Running out of ideas how to keep the children amused over the summer holidays? Look no further. An old local 19th century windmill in Hove, lovingly restored by wellwishers, is open to the public throughout summer on Sundays between 2.30pm-5pm.

The smock mill at West Blatchington, named for its shape resembling an old miller’s linen smock, is situated just off Hangleton Road off the A27 bypass. It is a treasure trove of original milling and agricultural items and displays photographs from the local area before the housing estates were developed and Dutch elm disease caused most of the trees to disappear.

Besides the opportunity to see an enormous freshwater quartz French millstone, children can have fun trying to grind corn under supervision and climb up a series of steep ladders to see parts of how the mill used to work.

Mr McConachie, 82, a volunteer guide said: "It was built around the manor and farm many years ago then in May 1936 a fire damaged the south barn. It was restored in 1939."

It is thought West Blatchington windmill was built around 1820, as it first appeared on maps in 1823 and was painted by John Constable on Nov 5th 1825. It was operational until the sails (known as sweeps in Sussex – from their sweeping movements) were damaged by a severe storm in 1897.

Hove Corporation purchased the mill in April 1937 from the Marquis of Abergavenny. At the time there was just a farm (Gibbets Farm) next to a track leading up to the old mill. After 1937 the track was extended northwards and replaced with a tarmac road, becoming Holmes Avenue (named after Samuel Holmes, who owned Gibbets Farm). This left the mill isolated on the central island (as it remains today).

By 1939 the mill was being used as an air raid station during the first world war. After the war it was used to house council equipment then nothing more was heard of the mill till 1977.


Then in January 1977 a request appeared in the Brighton Argus from the council asking if anyone was interested in helping clean up the mill. Peter Hill, a local pharmacist, along with a group of enthusiastic volunteers offered to help and set about restoring the mill. Volunteer groups and individuals took two years of hard work to clean up the mill in their spare time.

The mill was too urbanised now (as local housing estates had grown up around it) to be a working mill so the “Friends of the Mill” group, formed in December 1980, decided to turn it into a mill museum, to portray local history and also have an educative function.

When the Friends let it be known they were trying to restore the mill they found people would come forward offering pictures and photographs of how the mill and village used to look many years ago.

They would drop these off with Peter Hill in the pharmacy. Gradually the Friends also acquired machinery from other mills. Some things were donated, such as an old threshing machine but the Friends also raised funds and spent their own money in restoring the old mill.

Eventually the volunteers felt by 14th July 1979 the Mill was ready to open to the public. Since then, the Mill has opened on a regular basis throughout summer months and the work of conserving, restoring and preserving has been continued on a weekly basis every since by Peter Hill and volunteers.

Ian Entwistle has been helping as a volunteer for four years. He said: "I love windmills and I love heritage. I moved to Sussex four years ago and started helping with showing people around the windmill."

Volunteers have been the backbone of restoring West Blatchington Mill to its former glory. Peter Luckhurst, a railway man for 45 years, used to make dolls houses, carts, garages and railways. Then in his spare time over a three month period he made a model of the Blatchington windmill and donated it to the mill April 2008. At first it was static then he added a motor so the sails of the model windmill would go round. The model is still on the ground floor you can see it when you go inside the mill.

School visits are now scheduled to the mill from autumn. The Friends of the Mill hope this will develop an appreciation of local history in schoolchildren from a young age and they will enjoy exploring what the windmill has to offer.

If you would like to volunteer to help at the windmill in any way please do contact the Friends of The Mill Group as they are always pleased to hear from people who care about local heritage. And if you become fond of the mills and want to help you too could become a molinologist!


Opening hours: Sundays & Bank Holidays (May-September): 14:30-17h

Adults £2 Children £1

Wheelchair Access There is level access to the ground floor and there is also a disabled access toilet. The upper floors are reached by a series of steep, open-tread steps. The adjacent barn is now used as a seminar and meeting room, and light teas are available when the mill is open. There is also a small souvenir shop by the entrance.