Willesborough Windmill
Willesborough Windmill
Willesborough Windmill is a 'smock' mill built in 1869, beside a small miller's house. The mill used patent shutters instead of sails to turn four millstones, with auxiliary power provided by a steam engine, later an oil engine, and finally by electricity. Visitors can grind their own flour to take away, and children receive a Miller's Certificate.
The mill was built by a millwright named John Hill to replace an earlier smock mill on the site. The millers were the Cornes family, who worked Willesborough until WWI. Around 1900 the steam angine and accompanying chimney stack were removed, probably because they cost too much to run.

The boiler house and boiler from the steam engine still remain however. In 1912 a gas-oil engine was installed. This was much more reliable and more economic to operate than the steam engine, and enabled the mill to run on days with no wind. It was not until mains electricity came to Willesborough in 1938 that the gas-oil engine was replaced with an electric motor.

The mill ceased grinding flour in 1938 as it simply could not compete with more efficient and cheaper commercial mills. It continued to produce animal feed from oats, maize, peas and beans, but finally went out of use completely in the 1950s.

After production stopped the building was used for storage, and the fantail installed on the mill at Barham. The mill was purchased by Ashford Borough Council in 1991, restored, and opened to the public as a museum.

The mill stands 4 storeys high, on a 2 storey base of brick. There are 4 millstones powered by the patent sails, and a 5th grinding stone powered by the electric engine. The large brake wheel and windshaft were probably reused from the earlier smock mill.

Norman Cycles Museum
Aside from grinding its own flour using either wind or a gas engine, the mill houses a museum of cycles made by the local Norman Cycles firm. The Norman company made autocycles, bicycles, motorcycles, and mopeds, and the museum showcases several models of bicycles and mopeds. The Norman Cycles Club also has their headquarters at Willesborough.