PATCHAM, EAST SUSSEX
Waterhall windmill was the last working windmill to be built in Sussex. Construction of the tower started in February 1884 by a local builder named Hubbard. The well known Shoreham millwright firm J. W. Holloway & Son was employed to install the machinery and work was completed by February 1885. Sometime later, the tower developed cracks and required strengthening with a large iron hoop. This hoop remains as an external feature. The Harris family owned the mill throughout her working life, which ended in 1924. Descendants of the Harris family still live in Patcham Village and run the local Post Office.
The mill has changed ownership many times since the departure of the Harris family. In the 1960s she was converted into a residence with the later addition of a modern extension. However, a surprising amount of machinery was left in place, including the windshaft, brakewheel and complete drive to the millstones. The
millstones are still in place under a bedroom floor.
In 1989, the property was bought by George and Muriel Musgrave as a suitable premises for housing the Musgrave collection (a large collection of personal paintings and sculptures). Subsequently the public were admitted to the property to view the artwork. Access to the lower floors of the mill was permitted until ill health forced the Musgraves to sell the property and move elsewhere. Regrettably there is no longer any public access.
Many repairs have been carried out to the mill over the years, the most recent included the partial rebuild of the cap and replacement of the sweeps and stocks. These repairs were necessary following a storm in December 1990 when lightning struck the sweeps.
J. W. Holloway & Son fitted some fine machinery including a screw down brake which became their trademark (examples of which also survive at West
Blatchington and Barnham windmills). It replaced the conventional lever and weight (used across Britain and much of Europe) with a screw mechanism which allows a slower and more gentle application of the brake. Some of the machinery is said to have been salvaged from other mills which had been demolished around the time
of Waterhall mill's construction. The working patent sweeps were connected to an unusual spider mechanism incorporating a spring to help the shutters in each sweep to dissipate gusts of wind independently. In her working days the mill's cap was covered in white painted metal sheeting. This has since been replaced by felt tiles.
[Text by Philip Hicks]