Whilst somewhat of a tenous link, I have included this information about the St Peter’s windmill, as Jean Vibert of Beech Farm ( on St Peter Tree ) was one of the founding shareholders. I stumbled across the detailed information about it, and felt it may be useful and interesting to some of you.
The Mill is shown on the 1849 “Godfray” map as St Peter’s Mill, and parish affinities have been made to most of the 38″shareholders” and 9 committee signatories. The distribution of shareholders stands at about 14 in St.Peter, 11 St.Ouen, and 12 in St.Mary. Of the committee three are from each parish. It would seem that the larger farmers contributed to the venture as 14 or 15 of the farms are named in “Old Jersey Houses” . Most participants live quite nearby, but an exception exists in the participation of both Dlle Elizabeth de Jersey, (P), and Elie De La Perelle (O), who live far from the mill….I wonder why?
A windmill was built in 1835 in St Peter (Jersey), on the Fief des Vingt Livres - by the following group of “shareholders” :-
Jean Vibert (P) “Beech Farm”
John Le Couteur La Gerche (O-M-P ?)
Nicolas Arthur Junr (O-M ?)
Jean Desreaux (M) “Perry Farm”
Jean Collas Junr (M)
Philippe Sorsoleil (M) “La Sergente”
Jean Bailhache (O)
Jean Le Couteur son of Edouard (O-M-P ?)
Jean Hue (M)
Jean Le Mottée (P)
Charles Arthur Junr (M) “La Grange”
Jean Arthur son of Jean (O-M ?)
Daniel Dumaresq (O)
Jean Le Boutillier (O-M-P?)
Pierre Nicolas Le Rossignol (O) “Brampton Farm”
Philippe Le Cerf (0)
Amice De Carteret
Dlle Elizabeth De Jersey (P)
Elie De La Perrelle (O)
François Le Montais (P)
Charles Mauger (P)
Jean De Jersey Le Montais (0) “Greystones”
Philippe Bauche (P)
Jean Woolcock (P)
Jean Dupré (P) “Les Augerez”
Thomas Blampied (P)
Philippe Le Feuvre (P)
Philippe Dupré (P ?)
Jean-François Bailhache (M)
Jean Hélier De Saint Croix (P)
Jean Le Couteur (O)
Pierre Josué Blampied (P) “Glenrose”
Hélier Nicolas Le Mottée (P)
Jean Dorey (M ?) “Valley House”
Philippe Le Brun, attorney of Jean Jean (O)
Philippe Le Couteur Ecr (P) “Treoville”
Jean Le Couteur (M) Jurat, “Le Marais”
Nicolas Arthur (O)
Philippe Marett son of François (P)
Philippe Langlois (M)
Jean Perrée (M) “The Elms”
Jean Arthur (O) “La Place”
Philippe Brideaux (O) “Le Coin”
Jean Philippe Bosdel (P)
The second part of the list corresponds to the committee appointed by the signatories to the agreement. They agreed to build a windmill at a location that was “as central as possible between the parishes of Saint Ouen, St Peter and St Mary”, and obviously found somewhere in St Peter. St Peter’s Windmill is a tower mill that was in existence by 1848. Photographs show it to have been a five storey tower mill with a domed cap carrying four patent sails and winded by a fantail. The mill did not have a stage. It was derelict for many years until converted into a pub in the 1950s.It has been converted into a shop and restaurant. The sails are not an authentic reproduction of the originals.
This erstwhile windmill is shown on some maps as “St Peter’s New Mill”, but as there is no evidence of any previous mill on this site, it would appear that the title was conferred upon it by the map makers.It stands in a commanding position 322 feet above sea level, and on the boundary separating the parishes of St Peter and St Ouen, and but a short distance from the Church and Arsenal of St Mary.
The tower of the mill is built of local granite and is 27ft in diameter at the base, and 19ft diameter at the top, while the height from the ground to the top course of stone is 43ft 8in, the platform of the fantail being another 2ft 1in higher. From this platform a magnificent view of the surrounding country can be obtained, and this fact was utilised by the RE officers in making the Ordnance Survey many years ago, for on a clear day they were able to get a sight on the flag flying on Prince’s Tower, then standing on the Hougue Bie, as well as on the landmarks on the western coast line.
The windmill was built in 1837, a patent authorising its erection having been obtained from England two years earlier. Its life as a windmill came to an end in 1911, when its sails, as they are popularly called, were dismantled and a Petter oil engine of 18 horsepower replaced their motive power. The dome, the wooden structure on the top of the stone tower, was left in position and it still contains the main shaft and gearing, which were too heavy and cumbersome to remove. This mill retained its wind power longer than any other in Jersey and in view of the total disappearance of these picturesque and old time features from Island life, a short description of the machinery involved may prove of interest to the mechanically minded. (Note: some 60 years after this article was written, as part of an extensive redevelopment of the buildings surrounding the windmill, by then a public house, the mill itself was restored and new sails added)
To the casual observer the distinguishing feature of the windmill is what is popularly known as the sails. This name was probably given to them because in the early types they consisted of simple wooden frames, over which were stretched pieces of sail cloth, and many examples of this crude design may still be seen in the Eastern Counties of England, doing good work attached to pumps draining the marsh lands.
In Jersey this style of sail was still in use 50 years ago on the mills at Rozel and Mont Mado. The later improved type of windmill was, however, fitted with a much more elaborate arrangement, better suited for the comparatively delicate operation of grinding com, where a steady speed was desired. “Sweeps”, “vanes” or “whips” is the name given to these sails by the miller, and the improved type referred to are called self reefing whips. The self reefing machinery was invented in the year 1811 by that great engineer and contractor William Cubitt.
St Peter’s Mill was fitted with a set of four of these self reefing whips, and when at work, they revolved in an anticlockwise direction, when the observer was facing them, with his back to the wind. If we ascend to the dome we shall there see the main shaft, of cast iron and hollow, inclined to the horizontal some 15 degrees. To the end of the shaft, and outside the dome, is attached a heavy casting termed the box, into which were inserted the two main beams, at right angles, on which the whips were built.
These beams were secured in the box by means of shoulders in front and wedges behind, and were of wood 11in square and weighed some 8 cwt each. Being about 32ft long, each of the four arms reached out 16ft from the centre and the inner edge of the frame of the whip was fixed at a radius of 6ft. The whip consisted of a middle member fastened to the main beam, and a wooden frame 28ft long. This frame was not fixed centrally on the beam, the leading part being narrower than the following part. The frame, the side bars of which. were termed rails, was divided into eight spaces termed bays by crossbars fitted into mortices, cut on the bevel in the middle member, thus giving the whip its pitch as a propeller. Each of these eight bays contained three shutters, each made of a wooden frame covered with canvas and painted three coats. All of these numerous shutters were fIxed on iron levers, and they swung on little bearings fastened to the rails, thus allowing the shutters to open and close. Wooden striking rods coupled up the whole of these little levers and led away to the centre of the box. At this centre, the four wooden striking rods were connected by means of triangular levers known as “horses’ heads” and coach springs to the main striking rod, an iron bar passing right through the hollow centre of the main shaft, and coming out under the platform of the fantail.
The photograph of St Ouen’s Mill and the sectional diagram will assist the reader in following these somewhat intricate details. On the back end of this main striking rod was a rack, gearing into a pinion, keyed to a shaft which carried a grooved pulley about 4ft in diameter, which will be seen under the platform, and from which depended an endless rope or chain reaching down to a convenient height from the ground for the miller to handle.
On another grooved pulley, about 3ft in diameter, and inside the dome, also geared into the rack, hung another rope or chain, and three loose stone weights were provided of about 70 lb, 50 Ib and 40 lb respectively. This last fItting acted as a governor.
Operating the mill
The method of operation was as follows: To start the mill, the miller eased off the brake, to be described later, and pulled on the rope or chain over the 4ft pulley, actuating the pinion, rack, main striking rod, and the wooden striking rods, which movement closed the shutters and enabled the whips to catch the wind.The miller then hung on the governor chain, one or more of the three weights, according to the strength of the wind, and then that very ingenious contrivance came into play and kept the mill shafting running at a steady pace.
It worked in this way: when an extra heavy puff of wind came on the shutters they, through their levers and wooden striking rods, compressed the four coach springs and forced the main iron striking rod inwards, thus allowing the shutters to partly open and spill some of the wind. When the wind eased again, the weights, which had been raised by the previous movement, pulled the chain down, pushed out the main iron striking rod and its connections, and closed the shutters so that they once more caught the full force of the wind.
St Peter’s Windmill in 1900
It is this automatic striking gear control that gave to the improved type of windmill its name of self reefing. To stop the mill, the weights were taken off the chain, the shutters were opened, and the brake put on, and sometimes as an extra safeguard in squally weather, a chain was put round one of the arms of the cogwheel and an adjacent beam.
We will now trace the method of transmitting the power, created by the revolu-tions of the whips, to the milling machinery situated on the second floor below. On the main shaft in the dome is keyed a large bevel cog wheel with a cast iron centre and a wooden rim, fitted with apple wood teeth. This wheel is 9ft in diameter and drove a bevel pinion 3ft 6in in diameter keyed to a vertical shaft, running in bearings fixed at the very centre of the tower, and leading to the floors below. Under the rim of the large cog wheel is a big wooden shoe attached to an iron band, which when pulled up against the perimeter of the wheel formed an effective brake to hold the whole of the machinery stationary.
There are at the present day in the mill two pairs of French burr stones and an oat crusher. The stones are 4ft 4in diameter and somewhat larger than those we found in the water mills of the Island. All these are now driven by the Petter oil engine fitted in 1911, by means of a strap and gearing coupled to the old vertical shaft of the windmill which, of course, is now disconnected from the upper gear.
Turning the dome
It is now time to consider the automatic machinery which turned the dome and the apparatus contained therein, so that the whips were always facing the wind, how-ever much or little it might shift.The dome itself and the gear attached to it totals a considerable weight, probably well over 25 tons, and the whole of this is carried on eight travelling wheels, running on an oak circular track laid on the top course of the stone tower, being guided in position by a series of five horizontal wheels bearing on the inside of the oak track.
The turning power is derived from the fantail, the simple wheel propeller to be seen on the opposite side of the dome to the whips. The action was quite simple, for as soon as the wind shifted in either direction, away from the normal of the whips, it struck on one side of the fantail causing it to revolve, and this motion, transmitted by shafting and a worm and wheel, drove a small pinion geared into a big cogwheel, the whole diameter of the tower, and fixed to the oak track already des¬cribed. This oak track is 16ft in diameter and the cogwheel is formed by several cast iron segments bolted together.
There is, however, one combination of circumstances which defeated this auto-matic trimming device, and further provision had to be made to prevent a stoppage. When a failing wind was followed by a dead calm, and the new wind sprung up in an exactly opposite quarter, it is obvious that this new wind would blow on the edge of the fantail, which therefore would have no power to revolve and work its gearing.
The millwright made provision against this eventuality by fitting a box coupling on one of the internal shafts, so that the miller could go up into the dome, disconnect the shaft, and by means of a crank handle, turn the dome round some 45degrees until the wind once more struck the side of the fantail and enabled it to resume its duty.