Frank W. Gregory (1917-1998) A Milling Hero

Restoration of Caldbec Mill, Battle

November 02nd 2014 by Elizabeth Trout

Click here for more information on Caldbec mill.

Caldbec mill

Caldbec Mill is referred to variously in correspondence as The Old Mill, White’s Mill and the King’s Head or King’s Mead Mill. Frank’s first correspondence is a letter dated 22nd October 1965 in response to his request to visit the mill. Mr K.C. Leslie of SIAS sent a note dated 28th October 1968 regarding White Mill, passing on a message from Miss J.E.S. Robertson that the windshaft and cog are most probably available for preservation and that the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society are also interested. Mr Leslie suggests that they could be used at Polegate.

In November 1968 Frank corresponded with Mr R.P. Field, Surveyor and Engineer for the Rural District Council of Battle. He sent Frank two copies of drawings prepared by Mr Cloke under Mr Bewick’s instruction. The survey had been carried out urgently as the smock was being dismantled. He requests that Frank’s Trust makes a donation to an appeal fund that will be launched. This was followed by a letter from Miss M.A. Hanscomb, Clerk to Battle Parish Council, dated 22nd November, thanking Frank for his offer to give an illustrated lecture on windmills in aid of a fund towards the cost of the project. However, she indicated thanks but no thanks as any appeal would be run by the District Council. Frank drew a technical sketch of the mill and windshaft dated 28th October 1968 but no further correspondence is included as to Frank’s further involvement.

Caldbec Mill drawing

A letter from Ken Booker dated 1st June 1978 discusses a booklet about the King’s Head Mill, Caldbec. It is about its conversion to residential accommodation and was possibly just for family circulation. Ken suggests that Frank write to the owners to see if they have a copy. The last two letters Frank has regarding this mill are from 1986.

Mr K.A. Westwood, solicitor in the legal department of Exchange Travel (Holdings) Ltd, wrote on behalf of their Chairman, Mr G.L. McNally, who is the current owner of King’s Mead Windmill dated 20th February 1986. Apparently, the sails had been fixed so that they no longer rotated but Mr McNally was concerned that high winds “may cause undue stress on the sails or the structure of the tower” and Mr Westwood had been asked to seek advice. Frank’s name had been supplied by the engineer’s department of West Sussex Council as someone who is “qualified to give at least preliminary opinion on the condition of the tower of the Mill and the likely effects of storms upon it”. Frank has made a handwritten note on the letter that he visited on Tuesday 11th March at 9.30 and wrote or sent a report on the 12th. A personal letter dated 13th March from Gordon L. McNally thanks Frank for his visit and encloses a cheque for £50 as “fair compensation for your time and trouble”. Frank does not seem to have kept a copy of the report so there is no record of Frank’s advice.

[NB King’s Mead Windmill, Caldbec Hill was put on the market in April 2010 for £1.4 million.]

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