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WINDSWEPT MEMORIES: The history of Croxley’s 163-year-old mill

 Published on: 29th December 2023   |   By: Panayiota Demosthenous   |   Category: Uncategorized

The Croxley Green Windmill is a beloved monument in the village, and many walk past it every day without realising its fascinating history.

Since it was built, the windmill has had several important roles, witnessed the continuing changing landscape of the village, and even survived two world wars.

Here is a timeline of the history of Croxley Green Windmill…

 

1800s

Croxley Green Windmill is said to have been built in 1820, when a man named Isaac Watts was the miller who owned and worked at the mill. The tower is built of mixed red and stock brick with a leaded roof and timber parapet. There are timber steps up to a first-floor balcony running all the way around.

An article written by Frank Paddick, a renowned Croxley historian for Rickmansworth Historical Society, states: “It was in 1877 that the windmill came into the ownership of the family Croxley will always associate with it: the Holloways.

“In a deed dated September 6, 1877, James Davies conveyed to Mr Ephraim Holloway the ‘windmill, with stabling and buildings, therein containing an acre and 13 poles more or less’ for £600.

“Ephraim Holloway was already living at the mill at the time of his purchase, but how long he had been in residence I do not know. On the same day, September 6, he obtained a mortgage for the full purchase price of £600 from Mr George Smart Gent. of Rickmansworth.”

The mill worked using wind power until the sails were blown off in the 1880s, and from 1886 is recorded as having worked by steam engine only. The mill was last used to grind wheat in 1899, before being used as a sawmill and turnery. Logs were cut into lumber on the site and turned into items such as tool handles, egg cups, lamps and rolling pins.

1900s

By the 1930s, the mill was used as a chicken house and pigeon loft. There was a great deal of interest in pigeon racing in Croxley before the First World War when it was just becoming an organised sport, and the Holloway family competed in trophy races.

Frank mentions one competition when an escaped pigeon found its way into the mill, until it was caught by one of the Holloways and shot.

This all changed, however, with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The mill was then used as an air raid precautions observation post and an air raid siren was mounted on top of the building.

After the war, in the 1960s, the mill was converted and extended for residential use. The windmill was renovated into 2,055 sq ft of accommodation with a lounge, dining room and greenhouse in the extension on the ground floor, as well as two bedrooms.

A workshop or family room occupied the circular part of the mill, alongside a kitchen and bathroom in the extension on the first floor. There is a circular sitting room on the second floor and a third bedroom on the top floor of the former mill.

In the 1990s, the Holloway family gained distinction in the world of sport, through Jim Holloway’s 43-year stint with Croxley’s cricket team, according to Frank Paddick.

 

2000s

The mill and the 1960s residential extension recently underwent a thorough restoration, as reported by CROXLEYnews. It is now Grade II listed.

To find out more about the windmill, head to www.croxleygreenhistory.co.uk/the-windmill.html

 

Photo credit: Croxley Green History Project

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