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Posted by Penny Steele, Friday 9th November, 2012

Descendant of John Ashby visits Brixton Windmill

Alistair McLaurin and Stephen Lawlor inside Brixton Windmill

Alistair McLaurin (left) with education officer, Stephen Lawlor, inside Brixton Windmill.

Image: Penny Steele

Jean Kerrigan reports

We had a surprise visitor at Brixton Windmill on Thursday. Alistair McLaurin, who can trace his ancestry back to John Ashby the first miller at Brixton Windmill, travelled up from his home near Exeter to see the windmill. His last visit was nearly 30 years ago.

Alistair brought with him a copy of his family tree which traces the Ashby family back even further than John Ashby who leased Brixton Windmill from 1817. His research has uncovered records of the Ashby family in 1560 when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne. It also makes clear that this extensive family, many of whom were Quakers, included generations of millers working at windmills right across the south of England.

Alistair was really pleased with the quality of the restoration done at Brixton Windmill and enjoyed the tour of the building he was given by FoWG guide Penny Steele. He brought some intriguing family photos with him and promised to keep in touch and look out even more information about his fascinating relatives.

We are really grateful to Alistair for sharing his family tree with FoWG and the Brixton Windmill education project. His research has been very extensive and shows that one branch of the family descended from John Ashby emigrated to the USA.

This widening knowledge of the Ashby family is particularly useful for FoWG at the moment because Camila Cardenosa, a local artist, is currently researching and planning a mural about the Ashby family to be painted on a wall in the children’s playground area of Windmill Gardens.

We will bring you more information about the Ashby mural and Camila’s workshops for local children and adults in future blog posts.

If you are intrigued and want to know more about plans for the Ashby family mural as well as Mill Memories, another FoWG project which will record memories local people have of Brixton Windmill and what the building means to them, come along to our next General Meeting on Thursday November 15 at 7pm in St Paul’s Community Centre, 24 Blenheim Gardens SW2 5BZ (just behind the Windmill pub). We hope to see you there.