Shirley Windmill open for tours
One of the last windmills to be built in the UK will throw open its doors on Sunday.
Shirley Windmill, one of only four windmills open to the public in the Greater London area, was built in 1854 to replace an earlier timber post mill that had burnt down.
It was owned by the Alwen family before being sold to Alfred Rayson in the late 1880s.
Due to the introduction on the far more efficient steam powered mills, Rayson was only able to use the mill for animal feed until his death in 1892, when the mill was abandoned.
For more than 100 years the mill was left in a state of disrepair, not helped by being struck by lightning on two separate occasions.
However, in 1996 the land around the windmill was sold by Croydon Council and turned into housing, with the proceeds helping to restore the windmill.
Thankfully most of the mill still consists of the original components from when it was built, including the millstones and much of the machinery at the top.
Shirley Windmill and the onsite visitor’s centre are now managed by volunteers the “Friends of Shirley Windmill”, who offer hour long tours on the mill’s open days.
There are currently around 40 members, but the group are always on the lookout for more volunteers.
Volunteer Frank Paine took the Croydon Guardian on an informative tour around this piece of Croydon’s Industrial Revolution history.
From the top of the mill, where the power of wind was transferred to the central drive shaft, down through the levels where the wheat was milled, filtered and transferred onto a cart, the tour was a fascinating look inside how a windmill was run.
Open days for the mill are on September 1st 1-5pm, September 22nd 12-5pm and October 6th 1-5pm.
If you are interested in local history and would like to help volunteer with the Friends of Shirley Windmill, please contact Frank Paine on 020 8651 0064.