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Article researched by John Meads

Windmill Cottages

Although the existence of a windmill in Cranford Road has been known since the Inclosure Award map of 1803 and its inclusion on Bryant’s map of 1826, evidence of the presence of “Windmill Cottages” is more difficult to find.

Section of the Inclosure Award Map 1803
Inclosure Award Map 1803
Section of the Bryants 1826 Map
Bryants 1826 Map
The Inclosure Award map of 1803 names George Robinson as owner of the windmill; it clearly shows a pair of buildings and a ‘cross’ that indicates the windmill itself. It would stand to reason that someone lived on the site to look after the windmill, but it is not until 1838 when George and Annie Shipley have a daughter baptised at Cranford St. John and their abode is given as Burton Mill that any mention of inhabitants at the windmill are found. The reference to “Burton Mill” is repeated when the Garton, Hodson and Holland families also have children baptised at Cranford and they also appear at “The Windmill” and “Burton Windmill” in the 1841 and 1851censuses respectively.

Only two households are mentioned at the “Windmill” in the 1841 census: William Hobbs, a tailor, and Moses Eady, miller, although George Shipley, mentioned above, precedes them on the list, which seems to indicate that he was also there.

In 1851, there are four households listed, the family of George Holland, John Garton, Mary Rowley and George Garton, all of them agricultural labourers.

In 1861, there is only one household, that of Samuel Allen, occupation: miller.    

In 1871 only two, William Hull, agricultural carter and George Hodson, agricultural labourer had the “Windmill” address.

Map showing the group of buildings at the windmill C1837
The group of buildings at the
windmill c 1837

Although the 1887 Ordnance Survey map shows a complex of buildings on the site, it is not clear which of them are domestic and which are mill buildings

Neither the 1881 nor the 1891 census mention any houses at the windmill but Kelly’s Directory names Walter Bell in 1890 and 1903 as miller and the parish records have a John Cave, miller, abode: “Windmill”, having a child baptised in 1898.

(Click here for details of sale of the windmill in 1900)

The 1901 census shows only two families living at what are now given the name of “Windmill Cottages”, those of Arthur W. Hodson and John T. Melton.

It is Arthur W. Hodson’s wife Prudence who can be seen on the familiar photograph showing the cottages and windmill taken before the First World War, by which time the windmill was derelict and the premises used by the Burton Ironstone Company, whose employees occupied the cottages. Only the middle two cottages seem to be occupied, which seems to confirm the census data.

Mrs Prudence Hodson and family near Windmill Cottages circa 1906.The bungalow on the right was probably the Burton Ironstone Company offices.

Mrs Prudence Hodson and family near Windmill Cottages circa
1906.The bungalow on the right was probably the Burton
Ironstone Company offices.

The next ‘fix’ we get on the occupants of the cottages is the 1918 electoral register, which shows that eight cottages now stood on the site. It is thought that either the original buildings had been demolished and replaced by a newly constructed terrace, or that extra dwellings had been added to those already there on the site of the recently demolished windmill. The families were those of: house number 1: Mark Blowfield, 2: Arthur Wiggins Hodson, 3: Henry Henson Cullip, 4: Edgar John Hancock, 5: Alfred Aubrey, 6: Fred Palmer, 7: Walter Wright and 8: William Palmer.

Photograph of Arthur W Hodson showing him as an engine driver employed by the Burton Ironstone Company living with his large family at Windmill Cottages
Arthur W Hodson
In this photograph he was an engine
driver employed by the Burton Ironstone
Company living with his large family at
Windmill Cottages

Sixteen years later, in the 1934 electoral register, five of the eight cottages were occupied by the same families: Blowfield, Hodson, Hancock and the two Palmer families.

Years of neglect during the 1940s and lack of modern facilities resulted in the houses being listed for demolition by the Urban District Council in the early 1950s. The remaining occupants of 2, 3, 6 and 7 were on a list for re-housing in 1955 and by 1957 only one family lived there.

During the 1960's the cottages were taken over by dog breeder, Mrs Richard Harpur, as boarding kennels for dogs (click here for details). In 1966 conditions at the kennels were highlighted by a national newspaper (Click here for the article). Mrs Harpur threatened to commit suicide in 1973 following a ban on her keeping animals (Click here for an article on this ban). The death of Mrs Harpur was reported in 1975 - click here.

After a period of about 25 years, during which several different options were put forward and, following much debate as to their fate, the refurbishment of the cottages took place in the early 1980s (click here for photographs and articles of the facelift 1975 and 1978), and by 1982 a row of five modernised cottages occupied the site. In 1988 the residents of the cottages opposed a plan to site a breaker's yard close to their homes - click here for an article relating to this plan.

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