Cranbrook Union Windmill

Cranbrook Union Windmill

Introduction

The Union Windmill was built in 1814 and stands at the highest point overlooking the town of Cranbrook.

It is the second tallest surviving windmill in the British Isles, measuring 72 feet to the top of the cap. It is the tallest surviving smock mill, with an eight-sided three-storey brick base and a four-storey, fixed wooden tower above that, clad in white painted weather-board. It has four sails (called ‘sweeps’ in the Southeast) with patent shutters and a fantail which keeps the sweeps facing into the wind at all times. The mill has recently undergone major renovations and is in exceptional working order. Wind permitting, wheat is ground and visitors can buy wholemeal flour in our shop.

Cranbrook Windmill was built for Mary Dobell by the Cranbrook millwright, James Humphrey, in 1814, just before the end of the Napoleonic Wars, to set up her son, Henry, in business. After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, there was a great depression in England and many businesses went into bankruptcy, including Henry Dobell's in 1819. As a result, it was conveyed to and operated by a union of creditors, local farmers and businessmen, thus the name, ‘Union Mill’. When Mary Dobell's debts had been paid off, it was sold to John Russell in 1832 and remained in the Russell family until the death of his great grandson, another John Russell, in the 1950s. In 1960 the Mill was taken over by Kent County Council who, with the support of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, put the Mill into good repair. The Cranbrook Windmill Association was formed in 1982 to look after the Mill, open it to the public and carry out further restoration work.

Opening times - Please check before visiting.
The mill is owned by Kent County Council but operated by The Cranbrook Windmill Association, a group of volunteers, who open the mill to the public during summer afternoons from 2:30-5:00pm as follows:
Saturdays: from the beginning of April to the end of September
Easter Weekend: Saturday 7th April and Monday 9th April
Sundays: 2nd weekend in May ("National Mills Day"), mid-July to end of August
Bank Holiday Mondays: Easter Monday, the two May Bank holidays, August Bank Holiday.
Wednesdays: early-July to end of August, ie 8th July - 29th August

Getting to the Windmill
By car:
Cranbrook is just off the A229 which runs North/South from Maidstone to Hastings. The A262 runs East/West between Tunbridge Wells and Tenterden and passes just north of Cranbrook. See map.

By bus:
Arriva service 4 and 5 between Maidstone and Hastings, and service 297 between Tunbridge Wells and Tenterden, stop in the town.

By rail:
Connex South-East trains from London (Charing Cross) to Ashford and Dover stop at Staplehurst (five miles north of Cranbrook) then bus service 4 or 5.


Disclaimer: The information on this leisure attraction was presented with the best of intentions. Any reported errors will be corrected immediately. People interested in contacting the above leisure attraction should confirm for themselves the accuracy of any data presented.
 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015