Broxted Windmill



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This article is reproduced with permission from the Herts & Essex Observer who provide news and feature coverage of the same area of Uttlesford represented by the Recorders of Uttlesford History. The Observer is part of Herts & Essex Newspapers, the leading newspaper group in East and North Hertfordshire and West Essex. This quality, paid circulation newspaper, has been serving the local community since 1861.

issue 11 January 2008

Mill mystery is solved

THE mystery surrounding the origins of Broxted Mill and its eventual collapse in the 1950s has been solved thanks to Nostalgia history hunters.

The identity of the mill was first questioned last September when David Brown, from High Roding, sent in a Daily Mail clipping of photographs from the National Monuments Record.

One of the snaps showed a cyclist studying what appeared to be a map in front of a rickety old windmill.

Mr Brown was able to place the general location in the Observer patch because of a signpost with directions to Takeley, Hatfield Broad Oak, Saffron Walden, Thaxted and Dunmow, although the exact location was unknown.

However, those few clues were enough for William Baker, from Stansted, to identify the dilapidated mill as Broxted windmill.

Having lived opposite it as a boy, he said it fell down in 1953 and the land was developed for housing.

Since then several letters have dropped onto the Nostalgia desk with more memories of the day the mill collapsed, and also tracing its history back to the 1800s.
History lover Russell Spencer, from Hornchurch, got in touch after his sister Imogen Brickel, from Stansted, sent him the article.

A windmill enthusiast, Mr Spencer, who until recently was a guide at Upminster windmill, said: ‘The mill was built in about 1815 and finally demolished in 1953, which dates the picture circa 1950.

’It's interesting to find that Kelly's Directory of 1929 lists Mr Percy Prime as the miller, although the mill is not thought to have worked commercially since 1914.’

Local historian Dick Knowles said: ‘I was told many years ago that it stopped grinding corn in 1914. The [adjoining] house was burnt down in 1881 and replaced.’

He added that it was demolished in 1953 by Pickford Builders of Great Easton.

However, it was Alf Wright, of Great Easton, who has been able to share the mill's full history. Like Mr Baker, he, too, lived near the windmill as a child.

’It was built in circa 1815 and turned one pair of stones by 1841’, he said. ‘The miller back then was Charles Davey, who was subject to fits and was found hanging in the round house.’

In June 1841 the miller was Charles Hockley, who ran it until 1850. He was succeeded by John and Caroline Brand, and after them Thomas Gunn until 1890.

The mill caught fire three times but was saved by villagers. It was eventually sold at auction to Mr A Woodward in 1899 for £210 but came to a standstill in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War.

’Hopes were raised circa 1930 with regard to the preservation of the mill but a report of its condition to the Protection of Ancient Buildings was not good’, Mr Wright said.

’Then the Second World War came and the mill's condition deteriorated badly and it was pulled down on June 13, 1953.’

© Herts & Essex Observer 2008