Upminster Windmill was built by James Nokes, a local farmer, in 1803. It is a Grade II* listed building and in terms of quality, completeness and significance it is widely considered to be amongst the very best remaining English smock mills.
The windmill is currently being restored to working order.
Even with the Mill wrapped in polythene there is still a lot of work going on.
Our millwright, Willem Dijkstra, has cut and shaped eight corner posts (each around 35 feet long) and is making good progress on the adjoining timbers. Due to the position of the doors and windows, the eight sides of the Mill are all different. In total 6 sides have now been rebuilt and the final two will be completed in the next couple of weeks.
The Millwright is also continuing his work to rebuild the cap frame.
Willem will finish cutting and shaping the structural timbers later and will then bring them to the UK. The main timber repairs will be completed in the summer, allowing the cap to be replaced later in the year. It will be early 2019 before we see the sails turning.
Work has been done inside the Mill, including the replacement of flooring boards on the first floor following repairs to the joists on which they rest.
Repairing the Mills Tower
26 September 2017
The next stage of the restoration has begun. Our millwright, Willem Dijkstra, has begun repairing the mill’s tower, which comprises the brick base and the wooden smock tower above which houses the four floors of machinery.
Earlier this month Willem (with just one assistant, Douwe), jacked up the entire four floors of the smock tower, including the internal machinery. It is now two inches higher than the brick base on which it has sat for over two centuries!
The gap has enabled the removal of the concrete cill, that covered the top of the brickwork and on which the smock tower rested. This cill was added in 1949 by David Lewis and Philip Leonard under the supervision of millwright Hector Stone. We know this because David & Philip carved their names and the date in the concrete.
The gap will be filled with two courses of bricks and the new cill will be oak both reflecting the original design. The smock tower will be lifted even higher for this to be accomplished.
Scaffolding the Mill
19 June 2017
During the last few days, scaffolding has been erected around the Mill and a polythene cover applied.
This will facilitate the structural repairs. Safe from the elements, the external weatherboarding can now be removed and repairs made to the structural timbers. These timbers have been examined visually from the inside and those requiring repair or replacement have been identified, though it is possible that removal of the weatherboarding will reveal more damage.
The scaffolding will be in place for about a year, at the end of which the cap and sails will be replaced and will again turn with the wind.
During the last few months, good progress has been made on refurbishing the cap and sails in the millwright’s workshop and some of the floor beams inside the Mill have been repaired.
The work is on target to complete in summer 2018.
Unveiling the Past
12 October 2016
This week, commencing on 11 October 2016, AOC Archaeology are at Upminster Windmill to train volunteers to record the foundations of the steam mill, behind the windmill.
The Upminster Windmill Archaeological Group, chaired by Paul Sainsbury, began excavations of the original mill complex in 2011. They uncovered the remains of a steam mill revealing vital information about the site.
AOC Archaeology have been working with and training volunteers to produce records of different parts of the building; no small task as there are between 50-60 different sections. The volunteers have been completing assessments and will also be taught how to create scale plans of the different parts of the foundations. AOC Archaelogy will also help volunteers to assess items found during the original excavations and to photograph the foundations so an accurate record can be kept.
On Saturday 15 October, from 10am-4pm, there will be an Archaeology Open Day at the Windmill. Meet the team from AOC Archaeology and the volunteers to learn about the preservation work going on.
Over at the Workshop...
22 July 2016
As per the last update, the cap, sails, curb and other parts of the mechanism were removed at the end of May. They have now been taken over to Willem’s workshop in Holland for assessment and repair.
The curb is a large hoop shape which sits between the top of the body of the mill and the cap. It forms part of the mechanism that allows the movement of the cap. It was dismantled for transportation but has now been reassembled. Its condition has been assessed and suitable timber located for repairs.
The brake wheel and wallower, which sit in the cap of the mill, have had some of their cogs removed to enable Willem to order timber for their replacement.
This work will continue in Holland until the autumn, with Willem due to return to the mill in October to begin work restoring the smock tower.
If you haven’t seen the footage of the removal of the cap and curb the following links will take you to the video footage: https://youtu.be/cnHqV7rBvwI (Cap removal) https://youtu.be/_GnkgJEytI8 (Curb removal)
Visitor Centre Nears Completion
26 August 2016
Last week I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview around the Visitor Centre as it nears completion. When you first enter the Visitor Centre there is a main reception area where people will be able to find out more about the site, its history and how the mill works before a tour of the mill itself. The space will also be able to be used for visiting school groups, talks and events. Volunteers have worked tirelessly creating fascinating 3D models of the site and archiving and restoring images which will be used in the Visitor Centre. Some of their work can be viewed on this website, just click here to see more
Through beyond this there is an office for volunteers and staff, loos and the workshop. The workshop will be equipped with machinery to ensure that the mill can be maintained and repaired in the future.
Outside the Visitor Centre there is a large area to be landscaped. This will provide some lovely outdoor space to enhance the experience for visitors and offers further opportunities for educational visits. Another external feature is the brickwork of the Centre itself, some of the bricks are reclaimed from the basement of the original mill house. The doorstep at the main entrance also recalls days gone by as it too is reclaimed from the mill house.
In relation to the mill itself, October will see Willem returning here to Upminster to continue with the restoration work. He will be coming over on a monthly basis to work on the main body of the mill.
Work is Underway!
Upminster Windmill saw a truly historic event last week with the removal of the cap and sails as part of the restoration.
Willem Dijkstra, our Millwright, arrived on site on Wednesday 25 May to begin the long task of restoring the windmill. The restoration is expected to take two years, with the mill re-opening to the public in 2018. On 26 May all four sails were removed and they will be transported to Holland to be repaired. The last time sails were removed was in 2007 after damage caused by a storm, only two were removed on this occasion. Despite the fact the sails have been removed several times before it was still a rare opportunity to watch the sails being lifted up above the windmill by the crane.
The cap removal on the 27 May really was a once in a life time occurrence. The mill was built in 1803 and the cap has not been removed since. Most of the morning was spent preparing the fragile structure of the cap for lifting. Understandably, this took several hours; the crane operator on the day confirmed the weight of the cap (minus its sails) was nine tonnes. Parts of the cap were rotten making the job particularly hard. Then, shortly after midday, the cap began to rotate in preparation for lowering to the ground. Slowly, it lifted and it was then a case of a steady descent to the ground which took around three minutes and went incredibly smoothly. The cap will also be transported to the Dijkstra workshop in Holland. Andrew Conway, an Upminster Windmill Volunteer, Trustee and professional photographer captured some unique images of the day. Footage of the cap being removed can also be viewed here https://youtu.be/cnHqV7rBvwI
Request for Archive Material
30th May 2016
We have a huge archive of memorabilia about the Windmill but many of the records are incomplete.
If you have anything of interest which features Upminster Windmill, the Abraham family, local milling or the Bakery in Upminster, would you please send us (or contact us for collection) ANY old postcards, newspaper articles, magazine articles, photographs, objects, drawings or documents.
Don't worry we will keep them safe and will simply copy what you send us and we will return the originals.
Anything and everything is of interest.
See our content:
Welcome to Upminster Windmill