Windmills of Romney Marsh
A windmill is a structure that converts wind power into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades, specifically to mill grain, but the term is also extended to windpumps, wind turbines and other applications.
It is believed that there were at least 7 windmills on Romney Marsh, almost all used for milling grain from the fields.
NB Today the winds on Romney Marsh are used to generate electricity - see our page Wind Farms on Romney Marsh.
Where Were the Windmills?
Types of Windmill
There are two types of windmills, Post Mills and Smock Mills.
The Post Mill is the earliest type of European
windmill.Its defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind. All post mills have an arm projecting from them on the side opposite the sails and reaching down to near ground level. With some, the arm carries a fantail to turn the mill automatically. With the others, the arm serves to rotate the mill into the wind by hand.
The Smock Mill is a type of windmill that consists of
a sloping, horizontally weatherboarded, thatched, or shingled tower, usually with six or eight sides. It is topped with a roof or cap that rotates to bring the sails into the wind.
This type of windmill got its name from its resemblance to smocks worn by farmers in an earlier period.
The windmill was located about half a mile to the south west of Brenzett Church.
Brenzett Windmill pre 1925
Post Mill West Rype Lydd 1900
There were at least five windmills in the vicinity of New and Old Romney in the fourteenth century, one of them (Town Mill or High Mill) being reported as in a dilapidated condition c. 1500. It must have been rebuilt, however, for it appears on maps of 1596, 1769, 1799 and 1898. It was rebuilt again in 1794 and was still working in 1894 but it was demolished during World War I because it was a potential landmark if the enemy invaded. Source
A smock mill was built c1769 and dismantled in 1914. It was sited to the north of the town, somewhere near to where the current Sainsburys supermarket is located.
THE ANNALS OF THE TOWN AND PORT OF NEW ROMNEY WITH SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE RECORDS OF THE TOWN.
Summary of a paper read before the Kent Archaeological Society, by the Mayor of New Romney, MAJOR M. TEICHMAN-DERVILLE, M.A., O.B.E.,
July 25th, 1929.
"The Town Windmill, which stood until recently at the north end of the town, must also have been profitable, and we have continuous references to it from the earliest days.
Special Committees were appointed for its letting and repair, and in those days, when corn was grown in great quantities on the Marsh, it was one of the town's most valuable possessions. It is amusing to read the almost
affectionate terms used in reference to our old mill when in1794 it was decided to rebuild it, " she being in very bad repair, her main post being decayed, and she being so old and worn out."
In the fourteenth century, however, as many as five windmills are mentioned in our records, and the town mill of which we have been speaking must have been the last survivor of a once flourishing milling trade".
Newchurch Tower Windmill was the only tower windmill of at least seven windmills known to have been built on Romney Marsh and was reputed to have been built by the Reverend Nares in 1810.
There is a plaque on the side of what remains of the windmill ‘TOWER MILL 1840’. It is said that the Reverend Nares was an expert on grain and his parishioners would bring samples to church on Sundays for him to examine.
The mill was used only in grinding corn for farmers after about 1890, and its use as a mill stopped completely in 1901, when the expense of restoring the woodwork and sweeps became too great.
After the top wooden part of the mill was pulled down in 1906, it was used as an agricultural store until converted into a studio/dwelling together with the former bakehouse in 1982.
Newchurch Tower Windmill c1900