A Brief History

by Shirley Matthews B.A. (Hows)

Little Marton Windmill was recorded on Yates map of 1786 as a post mill. The land was owned by the Clifton Estate, together with the fishery rights of Marton Mere, which lies in the hollow between Marton and Staining Windmills.

The current mill is actually a rebuild of another tower mill, when in the1830s widow Nancy Whalley was given the chance to rebuild the mill that she and her son John were using. Any bricks that were needed had to be bought from the local brick works nearby, and any salvaged material also. The bill when completed was not to exceed £800

Richard Blezard & Sons were the local millwrights, and some of the work was carried out by John Hayes. It was at that time quite a spectacle for a mill to be built, and caused quite a stir to the idyllic rustic countryside and its inhabitants. Fitting out was completed in late1838. There was also erected a new drying kiln, and John Whalley in the 1841 census was the miller.

For the latter part of the mill’s working life, George Bagot was miller, then later, the owner – John Talbot Clifton – decided to dispose of the land at Little Marton, Cornelius Bagot bought the mill in 1922 with the surrounding fields and the miller’s cottage. The Bagot’s also lived for a long time in Grahams House on the opposite side of the road to the mill, (sadly gone now). It was originally the Old Coaching House, an Inn for weary travellers on the old Roman Road that went to Kirkham.

Milling ceased in 1928, and in 1936 Cornelius became Chairman of C& S Brewery Ltd. So for many years the mill bore the slogan of the brewery on the outside of the mill.

When local author, poet, historian, and leading dialect writer Charles Allen Clarke died, his friend Conelius Bagot, gave Little Marton Windmill to the Allen Clarke Memorial Fund (The Speedwell Fellowship) to be kept as a permanent monument to Allen Clarke. A plaque commemorating Cornelius’s generous gesture was placed on the outside of the mill.

One of the benefactors who gave £500 was Mrs Bill Bickerstaffe, who’s husband was the Coxswain of the Blackpool Lifeboat. Charles Allen Clarke and the Coxswain were old chums, and Clarke wrote a lot about his friends’ heroic deeds at sea.

By 1950 with little funds the Fellowship persuaded Blackpool Corporation to takeover the mill, as it was a proving a huge responsibility to maintain. On May 24th 1955, a conveyance was executed, and the mill became the Blackpool Corporation’s responsibility. Various suggestions were made – a café, a church, a library – and Cllr George Peeks suggested demolishing it. The original deed when the council bought the mill, was that the mill must be maintained to a reasonable standard of repair and must be maintained as an everlasting memorial to Charles Allen Clarke together with the surrounding sward of green.

The Shepherd family became tenants for a year, making poultry appliances and living in the malt house. Then the 53rd Blackpool Scout Group (St Wilfred’s) used it as their headquarters, and made lots of repairs with help from the community, until it was deemed by Health & Safety in later years, to be unsafe for use as a meeting place. It was then mostly used as a storage place for the Scouts’ equipment. They continued to lease the mill from the council, at a peppercorn rent.

Charles Allen Clarke’s grandaughter fought to have a replica plaque put on the outside, as the original was deemed to be at risk, and eventually a replica was made, which can be seen on the outside of the mill. And thanks to Andy Cressey of Marton Mere Caravan Park, the newly formed ‘Friends of Little Marton Windmill’ received the funding for exterior paintwork to be done.

© Shirley Matthews B.A. (Hons) 2013

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