Saturday, August 17, 2013

Random Windmills: Shiremark, Capel, Surrey, UK

My interest in this mill came about whilst watching a 1958 black and white film called The Battle of the V1. Suddenly there was a slow shot of a smock windmill, moving from its boat cap down to its base.  Which windmill was it?  And what had happened to it since 1958?

Though the film was about the V1 rockets made in Peenemünde, Germany in the 1940s, I never really considered that the windmill might be situated in Germany.  A quick look on the Internet confirmed the film had been made in and around the the Shoreham area near the south coast of the UK. All I knew about the the mill was that it was a smock mill with a boat cap.  I really don't know enough about the mills down there - I'm very much a beginner in windmills, and my main area of any sort of knowledge is Yorkshire.  Who to ask?  I immediately thought of the wonderful Windmill Hoppers on Facebook.  Their knowledge is amazing and people normally get a reply to queries (and challenges!) within an hour.

So, just in case it was well known amongst windmill fans which windmill it was, I put a speculative post to the group.  Meanwhile, I realised that the film would be repeated on one of the those 'plus one' channels.  Having found that, I set it for recording.  "Any chance of screen shots?" the Windmill Hoppers asked. "Of course!" I replied, and set about doing the deed:

Such a shame the film is in black and white.  These three screen shots more or less reflect what's shown. It's one long vertical shot of the windmill, starting from the top and moving down to the base. There is no long shot of it at all, and the only other feature to be seen is some branches on the left.

The Windmill Hoppers narrowed it down after seeing the shots. Someone suggested this photo from the Muggeridge Collection:

It looked possible in the picture from 1955, but no cottage was shown in the film.  However, if the film camera was perhaps standing with its back to the cottage, may be it would have got the vertical shot we see in the movie.  I looked closer at the Muggeridge Collection which I had used for my article on the Windmills in the Evelyn Collection (more of that in a later blog).

The Muggeridge Collection had some other useful photographs, one of which was from a similar angle to that of the film: 

In particular, the pattern of damage seems to map quite well, given that the Muggeridge photograph is from 1953, and that from the film is 1958 (or may be 1957, depending on how quickly the film was released).  It's well worth searching the Muggeridge collection as there are many more images of the windmill there.

A broader search of the Internet brought up further images:

This picture is from c1919 and is by Ernest C Charles.  It's good to see the windmill with sails!  Apparently they dropped off one by one until there were none by the 1950s.

Here's another one by Charles, again 1919 - angle similar to one of those from the Muggerigdge Collection:

Both the pictures show some damage to the cap and the sails.

Other Windmill Hoppers commented later that up to around the late 1950s the windmill might have been restored, but after that it was ravaged by vandals and storms.  It was set on fire in the early 1970s which stopped any ideas of being restored.  However, on the Web I came across a planning document dated 2010 which shows that someone wants to rebuild the mill completely. Here's a picture from the report showing the remains of the base of the windmill - yes, the windmill has bricks :D

Apparently, the  plans of the mill building are similar to that in K.G. Farries and M.T. Mason The Windmills of Surrey and Inner London, 1966.

Here's the mill's entry on Wiki, usual caveats apply!

And Mike (see comment below) brought these to my attention. Shiremark in around 1938 (links only as trying to show pix inline doesn't seem to work in flickr):


Mike Galtrey said...


I've come across some pictures on Flickr taken in 1938 that seem to be the Shiremark windmill in better condition.

A search on Flickr for " England 1938 Windmill 11 " will bring up a number of pictures from different angles - and all with the sails on!

Surrey, UK

Sandra said...

Thanks Mike! Will add the pix to the blog :D