Old Wind Mill on Arbory Road

Windmills are rare on the Island - this was built in 1828 and rebuilt in 1848 after a fire though Jenkinson in his guide of 1874 describes it as an antique ruin damaged by fire some years since.

Mill in 1972
Mill in 1972
All rights reserved - Katie Anagnostopoulou

The early history is given in the extract from an article by J.K.Qualtrough: Proc IoM NH&ASoc VII #2 p248/63

The Windmill, Castletown, SC.259677

In 1828, a newspapers reported that " the Windmill in the neighbourhood of Castletown is nearing completion. It will be a most beneficial addition to the conveniences of that neighbourhood: many watermills, from occasional drought, being incapable of supplying the inhabitants with grinding, this will be ready at every returning breeze,-at least it is good to have two strings to our bow."

Despite the newspaper's attempts to eulogize this windmill, fate - in the guise of storms and human frailty-was to prevent the successful opening of the mill.

The Sun, in an article in September, 1828, tells us ". . . the spirited proprietors of the windmill . . . gave on Friday last an excellent dinner, in the new windmill, to the mechanics etc. who have been engaged in the work. A great number of gentlemen of Castletown also dined with them, and were much pleased with the good disposition and decorum that was evinced on that occasion by upwards of one hundred persons . . ."

After all the toasts had been drunk and a new song, composed in praise of the mill, had been sung the proprietors of the mill must have been well pleased with themselves. However, the cruel hand of fate was waiting for them. It transpires that on the Saturday prior to the mill being officially declared open it was decided to see if the mill was in proper working order. The new sails were hoisted and the arms began slowly to turn, causing the two pairs of French and two pairs of Greys millstones to be set in motion. All seemed well and in working order, so it was decided to secure the mill by having the break wheel operated. This break wheel prevented the top of the mill from rotating freely. Normally, if the wind veered the top of the mill would move around to take full advantage of the change in the direction of the wind.

On that eventful Saturday evening the wind suddenly shifted, and before the break wheel could be released and thus allow the top of the mill to move, the sails backfilled and the sail arms were blown off and destroyed. In their fall they passed through the roof of the threshing mill which adjoined the windmill and, as a consequence, considerable damage was done. Misfortune was to strike the windmill again some months later as witnessed by the following contemporary newspaper account, " We regret announcing another accident at the Castletown Wind Mill, but which no human foresight could have contemplated or prevented. The terrible gale which so suddenly sprang up on Wednesday night last (August 1829), took the sails all a back, the excessive pressure on them cause the breakchain to snap, away went all the vanes (the outer part of each wing). This accident is particularly unfortunate just at this time, large quantities of grain being ready to keep her in constant employment . . ."

This Castletown mill was but one of many[sic] windmills which were built in the Island during the nineteenth century.

As of the start of 2000 conversion of the Mill into 16 attractive residential buildings was complete - the story of this is told by J. Davis - the mill itself had been floorless for many years

Looking up insidMill in 1972
All rights reserved - Katie Anagnostopoulou

Castletown windmill

Probably its call to fame was as part of a Museum of Witchcraft run, during the 1950's and 60's, by Dr Gerald Gardner in the associated buildings - see guide.




J. Davis The Witches Mill Today IoM Family History Soc vol XXII no 1 Feb 2000 p30/33

[For those interested in old mills an international site listing many, is that of the Society for Preservation of old Mills at www.spoom.org.]

 [Castletown Index]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001