Wednesday 2 July 2014

Mt Gilead Windmill


An article in the local newspaper last week on the historic windmill at Mt Gilead prompted me to recall an interesting fact concerning its history. The article in the Macarthur Advertiser discussed the latest attempts to have the windmill listed on the State Register. The construction built from convict labour is rapidly falling into disrepair.

The windmill at the Mt Gilead property on Appin Road was built by Thomas Rose in 1836. The mill tower, which is built from sandstone quarried on the property, is 60 feet in height, comprises four stories, and is reputed to have contained the finest millstones in the colony. No metal was used in its construction and all the moving parts were fashioned from ironbark grown on the property. The tapering stone tower was topped by a moveable cap made of wood (as the sails had to be always facing into the wind, the moveable cap carried the sails and driving shaft). A stone wall surrounded the windmill, to protect animals from touching the rotating sails.

The interesting fact I thought I would raise was that on the night of August 20, 1857 the mill was struck by lightning and received minimal damage. Coincidentally this was the same storm that caused the Dunbar to be famously wrecked at South Head killing 121 souls.

Mount Gilead is the last remaining tower mill in New South Wales. It has been and still is a favourite study for artists and photographers. Lets hope it can be listed on the State Register and survive for centuries to come.

Written by Andrew Allen

Update: I recently finished reading Larry Writer's excellent book "The Shipwreck" which tells the story of the Dunbar. In it he describes the storm that night. The winds were from the south east and there is no mention of lightning in Larry's book or the original newspaper reports. Lightning to my knowledge is not usually associated with an east coast low such as the one that struck that night. 


Morris, John F.
Mount Gilead Estate and Windmill, Campbelltown
In Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings
Vol. 27 (5), pp 359-66, 1941

Fowler, Verlie
Mount Gilead
In Grist Mills
Vol. 7 (4), 66-87, July 1994

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