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The Windmill

Punnetts Town Windmill

It has been suggested that Samuel Dallaway purchased the ‘Three Chimneys’ windmill with money borrowed from his farmer friends. Be that as it may, he certainly acquired the octagonal white painted smock windmill which stood along the Biddenden/Sissinghurst road in Kent, in an area known as Three Chimneys, hence the name. After purchase of the smock, Samuel had it dismantled, and conveyed to Punnetts Town, near Heathfield in East Sussex, by his son in law using a broadwheeled wagon.

There in 1856, it was re-erected on its present site, a mile and three quarters from Heathfield Church, by Neve, the Heathfield millwright. Here it became known as the Blackdown Mill, although it is perhaps better known as the Cherry Clack Mill, since she originally sat in a cherry orchard.

The Dallaway family:  Charles succeeded Samuel, Thomas followed, then John, then Demus, the last to work her commercially.Changes made over the years include substituting patent sails for the two ‘common’ sails, and replacing the original stage with a wider brick built base.

This provided more space for storage. The family also had an interest in the Rockhill Mill at nearby Broad Oak, and from 1913 onwards John Dallaway, with the aid of his sons, operated both this mill, ( which ceased to work in 1934 ), and the Blackdown Mill, which became unworkable in 1924, when the curb on the cap was damaged. It was at this time that the sails were removed, one being sold for thirty shillings, two were sold for firewood, and the other dismantled for timber and used for repair work around the mill. Later in 1934, the cap was removed and the machinery taken out.

Then, an empty tower, used as a cattle feed silo, it came into the possession of William Dallaway in 1947.

William decided that he had to restore the Mill to its working condition, and make it again capable of handling the tonnage of oats expected by his great-grandfather. So, at time working sinle handed, he hauled timber from the woods, which was then cut and shaped to rebuild the domed cap.

When complete, the cap was covered in sheet aluminium, and the old windshaft from the Staple Cross Windmill hoisted into position. New machinery was assembled, a fan built and two pairs of stones installed, one pair from the old watermill at Polegate.

Finally in 1972, all four sweeps were in position. Thus the splendid windmill we can see today reflects the tenacity, endeavour and drive of one man, and has earned William Dallaway the gratitude of Windmill enthusiasts everywhere.

 Thanks to Richard & Richard McDermott for the extract from ‘The Standing Mills of East Sussex’

published by Betford and to the sussex mills group (www.sussexmillsgroup.org.uk).