Windmill at Punnett's Town, Heathfield, East Sussex - 7th February 2004

This picture was taken seconds before a torrential downpour of hail and rain.  The contrast of the white mill against the grey sky makes an arresting picture.

Windmill, Punnett's Town, Heathfield, East Sussex, 7th February 2004 - MTC

The windmill originally stood at 'Three Chimneys' in Kent, on the Sissinghurst to Biddenden road.  It was purchased by Samuel Dallaway and brought to this site and erected in 1856 by the Neve, the Heathfield millwright. Here it became known as the Blackdown mill, although is perhaps more widely known as the Cherry Clack Mill, as the mill was originally in a cherry orchard.

The Dallaway family have owned the mill ever since. Charles succeeded Samuel, Thomas followed, then John, then Demas, the last to work her commercially.

The mill became unworkable in 1929, when the curb on the cap was damaged. The sails were removed, one being sold for thirty shillings, two were sold for firewood, and the other dismantled for timber and used for repair work around the mill. Later in 1934, the cap was removed and the machinery taken out. Then, as an empty tower, the remains of the mill were used as a cattle feed silo.

This second photograph was taken a few minutes earlier than the one above, from across the field.

Windmill, Punnett's Town, Heathfield, East Sussex, 7th February 2004 - MTC

In 1946 the windmill came into the possession of William Dallaway, known to all as Archie. He decided to restore the mill to working condition. At times working single handed, he hauled timber from the woods, which was then cut and shaped to rebuild the domed cap which, when complete, was covered in sheet aluminium.

The old wind shaft from the Staple Cross Windmill was hoisted into position, new machinery assembled, and a fan built. Two pairs of stones were installed, one pair came from the old watermill at Polegate. Finally, in 1972, all four sweeps were in position.

Apparently the restoration of the mill was so perfectly executed that it was possible to rotate the sweeps from inside by pulling on the brakewheel.

Thus the windmill we can see today reflects the tenacity, endeavour and drive of one man, and has earned William Dallaway the gratitude of Windmill enthusiasts everywhere.  There is more information about the mill here.

I have been provided with information about various Sussex windmills from  Simon Potter who runs a brilliant site about Sussex Mills. 

More information on this and other wind and water mills may be found on the excellent  Windmill World site.

Check out my other windmill photographs in my Windmill Album.

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Photographs Mark Collins 2006

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