Kenninghall Banham Road towermill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Kenninghall Banham Road tower windmill stood to the north of the village on the east side of Banham Road. The mill was built on the 10 sided, 2 storey brick base of a smockmill that had just been dismantled on behalf of the owner, Miss Sarah Ann Foyster. A tablet in the new brickwork was inscribed S. Foyster 1863. The round brick tower added an additional 3 storeys to the mill, making 5 in all; the ten sided base had stepped vertical walls becoming round and tapering half way up. The mill had a Norfolk boat shaped cap with a petticoat and a 6 bladed fan. Four double shuttered sails, each with 9 bays of 3 canvas shutters drove 2 pairs of overdriven French burr stones, a flour machine and an oat crusher.

The fan had a low gearing and it took 1,170 revolutions to turn the cap in a full circle, thus at 120 revolutions per minute it would take 5 minutes to turn the sails 180 degrees.

The sack hoist was powered by a vertical chain drum with a counterweight to pull off the drive.
A steam engine was also being used by 1883.

c.1920 c.1921

1926 - working
1949 - derelict
Tower possibly a 10-sided smock originally with stepped brickwork.
Fan drive: "Differential" drive with double bevel reduction gear driving a horizontal spindle which terminates in a cluster of three bevel gears near the centre line of the cap, the final drive being by twin spur pinions to a rack on top of the curb.
Ratio of fan drive is 1,170 to 1.
Bell alarm trailed on to the arms of the great spur wheel.
Sack hoist:- A 3 ft. pulley on the upright shaft drove by slack belt to a vertical chain barrel.
Vats octagonal.
Wood horses and hoppers.
Spur wheel has wooden ring on top side with an iron cog row bolted on which is engaged by a 12 ins. wooden nut on a shaft with a 2 ft. 6 ins. wooden drum driving a flour machine and an oat crusher with both rollers geared, also a mechanical feed.
The oat crusher has a countershaft which was pulled back to tighten the belt.
The two sets of governors are in the floor below, belt driven off the stone spindle extensions
, the latter resting on wooden bridges.
A pillar in this floor gives support to the upright shaft above.

Rex Wailes

Brakewheel - c.1920 Wallower geared to brakewheel - c.1920
Brakewheel - c.1920
Wallower geared to brakewheel - c.1920

Tower 10-sided on ground & first floors then round.
Tablet in brickwork high up:- S. Foyster 1863

One sail blown off in 1919, opposite one removed.
In 1947 2 double-shuttered patent sails, canvas shutters.
Cap not centred by usual wheels. Instead 2 large double-flanged rollers at the head, with a smaller one each side of them, one each side and 2 at the tail.

Fan drive taken by cross-shafts in the centre of the cap to pinions operating on the curb, the rack being on top.
Clasp-arm brake wheel 8 ft. diam. wood geared to 4 ft. 6 ins. all-iron wallower.
Iron windshaft tapering from 10 ins. behind brakewheel to 7 ins. at tail.
Upright shaft 1 ft. square for wallower mounting & round below.
On corn floor bins reach ceiling.
Upright sack hoist shaft belt driven from a pulley on the main shaft and pulled sideways to tighten the belt.
Two pairs overdriven stones in octagonal vats.
5 ft. 10 ins. diam. all-iron great spur wheel.
13 in. wooden stone nuts.
Flour machine and oat crusher.
2 sets governors on floor below belt driven off stone spindle extensions.
Steam mill, later oil engine alongside.

South Norfolk Windmills - H. E. S. Simmons
The Miller - 17th November 1947

23rd June 1935 Copy of 1935 photo by Muriel Paquette
23rd June 1935
Copy of 1935 photo by Muriel Paquette

Great storm 3rd August.
At Kenninghall cap lifted off Wells' mill and wrecked.

Diss Express - Friday 8th August 1879

To Millers, Merchants, Shopkeepers & others
KENNINGHALL, Norfolk Within Three Miles of Eccles Road Station Valuable PROPERTIES comprising a well built DWELLING HOUSE with capital Grocer's & Draper's SHOP, Outbuildings, Granary, Garden, Orchard & Pasture LAND in the occupation of Mr. H. C. Snelling.
The Compact Small FARM with good House, Premises & 5 Enclosures of excellent Arable & Pasture LAND in the occupation of Mr. Charles Burrows. The substantial Brick built Tower WINDMILL with convenient DWELLING HOUSE, Offices, Granaries, Engine House, Farm Premises & several Enclosures of good Arable & Pasture LAND as occupied by Mr. Alexander Wells, the whole containing 51a. 0r. 37p. which Salter & Simpson are favoured with instructions from the Executors of the late Miss Foyster to Sell by Auction at the Crown Hotel, Kenninghall, on Tuesday June 22, 1886 at 5 for 6 in the Evening, in 4 Lots.

  Mr. L. Lane,
Vendor's Solicitor,
Kenninghall, Attleborough
Norfolk Chronicle - 29th May 1886

To Millers, Merchants, Shopkeepers & others
KENNINGHALL, Norfolk Within Three Miles of Eccles Road Station Valuable PROPERTIES comprising a well built DWELLING HOUSE Grocer's & Draper's SHOP with Outbuildings, Orchard etc., a Compact Small FARM with House & Premises, a substantially built Brick Tower WINDMILL with capital House & Offices & several Enclosures of good Arable & Pasture LAND containing in all 51a. 0r. 37p. which Salter & Simpson are favoured with instructions from the Executors of the late Miss Foyster to Sell by Auction at the Crown Hotel, Kenninghall, on Tuesday June 22, 1886 at 5 for 6, in the following Lots.

Lot 4. A substantially built Brick Tower WINDMILL with four floors, driving two pairs of French burr stones, with engine house; also a comfortable DWELLING HOUSE, newly erected Office, Farm Premises & several Enclosures of good Arable & pasture LAND containing 37a. 2r. 10p. in the occupation of Mr. Alexander Well at the annual rent of £90 & abutting upon the property of Lord Albermarle, Mrs. Sayer & Mr. Hotson.
Particulars of Mr. L. Lane, Solr. Kenninghall or of the Auctioneers, Attleborough.
Norfolk Chronicle - 5th June 1886

30th August 1937
30th August 1937

Mrs. H. A. Bailey wrote to Philip Unwin on 28th July 1973 to say that Alexander Wells was the cousin of Thomas Wells of Winfarthing Road, Banham.

The first meeting of the creditors of Frederick William Cross of Kenninghall, miller, farmer & corn dealer, was held at the offices of the Official Receiver, King St., Norwich on Saturday. Debtor's statement of affairs showed an indebtedness of £476. 18. 11 to twenty three secured creditors & a further liability of £364. 15. 5 to one creditor partly secured. The assets, as stated & estimated by the debtor amount to £455. 2. 4 leaving a deficiency of £464. 1s. The causes of failure, as alleged by debtor are, "Bad trade & competition & expenses of carting." The Official Receiver will wind up the estate.
Norfolk Chronicle - 25th January 1908

Before Mr. Registrar Cooke
Kenninghall Miller's difficulties
Re Frederick William Cross, farmer & miller, Kenninghall, Norfolk.
Gross Liabilities £942. 3. 4, expected to rank £841. 14. 4.
deficiency £464.1s.
Debtor started business as a farmer at Worstead, taking a farm of 70 acres in 1896. He had no capital & borrowed £500 of his wife, who got it from her father. It was gift not a loan. The farm was not a success & at the end of eight years he gave it up. When he started at Kenninghall, he thought he was worth about £200; he didn't now think it could have been so much as he was owing the bank £68. He took the mill & 30 acres of land at Kenninghall at a rent of £70 a year. The trade was worth £30 to $40 a week, but it was not sufficient to meet the expenses & though he did not know it, he was slipping back.
The Official Receiver said the debtor's assets would realise £125 more than he estimated so that his deficiency would be reduced to £340. The examination was closed.
Norfolk Chronicle - 25th January 1908

Frederick William Cross later emigrated to Canada.

May 1951
May 1951

Goulder, Philip
Apprenticed at Hardingham Water Mill
The Miller - 17th November 1947

Imagine my excitement when I found your article on the return to Windmills. There was my family listed. My father was Robert Wells son of Alexander Wells. He was born in Kenninghall after Arthur Wells listed in your article. My family tree goes back to Henry Wells who died at Grove Farm in Banham around 1800. My son, his family and I come every couple of years to Norfolk and I always find something new and wonderful for my geneology. Norfolk has become a part of our soul, My son walks the land where they lived. For many years I paid dues to the friends of the windmills organization.
I do have an old picture of the mill in Kenninghall_on_Banham_road. Henry Wells Sr. was the man who did the wonderful steeple on the St. Mary's church in Banham. Two Wells sisters started the first school for teen age girls in Banham. My father came to America as a stow-away into San Francisco in 1910. Then went back to England and fought in WW1.
I will be coming once more to Norfolk hopefully next year bringing my grandchildren to experience this wonderful place that has so much history. I would be happy to have contact with someone in the area who might have some history to share. I am a real estate broker in North San Diego County. Still working at 80+. Wells was my maiden name.

Dorothy Curtis, San Diego, USA - 12th April 2010

O. S. Map 1882
O. S. Map 1882
Courtesy of NLS map images

Kelly's 1908: Harry Cross, shopkeeper
Kelly's 1912: Harry Cross, news agent
Kelly's 1922: Philip Goulder, farmer, Mount Pleasant

1863: Wooden tower of smockmill dismantled and new towermill built on brick base

1863: Robert Wells, miller

1868: Robert Wells, miller

1875: Executors of Robert Wells, millers

1878: Alexander Wells, miller

Sunday 3rd August 1879: Cap blown off mill in a storm

Kelly's 1879: Alexander Wells, miller & agent for Bagshaw's manure, Kenninghall mills

Census 1881: Alexander Wells (30) b. Mellis, Suffolk, miller & farmer employing 6 men and 1 boy
Maria Wells (35) b. Kenninghall, wife
Emily Wells (6) b. Kenninghall, scholar
George Wells (5) b. Kenninghall, scholar
Harry Wells (3) b. Kenninghall
Kate Wells (3) b. Kenninghall
Arthur Wells (1) b. Kenninghall
Jane Goddard (60) b. Forncett St. Peter, monthly nurse (SMS)
Louisa Belt, (17) b. Kenninghall, servant
Sarah A. Butcher (18) b. Kenninghall, nurse maid

Census 1881: George H. Witham (21) b.Kenninghall, miller. Living with parents at farm, The Heath, Kenninghall

White's 1883:
Alexander Wells, miller & corn merchant, Kenninghall mills, and at Bury St Edmunds; agent for Bagshaw's manures

O.S. map 1884: Windmill

22nd December 1885: Miss Sarah Ann Foyster, owner, died aged 72 and was buried in Kenninghall churchyard

May 1886: Mill advertised for sale by auction due to the death of Miss Foyster, owner

Kelly's 1892: Alexander Wells, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1896: Alexander Wells, miller (wind & steam) - also at Roydon Shelfanger Rd postmill

Kelly's 1900: Alexander Wells, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1904: Alexander Wells, miller (wind & steam)

January 1908: Frederick William Cross bankrupt

Kelly's 1908: Frank Percy Ward, miller (wind & steam); & at Fornham St. Martin, Suffolk

Kelly's 1912: Philip Goulder, miller (wind & steam) Mount Pleasant

Kelly's 1916: Philip Goulder, miller (wind & steam) & corn & seed merchant, Mount Pleasant

1919: One sail blown off in a storm and the opposite sail later removed to retain balance

1931: Mill derelict with 2 sails

Karl Wood painting 1936: Mill with cap and one pair of sails but no fan on fantail

1937: Mill with cap and one pair of sails but no fan on fantail

c.1960: Mill blown up

1970: Mrs. Kemp, Mill house

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 07836 675369 or

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007