Last Updated:

15 Jun 2020

Old Windmill, Gateshead

Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

54.957452, -1.612351

This is a

Windmill

Founded in 

17th Century

Current status is

Demolished

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The foundations are preserved in a local park and can be seen on Google Street View.

'This Windmill was marked as ‘Old’ on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey plan, so was out of use by 1856, though presumably still standing at that time. Windmill Hills was one of the areas of medieval common land of Gateshead. From the Middle Ages Gateshead was one of the main centres of wind powered milling in County Durham, the value of Windmill Hills for this purpose being recognized by the 17th century. Richardson's mid-19th century engraving shows ten mills in the area, seven on Windmill Hills. In style these were windmills of the post-mill variety, having timber bodies and sails set upon brick or stone roundhouses, some of which were later turned into dwellings. All of Gatesheads mills were closed by 1890 and a report in the Evening Chronicle in 1927 marks the demolition of the last of the old windmills on Windmill Hills. In the later 18th century and 19th century the Windmill Hills were used by the local militia as an exercise ground and by the populace of the town for recreational purposes. In 1861 it became Gateshead's first public park.'

- Sitelines

The Old Windmill can be seen on both editions, though the structure predates the publication by at least 150 years.

In the 1860s, Windmill Mill was a fairly rural area just outside the town of Gateshead, on the main road down to Dunston and beyond. There were multiple mills in the area taking advantage of the high vantage point above the Tyne.

The second edition almost looks like a different area. The angular sprawl of Gateshead reached the Teams and nearly Dunston at this point, so Windmill Hill was no longer an area itself but Bensham. By this point no mills were operating in the area, and food production intensified in other areas.

By 1921 the only trace of the Old Windmill was its area, 'Windmill Hills'. Its ruins were still extant as the foundation stones still appear in a public park, however are not significant enough to be labelled around the substantial developments. This was Gateshead's first certified public park, and was a local oasis for workers and families inside a likely polluted and dense area.

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Painting of Windmill Hills, 1818 by Thomas Miles Richardson for the Pease Family. The painting illustrates a view towards the Tyne looking at Benwell and Dunston to the left. Kings Meadow Island is in the centre of the Tyne, which was later dredged for ships to access the industry along the Tyne. This may be the windmill discussed however this area, now Bensham, had a dozen or more at one point or another.

Retrieved from artuk.org

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Painting of Windmill Hills by Myles Birket Foster, 1870. This is likely the Windmill situated further south close to Millford Terrace, as the Windmill discussed was disused by this point. However, this illustration is still worth mention. We can see the extraordinary landscape of Gateshead at this point, with the painting facing the bustling metropolis of Newcastle. Various icons can be seen such as the Cathedral, the High Level Bridge and the castle. The building in the foreground is likely Rabbitbanks Firebrick Works as this was produced close to the time of the OS first edition.

Retrieved from watercolourworld.org

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