It is said that in
the early part of the 19th century you could not travel
more than 3 miles in Essex without seeing a windmill.
Thurrock had its share too with windmills at Aveley,
South Ockendon, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, Grays, West
Thurrock, Bulphan, Horndon on the Hill just to name a few.
There were also watermills at Bumpstead Mead, Aveley and
on the River Mardyke at Purfleet.
Here we are concerned only with windmills.
The earliest known windmill in England was at Wigston
Parva, Leicestershire in 1135, which is mentioned in the
records of the local Abbey as having been built without
the permission of the abbot and as a consequence had to
be pulled down. The earliest known windmill in Thurrock
was at South Ockendon circa 1295. The reason for the
proliferation of windmills was that each Lord of the
Manor had his own windmill and the locals were expected
to use it.
There are three basic types of
windmill. The earliest type is the post mill. It takes
its name from its central oak post on which the body of
the mill turned and these were seen at Aveley and Horndon
on the Hill. The next type to appear was the smock mill,
so called because these timber structures resembled a
farmers smock, as was seen at South Ockendon and
still seen at Baker Street. The third type was a brick
tower mill this was really just a smock mill built in
brick. There have been none of these in Thurrock.
Baker Street is 3 miles from Grays
and this windmill is not to be confused with the post
mill which stood in School Lane, Orsett and of which only
the roundhouse now remains.
There was probably a mill on this site as far back as
1674. According to the owner of this, smock type windmill,
in 1950 it was built in 1765 but there is no evidence of
its existence until 1796.
The windmill has an octagonal base with a gallery at 1st
floor height. It has double shuttered patent sails and a
fantail. The cap is boat shaped, but not the traditional
Essex boat shape such as that seen at Upminster. All the
works were made of wood except the windshaft. It had 3
pairs of stones which were overdriven and with
centrifugal governors. They were located on the 3rd floor,
also known as the stone floor. This was the floor above
the brick base. There were two inscriptions in the mill
the first the initials RB and the date 1814 and the
second the initials SS and the date 1762. Whilst on the
same floor they were at different heights possibly
suggesting the raising in height of the mill between
these dates. The smock frame was somewhat askew prior to
restoration and this could have been caused by raising
the frame of the mill.
The mill was put up for sale in October 1808 and the
freehold was offered again in 1811.
Its working life ended 1915-1917 possibly due to damage
to its winding gear in a gale. Two of its sails were
destroyed by fire circa 1926.
1830 & 1839 James Woollings
1848 & 1886 William Woollings
1890 & 1894 Mrs Emma Woollings (miller and baker)
1898 Thomas Ridgewell
1902 Christopher Moore
1908 Arthur William Cocks
1910 William Scott
1912 H. Lindsay
In May 1853 Baker Street windmill was the scene of a
tragedy. William Harris an employee of William Woollings
whilst doing some maintenance work fell from the sails
landing first on the staging and then on the ground. A
doctor was summoned but to no avail.
By the 1970s the windmill was derelict. Builder
John G. Smith bought the mill and by 1982 it was
surrounded by scaffolding. Mr. Smith had the body of the
mill restored by two Sikh carpenters. These were the only
people who apparently had the requisite skills to perform
the necessary work. A new cap and sails were also
required but this was specialist work and could only be
carried out by skilled millwrights for which there was a
waiting list. The work was not completed
until after John Smith had sold the windmill to Tony Mudd.
Mr. Mudd had the cap and sails installed but regrettably
only a few months after completion he passed away.
This mill was of the post mill type and was located in
Mill Road where the derelict St. Pauls Catholic church
now stands. It was erected about 1645. The adjacent Mill
house still standing is built in a hollow possibly
created by the removal of earth for a mill mound. It was
tailpole winded (turned into the wind manually by pushing
the tailpole). Had a single storey roundhouse and the
sails were one pair of common sails (a frame work of bays
with canvas stretched across) and one pair of single
shuttered patent sails (instead of canvas the frame work
had a set up like a venetian blind each bay had three
shutters). It was owned by the Barrett family of Belhus
and in 1694 was leased by Richard Barrett to Richard
Spicer for 21 years at �12 per annum. In 1714 the
executors of Richard Spicer signed over the remainder of
the lease to Thomas Collins of Purfleet. The next mention
is 1763 when the mill was leased for 21 years to Joseph
Joyner at a rent of �20 per annum. The miller in 1798
was one Joseph Rivisell and in 1834 the then miller was
Willis Fitch junior who died in an accident on his way
back from market in Romford. He is buried at St. Michaels
church. Thomas Hallam is shown as miller in 1842. In 1846
the mill had two pairs of stones and in 1882 William
Purkiss was the miller. The mill was demolished between
1916 and 1917 by Belhus estate staff but the remains were
not removed until circa 1923.
It is known that there was at least one windmill in
Bulphan although its type is unknown. One was located
about 1,430 yards west of the church and 100 yards east
of Stone Hall Farm south of Fen Lane. There is also some
evidence to suggest that there may have been a mill in
the field to the rear of the Village Hall.
Chadwell St. Mary
Morants map of 1768 shows 112 windmills one of
which was located at Chadwell St. Mary. Its type is not
There is a separate article about the South Ockendon
Horndon on the Hill
The Feet of Fines shows a mill at Malgraves of unknown
type in 1286 and Morant has a post mill at Arden Hall in
1295. It is possible that the Malgraves mill was moved to
Arden Hall, this was not uncommon but there is no
evidence of this.
In 1805 Daniel Stammers was miller. The 1826 Land Tax
list shows there was only one windmill in Horndon and it
was owned and occupied by Mary Stammers. By 1832 it was
shown as being in the possession of Joseph Stammers. This
was a post mill, tailpole winded. This tailpole was
unusual in that its stringers were at the top of the door
to the buck (body). The roundhouse had a mansard roof
with a loading door at cross tree level. The mill had two
pairs of single patent sails which went anti-clockwise.
In 1842 a windmill by the church was owned by Richard
Turner. 1857 has the freehold being sold to Garraways,
London for �630 who let the mill to Eleazar Tyrell at �45
per annum. The last miller, from 1886-1898 at least, was
Robert Linn. The mill then fell into disuse and the body
was taken down in 1917. Now in 2012 only the brick piers,
the cross trees and the tiled floor of the windmill
The Miller 1910
An old windmill at Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, that
had been out of use for 10 years started revolving
rapidly in the gale the other Sunday and kept going all
night. Its sudden energy, however, was wasted, as without
a duty on foreign wheat, says an English paper it would
not pay to grind English. But the poor old windmill could
hardly be expected to know this.
This windmill stood 750 yards north of the church behind
Mill House on the west side of the road leading to the A13.
Its type is not known.
The millers were:
1608 John Gudgen
1620 John Goodwin
1636 John Ring
In 1732 the then miller John Pain died. In 1792 the mill
is shown as being a post mill with one pair of French
Burr stones (these grind for human consumption) with an
open trestle. An open trestle mill is one where there is
no brick structure around the wooden support beams of the
windmill. In 1796 the mill was insured for a paltry �50
plus �50 for millwrights work. The mill must then have
deteriorated somewhat as in 1799 it is insured by James
Hills of Corringham farmer for �50 plus only �30 for
The mill was rented throughout the 19th century. It was
owned by the Sewell family in 1839, 1880 and let to John
Burles in 1839, 1848, to Charles Boorman 1855, 1868 and
Thomas Holder 1870. Benjamin Frostick leased the mill
from 1874 to 1879 at which time it had two pairs of
French Burr stones. In 1871 the annual rent was �50
which included 11 acres of land, 100 turkeys and mill
sail cloths. By 1879 this was reduced to �40 or �30
without the windmill. A William Lloyd was the miller up
to 1886 but there is no evidence of milling in the 1890s.
The mill is shown on maps in 1893 and 1895. A Mr Tinworth
in 1980 recalled that the windmill was still standing in
1899 but in a ruinous condition.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 shows a mill but this would
have been a watermill. However, an indenture dated 20th
June 1493 between Thomas Bawde and William Austen
mentions a windmill of unknown type. Thomas Bawde in
leasing the manor to William Austen specifically excluded
the windmill. In 1497 Blanche wife of the late John Kent
held a cottage and garden abutting on the west side Mylle
Strete between a disused mill on the North and Corringham
on the south side. This location is highly unlikely to
have been that of the watermill but as four years before
this Thomas Bawde kept the windmill for himself it seems
unlikely that this would have been in such a state unless
caused by some catastrophe. Having said that the
possibility of a second windmill seem highly unlikely.
Situated in School Lane, this mill was of the
post mill type, the roundhouse of which still
The last miller was Henry Lindsey who allegedly
held a deed for the building of a windmill in
1684 for the Wordley family. The earliest know
miller is Isaac Audley in 1742. In 1797 it was
leased firstly to Edward Kilworth then to James
James family were associated with the mill for
many years. In November 1783 Thomas James of
Orsett was miller and insured the mill for �150.
In 1832 Richard James was the miller but leased
the premises from Mrs. Jane Baker in 1841. He
died in 1876 at the grand old age of 84.
The mill was held by George
Sparrow around 1871 and by Benjamin Frostick in
1879 who was the last miller to mill by wind
power. By 1887 the mill was out of use but still
occupied by farmer T. Ridgewell and by 1893 it
The post mill in Orsett
There was possibly a mill of the post mill type situated
east of Grays Wharf in 1700.
Edward Kighley, Esq., of Grays sold a mill for �60 to
Sir Edward Barrett of Belhouse to be taken down and
removed before 25th July 1624. This could have become the
Aveley post mill.
There is a chalk drawing of this mill where it is shown
as being of the smock type. It had five floors two of
brick and three of timber and was fitted with a fantail.
It was located a few yards from the head of the tidal
inlet at Wouldham Cement works about 120 yards from the
river. The 1864 O.S. map shows it had steam but no wind
In 1799 James Gilbee, was the miller and insured its
contents for �999, which seems very high. An advert of
1815 describes the mill as having four pairs of French
burr stones. The Nokes milling family leased the mill for
in excess of 50 years as well as Upminster mill. In 1817
William Nokes insured the mill for �1,500 and its stock
for �1,800. Over the years the Nokes family extended the
premises until they were insured for �4,400. Thomas
Nokes miller was succeeded by his son Thomas Nokes junior
at the end of the 1850s. In October 1860 Nokes went
bust. The mill ceased to mill by wind power about 1864.
Whilst it is known there was a watermill here on the
River Mardyke there is also some evidence to suggest
there was a windmill here in 1653 location and type not
The windmill at East Tilbury was a drainage mill and
located on Gobions Farm 820 yards east of the road from
Muckingford to East Tilbury and 50 yards southeast of
Gobions Farm. It was pulled down 1939-1940 but the
remains were not taken away until after December 1956.
This drainage mill was built over a ditch on a hollow
square concrete base. It had a metal domed cap which was
ogee (onion) shaped. It had a fantail, four single
shuttered patent sails which went anti-clockwise. Each
sail had 8 bays with 2 shutters in each bay. The brake
wheel drove the upright shaft via a system of bevel gears
and this lifted the water up.
There was also an unknown type of mill at Muckingford
shown on the O.S. map of 1843 and also in the Tithe
apportionment of 1839.
There was post mill here in 1584, exactly where is not
In 1767 a mill of unknown type was insured for �150 by
In 1784 a smock mill is advertised as to let with 1 pair
of French Burr stones and 1 pair of Peak stones.
William Sweeting was miller at West Tilbury from 1761
1765, Spray in 1765 and Edward Leader in 1766. By
1803 James Burles was miller until 1809 when Thomas James
took over. The freehold was auctioned at The Coffee House,
Mark Lane, London EC3 in May 1834. By 1840 Joseph and
Richard James were millers until 1843 when it was just
Joseph James. In 1851 Joseph aged 38 was master miller
employing three men. 1890 and 1898 has Joseph James as
miller but he died in November 1898 at the age of 85,
thus ended the business and the mill was pulled down 3rd
April 1905 as the only photo of the mill shows.