Newsletter of the Friends of High Salvington Windmill
Tree-rings on oak timbers
from the High Salvington Mill
Mill not as old as was thought ... or is it?
Dendrochronology analysis (tree-ring dating) of oak timbers at the High Salvington Mill has indicated that the present Mill was constructed somewhat later than has been thought. However, there still are doubts about the date.
The pattern of rings shown by oak trees in England has been established for a period of over 2000 years. Small cores of wood taken from the structural timbers of a building show the pattern of rings laid down during the lifetime of the trees from which the timbers were cut. If the pattern then is compared with the 'master chronologies' it can be possible to identify the felling date of the
trees with great accuracy.
The tests on the Mill timbers were commissioned by the High
Salvington Windmill Trust Ltd and carried out earlier this year by Dr Andy Moir of Tree-Ring Services, Hungerford, Berkshire. The main objective of the analysis was to provide dendrochronological
evidence to date the primary phase of the construction.
Two of the seven tree samples taken from the Mill by Dr Moir have been dated. These samples
match together to form a 73-year site chronology which spans the years 1699 to 1771 and the evidence suggests that construction occurred in 1780 or soon after.
Peter Casebow, a director of the Trust, says that the report was "rather disappointing" as it showed that the Mill was built around 1780 not around 1750 as was assumed. "However, the only timbers from which useable results could be obtained were taken from the tail stone hurstings (a framework that holds the tail stones) which could have been added some years after the original construction. All samples taken from major structural timbers (the shears, crown-tree, prick post, and wind shaft) were considered unusable for analysis as the trees from which they were taken were too fast-growing thus giving extra large ring spaces."
The first map showing a Mill on the site is dated 1724 but it is known that a previous Mill existed on the site in 1615. The crown-tree had the date 1774 carved in it. "This is very interesting", says Andy Moir. "As the crown-tree is the largest timber it is likely that it would have been the most difficult to source and may have been one of the earliest timbers selected and felled in the local area. It is a great shame that the crown-tree timbers could not be dated."
Archivists find that one thing leads to another
The Mill's Archive and Display Group has been continuing with its basic work - the recording of information received. "While doing this the work is developing in other ways", says the Group's Wendy Funnell. "This comes partly as our knowledge increases and partly as our interest and experience bring to light a range of new avenues to explore."
"We are making initial forays into developing a computer-based cross-reference system. In this regard we have much to do to work out the form that this should take, and to deal with the problems and pitfalls such a project presents."
The Archive and Display Group also has been developing - from the material it has received - displays covering the history of the Mill and other buildings and constructions on the site. "Various photographs and postcards relating to the tearooms in the 1920s have come into our possession", says Wendy Funnell. "We have put these together on a display board and used the content of a letter that we have in the Archive to serve as the basis of a story-line. As a result, other information has become available."
Successful Fete despite rain and counter-attractions
"All of us were hoping that the Annual Fete on Sunday, 8 July, would be blessed with fine weather", says Peter Cobb, chairman of the Fete Committee. "Apart from a few showers it was not too bad and, despite having to compete with television coverage of the Wimbledon tennis final and motor-racing from Silverstone, the actual turn-out was excellent."
"The total takings exceeded £2,700 even though we were actually taking money for only two- and-a-half hours due to the downpours. One of the attractions of the Fete is that we keep the prices low and maintain an old-fashioned style. I believe that this is appreciated by parents and children." There were nearly 30 stalls at the Fete which was attended by the deputy mayor of Worthing, Bob Smytherman, Councillor for the Tarring Ward, and Brogan Kirkby-Bott, deputy youth mayor. Also in evidence were the Sompting Morris Dancers who managed to cope with dancing on wet grass.
"The volunteers were exceptional", says Peter Cobb, "despite being soaked to the skin on occasions, and I would like to thank them for their sterling work. Let us hope that in 2013 the weather will be more favourable and that the volunteers will again offer their services." The Fete Committee expects to be contacting them in May/June.
The latest Technical Report on the High Salvington Mill details many items of work. In the Mill itself there is a need to caulk the joints of the roundhouse walls and paint with tar, and the roof of the roundhouse is to be repainted using paint that contains fibre-glass strands.
Painting is required on a number of other buildings on the site: doors and windows at the end of the barn; interior of the toilets (and thorough floor-cleaning); and the ceiling of the open area of the shop, as well as varnishing of the shop front.
On the wind-pump new spacer washers must be fitted to the big-end push rod in order to reduce play on the bearings; all moving joints and bearings need lubricating; and extra concrete stanchion pads are required to be fitted round the wind-pump, as well as the netting which surrounds it on Open Days.
Peter Casebow also details the following:
- Make a jig to build new trestles using excess timber from the West Blatchington sails. Dispose
of the weak and very crude old ones.
- Add stiffening rods to the barbecue to increase stability.
- Add footpads to the railway seat to improve stability.
- Readjust settings on the bandsaw and obtain and fit new blades. ("This was donated to us by
West Blatchington Mill to help in the construction of its new sails.")
- Make a new blackboard for use at the Fete, and repair a hole in the drum used for the raffle.
"In the future we will need to fit a feather sheath to the Mill's brake rope; visit Glynde to try to establish the original site of the wind-pump which is now on display at the High Salvington Mill; and continue to make trestles and repair existing trestle table-tops."
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The cost of Life membership is £40.
'The Mill' is edited by Bob Brooks.
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