History

Bembridge Windmill in the 1890s © Bembridge Heritage Society

Bembridge Windmill in the 1890s

300 years of history

Inspiration for an artist
Bembridge Windmill was built in the early 1700s when Bembridge was almost an island in its own right, cut off from the rest of the Isle of Wight. When the artist JMW Turner visited in 1795 he began a watercolour of the windmill showing the sea lapping at the bottom of the hill on which the mill stands. A copy of this unfinished painting can be seen in the windmill kiosk.

A vital part of the community
For two centuries the windmill provided a service for the local community and work for generations of millers. Little is known about the millers although in January 1811 the Hampshire Chronicle reported that 'Mr Cook, miller of Bembridge [was] found frozen to death by his own mill'. Visit the windmill early in the year and you may still find the wind whistling through the mill’s windows but it's hard to think that Mr Cook died solely from the cold.

Grinding to a halt
In the 1880s Bembridge’s isolation ended when Brading Haven was drained. The arrival of the railway bringing cheap flour meant that from 1897 onwards only cattle feed was produced. Poignantly the mill last operated in 1913. By the following harvest the men had gone off to fight in the Great War and the mill never reopened.

Repairs were made in the 1930s, and then in the late 1950s local people paid for further restoration work before giving the mill to the National Trust in 1961.

As the only surviving windmill on the island, Bembridge Windmill is an important part of the island’s heritage.

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