The Abraham Family
Click an image to enlarge >
Three generations of the Abraham family owned the Mill, spanning 76 years from 1859 to 1935. Their association with the Mill began even earlier, with the employment of Thomas Abraham as the foreman for two periods in the 1840s and 1850s. Thomas earned £1 a week for the first period but then only 18 shillings.
Thomas bought the Mill in 1859 for £1100, obtaining £800 through a mortgage. It took three years to become profitable “as Mr Welham had lost all the trade we spent about £50 a year to get it in order and no trade.”
Thomas died in 1882. The business passed to his younger son, John Arkell Abraham, who had been working at the Mill for several years. John was a bachelor and lived his latter days in two rooms at the Mill House. From that time onward the business was run by John’s two nephews, Clement and Alfred, the business side being managed by Clement and the milling by Alfred.
Following John’s death in 1912, Clement, Alfred, and their brother Thomas became the formal owners. Thomas was not a miller, so carried out general duties. Another brother, Sidney, ran a baker’s shop in Station Road.
Due to government controls during the Great War and the growth of large scale milling, the Mill became less profitable. Production switched to animal feed. Clement died in 1935 and the business closed. A newspaper recorded: “Then came the Great War, and after it the overwhelming competition of the great milling companies and the decline of the “little man” in milling. It was the inevitable triumph of the new mechanical era and there was the inevitable suffering. The Mill has stopped working.”
The steam mill had been consuming coal since 1812 though the original source of supply and method of delivery remain unknown. In the 1880s, Thomas, Alfred and Clement set up as coal merchants, storing the coal to the east of the Mill. This coincided with the coming of the railway to Upminster and appears to have been a sound commercial venture. The business survived at least until the 1950s. Several local residents still remember buying their coal from Grace Abraham, Alfred’s elder daughter, who worked in the coal office.
The Friends of Upminster Windmill have extensive archive records of the Mill's history and of its millers. For enquiries please email email@example.com