Small windmill by the river in Chelmsford, Essex

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windmills Small windmill by the river in Chelmsford, Essex

Item: #473, Posted: 24/5/05
There are a couple of auctions on eBay at the moment which show a small windmill alongside the river at Chelmsford, Essex. These are both postcards by the Chelmsford photographer Fred Spalding, and date from approximately 1910. The windmill looks likely to have been for pumping water out of the river - after all, if you want power in this location, why not build a watermill instead. This windmill is unrecorded in the references I have checked, including the classic multipart work on Essex windmills by K Farries. The location appears to have been between the stretch of the Can/Chelmer river between the Iron bridge and the Stone bridge, but I can't yet quite relate that to its present day location - I think it is probably the north bank of the river, opposite Barrack Square.

There are a number of other images of the windmill accessible via the Essex Record Office: (These links will not work first time, but if you login as a guest, then try them again, they will do so). These all seem to confirm a date of around 1900-1910 when the wind powered device was in place. The clearest photo shows that the plot of land by the device was covered in greenhouses - which would suggest that the mill was used to pump water for irrigation purposes. The sails were solid boards, and all the images show them pointing in the same direction, suggesting that they were not rotated into the wind, but relied on the local wind direction being pretty predictable.

Please let me know if you have any other information about this device, or if you can positively identify the present day location depicted in the pictures.

Mills: [extra10]

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