Leigh’s Three Windmills: 1820s-1960s


There were three windmills in Leigh in the 20th century.  Unbelievably it seems that two were in the same garden and ruins of them may have been there until the 1960s.  We need some memories please.

A fair number of readers may know that there was a large windmill for grinding flour behind Mill Garage, behind Dr Glaisher’s house.  It had been there since 1820.   What is more surprising, however, is that there were two windmills at The Old Barn, or Oceans of Cream – as most people called it – at Stocks Green.

In the 1920s and 1930s a Commander Tomlinson developed the Old Barn as a major attraction for the new motoring tourist, with imported buildings and even a small airstrip.  (He had a parrot which sat on his shoulder).  However, it seems from an article by Gareth Hughes provided by David Forster that in 1929 he moved a windmill from Sidley, near Bexhill.  It does not seem that the mill was very well re-erected because after about eight years it started to become derelict.  It received a near miss from a bomb in the Second World War but the remains still stood behind the main barn in a wooded and overgrown part of the ‘garden’ until 1963 when it finally collapsed.  (There are photos of this windmill in the Kent Photo Archive – type Leigh in the search box.

If this movement of a mill was not eccentric enough, it seems that just before the start of the War, Commander Tomlinson imported another windmill, this time from Grundisburgh in Suffolk.  This second mill was not a ‘smock mill’ for corn as the first one had originally been.  It was a pumping mill for raising water – although whether it ever worked at Stocks Green is not clear.  It was weather-boarded and about 18 feet tall and eight feet wide at the base.  It was still there, although completely ruined, in time for a 1959 photograph.

For those who want to know more, the Historical Society has the recent article.  But, if anyone can shed any extra light on the two Stocks Green windmills, we would be delighted to know.

Parish Magazine Article: June 2014: by Chris Rowley