Windmill Gardens

Windmill Gardens

Windmill Gardens is a well-used park that gained a Green Flag Community Award in 2015. The award has been retained each year since then. This is in large part due to the dedicated work of gardening volunteers from the Friends of Windmill Gardens, who meet once a month (see below).

Park activities

  • Every Saturday morning at 11am (weather permitting) we hold a one-hour drop-in tai chi class in the park. We ask for a small donation to pay the tutors. For more information, email info@brixtonwindmill.org
  • A group of gardening volunteers meets on the first Saturday of every month to plant bulbs, flowers, fruit bushes and tend the herb bed, keeping the park looking well cared for and colourful.  Tools, gardening gloves, drinking water and light refreshments are provided. If you’d like to help out, email info@brixtonwindmill.org

Park facilities

As well as the grade II* Brixton Windmill, Windmill Gardens is home to the Brixton Windmill Centre. Built by Lambeth Council next to the windmill and leased to the Friends, the centre opened early in 2020 and is used as a visitor centre for Brixton Windmill, an education space, and a community venue that can be hired by local people.

The park also contains 

  • a children’s playground 
  • a stay and play facility for pre-school children managed by Maytree Nursery 
  • a wonderful mural depicting the past, present and future of Brixton Windmill
  • a well-used ping pong table.

The Friends want to provide more recreation facilities for young people. Working with Lambeth Council we hope to upgrade the children’s playground and add more facilities for teenagers. 

You can read about these proposals in the annual management plan produced by Lambeth Landscapes in consultation with the Friends.

Park events

Every year the Friends organise a varied programme of community events in the park, including: 

  • a Beer and Bread Festival in May 
  • spring and autumn bat walks
  • Art in the Park in August 
  • a Harvest Festival in September
  • Santa in the Windmill every Christmas

Park planting

The management plan includes ideas for new planting areas in the park as well as ways to improve some of the established flower beds and borders. All these planted areas are designed to encourage wildlife and insects improving the biodiversity of the park. 

  • In spring 2011 the Friends converted a derelict and disused sandpit next to the playground into a medicinal herb garden. This is now flourishing and attracts many butterflies and bees. Many of the medicinal herbs are aromatic and have very pretty flowers, so the herb bed has greatly improved this part of the park. The bed is divided into four areas containing herbs with different medicinal uses that help with skin, respiration, digestion and genito-reproductive conditions. Many of the herbs can be used in cooking. We are very grateful to Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, Incredible Edible Lambeth and the South London Botanical Institute for their donations and in-kind help and to Lambeth Council who first enabled the herb bed project and funded us with a Green Champions grant.
  • From 2011 to 2016 the Friends planted small areas of heritage wheat in the park so that visitors to Brixton Windmill, including school groups attending workshops at the mill, could see these special varieties growing. Heritage wheats are the traditional varieties grown before the “Green Revolution” of the 1960s. These varieties grow much taller than modern strains of wheat, shading out weeds, and can tolerate much poorer soils because they have a bigger root system to seek out nutrients. We would like to thank Capital Growth, who awarded a small grant to kick-start our wheat growing project and also Brockwell Bake for their ongoing help and advice.
  • Since 2017 we have collaborated with Friends of Ruskin Park to grow a much bigger area of heritage wheat. To the delight of local school children shire horses were used to plough a wheat field with heritage grain supplied by the  Brockwell Bake Association.

Over recent years volunteers from the Friends have planted soft fruit and native hedge bushes along the north boundary fence and a small wildflower meadow behind the windmill, creating another butterfly and bee-friendly area in the park. We intend to increase the number of fruit trees in the park and plant more hops along the boundary fence behind the windmill. We look forward to harvesting the hops and hope to contribute the harvest to the local Brixton Beer project.

Park history

In 1957 the London County Council bought Brixton Windmill and the surrounding land previously owned by the Ashby family so that the historic windmill could be preserved and enjoyed by local people. 

Three years later Lambeth Council purchased a small piece of land from the Metropolitan Water Board as well as No.47 Blenheim Gardens. The following year they bought No.49, the former Mill House. These acquisitions were laid out as Windmill Gardens, which opened in 1962. 

The restoration of the windmill began the next year, and Brixton Windmill (known locally as Ashby’s Mill) was opened to the public on the Easter weekend of 1968. Today the windmill and Windmill Gardens are maintained by Lambeth Landscapes, the council’s in-house parks department.

Windmill Activity Pack
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Upcoming events
August 2020
September 2020
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School workshops
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