Tandridge Past – Outwood Post Mill

It was hard to choose a subject and vintage image from our extensive Outwood collection, but I eventually chose the windmill. Although the Bell Inn claims to be older, the windmill is recognised as the oldest working windmill in Britain.

Built for miller Thomas Budgen in 1665, tradition has it that the builders sat on the roof of the mill and watched the Great Fire of London in the distance. The mill is of a type known as a post mill: the machinery is built around a single large post running up the centre, meaning the entire body of the mill can then be turned to ensure the sails face the wind. Post mills were the earliest type of windmills used in Europe, built from the 12th until the 19th century, when brick tower mills became popular.

In the late 18th/early 19th century, William Budgen, the nephew of the mill’s owner at the time, went into competition with his uncle and built a smock mill next door, which was a tower mill with a cap that rotated to present the sails into the wind. It was of wood weatherboard construction, with eight sides and, at almost 19m high, was one of the tallest smock mills in England. In the 1930s, after many years’ service, both mills were in need of repair; funds were raised to restore the post mill, on condition that the owner at the time, William Jupp, did not sell it for demolition.

The post mill stayed in the Jupp family until the early 1960s, and remains in good condition to this day. The larger, younger smock mill continued to deteriorate, and by the 1950s was deemed to be beyond economic repair. On 25 November 1960, the mill collapsed. Our picture dates from before 1903, and shows both mills, with the smock mill on the left.

Outwood Post Mill

Read more about Tandridge Past here, and visit East Surrey Museum here.  

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