At The Point there once stood a windmill which was thought to have been built in 1797.

However, it was actually constructed in 1799 as on 5th September that year a 99-year lease was drawn up between Lord Rolle, Charles Webber, Francis Pearce and William Marchant for a plot of land with an annual rent of 10 shillings. Webber, Pearce and Marchant had equal shares in this land. The windmill was commissioned by Mr Charles Webber and built by a Mr Champling at a cost of £300. It appears before the lease was signed that work had already begun because in April 1799 poor Mr Champling was killed by one of the sails as it was spinning round. It was completed later that year and it can be seen in the photo.

In 1818 a violent storm caused the windmill’s sails to go round so fast that the working parts within caught fire and the vanes eventually blew off. The 1825 Rent Book then stated that the windmill was void, in other words not working. In 1829 it was recorded that the mill machinery was known to be in fair condition but not self turning and it was only possible to turn the machinery with the aid of a donkey!

The windmill fell out of use and was eventually demolished in 1849 having lost its top some years before. The stone stump of the mill survived until the mid 1890s and was used by some boat builders for steaming boat-ribs.

As the windmill was no longer in use after 1825 Charles Webber wished to build several houses on the land adjacent to the windmill. This land today borders Camperdown Terrace to the north, Dock Road to the east, Point Terrace to the south and Trinity Road to the west. Messrs Pearce and Marchant agreed to sell their shares to Webber at £50 each, but before the agreement could be ratified Marchant died in 1831 and bequeathed his shares to his son, who then sold them to Webber who had already laid out a considerable sum in commencing the building of three dwellings.

In addition to these houses, during the next four years Webber also constructed two more houses and a rope walk with all associated buildings for the business of rope making. Webber died in 1835 and then Pearce sold his shares to Webber’s estate. Webber had left the original three houses known as Thistle Cottage, Kenwyn and Point House to his brothers Samuel Bricknell, William Bricknell and Charles Webber Bricknell on attaining age 21. The rest of the land was left to William Bricknell and Charles Webber Bricknell, who is the great great great grandfather of the museum’s current curator; to whom I am indebted for his assistance with the research into this article.

The other two properties known as Windmill Cottage and Quay Cottage which is attached to it and sometimes referred to as numbers 1 & 2 Point Cottages, these he left to Samuel Bricknell the younger and to William Bricknell and provision was made for the lease to Lord Rolle to be honoured. Later on, a further house was built in the garden of Point House where it bordered Windmill Cottage.

The occupants of these houses had to put up with the railway as a line had been built near their properties for the purposes of shunting goods wagons around the goods yard at the docks. When the line closed, they then had to endure the noise of constant lorries that took over and it was not until 1989 when the docks ceased to operate that the residents got to enjoy some sort of tranquility! The houses are still there today, unlike the windmill, a testament to their build quality.

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