SHIPLEY, NR. HORSHAM, WEST SUSSEX
One of the smoothest operations I have seen took place recently when two of Shipley's 34ft sweeps were replaced, together with a new 42 ft stock.
The crane was booked for 8 am, as the weather forecast was for wind - however this never materialised. I arrived at a quarter to eight to find that the crane driver had beaten me to it, and was deep in conversation with Neil Medcalf, the millwright.
The crane backed down the mill drive and into place without sinking into the ground, and was quickly set up. One problem quickly appeared, as, although the crane had a jib extension, it was impossible to find the necessary 60 ft of clearance to swing it into position, so it was necessary to rely on the main jib, which was only 105 ft maximum height.
However the combination of sweep and stock needed raising to a height of 110ft off the ground !
This meant that the crane needed attaching rather lower down the stock, and, and in spite of this, the whole was lifted surprisingly quickly into the air. Between the crane driver and millwright there was some frantic juggling to get the tip of the stock into the canister, and - suddenly it was in, and being lowered into place.
Neil had fastened the oak clamps onto the stock with a single bolt, so they were located at the same time as the stock.
He climbed the top sweep and released the crane hook, and the first stage was complete.
I looked at my watch - it was only five past nine !
A pause while the stock was bolted in, and the second sweep followed about a hour and a half later, with Neil climbing it while it hung on the crane, armed with the two long bolts. He pushed these through, and fitted the nuts, and the major part of the operation was complete, with the crane packing up soon after eleven.
The only hiccup was when the crane started to leave and sank into the ground - our four big steel mesh sheets soon sorted that, and the crane went on its way. My only regret was that I had booked the crane for a full day instead of a half day !
Shipley Windmill open for free - but only till July 2009
Shipley Windmill opened her doors in April 2009 for what is likely to be her last season.
The windmill closed in July, when the Trust which ran her handed the mill back to the owner.
Shipley Windmill Charitable Trust and the Friends of Shipley Windmill had
maintained the mill in working condition for 22 years, with the
support of many willing volunteers; but the lease had only another three years to run, and the Trust was not able to get grants for urgent repairs from bodies like English Heritage and the Lottery without a longer lease.
"As our landlord is not prepared to renew the lease, we have no alternative but to close the mill and hand it back to him in July" said Trust Chairman Jim Woodward-Nutt in April 2009. "The importance of the mill is recognised by its being a grade two-star listed building, and it is vital that its future is assured for future generations to be able to view and to visit."
"We removed one pair of sweeps - the sails of the windmill - last summer, but found that they need completely rebuilding, together with the other pair. Other repairs and repainting are needed urgently, and we just do not have the money, and cannot get grants due to the short remaining length of the lease."
This was the predecessor to Kings Mill, Shipley. She was a post mill, and was located at Honeypoles Farm, approximately 1/4 mile
south of Kings Mill. She was built at some time after 1801 and before
the 1847 Tythe Survey, at which time she was owned by Elizabeth Smart.
She lay just to the south of the E-W road, now called Countryman Lane,
at grid reference TQ 1433 2131, and was demolished soon after Kings
Mill was built in 1879.
The two Coolham mills, wind and water, were in the same
parish, and there is a reference to the Thorpe family as having for
three generations been associated with the Coolham mills:
By 1871 the two mills at Coolham seem to have been taken over by James
and Henry Thorpe. Benjamin Thorpe (b c1790); James Thorpe (b 1825 in
Shipley) and Henry thorpe (b 1854 in Shipley) all worked there. In
1841 Benjamin and James lived at 'Mill House'. In 1851 James was at
'Mill cottage' although Mill cottage is described as 'near Whitehall',
which may put the family at Honeypoles Mill rather than Coolham.
'Bygone Mills of the Horsham Area' published by Horsham Museums
'The Lost Mills of Shipley', in 'Horsham Heritage' Issue No 10, Spring 2004.