YENTA breathlessly chasing mills

Passionata, my enthralment with mills.   I was terribly disappointed last year when I was unable to join the Border Historical Society, in East London as an invited speaker, on the subject of my passion, ‘mills’. 

‘Raised’ in my formative years, in the NE Transvaal, by my beloved grandfather, {and orphan, escapee from Estonia 1917} he indulged my interest, as a true Rabbi  by searching for mills while was away at boarding school. On my return, there would be an adventure to a farm in the district, to visit, that had a mill.

Main picture: Bradshaw’s Mill

James Walton said in his book, “This is the first comprehensive account of the hand-mills, water-mills, windmills and horse-mills in South Africa. Based on five years of research and study of nearly two hundred mills throughout the country, it traces the history of mill machinery from mid-17th century to today. South Africa once had almost two thousand mills representative of almost every variety found in the world. But, although South Africa is one of the richest molinological areas in the world, information on its molinology was sparse and largely unavailable prior to the publication of this book. Illustrated with two hundred and fifty line-drawings and photographs, it provides an invaluable reference not only for those interested in mills and this previously neglected aspect of vernacular architecture, but also those concerned with the preservation and restoration of South Africa’s surviving mills.” {The study of mills-the study of mills} I like to think he would be delighted that I have taken his studies further.

Richardson’s Mill

Whilst I am delighted to report, that I have found many of his missing mills. I so wish he was alive to discuss them with me. 

What I have done, is to concentrate on the eastern sector of the Cape. stretching the borders a mite.

Cock’s Mill – close-up from Marina

James estimated that there were approximately 340 +- mills in our sector. This I have disproved, as there were that number and more in the Colesberg- Somerset region alone. {almost every farm had a mill}

In Maclear eg. I found three- {crowing in delight} 
{I am waiting very excitedly, for Stephanie Victor, curator of the Kingwilliamstown museum to confirm the recent hints that there were additional mills in Kingwilliamstown} I think these might have serviced East London, as I can only find four in this town. 
Transkei three. {seems to have been ‘a mission station gem}

Alex Victoria’s Mill

Barkly East has one, the building is perfect, although all the working parts are gone. To reiterate. Mills. The largest type- grist-the one with the big wheel, that could only work ‘on’ running water. eg a river. 

Wind Mill, {the most common type} this too had a stone grinding wheel. Horse/animal type- no water or wind needed. 
Water mill, used to pump water from a resource. Most if not all farms had those, even we did in Gonubie.  East London- 

Mansfield Mill with boat in foreground (Tic)


The word mill, loosely applied, in terms of commercialism, excludes, us, eg as biscuits, sugar, tobacco, cotton, and wool, those are the end products.

Rural grinding mills, were in reality, the earliest, almost biblical entities. If not the well worn grinding stone in the picture, then the hand hewed, wooden hollowed out tree stumps.

African stone large corn grinder

Pics. Bradshaw’s Mill in Bathurst. perfectly intact and working now. Richardson’s Mill Trapps Valley, demolished now. Cocks Mill, no longer a working mill, yet the building beautifully restored. Port Alfred. Victoria Mill in Alexandria ec. Building in perfect condition, all workings missing.   Mansfield Mill, completely demolished now. Building in perfect condition, all workings missing. Stone for grinding corn.  Transkei mealies tamper.   Of the eight mills that used to be in Grahamstown, there are none visible.

Wooden African corn grinder

So, you are reading one-day-book before it is printed.  So much work to. 


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