|KINGSTON, NEAR LEWES
A proposal to reconstruct Ashcombe Windmill was granted planning consent by Lewes District Council at their December 2007 planning meeting.
The six sweep post mill was destroyed during a gale in 1916 but her appearance is well recorded in photographs and these should allow the reconstruction to be almost indistinguishable from the original.
Three of the four original footings are still in place and number of shutter cranks and other iron parts can still be found lying in the field some 90 years after her collapse. The survival of the footings has allowed a good estimate to be made of the dimensions of the mill and these are very similar to Jill Windmill at Clayton. Ashcombe is believed to be the work of the same millwright, Samuel Medhurst of Lewes, who also worked on Cross in Hand and Windmill Hill mills.
Scale drawing of Ashcombe Mill reconstruction by James Tasker
Accommodation will be incorporated within the mill mound so that it is not visible from outside the site. One pair of stones will be installed but the sweeps will principally be used to generate electricity, with the surplus being exported to the grid. An independent study estimates that the mill will produce a maximum of around 35 kW (45hp) in a strong wind which gives an annual output of around 16,500 kW hours, the electricity consumption of around 3 houses. The export of electricity is a planning requirement which stems from renewable energy policies and the location of the site in the future South Downs National Park. Using the mill to generate electricity should also ensure that she is kept turning for some 70% of the time.
The archaeology, which was presumed to have been destroyed by ploughing in the shallow topsoil over the chalk, is remarkably intact and will be preserved below the floor of the roundhouse, where it will be accessible for viewing.
Disabled access to the body of the mill will be available.
UPDATE : JUNE 2009
Ashcombe Windmill, a six sweep post mill, was built in 1828 and destroyed during a gale in 1916. Her external appearance is well recorded in photographs and an archaeological dig has exposed three of the four brick foundations. Although it is some 90 years since the mill collapsed a number of broken shutter cranks and other cast iron parts have been found in the surrounding fields. Other work by the same millwright, Medhurst of Lewes, exists at a number of surviving mills in Sussex. The amount of information available on the mill was considered sufficient to allow accurate drawings of the exterior of the mill and the sweeps to be prepared.
The site of the mill remains open without trees or buildings which would obstruct the wind and a decision was made to reconstruct a replica of the mill which could be an electricity generator. To assist with the finance of the project accommodation would be incorporated below ground without being visible from the surrounding fields. This accommodation will also help to ensure that the mill is maintained in the future.
The erection of the frame commenced in Spring 2009. A six sweep mill generates 50% more horizontal load on the mill body than a four sweep mill and this, together with the ability to make better connections between the frame members , led to a decision to use a steel rather than a timber frame.
As a reconstruction is 'new build' there is no relaxation of the Building Regulations as there is with existing historic buildings. The generation of electricity should ensure that the mill is kept working for some 70% of the time.
No records have been found of the interior of the mill and the incorporation of a generator which needs to run constantly is not readily compatible with traditional windshaft and brakewheel construction. The brake and other internal mechanical parts are therefore of modern construction although redundant industrial plant is to be used wherever possible.
Text : James Tasker
The finished mill will be sustainable in terms of energy use as it will be an energy exporter. This will, in time, offset embedded energy within the construction. The accommodation is earth sheltered and is to Passivhaus standards and will therefore require very little heating. Stored heat will however be available for winter periods of low wind. Construction materials will be renewable where possible, such as softwood. Steel is up to 94% recycled although it has high embedded energy. As chalk is available on the site this is being used wherever practical. The ground floor construction to the accommodation will be of chalk, this will avoid the use of concrete, and the internal partitions will be of chalk cob.
Construction is due to be completed in 2010. Access to the site is limited as it is on a private road but organized groups will be able to visit the mill.
E-MAIL FROM NICK LINAZASORO
I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when as I was travelling westwards past Lewes, I very briefly clocked what I thought was a light brown windmill hill on the hill. I was certain of it. So after work I went and had a visit and low-and-behold there she was in all her glory.
What a result ! A new windmill.
I had read on your website it seems like two years ago about it but I had sort of forgotten it.
I had never been up there before, other than the nearby Juggs Road to where the old windmills used to be about 12 years ago. What a wonderful site for a mill.
Hopefully those responsible will be sending you some new photos. If not, I did take some today with my rubbish work camera that I happened to have on me.
I couldn't resist it I had to go back the following day with my camera
When was the very last time a new windmill was built in Britain? 100 years ago? Surely, this is national news-worthy.
Please put my name down to visit on her first day of opening (if there is such a list).
We visited Shipley mill just prior to her closure....what bad stuff! And Argos Hill.
It's nice to get some good windmill news.
Nick Linazasoro 21 August 2009
UPDATE : OCTOBER 2009
James Tasker reports that September and October have seen significant progress with the weatherboarding. All faces are now complete and only one side of the roof remains to be boarded. Most of the window canopies have been added. Linseed paint is being applied and the good weather during September and most of October has kept the drying time to less than 24 hours.
Following completion of the boarding the scaffold will be dropped and any items that are obstructed by the scaffolding will be completed from a cherry picker.
18th October 2009
30th October 2009
E-MAIL FROM GEOFF KING
I have spent some considerable time looking at maps and trying to identify a strange white shape that has appeared in the countryside over the last few months.
I finally decided for myself that this strange white shape looked like a windmill, but it had no 'sails' or 'sweeps' as I believe they are called in windmill circles.
The ordnance survey map showed nothing. Local maps showed nothing. I was starting to wonder if I was seeing things.
Finally I trawled the internet and eventually found your very informative website.
I was amazed to read about the old mill at Ashcombe, Kingston, and see the photos and read how you were rebuilding it.
Very well done. It is truly amazing to see such things not only being preserved but actually being rebuilt.
I now know what this strange white shape in the countryside is. Perhaps one day I may visit the mill for a closer look. I see from your website that public access is restricted but hope that one day it may be possible to take a much closer look.
Congratulations to the Sussex Mills Groups on a truly brilliant project.
Geoff King 30th November 2009
UPDATE : DECEMBER 2009
James Tasker reports that the scaffold has now been struck and the few remaining boards which were obstructed by the scaffold are to be fixed from a cherry picker. The flat roof and floor below the roundhouse are now being built and these will provide a platform for fixing the roundhouse cladding boards and roof.
UPDATE : SEPTEMBER 2010
James Tasker reports the flat roof below the mill is now complete and the roundhouse cladding is in place.
Copyright © 2003 Mills Archive Trust
(The Mildred Cookson Collection)
The tailpole and rear steps have been fixed and the mill has been turned for the first time.
UPDATE : JULY 2011
James Tasker reports that the accomodation below the mill has been progressing and the cladding to the mill body is now complete
The design of the sweeps and the windshaft has been finalised and the construction of the windshaft and the first pair of sweeps will be commencing imminently.
UPDATE : JULY 2012
James Tasker reports that the first pair of sweeps are up.
The next stage is to test the striking and brake mechanisms before fitting the remaining shutters and installing the clamps and the other two pairs of sweeps
UPDATE : OCTOBER 2015
On a cold morning, the remaining four sweeps were fitted.
Fitting the third Sweep
Fitting the fourth Sweep
Fitting the fifth Sweep
Fitting the last Sweep
Job done !