Are you looking for details about Brixton Windmill? The Bumper Crew has it covered! The last thing you expect to find wedged between a housing estate and a prison is a big black building with a few sails attached to it. We’d also say it’s improbable you’d stumble upon it because it’s a little off the beaten track. It’s a bit like Ellis Mill in Lincoln – you don’t see it until it’s upon you.
Thankfully, my (Joel) cousin, a former volunteer with the windmill, still keeps an ear to the ground with what the windmill is up to, and it just so happened they needed a photographer to help with some photography. Queue The Bumper Crew. So, armed with my Fujifilm X-T5, off we went in search of London’s last working windmill.
This windmill has been an integral part of the community for centuries, and it continues to be a beloved attraction for locals and tourists alike. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in London, consider visiting Brixton Windmill.
What is Brixton Windmill?
Brixton Windmill is the last working windmill in inner London. It’s over 200 years old and a Grade II* listed building. It’s the only remaining windmill of the 12 in the Lambeth area alone. By working, it means the flour is still produced in the windmill (which you can buy in the shop). Sadly, the millstones are no longer powered by wind but by an electric motor. The sails are there for aesthetics more than anything else. After all, a windmill would look a bit weird without its sails, wouldn’t it?
Interestingly, the windmill has been powered by wind, steam, gas and electricity over the years. And I must say, I was ever-so-slightly disappointed to hear the wind isn’t the source of power any longer. Wouldn’t that be something – a windmill still powered by wind in a world where we are looking to reduce our carbon footprint across the globe?
Brixton Windmill is a beautiful example of early 19th-century architecture and stands 15 metres tall. It’s made of brick and coated in tar to protect it from the weather. Inside, you’ll find four floors plus the cap (the top bit that turns with the wind). I was fortunate to climb into the cap with Nick, my host, to see the inner workings that aren’t accessible to the public.
Brixton Windmill History
Brixton Windmill dates back to the early 1800s, so here’s a potted history of it. The windmill was built in 1816 by John Muggeridge & Sons, who were family builders involved in the development of Brixton in the first half of the 1800s. In 1817 it was leased to the Ashby family, who were millers producing stoneground wholemeal flour, and so the windmill became known as Ashby’s Mill.
Interestingly, as Brixton developed from agricultural land to housing, the wind required to turn the sails reduced. So milling operations were moved, later returning in 1902 when the windmill became powered by steam and gas. In 2003, several residents formed the Friends of Windmill Gardens and started campaigning for the windmill to be restored. In 2010, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant to Lambeth Council and the Friends of Windmill Gardens to fix the windmill.
Events at Brixton Windmill
For a relatively small site, the windmill has a ton of things going on. Below is a summary of events and groups to give you a flavour of what they get up to on this two-acre site.
- Tai Chi
- Open days
- Guided walks
- Gardening group
- Beer and Bread Festival
- Bakery courses
Everything that happens at Brixton Windmill wouldn’t be possible without the support of a passionate group known as the Friend of Windmill Gardens. They are a residents’ group set up in 2003 that campaigned to restore, preserve and enhance the site. And they were very successful, as you can tell by the state of the windmill and everything else that goes on. If you are interested in supporting them, you can become a member or a volunteer (if you’d like to get your hands dirty).
Visiting Brixton Windmill
You can view the exterior of the windmill anytime. You can book a windmill tour if you’d like to look inside. Tours usually run on the second weekend of every month from March to October for £5. Booking is mandatory, and the tour takes around 30 minutes. ‘Turn up and go’ short tours are also available and run throughout the afternoon on open weekends.
There’s a great little gift shop at the windmill, too. You can buy magnets, cards, postcards and other bits, including branded aprons, which are pretty cool. And if you’d prefer, you can purchase items in the online shop, including flour produced by the mill.
Below, you’ll find the location details for the windmill.
- What is Brixton Windmill?
- Brixton Windmill History
- Events at Brixton Windmill
- Visiting Brixton Windmill
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