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THE WINDMILLS OF BUCKDEN

To stagecoach passengers travelling from London in the 18th and 19th century, Buckden’s windmill must have been a  comforting sight -  in a few minutes they would be tucking into a hearty meal, drinking some good ale and, if they were lucky, relaxing in a warm bed in one of the village inns! 

The Windmill was situated at the very southerly end of the village just before Perry Road.  The Inclosure Map of Buckden, dated 1813, shows the windmill (as a small, enclosed symbol) in the possession of John Hipwell, just to the west of the Great North Road (Ref 1).

On the 23rd of April 1933 Buckden’s windmill, also known as Barton’s Mill, was one of a number surveyed by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, (Ref 2).   The survey listed the mill as having been built around 1740, being round and made of brick with 2 floors. It documented that inside there were flour dressing machines powered by a steam engine. Unfortunately it did not note the number of sails and whether they were single or double.  

The records also only noted three of the last occupants.  Firstly there was Mr Barton c.1840-1865, then Mr Sharp who worked the mill c. 1865-1880 and most recently was Mr Thomson who had the mill for 15 years c. 1880-1895.

During Richard Barton’s time a couple of sad events occurred.  On one occasion a man, who was either visiting or working at the mill, went out of the wrong door while the sails were turning and was killed.  Then Barton's son, John, was found guilty of arson in 1863, having set fire to the barns of the two local magistrates Messrs Thornhill and Duberly. They sentenced him to 12 years penal servitude in Australia, where he died 4 years later. (Ref 3). 


It was during Mr Thomson’s occupancy that a strange event was noted.  Apparently a man came to him one day with a bizarre plan saying he wished to watch the horse racing on Porthome in Huntingdon from the mill, a distance of 4 miles away.  The story goes that Mr Thomson allowed the man to place himself head downwards on the bottom sail so that when it was moved to the top he had a clear view and was even able to distinguish the jockey’s colours! The surveyors were not convinced this was true and a footnote  was made in pencil along the side of the survey:  The story of the man being carried to the top of the windmill is probably incorrect as I am informed by a miller this is nearly impossible except in a gale.  He probably climbed up - an easy feat.

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The survey went on to record that an unfriendly neighbour planted trees around the mill to stop the wind. By 1888 the trees were sufficiently tall to cause the windmill to go out of commission and in 1893 it was made into a cottage.

Sadly, there are no pictures of the windmill before it was converted. This photograph from the Huntingdon Archives shows Mill Cottage in the 1930s.

Mill Cottage 1930.png
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Mr Thomson, possibly the former miller’s son, owned the cottage in the 1930s and remained living there till it became derelict.  The Mann family then acquired the mill and used it for storage.

Mill cottage before renovation.png
Mill Cottage 2005depng.png

The current owner, Derek Randall, bought the property in 2002 and began renovating and extending it and still lives in it today.

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