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Brixton Windmill

also known as Asby mill

Brixton, London


Brixton Windmill is a tower mill constructed in 18-inch (46cm) thick brickwork and is 39.5 feet (12 metres) high. It was originally painted with tar to give protection against the weather - hence the black colour of the brickwork. When the mill was in working order, the wooden cap (which looks like an upturned boat) and sails would have turned to face the wind. Nearby stood the miller's house, a cottage, a bakery and outbuildings, but these were all demolished in about 1960.

Ashby Mill was built in 1816 when Brixton Hill was nothing but open fields. It was still a working mill in the early twentieth century but it eventually fell into disuse in 1935 following the demise of Joshua Ashby.

There have probably been windmills in the Lambeth area since medieval times and 12 sites have been identified, but the Brixton windmill is the only one to have survived. Built in 1816, it was leased the following year by John Ashby. John, his sons and grandson were millers producing stoneground wholemeal flour. The Ashby family operated the mill, which became known as Ashby's Mill, for the whole of its working life.

Ashby's Mill of Tower mill construction, us built in 18inch brick in London Stock. Tarred to keep it water tight. 22ft across at it's base and 49ft high. The cap itself is timber framed and weather boarded and can move into the wind via hand mechnism within it's structure and can also be turned into wind with various chain mechansims. It doesn't have a fan tail like other mills. So the miller has to turn the sails into the Wind

The tower mill technology allowed the population of britain to grow from 6 million to approx 16 million.

Ashby in his time was very successful and the surrounding area became a little commercial centre where Acacia trees and Elders and Fig trees once grew with wild Hyacinth. Ashby's passion was botany, he was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, he grew rare shrubs and plants.

The mill was surrounded by various outbuildings a mill house, mill cottage, bakery, granary, shop and various other out buildings where horse drawn carriages delivered the floor to places as far as Shropshire to titled ladies. Ashby in his time sold his stone ground flour to most of London's bakers.

When the windmill was built, Brixton Hill would have been relatively rural, surrounded by open fields, but during the 1850s, the area around the mill had become built up and the new houses sheltered the mill from the strong winds needed to drive it. The mill could no longer work efficiently and in 1862 Ashby and Sons transferred their milling business to watermills at Mitcham. The sails were removed two years later and the mill was used for storage.

In 1902, when the lease on the Mitcham mill expired, a steam engine was fitted to power Brixton Windmill.

Then around the industrial revolution a cast iron structure - called a Provender Mill - was fitted and is also historical to the mill. In it's heyday it was powered by steam, and later gas. This would provide an alternative if there's no wind, and as an educational resource to fully explain to process of milling, various grains. Explains how the milling technology progressed. This mill uses Burr stones which are excellent for milling various grains, including barley oats. Burr stones are a very quartz like material, so hard that it has to be cut into small blocks and bound with iron bands. Burr stone lasts much longer than the Darbishire grey stones on the floor above - the original mill.

Around 1920s the roller mills took over, mechanisation as factories produced flour on a vast scale. The last owner of the mill was Joshua Ashby he died at the age of seventy five, he would have been a great grandson of the original owner, right throughout the history of the Mill it has stayed with the Ashby family. What we know of Joshua is that he was a recluse, we also know that he wanted people to really love the mill, and be preserved Ashby moved to Mitcham in the Wandle valley. The mill was finally closed down in 1934.

On the death of Joshua Ashby the mill passed to a Miss Marshal his housekeeper.

Some items used in the restoration came from Hansons mill, Burgh Le Marsh, Lincolnshire (this website)

Further information Grid


Brixton Windmill, Brixton, London

Ceremonial County:  

Grid Reference:

TQ 304743  OS Sheet 176 & 177

Map Link:


Aerial photo:  



Best Times to Visit:






Other useful websites:

mills open




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Date Updated:

Planning Grid


Brixton Windmill, Brixton, London

Grid Reference:

TQ 304743

Getting there:

Off A23 Brixton Hill. Travelling north, turn left into Blenheim Gardens after passing the prison. Windmill is in public open space at end of road




No car parking facilities at the mill (its London!!!)



Things To Do, See and Photograph:


What to take:


Nature highlights:







Lambeth Council - Derek Prentice, tel - 0207 926 1000
Friends Group - Adrian Garden, tel - 0208 674 1610

Opening times:

London Open House weekend and July Festival Weekend otherwise by appointment only.



Photo Restrictions:


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Dogs Allowed:  

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated:

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