Sweeps of Chillenden windmill turn for first time since 1949

The sweeps of Chillenden windmill are once again turning thanks to restoration work from Kent County Council.

Chillenden Windmill, owned by KCC since 1958, is one of only four post mills to survive in Kent, and the last one with an open trestle.

It was built in 1868 to replace an earlier post mill, and extensively rebuilt following storm damage in November 2003.

The Grade II* listed windmill is painted white and had two pairs of millstones and a flour dresser and is managed by the Friends of Chillenden Windmill, a local group of volunteers who are part of the Kent Mills Group and ordinarily open it at weekends and show visitors around.

KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “It was wonderful to see the four sweeps lifted back into place by the specialist millwrights from Suffolk who have also repaired the unique spring shutter mechanism on each sweep and repainted the weatherboarding to the main structure.

“For the first time since 1949 the sweeps turned under wind power and we intend to have them turning again on open days next year.

“Our huge thanks go to everyone who has worked hard on this project and to our wonderful volunteers who will make this a wonderful visitor attraction next year.”

Chillenden residents, including county councillor for the area Sue Chandler, were excited to see their historic landmark restored and the windmill turning once again.

Chillenden’s oldest resident Margaret Holyer, 91, said: “I am just so amazed to see the sweeps back on the Mill. I’ve never actually seen them go round.”

Her late husband, Ron, will have done so as he was one of the last people to work at the Mill. As a youngster in the 1940’s he used to assist the last miller, Norman Laker.

Fellow villager Kate Gibson, who has lived in the village for over 50 years, said: “The windmill has always been part of the Chillenden landscape, but I had never expected I would witness the sweeps turning.”

Kent County Council is responsible for eight windmills in the county. These include six smock mills and two post mills and all eight are listed buildings.

They are:

  • Chillenden Mill, Goodnestone, Dover
  • Davison’s Mill, Stelling Minnis
  • Drapers Mill, Margate
  • Herne Mill, Herne Bay
  • Meopham Mill, Meopham
  • Stocks Mill, Wittersham, Ashford
  • Union Mill, Cranbrook
  • West Kingsdown Mill, Sevenoaks

The mills at Herne and Meopham are in urgent need of additional funds to bring them back into an active state.

KCC aims to get them both milling flour again by wind power and will be launching a further fundraising campaign in the near future.

For more information about windmill opening times and how to volunteer visit www.kent.gov.uk/windmills

Sweeps of Chillenden windmill turn for first time since 1949 was last modified: October 30th, 2020 by Thom Morris