Sunday, July 29, 2012
Windmills used to be a familiar site in London but now only nine remain intact, including two fine, Grade II* listed examples in South London, one in Brixton and one on Wimbledon common, built within a year of each other.
The Brixton windmill is the only inner London windmill remaining with sails intact. Built in 1817, by 1862 the surrounding area had become too built up by new houses for the sails to function. The sails were removed a few years later and the building used for storage. It was restored last year with Lottery funds and looks magnificent, tucked away in a small, unassuming park off Brixton Hill. In fact, it's almost impossible to see from a distance, being obscured by trees and buildings, so it's quite a surprise when it suddenly appears. My boon companion asked if it was painted black because it's in Brixton. I had to set him straight and say no. Though it was originally brick, it was painted with black tar to make it weatherproof.
Wimbledon windmill was built a year later than the Brixton one, in 1817, and remained operational until 1864, when it was converted into a house. The sails have been restored to their former glory and the building itself is now a museum.