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Herne Windmill
Herne, Kent
Herne Windmill
associated engineer
John Holman of Sarre (millwright)
date  1789
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Windmill  |  reference  TR183665
photo  Harry E.M. Eagles
Herne Windmill is a smock mill that was raised in level an unusual occurrence. There are only six other certain examples. It was raised up two floors in 1858, probably by Holman Brothers of Canterbury, the most notable millwrights in the area at that time.
A smock mill is a windmill that consists of a fixed timber tower with a revolving cap on top on which the sails are mounted. John Holman, who hailed from Sarre in Kent, built this one to replace a 16th century post mill.
The sails, or sweeps as they call them in Kent and Sussex, came close to the ground as they turned. This caused problems as the trees round the mill grew and raising the mill up was the solution. An 18in thick brick substructure was used to achieve the extra 17ft height.
The mill features an external reefing gallery, or walkway, between the first and second floors, a large loading door at first floor level, and a three-storey black tarred smock with staggered windows. The black Kentish wagon cap is luffed by a six-blade fantail and also by a wheel at the back.
There were three pairs of overdrift stones (two French burrs and a Peak), an iron windshaft, a wooden wallower, stone nuts and an early compass-arm Great Spur Wheel. The brake-wheel was also a compass-arm type but modified at a later date with cast iron spokes and hub, probably at the same time that a cast iron windshaft and patent sails were added.
The mill ran for many years with only two sweeps, until the cap stuck in 1931. It was repaired by Holman Brothers. In 1936, Thomas B. Hunt of Soham fitted a pair of replacement sweeps taken from Forncett End Mill, Norfolk, plus a new pair of their own manufacture. The mill was changed to electric power in 1952. Further repairs were made in 1956 and restoration work began in 1971. It was restored to working order in 1986, with further work, principally to the cap, completed in 1999.
Research: PD
"The Windmills of Kent" by J. West
Skilton & Shaw, London, 1973, 1979
"England's Vanishing Windmills" by A.E.P. Shillingford
Godfrey Cave Associates Ltd, London, 1979
reference sources   BP

Herne Windmill