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Brixton Windmill in 1962

Image: Copyright © London Borough of Lambeth/ Lambeth Archives

Reuse, ruination, restoration (1963-2003)

In 1962, the area around the windmill was laid out as a public open space, and in 1964 the mill itself was restored. Some of the later (20th-century) machinery was removed at this time.1

A Lincolnshire millwright, Mr JE Thompson, restored the mill over four months, using some machinery from a mill at Burgh-le-Marsh in Lincolnshire as well as creating brand new parts. The 50-foot sails were made from imported pine timber. The total cost of this restoration was £5,350.2

When restored, the bottom of the mill was painted white, the remainder black. Many of the internal beams of the mill were considered to be much older than the mill itself and may have been old ships' timbers reused during the initial construction in 1816.

Open to the public

In 1968 the windmill opened to the public for the first time, and for several years it opened each weekend during the summer.3

Brixton Windmill in 1968

Image: Copyright © London Borough of Lambeth/ Lambeth Archives

In 1971 Lambeth Council took over the ownership of Brixton Windmill and the adjacent gardens from the Greater London Council. From the mid 1970s until 2004, the windmill fell into a cycle of restoration and refurbishment followed by vandalism and neglect.

In 1978 the mill was given a facelift costing £1,800, which repaired the sails and windows and repainted the black exterior.4 But in March 1982 the windmill was severely damaged by vandals, with the main door being smashed.

Friends campaign for restoration

In 2002 Brixton Windmill was described as a shadow of its former self, located in the corner of a run-down garden, intimidating and uninviting to visitors. In that year it was placed on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register.

In 2003 several local residents formed the Friends of Windmill Gardens and started campaigning for the windmill to be restored. Since then, the Friends have organised an annual summer festival, football tournaments and a host of fundraising events.

References

  1. English Heritage, Historians File, LAM. 4, Brixton Mill
  2. South London Press, 22nd May 1964
  3. The Christian Herald, 31 May 1970
  4. South London Press, 6th January 1978