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Saving the mill (1934-45)

The Times reported in 1934 that efforts were being made to save the old windmill from destruction. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) stated in 1934 that it was ‘the only remaining windmill anywhere near the heart of London’. In the same year an examination of the site included an excellent survey of what was there at the time:

‘It stands well back from the road, access being obtained by a small carriage way running past the mill cottage and there is a fairly large yard in front of the mill. All old machinery has been removed from the mill and modern machinery installed, but the mill building is in excellent condition … there is a range of outbuildings built around the base of the mill extending up to the level of the first floor. These are very extensive and appear to be in very fair order. The whole place would make a most excellent unemployment centre or club premises … The mill is of great interest as being almost unique in London, and is quite typical of the traditional practice of windmills built at the time of its erection. It would be a great pity if such a landmark of Old Lambeth was destroyed.’

The report concluded that apart from the gallery around the cap (which had been condemned as unsafe in 1932) the whole mill building could be thoroughly cleaned and put into first-rate order for just £25.1

The Borough of Lambeth talked of creating a type of ‘Kew Gardens’ on the site.2 In 1936 a Mr John Ward wrote to the local press wanting to refurbish the old mill in Cornwall Road and as he said it had been derelict for 5 years.3 In fact, the mill had stopped producing flour only in 1934. SPAB and Lambeth continued their correspondence about the mill until the outbreak of World War II – which put a stop to negotiations. 

References

  1. SPAB,  File on Brixton Windmill
  2. This probably referred to a plan to save the exotic and rare species of plants grown in the garden by Joshua Ashby, an avid botanist.
  3. South London Press, 22nd September 1936