Building windmills on top of watermills: The Derek Odgen Collection

January 23rd 2018 by Liz Bartram

To celebrate #GivingTuesday, we are highlighting a collection available for adoption. Today’s collection is the Derek Ogden Collection. A millwright for many years, Derek repaired mills throughout the UK until he moved to the USA in 1974, continuing his mill work across the pond. His life’s work is documented in detail in the notes, photographs and drawings in his collection.
Poster Image

Back in 2001 when we were considering setting up the Mills Archive, Derek offered us his material, as he was concerned for the future of his life’s work. This was our first promise of millwrighting files and drawings and we said we would be delighted to take these into safe custody. With every mill Derek was asked to work on he would do his own drawings for the repair or replacement of parts of the mill, and he kept a file on each with great detail. This amounted to over 200 files, most with drawings.

His files on UK mills eventually got through customs in a crate and made their way to the Archive, and a few years later the US files followed.  More than 100 digital images are featured in our catalogue. As well as the files there are reports, correspondence and photographs as well as other documents relating to UK and US millwrighting projects between 1963 and 2010. Further material including 100 photograph albums are still to come.

The drawing above shows Cann Watermill. In around 1970 Norman Stoate, miller of Cann Watermill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, commissioned Derek Ogden to build him a portugese style windmill on the roof of the watermill. Although it had the appearance of a folly, the windmill could be made to lend a hand, driving its own pair of millstones. It was demolished in 2008 when an extra storey was added to the watermill building.

The photo below shows volunteer Beth working on repackaging and cataloguing Derek’s files:

Derek says he is very happy to know it is all safe with us and hopes it was worth waiting for! He says he now knows they are in good hands, although he will soon have nothing but fond memories to look back on.

To find out more and to browse all the adoptable collections, click here.

Mildred also wrote an article about Derek and his collection, featuring highlights from his material. Read the article here.