Technical drawing of Waygood modular mill donated to FoWG archive

Drawing of Brixton Windmill

Penny Steele traces the history of the company that made the modular mill on the first floor of Brixton Windmill.

The Friends of Windmill Gardens have been given a technical drawing by R Waygood and Co, the manufacturer of the modular mill on the first floor of Brixton windmill.

Dated April 1873, the drawing shows two cross sections through a windmill powering two modular mills similar to the one at Brixton. It’s not clear whether it’s a generic design or a drawing of an actual windmill with an ogee cap and fantail.

The drawing has been donated by Mr John Paige, whose late father joined Waygood-Otis Ltd after the Second World War as a draughtsman and worked his way up to MD. (R Waygood & Co had merged with the London branch of the Otis Elevator Company in 1914.) Mr Paige thinks it was given to his father when Waygood-Otis moved from premises near the Oval to the Minories at Tower Hill.

The drawing has suffered some damage over the years and has been mounted on a more substantial sheet of paper. There is a note on the back saying it was found among old Waygood-Otis papers in 1920.

Brixton’s modular mill
The assumption is that our modular mill was brought to Brixton in 1902 when the Ashby family began milling here again after the lease on Grove Mill, the watermill at Mitcham, had ended. But we don’t know if the mill was new or if it had been used elsewhere before. It’s interesting to see the modular mills in the drawing being driven by wind power, although the mill at Brixton was first driven by steam power, then by a gas engine and now by electric motor.

Many old iron
R Waygood & Co was established in 1833. It evolved from an ironmongery business founded by Richard Waygood in Beaminster, Dorset. In 1835 the business passed to his son, also named Richard, who moved to London in 1840, setting up an iron foundry in Newington Causeway. In the 1851 Post Office directory for London, Richard Waygood was listed as an agricultural implement maker.

The premises in Newington Causeway were sold in 1863 to make way for the extension of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway to Blackfriars. Waygood established a new iron foundry nearby in Falmouth Road, off Great Dover Street, SE1. The business became R Waygood & Co in 1872, around the time that Richard Waygood retired from active involvement in the company.

An illustrated catalogue of 1877 advertises “wrought and cast iron of every description”, including boilers, engines, iron doors, saws, mining equipment, lifts, hoists, cranes and machinery for processing foodstuffs. There is a section for Rice, Flour and Coffee Machinery and the “single grinding mill on iron frame…for horse, steam or other power, with French burr stones” (see below) looks similar to our modular mill and the mills shown in Mr Paige’s drawing. The catalogue indicates that the mill can be supplied with different types and sizes of stones – the price for a mill with 36-inch French burr stones was £58, with an extra £6 for a stone crane and £2 and 10 shillings for packing.

Titanic lifts
Waygood had begun making electric belt-driven and hydraulic lifts in 1868, and this eventually became the main line of business. Lifts were supplied to many types of buildings – shops, offices, banks, clubs, hotels, hospitals, museums and stately homes – as well as to ships, including the Titanic. They also provided equipment for seaside cliff lifts at Hastings, Ramsgate and Bournemouth.

The company installed passenger lifts at Balmoral (1893), Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle (1894) and became Lift Makers by appointment to Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V before merging with Otis in 1914.

Click here for more about the modular mill.


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