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Eccleston - Windmill Inn

Name: The Windmill Inn

Address: Langton Brow, 311, The Green, Eccleston

The Windmill Inn (aka Hotel) has been a feature on the Green at Eccleston since the early 1800's and whilst it still stands today it is only a matter of time before it is demolished and the land redeveloped since it closed in 2013 due to structural problems.

Listed landlords at the Windmill were Thomas Draper (1841-51), William Lucas (1855), Elizabeth Brindle (1861), Ann Brindle (1871), John Danson (1881-91), William Fowler (1901), John Appleton (1911) and William Aspey (1935).

The first listed landlord, Thomas Draper was a farmer of 26 acres and the Windmill was used as an auction house during the 1800's, as was custom at the time.

Preston Chronicle 30 January 1841

1841 Census

Preston Chronicle 17 August 1844

The name "Windmill" is thought to have derived from the corn mill, which stood behind and would have had a windmill; it was known as Speedwell Mill. In 1844 the mill and outbuildings appears to have been auctioned off but it is unclear whether the pub was also for sale as Thomas Draper was still resident in 1851 (a newspaper article from 1905 seems to suggest that it remained the property of the Draper family until the death of a Thomas Draper that year).

1845 Map

The mill itself is still open as a retail outlet Bygone Times.  A history of the mill after the auction is recorded below, which is courtesy of the Bygone Times website.

Grove Mill (Bygone Times) is situated in the area of Eccleston (South East of Preston) known as The Green. The Parliamentarians used The Green as a temporary army encampment in April 1643, after the siege of Lathom during the English Civil War. The army was under the command of Colonel Alexander Rigby, they were later defeated by royalist forces at Bolton.

The Grove Mill site is an early rural industrial location and was in use in the 17th cent, for woollen processing, a corn mill (Brookes Mill) was also in production by the 18th cent. Millbrook House and the cobbled alleyway (which you pass on your way into Bygone Times) date from this earlier period and still remain part of the Bygone Times site today. Millbrook House is situated at the far end of Bygone 1 and is used nowadays as the buildings main offices. Housing 4 members of staff and 3 ghosts you can imagine it can get quite crowded down there after dark. In the 1830s a calico printing works was erected, the premises were known as Syd Brook Grove Works, powered by two large waterwheels on the works lodge. The owner was a Thomas Bentley, upon who’s death in 1844 the business was sold on to become part of a cotton mill complex when Grove Mill was built in 1845.

Cotton spinning production at Grove Mill was to increase under the ownership of John Jacob Smalley (trading as John Smalley, Sykes & Co.) in the 1850s and by 1861 the mill was employing 300 workers in both spinning and weaving production. The Wesleyans had a meeting room in a weaving shed in the mill until 1863 when their own chapel was ready for occupancy. This meeting room is home to 2 ghosts in the guise of 2 unruly children playing outside said meeting room.

A serious fire at the mill in September 1875 destroyed the preparation and spinning facilities including valuable machinery and mill buildings. A number of families who worked at Grove Mill are recorded as having left the village because of layoffs after the fire.

In 1884 Grove Mill was purchased for the princely sum of £1,150 from John & Herbert Howarth by Mr Ibzan Sagar and his business partner. Unfortunately the business very soon ran into financial difficulties, having to honour contracts with the Howarths suppliers and paying above market price for yarn. However help was at hand when Carrington & Woods purchased the mill appointing Ibzan Sagar as manager on a salary of 35/- per week. This was to seal a great future not only for Grove Mill but the future prosperity of Eccleston.

In 1895 the firm became Carington & Dewhursts with Grove Mill and New Mill (now the Carrington Centre) being the largest rayon weaving mills in the world after the merger with Viyella in 1970. During World War 11 parachutes were manufactured at Grove Mill for British Airborne Forces.

Leonora Carrington the surrealist artist was a member of the Carrington family who found recognition within the art world for her extraordinary paintings, having become a devotee and companion to Max Ernst during the 1930s. She continues to paint and has lived in Mexico since the 1950s.

Grove mill ceased production of textiles in the early 1980s and some older parts of the mill were demolished, whilst some areas were let as industrial units. In the late 1980s a business consortium, which included Mr John Rigby and the present owner Mr Tim Knowles, began to re-develop the mill into Bygone Times, the antiques and collectors centre we know it as today.

Bygone Times was named thus because it was to house antiquities from days and eras gone by, when the current owners purchased the site there was no knowing that the site came with added extras, spirits of workers from days and eras gone by.

Preston Chronicle 03 January 1846

1851 Census

Preston Chronicle 07 June 1851

The Windmill was also used as a venue for Coroner's Inquests as this rather sad record below shows.

Preston Chronicle 04 August 1855

1861 Census

Preston Chronicle 30 September 1865

1871 Census

1881 Census

The photo above taken around 1910 shows Brown Cow Inn on the Green but the Windmill can just be seen back left.

1891 Census

1901 Census

1911 Census

Lancashire Evening Post 18 February 1905

The Windmill Mural, created after Eccleston's Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France

Lancashire Evening Post 14 May 1935

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