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Robbed of wind

By the beginning of the Victorian age the rural idyll was coming to an end. Development started to occur in the vicinity of the windmill and was detrimental to the business.

In 1840 the other windmill at Brixton (a smock mill just south of Ashby’s Mill) was pulled down. In 1844 John Ashby let half of his land to be developed for housing. Buildings started to impinge on the windmill and its surroundings. 

In 1845 John Ashby died, and the running of Brixton Mill passed to his son Aaron Ashby, but by 1851 the elder brother John was working there as the miller. Soon afterwards, Joshua Ashby took over the mill, and it was he who ran the business until his death in 1888.

The 1850s saw Brixton become more urban, with the new houses sheltering Ashby’s Mill from the strong winds needed to drive it. By the 1860s it had become evident to the Ashby family that the suburbanisation of the surrounding area was having a detrimental effect on the efficient functioning of their windmill. In 1862 Ashby and Sons removed the milling business to their watermills at Mitcham in Surrey.

It was reputedly said that ‘the tall Victorian Mansions built around it in the mid-19th century robbed it of wind’. The Ashbys did not dispose of the mill, partly because their family home was in the Mill House at the end of the drive. They also had a smallholding, garden and orchard in Brixton. The mill and yard had easy access to both London and Mitcham and was ideal for storage.

Without a real purpose and being expensive to maintain, the sails were removed in 1864 and reputedly burned for firewood.