'Windmill, Kempsey, Worcestershire', photograph by Benjamin Brecknell Turner

'Windmill, Kempsey, Worcestershire', photograph by Benjamin Brecknell Turner

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-1894)
'Windmill, Kempsey, Worcestershire'
England
1852-1854
Albumen print from paper negative
Museum no. PH.10-1982
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Kempsey was an ideal location for windmills, being in fact notoriously windy. In 1802 a hurricane blew the sails of the windmill round so fast that it was set on fire. This tower-mill has a wooden top that would have rotated - by means of the wheel and pulley rope attached - to allow the sails to face into the wind. The sails lack a substantial amount of canvas - a sign that the building was not in use for its original purpose. By the 1850s the use of windmills as a form of grinding grain was drawing to a close. They could not compete with the mechanised production of the new steam-driven mills.

Although a windmill had stood at Kempsey for over 500 years this one was the last. It was demolished about twenty years after the photograph - but the history of the site is still preserved in the present road name, 'Windmill Lane'. Today just the brick cottages to the right of the windmill, and a millstone in a nearby garden, remain. There are still views across open fields to the River Severn and the Malvern Hills beyond, though these are not visible on Turner's photograph.