Halewood Local History Pages

The Buildings of Halewood

Halewood Windmill

Windmills in England

(Above) The medieval peasant delivering corn to the miller, while the Lord of the Manor's reeve looks on. The miller, whose stereotypical untrustworthy nature was recorded by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales,
as Ďa theef he was for sothe of corn mele / and that a sly, and usuant for to steleí
has armed himself with a fierce dog to protect his Lordís property. (Luttrell Psalter (psalm 87, f. 157v 1325-40)

The shape and layout of medieval mills are illustrated in a number of manuscripts, as well as the 14th century Luttrell Psalter

The post mill was the earliest type of windmill found in England, and are thought to have been built from around 1180. Its name comes from the design where the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery was mounted on a single vertical post, around which it was turned to bring the sails into the wind. Another post projected from the side opposite to the sails, which reached down almost to ground level. This was used to manually rotate the mill into the wind. The lower end of the beam was often attached to a wheel made to run in a paved circle round the mill to aid the process. This design survived at Wavertree Mill into the early 20th century.

Millers either rented the mill from the lord of the manor, or collected the tolls and payments for the lord if in his employ. The right to build or own a mill was vested solely in the manorial lord, and the tenants on his estate were bound by him. If he chose, he had the right to confiscate their personal, much-prized querns, to ensure they were dependant on his mill - or pay a fine instead. Any tenant grinding corn elsewhere was liable to forfeiture of the corn and the horses which carried it. The lord would hold a court-leet, at which such offenders were ordinarily tried. In Chester, for example, where the famous King's Mills of Dee stood for eight centuries, a special 'Court of the Mills' was constituted, for the trial of purely milling offences. These rights and privileges were known as the mill 'soke'. [i.e. the right in Anglo-Saxon and early English law to hold court and administer justice with the franchise to receive certain fees or fines arising from it]. The system began with water-mills, and was continued with the introduction of windmills.

Post mills dominated the scene until the 19th century, when tower mills - and buildings with high-speed steam-driven milling machinery - began to replace them. Tower mills had been in use for centuries, but the advantage over the earlier post mill is that it was not necessary to turn the body of the whole mill with all its machinery into the wind, just the cap at the head of the mill. Although more expensive to build, they allowed more space for the machinery, as well as for storage and residential quarters.

Internal workings of the windmill

Local windmills

Most local townships had a mill to serve the community. In Hale it was located near the shore, by the Dungeon Salt Works;

The site of Hale Mill (Hale Tithe Map 1840)

The site of Hale Mill (1849)

A post-mill stood on the high point above the Delf quarry in Wavertree;

Wavertree Mill (1846)

Wavertree Mill and Delf (c1900)

Wavertree Mill (1895)

Wavertree Mill (1905)

Wavertree Mill

Wavertree Mill

Two mills were known to exist on the high ground above Woolton village in 1613, although only a tower mill had survived to the early 20th century;

Woolton Mills (1842)

Woolton Mills (1895)

Woolton Tower Mill (c.1905)

Local Watermills

Medieval documents mention a water mill on the Ditton Brook on the border between Halewood and Ditton, near to where Ditton Station is today.

Ditton Bridge (1846)
Probable site of the watermill at Ditton Brook, later replaced by a wind mill

There was also a watermill at the north end of the township, although located just over the border into Little Woolton. This seems to have been gifted to the Knight's Hospitallers. In 1311, the list of tenants of the Duchy (contained in Gregson's Fragments, p. 336 L.R.O.) includes 'the Master of the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem in England, holding Woolton Parva in free gift, without any service therefor', which appears to be the original grant. The first mention of the mill does not occur until 1292, when the Hospitallers claimed to have been seized of Little Woolton in virtue of a grant of Henry de Lacy, (documents contained in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey).

Place names today still refer to Mill Brook, Mill Brook Farm, Mill Bridge on the Netherley Road towards Tarbock. Richard Bennett, writing in 1896, said,
In Little Woolton, however, tradition and almost living memory indicate the continuance of the water-mill to even the present century. Adjoining Wood Lane, and in front of the present house of Mr Jump, stood an old cottage, known as Peck-mill House, close to the creek or brook. In March, 1855, J. Robinson, a resident in the neighbourhood, testified that he had lived at Halewood during the past 60 years, and remembered this house, which belonged to Mr Samuel Weston. Mayhap it may still be discovered that on the adjoining brook, and under the curious designation Peck mill, the water-mill of the Hospitallers survived till the last century. If so, it is to be accounted contemporary with the oldest mill in or near Liverpool which may by name yet be identified, having been in existence in 1338, or four years before even the reparation of the mill del Accers.
Richard Bennett, The King's Mills of Ancient Liverpool, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1896) vol48, p.73
The ancient water-mill of the Hospitallers has disappeared, but a house called Peck Mill House, supposed to have been connected with it, survived till the beginning of last century. Dam meadows and Damcroft are names of fields near Naylor's Bridge, where also are the Beanbridge meadows. Other notable field names are Monk's meadow (west of Lee Park), Causeway field, Hemp meadow, Tanhouse meadow, Shadows, Winamoor, and Creacre. Coxhead farm is of ancient date; an old form of the spelling is Cocksshed.

William Farrer & J. Brownbill (editors), Litle Woolton, in History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907)

There is no doubting the existence of Peckmill House, but it is some distance from the brook, and may just be named by association rather than any precise link. The site of the watermill may well have been close to the Netherley Road bridge towards Tarbock (right).

Possible watermill site, Netherley Road (1846)
'Mill Brook', 'Mill Brook Farm', 'Mill Bridge' (right)

Possible watermill site, Netherley Road (1895)

Modern view of the possible watermill site, Netherley Road, towards Tarbock

Halewood Windmill

At the Halebank end of the township a mill is presumed to have stood where Burnt Mill Farm is today, the name suggesting why it is no longer there.

Burnt Mill Farm, near Halebank (1840)

At the North End of Halewood Township was the hamlet of Halewood Green, surrounding the Halewood Common, on which was sited a post mill.

The Effects of Enclosure on the Common - click to download full paper (pdf)

Earl of Derby estate map (extract) 1783
The windmill ring is shown in the centre

Halewood enclosure map (extract) 1805

Halewood Tithe map (extract) 1840

Halewood Tithe map apportionment (extract) 1840
The land and mill owner was the Earl of Derby, with the mill now appearing to be demolished, or reduced down to two cottages, occupied by tenants Josiah Gore and Roger Harrison.

Halewood Mill Cottage 1846

Census 1851 - Charles Pinnington

Census 1861 - Charles Pinnington

Charles Pinnington was living in the Mill House at the time of the 1851 and 1861 census.

Halewood mill cottage 1880s (bottom centre)

Halewood Mill Cottage 1905

Halewood mill site
The gateway can be made out on Church Road, bottom right
(Photo taken by Mike Royden 1989)

Halewood mill site
The gateway can be made out on Church Road, bottom right
(Photo taken by Mike Royden 1989)

Halewood mill site
The gateway can be made out on Church Road, bottom off centre,
and the crop mark in the field close by marking the site of the mill
(Photo taken by Mike Royden 1989)

Halewood mill site - Modern aerial view

Halewood Mill Painting

The old mill at Halewood

Painting by John Wright Oakes A.R.A. (1820-1887), dated 1879.
Oil on canvas. In private hands.

In 2020, this painting was rediscovered by Mike Royden. At long last we have an image of the mill, which seemed to have been lost forever.

However, it is unlikely that the mill looked like this by 1879, the date of the painting, as by then it had become a residence only, and Oakes had left Liverpool for London in 1856. It was likely he had painted or sketched it before his departure or, he was painting from memory. Whatever the truth of the matter, the painting is certainly one of a post mill.

John Wright Oakes was born in Sproston House, Sproston, near Middlewich. His family sent him to Liverpool, where he studied the rudiments of drawing and painting under Mr. W. J. Bishop, drawing master of Liverpool College, which appears to be the only art education he ever received.
More biographical details can be found here;
James Dafforne, British Painters - John Wright Qakes, A. R. A., The Art Journal

Researched and written by

Mike Royden

Further Reading

Hollinshead, J.E., Halewood Township: A Community in the Early Eighteenth Century' T.H.S.L.C. vol.130. (1981) pp.32-34.

Robert Gladstone, Junior, B.C.L., M.A., Early Charters of the Knight's Hospitallers, relating to Much Woolton,near Liverpool, T.H.S.L.C. (1902)
Richard Bennett, The King's Mills of Ancient Liverpool, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1896) vol48, p.73
James Dafforne, British Painters - John Wright Qakes, A. R. A., The Art Journal
Moore, Colin, Windmills: A New History, The History Press (2010)
Yorke, Stan, Windmills & Waterwheels Explained Countryside(2006)
Brown, Jonathan, Water Power and Watermills: An Historical Guide, The Crowood Press Ltd (2011)
Mark Berry www.windmillworld.com

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