History and Information - Unknown Source
The mill was built by or for one Edward Berry. It was marked with a circle and the words “Old Windmill” in 1886 by the Ordinance Survey, so the tower has stood untended for well over a hundred years.
The previous owner said that “the mill only worked about twenty-six years when it was burnt down. This dates the mill before 1850. The only miller known to me was a Mr Marfell who used the mill to grind wheat”. In fact the mill dates from around the Napoleonic Wars, making it contemporary with those in the Vale of Glamorgan.
A number of newspaper articles have been written about this mill, two by Fred Hando, a well-known Monmouthshire historian. There was also one by Roy Daunders. The following are relevant extracts from Hando’s articles:
“Mr Evan Williams (owner in 1959) recalls – “The man who placed the windmill here knew his business. No matter how calm the day may be elsewhere there is always a wind on this field”.
“The walls are 2’2″ thick, the diameter at ground level is 26ft., brick-arched window heads, its two stone string courses, and its windows indicating the five floors of the tower. At the summit of the tower, precariously perched, is a segment of a toothed wheel. Another relic protrudes below the upper string course… signs of a fire are evident throughout the interior. Of the varied stories given, the most probable tells how on a still summer morning the miller went to market leaving its sweeps coupled to the gearing. A sudden fierce wind sent the coupling red-hot and the brakes ignited the timber and the mill was a flaming torch before the miller returned.”
The relic that Hando refers to is a long wooden stay for supporting the gallery from which the sails were set. It remains today.
From “A Monmouthshire Windmill Ruin” by Roy Saunders are taken the following extracts which put a little flesh on the bones.
“A Farmer who was working in the adjoining garden showed me its points of interest. It stands about sixty feet in height and contained five stories. Looking up from the inside, the charred remains of the rafters and blistered stonework bear testimony to the manner of its downfall. From the circular edge at the top bits of ironwork protruded, all that remained of the runway on which the upper part of the mill spun round to race the wind that blew. Edward Berry, after years of privateering and sacking of French ships, during the Napoleonic Wars suddenly took a turn for agriculture and settled down in the Vale of Usk, where he built the mill and nearby farms.”
The idea of the mill spinning round to race the wind is a rather nice description of the working of the fantail. Actually it moves the cap very slowly, having a big reduction in gearing.