certainly the big watermills in Canterbury and Dover would be more at risk, as they were using up to twelve pairs of millstones at any one time.  There are fires at some of these, recorded whilst in operation, but not described as explosions in papers etc.


I think what I'm trying to say is that the end product of a windmill is out of the door in sacks pretty quickly, to customers.  A silo full of flour would be a far more terrifying prospect.

I've read up a fair bit on coal mine explosions.  For many years it was assumed that the explosion was due to firedamp but since the late C19 it has been understood that firedamp is only a starter.  The initial small explosion kicks up coal dust and coal-air forms an explosive mix.  As the flame front passes through the mixture the pressure in front builds and raises more coal dust.  The rising pressure (remember this is within a mine gallery) causes the flame front to accelerate causing more wind in front and more dust raised.  The explosion therefore travels with frightening speed down the roadways.

Why talk about coal mines?  Well I understand that flour-air mixtures are just as bad.  Many years ago I worked in a bakery and on the continuous oven for buns you would hear regular soft bangs as the flour hit the heaters.  There may not be any mill examples recorded but there are records of explosions in flour silos and in ships' holds.  Any small explosion, such as a dropped candle or lantern might start to raise the dust, and once the dust is up you could get a flame front spreading throughout the mill.  The timber might catch fire and bye-bye mill.  I think the application of this to mills may need more research before being relied upon but dust-air mixtures, even grain-air mixtures are bad news.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_explosion for some pretty graphic examples including large scale flour mills.