Rayleigh Windmill

Rayleigh Windmill is a grade II listed[1]Tower mill at Rayleigh, Essex, England which has been restored as a landmark and is used as a museum.

Rayleigh Mill

The floodlit mill, July 2006
Mill name Rayleigh Mill
Mill location TQ 807 910


Operator(s) Rochford District Council
Year built 1809
Purpose Corn mill
Type Tower mill
Storeys Six storeys
No. of sails Four sails
Type of sails Two Spring sails and two Common sails
Windshaft Cast iron
Winding Fantail
Fantail blades Six blades
Auxiliary power steam engine, then an oil engine, then an electric motor
No. of pairs of millstones Three pairs

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Rayleigh Windmill was built in 1809 for Thomas Higgs, a timber merchant of Rayleigh. Higgs was bankrupt in 1815 and the mill was sold to William Hart of Woodham Mortimer in 1817. Hart sold the mill to George Britton in 1845 and the mill passed to his sons John and Samuel in 1869. £150 was spent putting the mill into repair. The Britton brothers left Rayleigh in 1884 and were bankrupt in 1886. Thomas James Brown was the next miller, and the last to work the mill by wind c1907. The cap and sails were removed c1909[2] and the mill was worked by a steam engine[3] then an oil engine and latterly by electric motor until at least 1937.[2]

The mill was taken over for use as a museum by Rayleigh and District Antiquarian and Natural History Society, formally opening on 16 May 1970. The capless mill stood for many years with a crenellated top but in 1972 Rayleigh Urban District Council launched an appeal to restore the mill as a landmark. By the autumn of 1974 a new cap and sails had been made and fitted by millwrights John Lawn and Philip Barrett-Lennard.[2]

In 2005, restoration work costing £340,000 was funded by the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership.[4]

For an explanation of the various pieces of machinery, see Mill machinery.

Rayleigh Windmill is a six-storey tower mill with a Kentish cap winded by a six-bladed fantail. The mill had two single Spring sails and two Common sails carried on a cast-iron windshaft. The tower has no batter until second-floor level, where the stage is. The tower is 20 feet (6.10 m) diameter at base level and 11 feet (3.35 m) internal diameter at the curb. The brickwork is 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 m) thick at base level and at curb level it is thickened out to 3 feet (910 mm). The mill is 60 feet (18.29 m) high to the top of the cap. The mill drove three pairs of millstones.[2]

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