The country celebrated its many and varied windmill and water mill sites during the NATIONAL MILLS WEEKEND in May and, as part of that, Drapers Windmill had a very popular open weekend.

Nationally, you can find out more about this special weekend here: https://www.spab.org.uk/mills/NMW



In a shed at the rear of the windmill sits our 1920 Crossley gas engine, installed to enable the mill to operate without the need for wind. It celebrates its 104th birthday this year.

The Crossley Brothers gas engine, a Type GE117, was originally outshopped from their Openshaw works, in Manchester on 24 April 1920. An order was originally received from the well-known hairbrush manufacturer, Messrs Mason Pearson Brothers, whose works were at Royal Victor Place in Old Ford, East London.

It is rated at 28hp/31bhp and fitted with a 6ft 6in flywheel. The engine has an all-up weight of 4 tons, engine erectors from Crossley's London showrooms and workshops installed the engine into the specially prepared engine room. It was connected to the local town's gas supply. This engine then drove the factory shafting to the woodworking machinery on the belt. Over the years, it was fitted with two sets of cylinder liners and pistons and a set of new piston rings in the early 1960s.

Sometime later, it was removed from the works and put into store in London. In 1997 it was acquired by the Drapers Windmill Trust and installed by experts into the engine room, where today it can be seen running sweetly and is greatly admired.

It should be noted that Mason Pearson are still trading today, manufacturing high-quality hairbrushes as well as other hair products, with a shop in Old Bond Street, London, as well as other outlets worldwide. Their factory today is in Rainham, Essex, and they are in their 138th year of manufacturing.  They attended the 100th anniversary of their old Crossley gas engine.

Tim Keenan, April 2020

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