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The mill today
The mill today

Website Design : Simon PotterIt's amazing to think that in 1320 Pagham and district could boast no less than three mills within its parish. One was named Pygnor Mill and another Pygenors Mill and both were owned by a Master Richard of Pagham, that is according to Lindsay Fleming's book on the village and its environs.

Indeed King John visited Pagham in 1208 at the invite of the port of St Thomas of Pageham to certificate documents one of which was that the village should hold a one day market, on a Thursday and to hold an 8 day fair annually and quoting the old document that 'providing that there be no injurious matters to other neighbouring markets and fairs and this should continue forever', I wonder why those markets don't happen today ?

It would appear that certain litigation saw the demise of all these mills but it didn't deter Henry Peckwell from building a new mill in 1840 at Nyetimber. The first resident miller was William Adams who milled there till 1905. Classed as a Tower Mill she presented four sweeps (in Sussex the sails are called sweeps), to the wind directed by a fantail which drove the shafts to two pair of French burr stones and flour dresser, the main shaft controlling the governors which in turn controlled the speed of flour at any given time. With few houses to block the wind in those days the mill would often be seen facing towards the sea but with the slow influx of new housing, and reducing the wind to the sweeps this was supplemented by the fitting of an auxiliary engine, in this case a 16 hp Robey portable steam engine, this allowed milling on windless days via large pulley belts. The fantail sat on the mill's main structure her cap sheathed with copper and the fantail turned the sweeps into wind.

From 1905 she happily milled flour until 1915 when a miller called William Pryor, short of staff due to the young milling staff being summoned to fight for King and Country were called up to go to the Great War allowed the fantail to be tail winded and the machinery was damaged beyond economical repair. It was at this time milling cartels were being set up and with Nyetimber Mill, not fitting in with the latest trend in massed milling production where one mill ground for many farmers, and the cost of repairing the damaged machinery forced Nyetimber Mill to close. After closure she remained deserted for a number of years occasionally used for storage purposes.

The sweeps remained in pretty good condition until 1927 when the mill's then present occupant a carpenter by the name of Mr. Durman who used the mill's ground floor for general carpentry and furniture making arrived at work to find that the night's terrible storm had seen the both the building and the sweeps struck by lightning.

Damage was such that Durman left and by the 1930s she had slowly slipped into decay, albeit brought back for a short span of life by the local Home Guard during the early part of WW11 as a watch and aerial observation tower.

With the war over the decay slowly continued and I recall seeing the very sad sight of a moss covered structure each time I drove into Pagham from Chichester in the early 1970s.

The mill in 1927 starting to decay
The mill in 1927 starting to decay

However there was good news ahead for the old mill when a small special housing development had the old mill tower renovated and the cap re-coppered in 1985 and now serves as a residence. While working for the local paper at the time I was privileged to attend the re-opening ceremony of this lovely old mill, sadly though some intensive and somewhat claustrophobic development around the structure has meant the sweeps can never be replaced which is rather sad but on the more positive side at least the mill still lives and so do the many working bits of the mill's machinery salvaged by the Weald and Downland Museum during redevelopment for other mill projects at their site.

Another modern view of the mill
Another modern view of the mill

During the mill's life she has seen all manner of historic events pass by - among them children passing on their way to the old Sefter School from 1928 and celebrating 'Empire Day' the same year of April 5th.

A year later Queen Mary visited Pagham Church during King George Vth's convalescence period at Craigwell House in Bognor Regis.

More Royalty came to the area during WW11 when Crown Prince Olav, later to be King Olav 5th stayed at the Kings Beach Hotel with his wife during his exile from enemy oppression, no doubt there were many more special visitors to the village, but that secret will remain with the old mill.


Mill Cottage
Mill Cottage

Ken Rimell          Windmill Tour