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Bembridge Windmill
Bembridge, Isle of Wight
Bembridge Windmill
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1701
era  Stuart  |  category  Windmill  |  reference  SZ638875
photo  J. Brian Powell
The only remaining windmill on the Isle of Wight, where once there were ten or more. It is also one of England's earliest surviving tower mills and has some interesting wooden machinery.
The approximate date of Bembridge Windmill, which is also know as Knowle Mill, is assumed from an inscription on the tentering gear: "1701". There is another inscription on a ladder: "E. Beker 1746 AC".
The tower is built in local stone, cement rendered on its weather side in the 20th century. It is some 11m high, providing four storeys, and the walls vary from half to one metre in thickness. There are two arched doorways on opposite sides. One of the doorsteps is an 18th century millstone. The roof was originally thatched but this was replaced with timber around 1720.
The mill is hand luffed via a continuous chain from a wheel at the rear of the triangular gabled cap. The worm gear that does the work is 2.5m long and carved from the trunk of an apple tree.
There are four common anticlockwise sails, a cast iron poll end — which was originally fitted on a wooden windshaft but now has a cast iron one — a 2.5m diameter clasp arm brake-wheel (originally compass arm), an iron brake operated by a rope running down the side of the tower, a 1.8m diameter wallower with a friction ring to drive a sack hoist, a wooden Great Spur Wheel, wooden stone nuts and two pairs of underdrift stones, ball governors, and a wire machine.
Until the 1890s, the mill was used to grind flour, bran and cattle feed. After that, only cattle feed was produced. It was wind worked until 1913, ceasing work after the harvest of that year (owner: Alfred Morris) and becoming a cowshed/store.
Restoration work was carried out in 1934-5 and the tower was used for observation by the Home Guard during WWII. At this time one pair of sails was struck by lightening and lost. Further restoration took was done 1959, with sails by Mr F. Cheverton.
The mill was given to the National Trust by Mrs E. Smith in 1962, and opened to the public. As the original stones had been removed in the 1920s, two pairs of replacements were brought from an old tide mill at Wooten Bridge.
Research: PD
"The Mills of the Isle of Wight" by J.K. Major
Charles Skilton Ltd, London, 1970
"England's Vanishing Windmills" by A.E.P.Shillingford
Godfrey Cave Associates Ltd, London, 1979
reference sources   WofEWGE

Bembridge Windmill