SOUTH OCKENDON WINDMILL


   by Susan Yates
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The temperature was 51F, there was approximately 0.25" of rain and the windspeed was 3 to 4 on the Beaufort Scale (a slight breeze) when the timbers of the windmill finally succumbed in the early hours of 2nd November 1977. Thus ended an association with milling which had begun as early as 1295.

The last mill was built in the early 1800’s but certainly no later than 1829 when the then resident of South Ockendon Hall Farm, Thomas Bennett Sturgeon established a milling business. There are three basic types of windmill and South Ockendon was of the smock type. The smock mill was a variation of the tower mill, but the boy was made of wood (like its predecessor the post mill) and shaped like a farmers smock, hence the name. The mill stood on the south side of the moat at South Ockendon Hall Farm. A mill on this site was occupied by Samuel Green circa 1802, but in what capacity is uncertain and whether it was the last mill is not known. Samuel Green was succeeded by William Eve in 1820 who was still in residence n 1826, renting the mill from John Cliff.

In 1845 a sale notice offering the freehold of the estate included a windmill with fan, sails and waterpower, with undershot waterwheel, thus providing firm evidence that the business was run as a wind and water mill in combination. Prior to the sale the mill cottage was occupied by a Mr.Thomas Banks.

The mill was octagonal with a traditional Essex boat shaped cap. It combined the power of wind and water with three pairs of wind driven stones and one pair water driven. The mill was built on sloping ground and this allowed water to enter from the moat which was situated a few yards to the north-west and exit eastwards to the River Mardyke. The exit channel unfortunately no longer exists.

Entry to the windmill was by a single door in the base from the north west, above this was one of the three loading doors at stage level.

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