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Posted by Kim Winter, Monday 14th March, 2016

SPAB Mills Section spring meeting

Three members of the Friends of Windmill Gardens attended the spring meeting of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Mills Section on 12 March.

There were two themes for the day. The first was remembering the life and work of Vincent Pargeter, who died last year. Vincent was a highly skilled millwright who saved many English windmills from dereliction. He was particularly concerned to retain the original design, especially of sails in the many windmills that he restored across Kent and East Anglia over a long and productive career. It was good to hear from two younger millwrights who had been trained by this master and were now carrying forward his skills.

The second theme was London’s milling heritage. There was a report on new archaeological discoveries at Upminster Windmill carried out by a group of their Friends which has revealed a large and complex industrial site – one of the earliest examples of steam power being used at a windmill.

Another talk about the many watermills on the River Wandle was particularly interesting for us at Brixton because it covered the period when the Ashby family moved milling from Brixton to Mitcham, on the Wandle, in 1862. Forty years later they brought milling back to Brixton when, in 1902, they installed the steam-powered modular mill which enabled them to grind flour again at Brixton right up until 1934.

We learned a lot from this very interesting day and we also promoted our bicentenary events as well as the newly published Brixton Windmill guide book which was much admired by other participants.