Frank W. Gregory Collection


February 05th 2010 by Ron Cookson

Frank W Gregory's collection of mill-related archival material has been catalogued as part of a collaborative project, hosted by the Mills Archive in partnership with the Weald & Downland Museum, and made possible thanks to a grant of £49,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Filming at Shipley in 1994
Filming at Shipley in 1994. In his Miller's Smock, Frank is photographed at Shipley Windmill by Peter Hill during filming for a local TV programme on 30th March 1994.

Frank William Gregory (1917-1998) was the Sussex authority on traditional mills, happily sharing his information and knowledge with everyone who had a similar interest. He painstakingly sketched, photographed and took notes at each mill he visited. Over 65 years, he built up an unrivalled record of windmlls and watermills in Sussex and beyond its borders, many of which have long since disappeared.

Supported by grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, the Mills Archive's has digitised and catalogued nearly 40,000 items from Frank's collection, which he left to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton on his death in 1998.

On the roof of High Salvington Mill

His direct involvement with several mill restorations demonstrated that Frank was at his happiest getting his hands dirty and passing on his advice and experience to fellow mill restorers. Here, Frank discusses the method of applying the final weatherboards to the roof of High Salvington Windmill with Peter Casebow.

Frank's interest in mills began as a boy when he accompanied his father on car journeys around Sussex. Born and bred in Brighton, Frank developed a reputation as an avid photographer, researcher and collector of material relating to every type of mill. He became interested in the subject early enough in life to talk to the last generation of active Sussex millers and Sussex millwrights while this valuable seam of first-hand knowledge could still be mined. His enthusiasm for the repair of mills was infectious and directly contributed to the preservation of several Sussex examples such as Park Mill at Bateman'sNutley post millPolegate tower mill and Shipley smock mill.

Frank meets Princess AlexandraFrank meets Princess Alexandra at the official opening of Lowfield Heath Windmill following its successful removal and rebuilding at Charlwood, Surrey, in 1990.

Frank Gregory's collection comprises large numbers of postcards, photographs, lantern slides and glass plate negatives, 35mm slides, measured drawings and field sketches, correspondence and ephemera, all relating to our heritage of traditional windmills and watermills in the UK and worldwide. Frank's lifelong passion for mills has resulted in a unique legacy of information. Many of the photographic and written records that Frank made and the materials he collected relate to mills that have since been destroyed, increasing the historical value of these records.

The mammoth task of organising and identifying thousands of unidentified images has been undertaken by the Archive's skilled volunteer team based in Reading and an expert panel formed by members of the Sussex Mills Group.

Working on Frank’s collection

Frank’s models of mill machinery

Sketches of Sussex watermills

Flour bags

Windmill restorations - 1960s to 1990s

Early views of mills from glass negatives & slides

Mills that didn’t make it

Millers, millwrights & enthusiasts

Frank's biography

Interested in viewing this collection?

You can visit us at the Mills Archive if you would like to view any of our collections. Just register your interest in making a visit and we'll liaise with you to arrange a suitable date and time.

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