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Stelling Minnis Windmill (Davidson's Mill)
Mill Lane, Stelling Minnis, Kent
Stelling Minnis Windmill (Davidson's Mill)
associated engineer
Thomas Richard Holman of Canterbury (millwright)
date  1866
era  Victorian  |  category  Windmill  |  reference  TR144465
photo  Harry E.M. Eagles
An elegant slender smock mill still in full working order. By the time it ceased work in 1970, it was the last Kent windmill working commercially by wind.
Built in 1866, it replaced an earlier post mill on the site. It was built for George Goble but acquired by Henry Davidson in 1878, remaining in his family for nearly 100 years. A record of the dressing of the two pairs of underdrift mill stones at the end of the 19th century by T. Crittle is pencilled on timbers on the second floor.
Smock mills have a fixed timber tower and a revolving cap. This one is four storeys high with a Kentish wagon cap, a white painted reefing gallery supported from the ground, four white patent anticlockwise sweeps (sails) with white-leaded canvas shutters, and a six-blade fantail. The tower sits on brick base a few courses high.
The mill was tail-winded and struck by lightning in the same storm at the end of the 19th century on the day of the miller's sister's wedding, after which auxiliary power was introduced in the shape of a Horsnby paraffin engine. The four sweeps were shortened to allow them to clear the adjacent engine house. The fantail became stuck in 1917.
By the 1930s, the sweeps and fantail were reportedly "broken and in poor condition". Their restoration in 1935 by Holman Brothers was financed by Miss Hilda Laurie in memory of her brother Ronald Macdonald Laurie, who is commemorated by a plaque.
The mill lost two canvas shuttered patent sweeps in a gale in 1951. Some repairs were carried out by Vincent Pargeter in the 1960s and he later carried out other repairs with Philip Barrett-Leonard. Mr A. Davidson died in 1970 and the mill finally ceased work, after which it was bought by Kent County Council. The East Kent Mills Group, which formed that year, then commenced restoration work, completing it in 1975. The cap and sweeps were replaced in March 2003 as part of another restoration project.
The mill has an iron brake-wheel, a cast iron Great Spur Wheel and stone nuts with wooden cogs, and two pairs of underdrift stones with a shared governor. These days it houses a display of original mill maintenance tools.
Contractor: Holman Brothers of Canterbury (1935 restoration)
Sweeps: IJP Building Conservation Ltd (2003 replacements)
Research: PD
bibliography
"England's Vanishing Windmills" by A.E.P. Shillingford
The Godfrey Cave Associates, London, 1979
"The Windmills of Kent" by J. West
Skilton & Shaw, London, 1973 and 1979
"Windmills" by S. Beedell
David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1975
"The Holmans of Canterbury" by S. Fielding, P. McFarlane, et al
Oaten Hill & District Society Local History Group, 1992
reference sources   WofEWGE
Location

Stelling Minnis Windmill (Davidson's Mill)