You are here:

> > A building history

A building history

This is the story of two mills: a traditional wind-powered mill; and a steam-powered mill installed in 1902 to meet the public’s desire for ‘white flour’.

Below is a timeline of important events in the history of Brixton Windmill.  You can use the navigation bar to the left to find out much more about the mill and its history.


The windmill was built in 1816.  It was leased to the Ashby family the following year.  The Ashby family were millers producing stoneground wholemeal flour and the mill became known as Ashby's Mill, for the whole of its working life.


In 1864 the Ashby family decided to moved their business to a water mill on the river Wandle.  By this time, the sprawling metropolis of London was reaching Brixton.  With building speculation rife in the Brixton Hill area, much of the wind necessary for turning the sails was prevented from reaching the mill.  The sails were removed from the windmill and it was used for storage.


The family's lease on their watermill ran out in 1902.  At this point, Joshua Ashby made the decision to buy another set of millsones, powered by steam and later by gas, and returned the milling business to Brixton, installing their new machinery in the old windmill.


Joshua-John Ashby, the last miller at Ashby's mill, died in 1934.  The mill finally ceased production, closed and became derelict.


In 1957, the London County Council (LCC) bought the land, the windmill and the associated buildings for £7,845.  The LCC decided to turn the 2.5 acres of land into a public open space - Windmill Gardens.  By the early 1960s the bakery, outbuildings, Mill House and Mill Cottage had all been demolished to make space for the public gardens.


The windmill was restored over four months in 1964.  New sails were made from imported pine timer.  Much of the wind-driven equipment installed inside the mill was brought from a derelict windmill in Lincolnshire.


The windmill opened to the public at Easter 1968.  For several years the mill opened each weekend during the summer.  From the mid 1970s, the windmill fell into a cycle of restoration and refurbishment followed by vandalism and neglect, until it finally closed in 1990


In 2002 the windmill was placed on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register.  The following year, several local residents formed the 'Friends of Windmill Gardens' and started campaigning for the windmill to be restored


In 2010 the Heritage Lottery Fubnd awarded a grant to the FoWG/Lambeth Council partnership for the restoration of the windmill.  Work began in October that year and took several months to complete.  The sails, cap and tower were all restored, and the 1902 mill was converted to electrical power.


The windmill finally reopened to the public with a celebratory parade and festival, attended by up to 2000 people, in May 2011.  Since then volunteers from Friends of Windmill Gardens have opened the mill four guided tours at least once a month during the summer, and have initiated an education programme for local school children.