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Corbets Tey

Upminster Windmill

Upminster Windmill (TQ 557 868 is a Grade II* listed smock mill located in Upminster in the London Borough of Havering, England. It was originally known as Abraham's Mill and was in Essex when built. It has been restored and is a museum open to the public.


The mill was built for James Nokes of Hunt's Farm in Corbets Tey Road in 1803 on land transferred from Bridge House Farm which was owned by his brother William. It had four Common sails and drove three pairs of millstones. A steam engine was added early in 1811 driving two pairs of millstones, an action which increased the rateable value of the mill from £30 to £77. A fourth pair of millstones was added to the mill. James Nokes died in 1838 and the mill passed to his son Thomas. A fifth pair of millstones had been added by 1849 when Thomas Nokes was bankrupt. By 1856 the mill was driving six pairs of millstones by wind and steam. Thomas Abraham purchased the mill in 1857, having previously been in the employ of Nokes at both West Thurrock windmill and Upminster. He had also been in business at a steam mill in Navestock for the previous two years. In 1876, the Upright Shaft was broken in an accident at the mill. It was repaired with a cast iron coupling.

Thomas Abraham died in 1882 and the mill passed to John Arkell Abraham. In 1889 the mill was struck by lightning and on 5 January 1900 the windshaft snapped at the neck and the sails crashed to the ground. A windshaft from a post mill near Maldon was fitted along with four new sails. After the death of John Arkell Abraham, the mill passed to his nephews Thomas, Alfred and Clement. In 1927 a stock was replaced and the fantail repaired. The mill last worked commercially in 1934 and was purchased for £3,400 by W H Simmonds. The steam driven machinery was sold and the associated outbuildings decayed and were eventually demolished. The mill was listed in 1955

On 22 June 2004, the Upminster Windmill Preservtion Trust were granted a 35 year lease on the mill. On 18 January 2007, the windmill suffered damage in extremely high winds. The stock sustained damage as did the sail; There was little other damage to the mill


The mill has a four storey smock on a single storey brick base. There is a stage at first floor level. It has a boat shaped cap with a gallery, winded by a six-bladed fantail. Four Patent sails are carried on a cast iron windshaft. The mill drives four pairs of millstones by wind. The mill is in height to the top of the cap.


The brick base is across the flats and high. The brickwork is thick at ground level, diminishing to at the top.


The four storey smock has cant posts of by section, long. the sills are by in section, long. The spout floor is across the flats, the stone floor is across the flats and the top of the smock tower is diameter at the curb. The main floor beams are square at all levels except the dust floor. The main transoms are by in section at all levels.

Cap and fantail

The boat shaped cap is by in plan and high. The main sheer beams are square, on centres. with the weatherbeam of by section at the centre and square at the ends. The cap is thought to be the work of the millwright William Bear of Ballingdon. The fantail consists of six wooden vanes set at right-angles to the sails, and has the year 1799 carved on the horizontal wooden beam beneath it.

Sails and windshaft

The octagonal cast iron windshaft has two square sections to take a Head Wheel and Tail Wheel as was its intended purpose in a post mill, and was moved to Upminster from a post mill near Maldon in 1899 to replace one broken during a storm. It carries a diameter composite Brake Wheel with eight cast iron arms and six wooden cants. The Brake Wheel has 78 cogs. The neck bearing of the windshaft is a roller bearing, fitted after the mill ceased working commercially.

Originally Upminster windmall had canvas sails, but the sails on the mill when it ceased working commercially were four double Patent sails. They were carried on two stocks long, square at the centre, tapering to by at the ends. The sails were in span, and tapered from wide at the heel to at the tip. Each sail had twelve bays with three shutters per bay, giving a total of 288 shutters, each carved with a number in roman numerals to indicate its location. The weather on the sails was 23˚ at the heel and almost 0˚ at the tip.


The Upright Shaft is wooden, in two sections for reasons noted above. It is twelve sided, across the flats and long in total. The Wallower is of compass arm construction, diameter with 43 cogs. At the bottom of the Upright shaft the diameter compass arm Great Spur Wheel has 126 cogs. It drives four pairs of underdrift millstones via stone nuts with 24 cogs.

The millstones are three pairs of French Burr stones and one pair of Peak stones. Two pairs of the French Burr stones are diameter and the other two pairs of millstones are diameter.

Steam engine

The steam engine was located in a brick building built against the north-east side of the windmill, and drove two pairs of millstones, a centrifugal governor, and a sack hoist. The steam driven millstones were located on 2 levels and driven by a 2½ inch (64mm) square shaft of length, those on the upper floor being driven by a cast iron bevel wheel with wooden cog inserts. It was also able to work various dressing machines in the windmill, but not the wind driven stones. There is some difference over the exact type of engine, it being variously described as a grasshopper engine built by Napiers, and a Cornish boiler by Davey Paxman & Co. Both sources agree that the engine had formerly been used in a Thames steamboat. The steam engine itself was removed in 1940 and taken to South West Essex Technical College in Walthamstow, while the building and remaining contents were removed in 1960 with two of the millstones remaining at the windmill entrance.


  • James Nokes 1803 – 1838
  • Thomas Nokes 1838 – 1849
  • Thomas Abraham 1857 – 1882
  • John Arkell Abraham 1882 – 1912
  • Thomas, Alfred and Clement Abraham 1912 – 1934

References for above:-


The mill is located in a small open space maintained by Havering Council, known as Windmill Field on St Mary's Lane. The nearest tube stations are Upminster Bridge tube station and Upminster station. Views from the top of the windmill include Canary Wharf and the transmitter at Crystal Palace.

Public access

The windmill is owned and managed by the Upminster Windmill Preservation Trust, who provide regular tours and school visits. The windmill participates in the Open House London Weekend.


External links

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