Hahndorf, Windmill (1842–1864) - Nixon’s Mill
A tower windmill on West Hill aka Windmill Hill
The following collection of Newspaper and other articles concerning FR Nixon and Nixon's Windmill was compiled by Bernard Arnold, Gumeracha and District History Centre Inc.
Southern Australian 28/7/1838 p. 4.
To the Editor of the Southern Australian.
SIR. — I shall feel obliged by your inserting the two accompanying letters in your next paper. They may be the means of preventing any misstatements. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, F.R. NIXON. Adelaide, July 25, 1838.
To: George Kingston, Esq., Surveyor General.
Adelaide, July 18, 1838.
SIR, — With reference to what passed yesterday, I desire to recall your attention. perhaps I was not sufficiently explanatory, or that I did not give sufficient reasons as good grounds for shewing any angry feelings relative to my remaining in the Survey Office. In the first place, you plainly told me last week, when I gave you my reasons for preferring more active employment,' that I could remove into the field the ensuing week, and that the map I was then drawing would be the last required of me." This is not the case; and I think I may fairly infer this to be a breach of faith on you part—particularly as there was no apology made, but rather a stern command to proceed with the others, which naturally induced me to suppose it was your determination to detain me there altogether. And your refusing to comply with my earnest wishes also seemed to imply that there was no necessity for believing what I stated as reasons for leaving the office — "That it would be injurious to my health, and that I should not have accepted the situation of Assistant Surveyor had I imagined for a moment a desk would be my doom." And secondly, I conceived (whether erroneously or otherwise, I know not) your manner was rather that of a master with his slave than as the conduct of one gentleman towards another — no matter how differently situated in poin of office. I say perhaps this only imaginary; but somehow it is not difficult to perceive even through trifles, the behaviour of a man — be it gentlemanly or otherwise. What I allude to, you may be ignorant of, but should you desire, I shall have no objection to remind you.
These reasons, coupled with a circumstance which if not treacherous, was certainly unkind, and which I can never readily forget — is no less than the letter of introduction you were so good as to give me to Col. Light, which only appeared as information to induce him to suppose me as incompetent to fill the office of a surveyor, thereby placing me in a very unpleasant position with him; and at the same time not saying much for those who were good enough to appoint me to a situation I knew nothing about. Were it to any other than to Col. Light that that letter had been directed, the chances were, I might have sought friends and employment elsewhere — and really after coming so far, first resigning a permanent situation at home, you yourself must allow was rather unkind to place me in so precarious a posture.
Now situated as I am, as regards my appointment with the Commissioners, I intend, as I before stated in a former letter to you, to perform my duty as a surveyor as far as is in my power; but to assume the station of clerk, office-keeper, or draftsman in the Survey Office, I conceive (with due respect to you), to be entirely foreign to the original meaning of my engagement — I therefore beg, at your earliest convenience, to be sent, as my brother officers are, into the field.
I am, Sir, Your most obedient servant, F.R. NIXON, Assistant Surveyor.
To: The Hon. Colonial Commissioner, &c., &c.
Adelaide, July 19, 1838.
SIR, — In inclosing the accompanying letter addressed by me to Mr Kingston, to you, I have the honour to state that on mature deliberation, I find I cannot consistently with the feelings of a gentleman, continue to hold office under one who so entirely forgets the courtesy due from one gentleman to another; and much as it annoys me that I cannot continue on the survey of this country, I am forced to resign into your hands my appointment as Assistant Surveyor.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant. F.R. NIXON.
SA Gazette & Colonial Register 10/11/1838
LAND OFFICE. Adelaide, November 7, 1838.
G.S. Kingston, Esq., having resigned the office of Deputy Surveyor-General…
Southern Australian 10/11/1838 p. 4.
Nov. 2nd. — Land Office. — His Excellency the Resident Commissioner, has been pleased to appoint the undermentioned gentlemen to be Assistant Surveyors for the province:– Messrs Geo. Ormsby, John Cannan, Alfred Hardy, B.P. Winter, and F.R. Nixon.
These appointments to bear date the 29th day of October, 1838.
Southern Australian 27/10/1840 p. 4.
LAND TO BE SOLD. An 80-acre section No. 4429, in the district of Mount Barker. It is within a quarter of a mile of the new town of Mount Barker. Price £160 cash. Apply to F.R. Nixon, Club House, 20th October, 1840.
GRO book 2, page 29, 27/7/1842, indenture of mortgage Section 3819  80 acres.
GRO book 2, page 436, mortgage to James Poole, Section 3819  80 acres, £132.
GRO book 3, page 228, 8/11/1843, F.R. Nixon of Westhill, Mount Barker, and James Poole of the Great Eastern road Section 3819, 80 acres, release of the equity of redemption.
GRO book 4, page 222, 30/10/1844, F.R. Nixon, of Westhill, surveyor, conveyance to Walter Paterson of Greenbank, Mount Barker, farmer, all that section of land numbered 3810, 12 acres, and also all that the windmill erected and built thereon together with the machinery, mill gears, rights, members and appurtenances thereto belonging" for £120 cash.
GRO book 76, page 402; 6/5/1845, Land Grant to F.R. Nixon, 12 acres for payment of £12, Section 3810 12 acres
Reg 25/3/1843 1c.
To Millers and Agriculturists. To be sold or let, with immediate possession, together or in lots, an 80-acre section of excellent land, with all its improvements and advantages. Also, a substantial tower windmill on the estate, with one pair of stones, and dressing mill [bolter] .. It is situated in a central position, in the thickly populated and superior corn-growing district of Mount Barker. There being no other mill nearer than Adelaide, it has been recently wrought with success by the proprietor. A trifling expense will attach another pair of stones and threshing mill to the same power. Two-thirds of the purchase money may remain on the security of the section. If let, the lessee may be accommodated with all utensils requisite to work the mill, and also, with some excellent dairy cows in flush of milk, and bullocks. For particulars, and to treat for the same, apply at Mr Ridley’s office, Hindley Street.
South Australian Land Returns for 1843 (compiled by James Allen, 1844)
F.R. Nixon, West Hill Mill, 20a wheat, 2 pigs, 5 goats.
Walter Paterson, Greenbank, 35a wheat, 1a barley, 4a potatoes, 40 cattle, 2 pigs.
Reg 28/2/1844. 2a.
For Sale by Private Contract. Windmill at Hahndorf, West Hill. The above mill drives one pair of stones (four feet French burrs), with power sufficient for two pairs, with twelve acres of land, two piesé houses, stone and tower 30 feet high. For particulars, apply to Messrs Lambert and Son, Auctioneers, Hindley Street.
South Australian 21/2/1845 p. 3.
VIEWS IN ADELAIDE AND VICINITY. — We have had the pleasure of inspecting a number of etchings by F.R. Nixon, Esq., of some of the most interesting scenes in Adelaide and its neighbourhood. As Mr Nixon is self-taught in his art, and had to manufacture all his machinery for preparing and pressing his etchings, he deserves the greatest credit for his industry, perseverance, and skill. Without reference to any of the disadvantages under which the author has laboured, the etchings are superior as works of art, and accurately as well as pleasingly depict the scenes which they represent. Mr Nixon is also engaged in making an etching of Mr Ridley's reaping machine, which he intends publishing in a few days.
South Australian 16/5/1845 p. 3.
NEW MINES … copper … on the Onkaparinga River … One section secured by Frederick Nixon.
South Australian 20/6/1845 p. 3.
CORRESPONDENCE. - To the Editor of the South Australian.
SIR, — In your valuable paper of Tuesday last I was enabled to make some few observations on the style of Mr [G.F.] Angas' drawings. The inspection of these works had been for some time permitted to the public, and, as such, have long been subject to various criticism. In dwelling on this topic, I had hoped to have elicited, in return, such remarks on the art and style of drawing as would have improved the taste, and added to the discernment of the public. Guess, therefore, my surprise on reading in the Register a torrent of vile abuse, characteristic of the channel from whence alone it could have proceeded, and reeking with the impertinence of its editor.
I had intended administering to this person the correction he deserved; but, when I reflected on the usual sterility of his columns, and on the absolute necessity of their being filled, I determined on giving him no further opportunity for disgusting his readers, all of whom alternately (he has but few) may be subject to his malice, although actually instrumental to his support.
I shall treat all further attacks with the contempt he is accustomed to.
I am, Sir, Your obedient servant, F.R. NIXON.
South Australian 24/3/1846 p. 1.
SURVEYING. - The undersigned is prepared to mark out cattle and sheep runs; and also to undertake the subdivision of properties, and furnishing plans of estates &c. F.R. NIXON. For particulars, apply at Messrs Hamilton & Henderson, King William Street.
Southern Australian 17/11/1846 4b.
SALES BY AUCTION. A powerful windmill, in full work, situated in Mount Barker, to be disposed of on easy terms to the purchaser. For particulars, apply to J.B. Neales, Government Auctioneer.
Colonists, Copper and Corn 1850-51
About half-way from Mount Barker is a small wind flour-mill, the sails of which appeared to us rather suddenly among the trees. At the hill top, near the miller’s house, the wood ceases, and a fertile descent, with the sloping farms ...
Observer 24/7/1852 1d.
TO BE LET OR SOLD, the WINDMILL on the Great Eastern Road, leading from Hahndorf to Mount Barker township, and being about midway between both. For particulars apply at the mill, or to Mr Walter Patterson, at his residence, near Mount Barker. July 23rd, 1852.
Almanack 1855 District of Echunga
Wittwer, F.W., miller, Windmill, Hahndorf.
Hallack, E.H. Our Townships Farms and Homesteads 1892 Also in Obs 6/8/1892 10a.
P 90 Hahndorf. “Then the hill, on whose saddle sits the windmill after which it is named, is reached. The old-fashioned sugar-loaf shaped tower of the flour mill, built by Mr Walter Paterson [sic], stands as a land-mark. Of the wheel there is only now one wooden spoke left.
The Old Mill 1899. Painting by Sir Hans Heysen
from Thiele, Colin, "Heysen's Early Hahndorf." [See above; not from life—in 1892 there remained just two sail-stocks while the painting shows three.]
MBC 4/5/1894 2f.
Obituary—Walter Paterson of near Mt Barker who died on 28/4/1894.
Born 1/4/1811. Built first threshing machine (of wood) in S.A.; bullock power; did good work for several years. Also built other farm implements and dray (for himself). Built first house in Mt Barker (for Duncan McFarlane). He bought the windmill mid-way between Mt Barker and Hahndorf, working it himself for a number of years, and many was the half-bag [120 lb.] of wheat the small settlers carried on their backs for miles to the mill to be made into flour.
Obs 5/5/1894 30d.
THE LATE MR WALTER PATERSON.
In our obituary notices is recorded the death from senile decay on April 28, at his residence, Yunkunga, near Mount Barker, of Mr Walter Paterson, a colonist of fifty-five years. The deceased was a son of Mr John Paterson, farmer, of Banffshire Scotland, and was born on April 1, 1811. He married Miss Helen McGregor, in June 1833, and followed farming until towards the end of 1838, when he sailed with his family for South Australia in the ship Resource, arriving at Holdfast Bay in January, 1839. On landing he went to work for Mr Hack, of Echunga, as a builder, &c., and after six months he took contracts to build houses
In 1841 he joined Mr Thomas Lambert in the purchase of 40 acres at Green Bank, near Mount Barker, and by dint of much hard work succeeded in getting a snug home. At this time he had the misfortune to lose his wife, who died on October 18, 1842, leaving him with five little children. In his spare time, between seeding and harvest, he built a threshing machine, the first in the colony. It was all of wood, even to the cog wheels, and for several years did its work well. He also built a bullock dray, plough, harrows, and in fact made everything required on the farm, even a clock, all of wood, and took contracts to build houses for new settlers. He erected the first house in the Mount Barker township, the owner being the late Mr Duncan McFarlane. After this he bought the windmill midway between Mount Barker and Hahndorf, and worked it himself for a number of years. When Ridley's first reaping machine was sent to Mount Barker Mr Walter Paterson saw it, and started at once to build the first reaping machine used in the Mount Barker district, making everything himself except the wheels. Bullocks were the only motive power in those days. This machine was in such demand for a number of years that orders for reaping had to be refused even at the enormous price of £1 per acre and the farmers finding teams and drivers, so that the machine usually earned from £200 to £300 per annum. Mr Paterson claimed to have done more than any other man in the colony towards bringing the Ridley reaper to perfection. As years rolled on the firm took up Bungaroola and Yunkunga land, and also extended their farm operations. In 1851 Mr Paterson and Lambert dissolved partnership, the latter taking Green Bank and Bungaroola and Mr Paterson taking Yunkunga, two flocks of sheep, and about fifty head of cattle. Mr Paterson then bought from Mr Samuel Davenport 3,000 sheep, and leased country in Hall's Creek, Bugle Ranges. He also purchased a farm in the Bremer, near Callington, where he accumulated wealth for a number of years. Becoming the owner of Mount Attraction Station, near Hergott Springs, in 1864 he lost all the stock from the drought of 1864-5-6, which almost ruined him, and the station had to be abandoned. After this he bought a farm at the Hummocks, but only kept it three years. Taking up 1,000 acres at Clinton, Yorke's Peninsula, he worked it in conjunction with Yunkunga for the last fifteen years, but bad seasons and low prices made it very hard for him to pull through. Being a man of broad and liberal principles, he agitated for the Real property Act, and always was a staunch supporter of universal suffrage, voting by ballot, and local government. Made a study of phrenology, and some years ago he frequently lectured on the subject…
Obs 4/8/1900 15c.
A LINK WITH THE PAST - AN INTERESTING LANDMARK.
One by one the old landmarks which serve as interesting connections between the present days of commercial progress and national advancement and the buried generations of the past, are disappearing. Old Father Time has claimed many of his own, and others have had to make way for the improved structures which modern civilisation demands. One of the few remaining relics of the days that have gone stands near the main road midway between Mount Barker and Hahndorf, on an eminence, from which for well-nigh sixty years it has braved wind and weather. The old windmill (of which we give an illustration) stands as a monument of the pluck and industry of our pioneer colonists, and as an example, too, of from what humble beginnings our colony has been evolved, and many old associations cling round its time-worn walls and decaying woodwork. Travellers from Adelaide to Mount Barker in the spring-cart, which in the early days constituted the only means of transit between the city and the pretty hills town, and by which the mails were carried, breathed a sigh of relief as the white masonwork came in view round a turn in the rough bush track, and the trying journey neared its termination. Overlanders to Melbourne rested in its welcome shade after the fatiguing climb up the Hahndorf hills. And the large bands of Chinese on their way to the Victorian diggings paused in open-mouthed astonishment at its whirling sails and rumbling wooden wheels. The old mill has long been silent, and its crumbling works no longer respond to the breezes of the neighbouring trees; but even in its present dilapidated condition, it forms one of the colony’s most interesting relics of days gone by, and its solid structure is emblematic of that hardy band who entered so nobly into the work of colonization in order that those who came after them might reap the results of their labour. It is not possible to secure exact dates in respect to this historical building; but from what is known by the oldest inhabitant,” it is safe to put down the time of its erection as somewhere in the early forties. It owed its construction to the enterprise of a Mr Dixon [Nixon], the works being made of wood by, we think, the late Walter Paterson, of Yunkunga, near Mount Barker—a pioneer famous for his inventive and constructive genius. Mr Paterson acquired the mill later on, and afterwards handed it over to the late father of Mr F.W. Wittmer [Wittwer], the proprietor of the present Hahndorf mills, the price paid being £320. Mr Wittmer worked it for a number of years, and abandoned it to go into the present modern steam-driven mill at the picturesque German township. Farmers who occupied the scattered holdings of the surrounding districts paid 10d. a bushel to have their grain ground into flour, and it was a familiar sight in the pioneer days to see both men and women toiling up the hills with bags and half-bags of wheat. What a contrast is presented in the condition of the present-time farmer, who crops his land and reaps his grain by automatic machinery, and whose grain is sent by rail to the mills, with their perfect roller systems, with that of the old hand-workers of bygone years! What illustrations of the century’s development! In spite of the numerous advantages that science and skill have provided for him the agriculturist of today has reason for envy in one respect at least, however — the 20s. and 26s. a bushel given for wheat in the days long ago!
Obs 9/8/1902 p25, picture.
Pic. "Old Mill" on Mount Barker Road. This mill, known as Nixon's, is between Hahndorf and Mount Barker. It was erected in 1839 [sic] and used as a grist mill for many years by Mr Walter Paterson. Photo H.M. Paterson. [Showing two sail stocks, brake wheel, part of cap, and tail-pole.]
supplement. Picture: The Old Mill..
Obs 27/1/1912 52d.
BUSH FIRES. … early on Sunday morning [thus 21 January] … The old landmark on the top of Windmill Hill — Mr John Dunn's original windmill for his first flour mill [confusion with Hay Valley windmill] — was practically shorn of its arms, and now looks a sorry spectacle.
MBC 2/2/1912 2ef.
AN HISTORICAL LANDMARK. The old windmill which was destroyed by the fire [recent bushfires] has been a conspicuous landmark on the top of the Windmill Hill, between Mount Barker and Hahndorf, for over 70 years. For more than half that period it has stood idle. In the district it is generally believed to be the first windmill ever erected in South Australia. It was constructed by the late Mr F.W. Wittwer, the well-known miller of Hahndorf, who, however, after some years of trial decided to adopt steam as his driving power. Mr John Dunn, the founder of the well-known milling firm, erected a windmill in Hay Valley, between Woodside and Nairne, early in the forties. That, however, was built entirely of timber, whereas Mr Wittwer's mill was substantially constructed of stone, and was circular in shape. It is not likely that the walls can have been much damaged by the fire, although the timbering has been burned out. There are few people living in the Hahndorf or Mount Barker district who remember the days before the mill was erected, and it was not only a well-known landmark, but also an interesting memorial of the pioneering days in the milling industry. It seems a pity, in the circumstances, that, precautions were not taken to preserve it.
Chr. 2/12/1922 p. 31.
STATE'S FIRST MILL. A MOUNT BARKER LANDMARK. - The first stone windmill erected in South Australia is about a mile from Mount Barker. It was built about 1840 by some German settlers. S.A. Govt. photo."
Reg 9/4/1923 8fg.
ADELAIDE’S FIRST MILLS. - Water, Wind, and Steam. By A.T. Saunders.
… But 17/11/1846 (4b), the powerful windmill in Mount Barker in full work is for sale on easy terms to the purchaser. The Register (24/2/1844 2a) announces that the windmill at West Hill, Hahndorf, is for sale; one pair of stones, 12 acres of land, and two pisé houses, and stone tower, 30 feet high.
WINDMILLS OF THE EARLY FORTIES — Stephen Parsons
To the Editor - Sir, I feel gratified at the interest aroused by my article on the above heading. Quite a number have seen me personally and others have communicated by post. Unfortunately no one belonging to the period when these mills were in operation is amongst them, as they have all passed into the unseen, but many of the generation following seem much interested, especially in the old windmill on Windmill Hill. A week or two ago a very elderly lady waited on me and informed me that she was the daughter of Mr Paterson, the first proprietor of the mill, and that she was born in the little cottage adjoining the windmill. From a story she narrated, she should be congratulated on being alive to tell the tale, which is as follows:– In the early days of her babyhood, when just able to toddle, she one day got so near the revolving arms of the mill that one of them tossed her into the air, and it was only by the timely rescue of her father that the episode did not end in tragedy!
A gentleman who is now farming in the Monarto district wrote me last week, and his letter was so interesting that I have obtained his permission to use his name and such extracts as would be of interest to the public. The gentleman referred to is Mr R.S. McDonald. He says:– ‘My late father worked in the mill on Windmill Hill. He was a brother-in-law of Mr Paterson, the owner. He arrived in the colony in 1850, and went to work at the windmill for 12/6 per week, and had to keep a wife and four children (how does this compare with present-day conditions?) Mr Paterson was something in the way of a phrenologist, and was the terror of my boyhood’s days in that at every visit to my home my head was brought under his hand, and he used to recite aloud my faults and tendencies so accurately that I had the belief that someone told him of them beforehand, and my good old mother used to continually remind me of what he had said, and warned me where they would lead me to if not corrected. Going to the city recently I stopped at the Windmill Hill, and went up with some of my daughters and looked at the old building. It is a pity it could not be preserved. I would willingly give a donation for that purpose if the matter were taken up.’ In a subsequent communication Mr McDonald again refers to this, and thinks that the District Council of Mount Barker should move in the matter. He says that in a visit he made to Perth, W.A., five or six years ago, there was a similar project on foot of preserving the walls of one of the early windmills of that state at Millpoint, South Perth, where, although only the remains of the walls could be seen, they were evidently highly prized by the residents, and action was taken for their preservation.
Personally I think Mr McDonald’s suggestion is a good one, and should be taken up. These old relics of bygone days will become more and more interesting and increasingly valuable as time goes on. The old windmill referred to is so picturesque, perched as it is on the top of the range, that it could be made a very attractive resort, and at least if nothing else is done, there should be a suitable bronze plate cast, giving a few particulars concerning the mill, such as date of erection, by whom built, how long it worked, the fact that it was the first complete windmill erected in the State, &c. I say complete, because the other windmill to which I referred, viz., Dunn’s, at Hay Valley, near Nairne, although erected a year earlier than the one on Windmill Hill, was less complete, inasmuch as the roof was a fixture so as to catch the prevailing winds, but could not be turned so as to take advantage of winds from every point of the compass, as was the case in that on Windmill Hill. I hope even now it is not too late for the district council to make a move in the matter.— I am &c., Stephen Parsons.
Adv. 2/4/1928 16b. - WINDMILLS OF THE EARLY FORTIES.
By Stephen Parsons, No. II. - WINDMILL HILL
Dunn’s Hay Valley mill had been working about a year when the second windmill erected in the province was built on what is now known as Windmill Hill, about midway between Mount Barker and Hahndorf, and only a stone’s throw from the main road. It is now almost hidden by the foliage of surrounding trees. The walls being of stone are in a good state of preservation, and when I first knew it in my childhood days the wooden roof was intact, with one gaunt arm pointing to the sky, but these have long succumbed to the ravages of time. This interesting old landmark has stood for the past 85 years a lonely sentinel on the hilltop, keeping a watchful eye on the country for miles around. It was built when the only roads were tracks made through the scrub by early settlers. Later on, when roads were made, it witnessed the advent and exit of mail coach days, though many years have elapsed since the walls reverberated the music of the guard’s bugle as the gaudily painted coach topped Windmill Hill. What interesting scenes it has witnessed during its long vigil, and what events and memories it could recall and record. If, as Shakespeare says, we can find “tongues in trees and sermons in stones,” it would say that the mode of travel and method of conveyance with which it was first acquainted was by the slow-going bullock team that with low rumbling sound and measured tread meandered up the hill, urged on by the snap and crackle of the driver’s whip enforced by language which, if not always polite, was certainly expressive! These and superseding developments have in turn given place to the hustling, hurry-scurrying motor car and lorry with their scaring-raucous toot.
This old windmill has had a fascination for me ever since my childhood days. How often when passing and re-passing it as a boy have I wondered what was its history, who built it, and when and how long it was in use, and whenever I chanced to meet anyone who I thought could unravel the mystery or satisfy my curiosity. I never failed to seek information, but without avail, as the story of its activities stretched away back into the dim vista of the past, beyond living ken. In order to solve this problem and glean information that might be of service to others I have devoted spare hours to searching up old records and registrations in the Lands Titles Office, and in the archives and Public Library, with the following result:–
The original grantee of the section on which the windmill stands was Mr F.R. Nixon, described as a surveyor, of Mount Barker. I believe he was one of the surveyors who came out with Colonel Light, and when in 1839 what is known as the “special survey” of Mount Barker and surrounding country was commenced, Nixon had charge of one of the survey parties. This section was not available for selection till about 1841, when Nixon’s application to purchase was granted. He undoubtedly built or had the windmill erected in 1842, and probably either worked it himself or leased it for a short period.
Whether it was a financial success it is difficult to say, but some light may be thrown on the matter from an advertisement in an old newspaper under date February 24, 1844, in which the property was offered for sale. The advertisement states that it consisted of 12 acres of land, that the windmill drives one pair of stones, with sufficient power for two pairs, and that two pisé houses formed part of the property. This advertisement may have been responsible for the sale of the property, as by a memorial registered in the General Registry Office, Adelaide, dated 30th October, 1844, Mr Nixon sells to Walter Paterson, of Mount Barker, the following:– Twelve acres of land with windmill and erections thereon, together with machinery, mill gear, rights, members, and appurtenances thereto belonging: the purchase price being £220. The witness to this transaction was Henry Ayers, clerk to Messrs Smart & Bayne, solicitors, Adelaide. This gentleman, years afterwards known as Sir Henry Ayers, M.P., played a very important part as a public man in the affairs of the colony.
Compared with present-day prices and values, Mr Paterson would appear to have got a bargain, as to sell a windmill in complete working order with all the necessary machinery and outbuildings and 12 acres of land for £220 seems astounding, and one would think it was not a very profitable transaction for Nixon. It however was probably influenced by the fact that at this period the fate of the young Colony of South Australia was trembling in the balance, and had been for some time, owing to the dishonouring of Governor Gawler’s bills and drafts by the Government of the old country, which completely paralysed commercial and industrial enterprise, brought South Australia to the verge of insolvency, and had a very depressing effect on business for several years.
Mr Paterson evidently did not work the mill personally, as there are several registered records of leases to various persons who carried on milling business at Windmill Hill. One of these I note had to pay a rental of £40 per annum and keep the mill and machinery, gear, &c., in good working order at his own expense. Thus Paterson, who purchased in 1844, was the owner until August, 1853, when the whole property was sold by him to Friedrich Wilhelm Wittwer, who purchased the windmill and erections, building, machinery, gear, and all appurtenances for the sum of £320.
Mr F.W. Wittwer worked the mill for a period of 11 years, viz., until about 1864, when finding it inadequate for his expanding business, he dismantled it and placed the machinery in a mill to be worked by water, which was built near the junction of Cox’s Creek and the Onkaparinga. This was worked until 1869, when Mr Wittwer built a steam flour-mill at Hahndorf, which ran two sets of stones, one pair of which being those taken from the old windmill. These continued to do duty until 1882, when they were superseded by Ganz rollers, which were imported from Germany. I believe Mr Wittwer was the first to introduce roller mills into South Australia.
I have been unable to ascertain what became of the pair of stones that did service in Dunn’s old Hay Valley windmill, whose first job (according to an entry in Mr Dunn’s diary) was to grist four bags of wheat for a Scotsman who forgot to pay for it, but those from the old landmark on Windmill Hill, which were removed to Wittwer’s mill at Hahndorf, can still be seen there, as fit and able to work now as they were 85 years ago when first stirred into action, they commenced their career of usefulness in response to the gentle breeze or boisterous wind which in those far-off days swept over Windmill Hill. Here let me say that in the opinion of a large and ever growing section of the public, it was a bad day for South Australia when the old mill-stone had to give place to roller machinery. Doubtless the dentists and doctors have been benefited by the change, but the stamina and general health of the people have unquestionably suffered.
In closing my references to the old mill at Windmill Hill, that for years did such useful service in the days of our grandfathers, let us hope its circular stone walls will long continue to stand as a witness to future generations of the courage, determination, enterprise, and industry of those old pioneers who so well and truly laid the foundations of this great State.
[Pic. The Old Mill on Windmill Hill, Mount Barker Road. Vista through trees showing two sail-stocks with remnant sail-bars, cap frame and tail pole—the Paterson photo, see elsewhere.]
A RELIC OF THE EARLY DAYS. - Mr Stephen Parsons, from whom we have published contributions with reference to the old mill on Windmill Hill, writes:- This photo represents the mill as it appeared 36 years ago [thus 1892]. Unfortunately bush fires and the ravages of time have completely demolished the woodwork. It is a pity that steps were not taken years ago to preserve it. However, I am now communicating with the district council, asking them whether they will be willing to take steps to preserve the relic. This will probably be done if the owner is willing to hand it over to the council with a suitable area of land to be enclosed and possibly later converted into a beauty spot. The lady who supplied the photo is a grand-daughter of Mr Walter Patterson [sic], who first worked the mill on Windmill Hill. She told me rather an interesting story, which may add interest to the picture. The old windmill, she says, was the scene of rather an extraordinary event about 82 years ago [c1846], owing to a feud between the aboriginal tribes of Encounter Bay and Mount Barker. The scene of action was Windmill Hill, where the belligerents met and battle was set in array. Mr Patterson being alarmed, gathered his wife and young family together and locked them in the windmill, whilst he and one or two other white men did their best to quell the trouble. In this they were powerless. The fight, however, did not last long, as mounted troopers with drawn swords and revolvers were speedily on the scene, and suppressed the disturbance. Explanations were offered and an honourable understanding having been arrived at, the warriors dispersed, and the Encounter Bay tribe trekked back to the sea coast.
(Picture: repeat of previous image.]
THE WINDMILL HILL RELIC. - To the Editor. Sir, My article on the windmills of the early forties, which appeared in "The Advertiser" recently, and my subsequent letter of the 9th August, which accompanied your excellent reproduction of a photo of the old mill, have created considerable interest, especially amongst those to whom this old sentinel on the hilltop has been a lifelong recollection. I have received numerous letters and not a few verbal requests, suggesting that steps should be taken to have the old relic preserved for all time as a public memorial, with the result that I have communicated with the present owner, Mr Paul Braendler, and asked him whether he would be willing to donate the mill and a small piece of land to a committee, who would undertake to raise a fund to put the property in order, with the ultimate intention of handing it over to the Mount Barker District Council as custodians for all time. Mr Braendler having kindly consented to do so, a committee has been formed, consisting of Messrs Louis von Doussa, Rev. William Gray, of Mount Barker, Mr Herman Rundle, and myself, all of whom visited the old windmill on Saturday last, when an agreement was executed by which the property will be donated. The next step will be to raise the necessary funds, as it will need to be fenced, the walls repaired, the building roofed and sundry improvements effected. It is suggested that provisions should be made between the roof and the top of the walls for a look-out, as such an elevation would command an excellent view of the surrounding country for many miles. The committee hope at an early date to ask you to be good enough to receive public donations for the purpose of carrying the suggested programme to a successful issue. — I am, &c., Stephen Parsons. King William Street, June 11.
Adv 11/10/1928 18c.
THE OLD WINDMILL. By Stephen Parsons. - Hundreds of those who travel over Windmill Hill, and many others to whom the old windmill is inseparably interwoven with their earliest childhood's recollections, will be glad to know that steps are being taken to preserve the relic for all time as a public memorial. Mr L. von Doussa, of Mount Barker, Rev. W. Gray, Mr Herman Rundle, and myself, as a committee acting for the public, have arranged with the present owner, Mr A.E. Braendler, to donate the old mill and a small piece of land to the committee, to be handed over in due course to the Mount Barker District Council as custodians for the public, and an agreement has been entered into to that effect. As, however, renovations and improvements are contemplated, which will necessitate an expenditure of about £100, we purpose appealing to the public for donations to enable the committee to carry out the work. This will comprise fencing the land, repairs to the walls, providing doors, concrete floor and roof. The latter will be placed about 2 ft. above the height of the present walls, and the frame which carries it will be partly glazed, so as to provide a look-out and thus command extensive views to all points of the compass. Two floors will be necessary, with stairs or ladders to give access to the look-out. The old mill will thus not only become more prominent as a landmark, but will be a thing of interest and beauty. A bronze plate will be cast and affixed to the outside wall, which will briefly record the history of the windmill. The committee feel sure that a large section of the public will gladly contribute to this laudable object and thus hand on to generations yet unborn and old-time relic, which ministers to the needs and comforts, and evidenced the pluck, courage and enterprise of those grand old pioneers who 85 years ago, settled and cultivated the lands to the east of the Mount Lofty Ranges. This old windmill should be of interest, also, as being the first windmill and the third flour mill erected in the province (except the very primitive wooden structure built by John Dunn in Hay Valley, near Nairne, a year before, which only worked a short time). I shall be glad if you will kindly receive and acknowledge donations. The following have already been received:– Sir Langdon Bonython, £5/5/-, Mr Louis von Doussa, £5, Dr Angas Johnson £5, Stephen Parsons £5.
Adv 11/1/1929 22a-c.
(Picture of plaque. Krischock photo.)
THE OLD WINDMILL ON THE MOUNT BARKER ROAD. - Wording of plaque:– Preserved as a memorial of the pioneering days of South Australia. This windmill was built by F.R. Nixon in 1842 who sold it to Walter Paterson in 1844. It was worked by him until 1853, when it was sold to F.W. Wittwer. It ceased operations in 1864 and was donated to the public in 1928 by A.E. Braendler. Tablet presented by Walter Paterson's grandchildren.
The committee responsible for effecting alterations to the old landmark on Windmill Hill have now completed the necessary renovations, and the property will be formally handed over to the Mount Barker District Council as custodians for the public on Saturday afternoon, February 9. Sir Langdon Bonython will, on behalf of the committee, ask the chairman of the council to accept custody and control of the building as a public memorial. Dr Angas Johnson will represent the Royal Geographic Society, Mr C.H. Paterson, whose grandfather first worked the mill, will also speak. The Director of the Tourist Bureau has promised to run a motor coach trip, and afternoon tea will be available, so that the function should provide means for a pleasant outing. The work done comprises fencing, renovating, and strengthening the walls, providing floors and stairway, erecting a new roof and building a look-out from which extensive views can be obtained. A solid bronze tablet (of which the above is a photo) has been affixed to the building, which records the history of the mill. The committee consisting of Messrs Stephen Parsons, L. von Doussa, Rev. W. Gray, and H. Rundle, is responsible for an expenditure of about £120 in effecting the necessary repairs and improvements. About £100 is already in hand. The old mill and a piece of land have been donated by Me A.E. Braendler, and the Mount Barker District Council has formed the necessary drive from the main road to the building.
Adv 11/2/1929 16c-e.
Repeat picture of plaque.
AN HISTORIC RELIC. - WINDMILL ON MOUNT BARKER ROAD. - Amidst picturesque and historic surroundings the old windmill on the brow of a hill overlooking the road two miles from Mount Barker, was handed over to the control and custody of the local district council on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large gathering, including many old residents, who took advantage of the opportunity to exchange reminiscences of their youth. A number of people journeyed from the city in a Tourist Bureau car, and there were also many private cars from Adelaide and the Mount Barker district. Australia, compared with older settled countries, is lacking in prominent relics which serve as reminders of the past, and it is felt by many public-spirited citizens that everything possible should be done to preserve those we possess.
The gathering assembled at the base of the old windmill, which has been renovated so as to withstand the ravages of time. A picture of glorious scenery with a glimpse of the town of Mount Barker through the hills on one side, Mount Lofty on the other, and thickly wooded slopes in the near distance was unfolded. For those who wished to obtain a still better view a ladder is placed inside the structure leading to the top, where a platform is erected under a roof. The chief participants in the ceremony were seated on a platform on the ground. They included Mr Stephen Parsons (chairman), Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr L. von Doussa, Mr C.H. Paterson, the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council (Mr A.B. Fry), and Dr Angas Johnson, representing the Royal Geographical Society.
Mr von Doussa said on behalf of Mr A.E. Braendler, who was unable to be present, he desired to hand over the windmill and the land on which it was erected to the Mount Barker District Council so that it might be kept as a memorial for all time. (Applause).
The Mount Barker District Council Accept Custody - Sir Langdon Bonython, who was received with applause, said:– I attend here today with great pleasure to perform a very simple duty and that is to ask the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council to accept on behalf of the public the custody of the Old Windmill (always known as that even in its ruins) and the site on which it stands. In the first place I would like to express the warmest possible thanks to two gentlemen. One, of course is Mr Stephen Parsons, without whose untiring efforts we should not be here this afternoon. Mr Parsons is entitled to all praise for his public spirit and his determination that such an interesting relic of the past should not disappear, and be entirely forgotten. (Applause.) The other gentleman, as you may suppose, is Mr Braendler, the proprietor of the land, who with fine generosity has given the windmill and a site amply sufficient for the purposes of a public memorial. Mr Braendler has and deserves the heartiest thanks of all concerned. (Applause.) There have been associated with Mr Parsons other enthusiasts, such as the Rev. W. Gray, Mr Louis von Doussa, and Mr Herman Rundle, but in the interesting memorial now provided I am sure they feel that they are fully recompensed for any trouble they may have taken in the matter. And there has been trouble, because the memorial was not put into its present condition without the expenditure of money, and that money has had to be collected from friends. Somebody may ask, "What about this windmill on the Mount Barker Road? What makes it so interesting as an historical relic?" The answer is that it was the first windmill in South Australia, with the exception of a very primitive wooden structure erected just before, by Mr John Dunn at Hay Valley, which was only used for a short time. The windmill on the site where we are gathered was built in 1842 by Mr F.R. Nixon, who sold it to Mr Walter Paterson by whom it was worked for many years. I am glad to know that descendants of Mr Paterson are represented here today. (Applause.) From what I have said it will be realised that the windmill existed in the very early days of this State, when the beautiful country in which it is situated had just been opened up for settlement. It may be interesting to recall that nearly all the land covered by original surveys in this district was owned by the South Australian Company and Mr John Barton Hack. My memory of the old windmill carries me back a long way. My grandfather (who died in 1860) and grandmother lived at Mount Barker Springs, and when I visited them for the first time and saw the windmill on what even then was known as Windmill Hill. I must have been under 7 years of age. I travelled to Mount Barker in Foote's passenger cart. I wonder how many people remember that cart? (Mr von Doussa, "I do.") At the Vine Inn in Glen Osmond there was a halt, and each passenger was given a delicious peach—just the sort of thing to impress the memory of a child. (Hear, hear.) What a contrast there is between the road as it was then and as it is now, and between Foote's cart and the motor car of today! (Applause.) And this reminds me that windmills are gone too. They were very picturesque in the valley of the Torrens, at Piccadilly, and elsewhere, but they have been superseded and regrets are vain. I altogether approve of the tablet which is being placed on this memorial. Such tablets, I am glad to say, through the public action and wise foresight of Dr Angas Johnson and other gentlemen associated with him, are being made permanent memorials of important events in the history of South Australia. (Applause.)
Mr Fry, in accepting the gift on behalf of the council and the residents of the district, said the people were pleased to have possession of a relic of such historic interest. The council he felt sure, would exercise every care over it.
History of the Movement. - The chairman reviewed the history of the movement. To preserve the mill was, he said, one of the dreams of his boyhood days when he used to cart half a ton of goods to the mill through the roads which were very different then from now, and without a brake on the wheels. He was grateful to Providence for escaping serious accident. He had ferreted out the history of the mill, and Sir Langdon Bonython had been good enough to publish it in "The Advertiser," and take an interest in the movement. Assistance was lent by Dr Angas Johnson, Mr von Doussa, Mr Rundle, and the Rev. W. gray. the result was that they were able to spend between £120 and £130 on the windmill and make it presentable.
Mr von Doussa — We shall not be satisfied until we have the wings affixed and make it look more like a windmill. (Applause.)
Mr Parsons said he remembered when the gaunt arms of the mill looked up into the sky. They would not think that the building had been standing for more than 80 years. The opening up of the agricultural areas of the State had been associated with the history of the old windmill. It was the first flour mill erected outside Adelaide, and satisfied the wants of the farmers for years. It stood as a living memorial of the courage and enterprise of the grand old pioneers. (Applause.) He thanked the council for the sympathetic interest shown in the matter, and for making the road to the mill. (Applause.)
Dr Angas Johnson congratulated Mr Parsons on seeing the movement he initiated crowned with success. The Geographical Society was sympathetic towards all movements for the preservation of historic relic.
Mr C.H. Paterson, a grandson of Mr Walter Paterson, who owned the mill, and whose family contributed the funds for the bronze tablet now placed on the structure, said his father arrived in the State in 1839. He was the first to build a reaping machine drawn from the front, and invented the machine which developed into the stump-jumping plough. Mr Paterson was an example of an upright and industrious man. (Applause.)
Mr Robert S. McDonald, whose father worked for Mr Paterson in the old mill, spoke of his father's memories of the mill. He said they would get up at 2 o'clock in the morning to set the mill going when the wind was favourable, and carry bags of wheat weighing 280 lb. up a staircase to the top of the mill. He congratulated Mr Parsons and all concerned on the success of the memorial.
A vote of thanks to those who took part in the movement, and in particular to Sir Langdon Bonython for his attendance and interest, and also to Mr Braendler for the gift of the site, was moved by Mr von Doussa, seconded by the Rev. W. Gray, and carried by acclamation.
The bronze tablet affixed to the outer wall of the mill reads:– [see above].
Mount Barker Courier 15/2/1929 5cd.
(pic. cameo of tower and pic. of plaque.)
PRESENTED TO THE DISTRICT OF MOUNT BARKER - AN HISTORICAL RELIC. - Owing to the generosity of Mr Paul Braendler, and the enthusiasm of a committee of interested gentlemen, the Old Windmill, built by Mr F.R. Nixon on the top of Windmill Hill, Mount Barker, was handed over to the District Council of Mount Barker by Sir Langdon Bonython on Saturday afternoon, February 9th, 1929.
In spite of the heat and the blazing sun, there was a good attendance of local and visiting folk to witness the historic ceremony, and the road recently constructed by the Mount Barker District Council to the spot was used extensively by motors for the first time. The South Australian Tourist Bureau, as well as the Royal Geographical Society, were both interested, and the Tourist Bureau dispatched car loads from the city for the occasion. Dr Angas Johnson was present representing the RGS.
The committee responsible for the securing of the mill consisted of Messrs Stephen Parsons (chairman), L. von Doussa, Herman Rundle, and the Rev. W. Gray, and these proved a very live body, and quickly had the right people interested, and the appeal resulted in from £120 to £130 being raised with which to put the place in repair, paint, roof, and build a floor at the top and, of course, a staircase to reach it.
Mr Stephen Parsons was appointed to the chair on Saturday, and expressed his pleasure at seeing such a representative gathering.
Mr von Doussa, on behalf of Mr Paul Braendler, dedicated the windmill as a memorial to the old pioneers of the district. The speaker was sorry that Mr Braendler was not well enough to be present that afternoon. Mr von Doussa said that when the committee approached Mr Braendler with regard to securing the old mill as a relic worthy of preservation, Mr Braendler at once agreed to their proposal, and made the gift not only the mill, but sufficient land surrounding it for whatever purposes the committee required.
Sir Langdon Bonython, who was received with applause, said:– I attend here today with great pleasure to perform a very simple duty, and that is to ask the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council to accept on behalf of the public the custody of the Old Windmill (always known as that even in its ruins) and the site on which it stands. In the first place I would like to express the warmest possible thanks to two gentlemen. One, of course, is Mr Stephen Parsons, without whose untiring efforts we should not be here this afternoon. Mr Parsons is entitled to all praise for his public spirit and his determination that such an interesting relic of the past should not disappear and be entirely forgotten. (Applause.) The other gentleman, as you may suppose, is Mr Braendler, the proprietor of the land, who with fine generosity has given the windmill and a site amply sufficient for the purposes of a public memorial. Mr Braendler has and deserves the heartiest thanks of all concerned. (Applause.) There have been associated with Mr Parsons other enthusiasts, such as the Rev. W. Gray, Mr Louis von Doussa, and Mr Herman Rundle, but in the interesting memorial now provided I am sure they feel that they are fully recompensed for any trouble they may have taken in the matter. And there has been trouble, because the memorial was not put into its present condition without the expenditure of money, and that money has had to be collected from friends. Somebody may ask, "What about this windmill on the Mount Barker road? What makes it so interesting as an historical relic? The answer is that it was the first windmill in South Australia, with the exception of a very primitive structure erected just before by Mr John Dunn at Hay Valley1, which was only used for a short time. The windmill on the site where we are now gathered was built in 1842 by Mr F.R. Nixon, who sold it to Mr Walter Paterson, by whom it was worked for many years. I am glad to know that descendants of Mr Paterson are represented here today. (Applause.) From what I have said it will be realised that the windmill existed in the very early days of this State, when the beautiful country in which it is situated had just been opened up for settlement. It may be interesting to recall that nearly all the land covered by original surveys in this district was owned by the South Australian Company and Mr John Barton Hack. My memory of the old windmill carries me back a long way. My grandfather (who died in 1860) and grandmother lived at Mount Barker Springs, and when I visited them for the first time and saw the windmill, on what was even then known as Windmill Hill, I must have been under seven years of age. I travelled to Mount Barker in Toote's passenger cart. I wonder how many people remember that cart? (Mr von Doussa: "I do.") At the Vine Inn, in Glen Osmond, there was a halt, and each passenger was given a delicious peach—just the sort of thing to impress the memory of a child. (Hear, hear.) What a contrast there is between the road as it was then and as it is now, and between Foote's cart and the motor car of today? (Applause.) And this reminds me that windmills are gone too. They were very picturesque in the valley of the Torrens, at Piccadilly, and elsewhere, but they have been superseded and regrets are vain. I altogether approve of the tablet which is being placed on this memorial. Such tablets, I am glad to say, through the public action and wise foresight of Dr Angas Johnson and other gentlemen associated with him, are being made permanent memorials of important events in the history of South Australia. (Applause.)
Mr A.B. Fry (chairman of the District Council of Mount Barker), in accepting the gift, said it gave him great pleasure to take over on behalf of the Council, the historic old landmark. The people appreciated very highly the trust placed in them, and on their behalf he thanked the committee for what they had done, and Mr Braendler for his magnificent generosity. The district was highly honoured, and would at all times do its best to uphold the traditions founded by the old pioneers of that portion of the State.
Mr Stephen Parsons, after apologizing for the absence of the members for the district and for Mr Victor Ryan, of the Tourist Bureau, told of his early association with the mill. When a boy he made up his mind that some time he would ferret out the history of the old mill, and during the past twelve months he had given a lot of time to hunting up details concerning its past. When he had a fair record pieced together he approached Sir Langdon Bonython, who at once not only agreed to publish the story, but also to subscribe to a fund for renovation and preservation of the old mill. Subscription lists were then opened and a committee formed. The appeal was immediately successful and from £120 to £130 was collected and spent in putting it in order. He was sorry the wings were gone (Mr von Doussa—We'll get some more). A new floor had been put in top and bottom, a roof put over it, and a stairway built, and the walls patched and painted. The speaker hoped that it would long stand as a living memorial to the worthy pioneers in that portion of the State. It was a matter of congratulation that the District Council of Mount Barker had accepted the responsibility of looking after the mill for all time. He thanked the members of the council for their interest, and also for making the new roadway.
Dr Angas Johnson representing the Royal Geographical Society was sympathetic to all movements having in view the preservation of historical relics.
Mr C.H. , a grandson of the late Walter Paterson, said the family appreciated very much what was being done by the committee. The late Walter Paterson arrived in the State in 1839, and was an upright and honest man. He was the first man to build a reaping machine that was drawn from the front, and he also built the first stump-jump plough. It was in 1844 that Walter Paterson purchased the mill together with about 12 acres of land.
Mr Robert S. McDonald said his interest in the mill was due to the fact that his father was miller there in the fifties. He related how his father used to carry the 280 lb. bags of wheat to the top of the mill for grinding.
A vote of thanks to Sir Langdon Bonython was proposed by Mr L. von Doussa, seconded by the Rev. W. Fray, and carried by acclamation.
Mr Parsons also referred to the donations acknowledged through the "Courier," saying that one third of the total amount had been received through that medium.
At the conclusion of the ceremony afternoon tea was partaken of, the ladies' committee consisting of Mrs Crompton, Mrs Smythe, Mrs H.E. Carr, Miss J. McEwin (convener), Miss von Doussa (2), and Misses Paterson (2).
News 15/2/1929 p. 8.
Early Windmills - "A. T. S.'s Understudy," Malvern: - Without desiring in any way to detract from. the praiseworthy' public spiritedness of those responsible for the restoration of Nixon's old windmill on Mount Barker road, I think that there may be good grounds for the doubt expressed by Mr. A. T. Saunders whether it really was the first windmill for flour-making erected in South Australia.
An early "South Australian Almanack and General Directory" in possession shows that in 1843 there were 16 flour mills in the province, seven of them being windmills. A note is added to the effect that the return for the years 1841 and 1842 had not been kept accurately. But it is a fair inference that windmills were no novelty, in 1842, which is the year associated with the erection of the Nixon structure.
The export trade in flour had become well established by 1843. in which year 83 tons was shipped to New Zealand, 25 to Singapore, 96 to King. George's Sound, 34 to Chatham Islands, 28 to Sydney, and 342 to Mauritius.
The site of Nixon's mill was certainly not always known as Windmill Hill, as indicated by one of the speakers at the recent interesting ceremony. Page 231 of the "South Australian Almanack" for 1844 has a reference to F. R. Nixon's "West Hill Mill," the owner of which also had 20 acres of wheat, two pigs; and five goats.
Chr 16/2/1929 18a-e.
FIRST WINDMILL IN THE STATE. - AN HISTORIC RELIC. WINDMILL ON MOUNT BARKER ROAD. - Amidst picturesque and historic surroundings the old windmill on the brow of a hill overlooking the road two miles from Mount Barker, was handed over to the control and custody of the local district council on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large gathering, including many old residents, who took advantage of the opportunity to exchange reminiscences of their youth. A number of people journeyed from the city in a Tourist Bureau car, and there were also many private cars from Adelaide and the Mount Barker district. Australia, compared with older settled countries, is lacking in prominent relics which serve as reminders of the past, and it is felt by many public-spirited citizens that everything possible should be done to preserve those we possess.
The gathering assembled at the base of the old windmill, which has been renovated so as to withstand the ravages of time. A picture of glorious scenery, with a glimpse of the town of Mount Barker through the hills on one side, Mount Lofty on the other, and thickly wooded slopes in the near distance, was unfolded. For those who wished to obtain a still better view a ladder is placed inside the structure leading to the top, where a platform is erected under the roof. The chief participants in the ceremony were seated on a platform on the ground. They included Mr Stephen Parsons (chairman), Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr L. von Doussa, Mr C.H. Paterson, the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council (Mr A.B. Fry), and Dr Angas Johnson, representing the Royal Geographical Society.
Mr von Doussa said on behalf of Mr A.E. Braendler, who was unable to be present, he desired to hand over the windmill and the land on which it was erected to the Mount Barker District Council, so that it might be kept as a memorial for all time. (Applause.)
The Mount Barker District Council Accept Custody. - Sir Langdon Bonython, who was received with applause, said:– I attend here today with great pleasure to perform a very simple duty and that is to ask the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council to accept on behalf of the public the custody of the Old Windmill (always known as that, even in its ruins) and the site on which it stands. In the first place I would like to express the warmest possible thanks to two gentlemen. One, of course is Mr Stephen Parsons, without whose untiring efforts we should not be here this afternoon. Mr Parsons is entitled to all praise for his public spirit and his determination that such an interesting relic of the past should not disappear and be entirely forgotten. (Applause.) The other gentleman, as you may suppose, is Mr Braendler, the proprietor of the land, who with fine generosity has given the windmill and a site amply sufficient for the purposes of a public memorial. Mr Braendler has and deserves the heartiest thanks of all concerned. (Applause.) There have been associated with Mr Parsons other enthusiasts, such as the Rev. W. Gray, Mr Louis von Doussa, and Mr Herman Rundle, but in the interesting memorial now provided I am sure they feel that they are fully recompensed for any trouble they may have taken in the matter. And there has been trouble, because the memorial was not put into its present condition without the expenditure of money, and that money has had to be collected from friends. Somebody may ask, “What about this windmill on the Mount Barker road? What makes it so interesting as an historical relic?” The answer is that it was the first windmill in South Australia, with the exception of a very primitive wooden structure erected, just before, by Mr John Dunn at Hay Valley, which was only used for a short time. The windmill on the site where we are gathered was built in 1842 by Mr F.R. Nixon, who sold it to Mr Walter Paterson by whom it was worked for many years. I am glad to know that descendants of Mr Paterson are represented here today. (Applause.) From what I have said it will be realised that the windmill existed in the very early days of this State, when the beautiful country in which it is situated had just been opened up for settlement. It may be interesting to recall that nearly all the land covered by original surveys in this district was owned by the South Australian Company and Mr John Barton Hack. My memory of the old windmill carries me back a long way. My grandfather (who died in 1860) and grandmother lived at Mount Barker Springs, and when I visited them for the first time and saw the windmill, on what even then was known as Windmill Hill, I must have been under seven years of age. I travelled to Mount Barker in Foote’s passenger cart. I wonder how many people remember that cart? (Mr von Doussa, “I do.”) At the Vine Inn in Glen Osmond, there was a halt, and each passenger was given a delicious peach—just the sort of thing to impress the memory of a child. (Hear, hear.) What a contrast there is between the road as it was then and as it is now, and between Foote’s cart and the motor car of today! (Applause.) And this reminds me that windmills are gone too. They were very picturesque in the valley of the Torrens, at Piccadilly, and elsewhere, but they have been superseded and regrets are vain. I altogether approve of the tablet which is being placed on this memorial. Such tablets, I am glad to say, through the public action and wise foresight of Dr Angas and other gentlemen associated with him, are being made permanent memorials of important events in the history of South Australia. (Applause.)
Mr Fry, in accepting the gift on behalf of the council and residents of the district, said the people were pleased to have possession of a relic of such historic interest. The council, he felt sure, would exercise every care over it.
History of the Movement. - The chairman reviewed the history of the movement. To preserve the mill was, he said, one of the dreams of his boyhood days when he used to cart half a ton of goods to the mill through the roads which were very different then from now, and without a brake on the [cart-] wheels. He was grateful to Providence for escaping serious accident. He had ferreted out the history of the mill, and Sir Langdon Bonython had been good enough to publish it in “The Advertiser,” and take an interest in the movement. Assistance was lent by Dr Angas Johnson, Mr von Doussa, Mr Rundle, and the Rev. W. Gray. The result was that they were able to spend between £120 and £130 on the windmill and make it presentable.
Mr von Doussa — we shall not be satisfied until we have the wings affixed and make it look more like a windmill. (Applause.)
Mr Parsons said he remembered when the gaunt arms of the mill looked up into the sky. They would not think that the building had been standing for more than 80 years. The opening up of the agricultural areas of the State had been associated with the history of the old windmill. It was the first flour mill erected outside Adelaide, and satisfied the wants of the farmers for years. It stood as a living memorial of the courage and enterprise of the grand old pioneers. (Applause.)
Dr Angas Johnson congratulated Mr Parsons on seeing the movement he initiated crowned with success. The Geographical Society was sympathetic towards all movements for the preservation of historic relics.
Mr C.H. Paterson, a grandson of Mr Walter Paterson, who owned the mill, and whose family contributed the funds for the bronze tablet now placed on the structure, said his father arrived in the State in 1839. He was the first to build a reaping machine drawn from the front, and invented the machine which developed into the stump-jumping plough. Mr Paterson was an example of an upright and industrious man. (Applause.)
Descendants of a Pioneer. Mr Walter Paterson owned the old windmill at Mount Barker from 1844 to 1853. His grandchildren presented the tablet affixed to the windmill. The following are descendants of Mr Walter Paterson:– Left to right—Mr W. Paterson (grandson), Mr Allan Paterson (great-grandson), Mrs Allan Paterson, Mrs W. Paterson. The boys are great-great-grandchildren:– Roy Allan Paterson and Walter George Paterson.
Mr Robert S. McDonald, whose father worked for Mr Paterson in the old mill, spoke of his father’s memories of the mill. He said they would get up at 2 o’clock in the morning to set the mill going when the wind was favourable, and carry bags of wheat weighing 280 lb. Up a staircase to the top of the mill [i.e., no bag hoist]. He congratulated Mr Parsons and all concerned on the success of the memorial.
At the foot of the old mill on Saturday afternoon Sir Langdon Bonython asked the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council (Mr A.B. Fry) to accept the custody of the first windmill in the State as a public memorial. The chairman (Mr Stephen Parsons) is standing, and seated on his right hand is Sir Langdon Bonython.
A vote of thanks to those who took part in the movement, and in particular to Sir Langdon Bonython for his attendance and interest, and also to Mr Braendler for the gift of the site, was moved by Mr von Doussa, seconded by the Rev. W. Gray, and carried by acclamation.
The bronze tablet affixed to the outer wall of the mill reads:– “Preserved as a memorial of the pioneering days of South Australia. This windmill was built in 1842 by F.R. Nixon, who sold it to Walter Paterson in 1844. It was worked by him until 1853, when it was sold to F.W. Wittwer. It ceased operations in 1864, and was donated to the public in 1928 by A.E. Braendler. Tablet presented by Walter Paterson’s grandchildren.”
Pictures: Bronze tablet, mill tower with conical roof, people at the opening ceremony, descendants of Walter Paterson.
Adelaide Chronicle, 21/9/ 1933, 51b.
H.A. Haebich is quoted as having said that his father recounted that wheat had to be carried over the ranges to Windmill Hill to be gristed and then carried home on the back of the farmer. Blacks raided settlers’ gardens and were hunted off with stockwhips.
In front of St Michaels Church, Hahndorf are millstones which came from Wittwer’s mill at Bridgewater (Cox’s Creek) which was partly washed away in a flood soon after being built and was never rebuilt.
Adelaide Chronicle, 12/10/1933, 47a.
In the early days of Tweedvale [Lobethal] a miller named Lange came from Hahndorf and started a mill...
Adv 2/11/1933 8g.
VANDALS DESTROYING A NATIONAL RELIC. - reports of vandalism at Port Adelaide, Croydon, and Thebarton have been followed by accounts of wanton mischief and damage to one of the State’s oldest memorials, the remains of the flour mill that once flourished on Windmill Hill, near Mount Barker.
Mr Stephen Parsons said yesterday:– “About five years ago, having ferreted out the early history of the old mill, which played an important part in the early history of the colony, a committee was formed, of which I was chairman, and an appeal made through the press for its renovation and preservation. This was promptly responded to, and repairs and renovations were effected at a cost of upwards of £130, including the erection of a platform and necessary access to lookout at the top of the building; and a bronze tablet was affixed to the wall, giving particulars of its early history. On February 9, 1929, in the presence of a large assemblage, Sir Langdon Bonython formally handed over the property to the Mount Barker District Council as custodians for the public for all time.
“On visiting the locality a few days ago, I was amazed to find the door open, the lock broken, one of the window frames torn out, the woodwork disfigured by scores of carved initials, and other evidences of vandalism and wilful destruction. It is sad to think that there are persons so utterly devoid of respect for historical relics as to lead them to commit such acts of vandalism.
“I at once communicated with the chairman of the Mount Barker District Council, which is responsible for the care of this interesting old relic, and was informed by him that he had on several occasions personally visited the property, and had three or four times re-fixed the lock, which a few days after was removed and the door left open for the repetition of further acts of destruction. Can anyone suggest a remedy?
History Of The Mill - The old stone structure on the brow of Windmill Hill was the second [sixth] windmill erected in the State. The first one, built of wood by Mr John Dunn at Hay Valley, near Nairne, in 1841, has long since disappeared. That on Windmill Hill was erected in 1842  by Mr F.R. Nixon, said to have been one of the surveyors who came out with Colonel Light. Two years later it passed into the possession of Mr Walter Paterson, who worked it until 1853, when it was sold to Mr F.W. Wittwer. In 1864 the mill ceased operations, probably as the outcome of the erection of the larger mill at Cox’s Creek, Bridgewater, which served the farmers on both the Mount Barker and Strathalbyn roads.
In 1928 the site of the old windmill was cleared of scrub growth and presented to the public by Mr A.E. Braendler. The building was repaired and renovated by public subscription, and a tablet was placed upon it, which reads:– Preserved as a memorial of the pioneering days of South Australia. This windmill was built by F.R. Nixon in 1842, who sold it to Walter Paterson in 1844. It was worked by him until 1853, when it was sold to F.W. Wittwer. It ceased operations in 1864, and was donated to the public in 1928 by A.E. Braendler. Tablet presented by Walter Paterson’s grandchildren.”
Adv 1/5/1936 26g.
PRESERVING HISTORIC BUILDINGS. - Vandalism To Old Mill Deplored. - Disappointment that vandals had attacked the old mill which has stood for 95 years on a hilltop near Mount Barker was expressed yesterday by the Acting Director of Education (Dr Fenner) and the president of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society (Mr F.L. Parker).
The mill was used in the colony’s early days to grind wheat grown by the Lutheran refugees at their settlement at Hahndorf.
Dr Fenner said that there was an urgent need for the fostering of an historical sentiment and a regard for the remaining links with the pioneering years. This was especially to be desired in South Australia on the eve of its Centenary. All remaining links with such men as Colonel Light, Captain Flinders and Captain Sturt should be carefully preserved. In another 100 years our descendants would deplore the fact that few of the State’s early historical buildings survived.
Mr Parker said that while Australians as a rule respected old institutions, they were not sufficiently alive to the necessity for retaining them. Many of the old buildings in and round Adelaide had historical and architectural associations which should ensure their preservation. In England recently a society had been formed to prevent the demolition of ancient cottages. The Historic Memorial Committee of the Geographical Society in South Australia was doing its best along the same lines, but when the sited of historic buildings were required for industrial expansion it was often financially impossible to prevent their extinction.
With the approach of the Centenary the move to have the home of Charles Sturt at the Grange acquired by the State Government and converted into a show place is likely to be revived. The building has been identified as the one occupied by the explorer from 1840 to 1853, and it is regarded as the most historically important dwelling near Adelaide.
Chronicle 13/10/1938 52 a-c..
Curious Romance Of The Mt. Barker Mill - See ‘Romance’ subjects file.
The World's News (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 1955), Saturday 17 June 1950, page 21, 22
AUSTRALIANA - Episodes in a windmill
A WINDMILL still stands on a hilltop near the main road at Mt. Barker, SA. A copper plate on its wall, giving a thumb-nail sketch of its career, from its construction in 1842 by F. R. Nixon, to the close of operations in 1864, and its presentation to the public as a historical State relic by A. E. Braendler in 1928, gives little hint of its colourful history. The old mill, looked down on a fierce native battle in 1846, while the owner and his family sheltered from flying spears behind the barricaded door. Settlers found safety from bushfires in the mill, and in 1902, when the mill was abandoned, an itinerant Indian hawker used it as a temple of worship, draping its dingy walls with exotic cloths and burning incense while he worshipped before an idol he carried with him. Only once was this bizarre scene witnessed by an outsider - a lad on friendly terms with the hawker, who, sheltering in the mill from the rain, was permitted to remain and watch the Indian's ritual. - A.H.F. (SA).
MBC 11/1/1961 1ab. [Pix 1a-f.]
WOULD RESTORE OLD MILL AS SHOWPIECE. - That the old mill situated on Windmill Hill, between Hahndorf and Mount Barker, be restored to resemble its original state, has been suggested to Mt Barker District Council. The suggestion was made by Dr Lawson, of Hahndorf, who has pointed out to the council that a similar mill was restored in Western Australia and is now quite a fine showpiece. “The Western Australian mill, besides being a showpiece, has become a magnificent tourist attraction,” says Dr Lawson.
The old flour mill near Mt Barker was burnt out many years ago, but its walls are still in a very fair state of repair. The land on which it stands was fenced off and given by Mr A.A. Braendler, as public land, to the Royal Geographic Society.
The Western Australian mill is under the control of the National Parks Board. The work of renovating it was carried out by H.L. Brisbane and Wunderlich Ltd, under a 21-year lease for a ‘peppercorn rental.’ The firm is allowed to use restricted advertising on the site. The company maintains the surrounds and lawns at no cost to any public body.
HISTORICAL MONUMENT - Dr Lawson has brought to the attention of the Council that “our old mill” is an historical monument and already bears a plaque. It is adjacent to and easily accessible from the main highway, and has a commanding view of a very large part of Mount Barker and Mount Lofty districts.
"In the hope that this fine old structure might be preserved and restored as a showpiece of the simple pioneer architecture, and to draw greater attention to the area, I have attempted to interest the local firm of Wunderlich Ltd, in bearing the cost, possibly under a similar arrangement to that which exists in W.A.” says Dr Lawson. Mount Barker District Councillors are carrying out the doctor’s suggestion and have already approached the Royal Geographic Society and the Tourist Bureau on the subject. The Bureau has advised that it is most sympathetic towards the project.
Mr H.J. Finnis, chairman of the historical memorial committee of the Royal Geographical Society (S.A.) stated today that his society is quite willing to interest itself in every way in the project to restore the Old Windmill. During his search he discovered that the title to the property is vested in Mount Barker District Council.
MBC 1/2/1961 5ab.
FIRST MOVE TO MAKE "OLD MILL" TOURIST ATTRACTION. - The first move to make the "Old Mill" on Windmill Hill into a tourist attraction has been made by the Mount Barker District Council. The "Old Mill" was the subject of an article in this paper recently, and it was followed by similar articles in the metropolitan press.
The Council will suggest to Mount Barker Apex Club that it "restores" the Old Mill as a major project in the coming months. It has also been suggested that the Council open a public fund and approach the Tourist Bureau with a view to meeting costs entailed in the scheme. If Apex agrees to carry out the work, all the machinery in the Council's well equipped depot will be available.
National Fitness Council Wanted It - An application from the national Fitness Council to take over the old mill for use as a Youth Hostel was received by the Council. It was decided to inform the National Fitness Council that the mill would be most unsuitable for its purposes. The Youth Hostel at Nairne belonging to the National Fitness Council is, we understand, in a deplorable state of repair.
MBC 12/4/1961 1e.
APEX TO ASSIST OLD MILL RESTORATION . - Mt Barker Apex Club has agreed to assist Mt Barker District Council to restore the "Old Mill" on Mt Barker Road between Hahndorf and Mount Barker. This "Old Mill" is picturesque and of historic value. When restored it is anticipated that it will be a tourist attraction. In the meantime the Apex Club is seeking details of requirements connected with its restoration from the council.
MBC 28/6/1961 2cf.
WINDMILL TO BE RESTORED? - Plans for restoring the old flour mill, on Windmill Hill, between Hahndorf and Mt Barker, are being investigated by sub-committees from the Mount Barker District Council and the Apex Club. Information has been sought from the Western Australian Tourist Bureau with regard to costs and re-installing the “sails”, etc. Western Australia has a similar mill which was restored and is now quite a show-piece and a magnificent tourist attraction. Although the local old mill may be some ten years younger than the one in Western Australia its history is just as colourful.
A W.A. tourist booklet states: “The oldest surviving link with the pioneering days of the colony of Western Australia is this old mill at South Perth. “History has surged past it but it remains as a memorial to the courage of those few British people who, taking all they had with them, sailed halfway round the world to claim for Great Britain a new land in an unfamiliar hemisphere. "In this new land they made their home and in so doing founded what we know as the State of Western Australia."
Hundreds of travellers on the Mount Barker Road pass the old mill on Windmill Hill every day. But how many know that it marks the site of a terrific battle some time in the 1840s between natives from the Mount Barker and Encounter Bay tribes. The shouting and noise early one morning woke the mill owner, Walter Paterson. Rival tribes were struggling and arguing on the hill nearby. For protection, Paterson locked himself, together with his wife and children, in the old mill. The arrival of the mounted police, who had been notified of the trouble brewing, prevented “bloodthirsty developments.”
With the exception of John Dunn’s first mill at Hay Valley, Nairne, the old structure on Windmill Hill is the oldest of its kind in South Australia. It was built by F.R. Nixon. Walter Paterson purchased it, together with twelve acres of land, for £220 in 1844. F.W. Wittwer bought it in 1853 and worked it for eleven years, after which it ceased operations. In 1928 it was presented to the public by Mr A.E. Braendler and placed under the control of the Mt Barker District Council.
During the mill’s 20-odd years of operation it produced some of the highest quality flours. Early records show that up to the turn of the century South Australia was the granary for the Commonwealth. The wheat was of high quality. John Frame, a Mt Barker pioneer, who came out in 1839, won a gold medal for Mt Barker wheat at the Great International Exhibition of 1851, held in London.
MBC 30/8/1961 2ef.
COUNCIL APPLIES FOR WINDMILL PROJECT SUBSIDY. - The Mount Barker District Council will make an approach to the Government Tourist Bureau for a £ for £ subsidy to repaint and renovate the Old Mill on Windmill Hill.
A move has been afoot for some time to restore the old mill to a condition similar to its showpiece counterpart in Perth W.A. The Mount Barker Apex Club, with the District Council, have been investigating such a project and have sought information from the Western Australian Tourist Bureau, especially with regard to re-fitting the mill with the old “sails.” However, the replies from Western Australia have been of no assistance as a Tourist Bureau official there states that no records were kept when their mill was renovated. The Mount barker Council is undaunted by Western Australia’s lack of information, and are of the opinion that there are sufficient brains and resources in the district to draw up plans to carry out the scheme.
MBC 13/11/1963 p1.
HAHNDORF ACADEMY RESTORATION DOUBTFUL. - Old Windmill a More Economical Project. … Undoubtedly of greater historical significance than the old Academy at Hahndorf is the Old Windmill between Hahndorf and Mount Barker … There is only one old flour mill which depended on wind for its power. It is a fine example of pioneer architecture, and although its inside fittings were burnt out many years ago, the wall appear to be still solid. It is prominently situated, and if restored would certainly be a great tourist attraction, a fact proved by the popularity amongst tourists of a similar mill which was restored in Western Australia. Even in its present state it is of interest to them as they pass along the busy adjacent highway. Other than the two already mentioned we do not know of any similar mills in Australia .… [pic.]
MBC 22/1/1964 12df.
NATIONAL TRUST INTERESTED IN OLD MILL. - The National Trust of S.A. is showing considerable interest in the possibility of restoring the old mill just off Princes Highway between Mt Barker and Hahndorf. Mr S.H. Gilbert, who is a member of the early buildings committee of the National Trust, stated on Monday that a report is being prepared to see what can be done to assist the proposal to restore the old mill.
The Mt Barker Apex Club has considered restoring part or all, of the mill on several occasions, but to date no positive move has been made. Some members feel that such a scheme would be too big and too costly for the organisation to undertake. However, Mr Gilbert is seeking information from those who have already conducted research on the matter. "The all-important question is whether the plans of the mill in its original form are available," he added.
MBC 30/6/1965 7a-f.
APEX CLUB TO RESTORE OLD WINDMILL AT HAHNDORF - The Mount Barker Apex Club has taken on itself the project of restoring the old windmill, which is located just off the Prince's Highway between Mt Barker and Hahndorf. Up to date, the members of the club have spent about 200 hours on repairing the plaster, painting, and installing a new floor in the upper section of the old mill.
The Mt Barker District Council gave the club £50 to help towards financing the project, but much of this has been used in purchasing the 18 gallons of paint required for the walls and the timber for fencing and floors. The club's service director, Mr Terry Kirby, stated that it was the club's immediate plan to build a new stairway inside the old building so that it can be used as a lookout. Then, as finance becomes available, it is intended to place a dome roof on the old mill and to fit it with rigid sails, making it resemble its original state.
SHOWPIECE - For many years various community-minded people of the district felt that the old windmill could become a showpiece symbolical of the early days of the district when it produced some of the best wheat in the world. In the picture, members of the Mt Barker Apex Club are seen at work painting the old mill, while the adjacent picture gives an indication of what the old mill will look like after it has been restored. This photograph is actually of the old mill near Perth, W.A.
MBC 8/9/1965 1c-f, 17ab.
THEY WILL RESTORE THE 'OLD MILL'—APEXIANS APPEAL TO PUBLIC. - The young men of the Mount Barker Apex Club have undertaken a project — a project which is of paramount importance to all people in the Hills. The project is so big that it frightened older and richer organisations out of their socks and the "buck was passed" to the ever willing young men of Apex.
The project is the restoration of the "Old Mill" on top of Windmill Hill, midway between Mount Barker and Hahndorf. They will restore it to a facsimile of its former self, not only to further tourism in the district, but also to serve as a memorial to the pioneers who founded this district. They envisage it as an historical monument relating much of the history of agriculture in the area.
Not only will Apexians restore the "Old Mill", but they will install, firmly embedded in concrete around the outside of it, farm implements which they have discovered, and which were used by the pioneers of that bygone era. They are finding these implements. In fact, one young Apexian gladly told his fellow members at the club's fortnightly meeting that he had found "some sort of old-time implement out Woodside way" He was not quite sure what it was, but "thought it was a winnower". These young men are searching for former parts of the "Old Mill". One particularly important part they have found to date is the "spindle". They found it in Nairne, in above all places, embedded in a pine tree. The tree had grown around the spindle, but it will be rescued. The Apex Club is still searching for, but will undoubtedly find, the original grinding stones.
DISTRICT'S WHEAT WON WORLD-WIDE COMPETITION - The project is full of interest. Long ago this district produced some of the best wheat in the world. This is evidenced by the fact that amongst the many trophies won by the Frame family of "Burbank" over the years, Mr J.L. Frame has in his possession one award which shows that the family's entry for wheat in a world-wide competition was awarded first place. Several other old district families have in their possession high awards for agriculture, and the xxx
PREPARED TO DO ALL THE WORK - Although the Apex Club is prepared to do all the work in connection with the restoration of this most worthwhile district memorial, finances are beyond the capacity of the club's treasury. Financial help to the extent of about £500 is required, and the club is making an appeal to the public for help. Unsolicited donations have already come to hand, a fact which augurs well for the success of the appeal.
They have rebuilt the top floor and they will restore the first floor. The ground floor was in good condition. Already members have repainted the outside walls of the mill. They have spent 200 man-hours on it, spent some of their own funds on it, and £50 which was given by the District Council of Mount Barker. When all is complete an iron stairway will run to the top of the structure, where a tiled dome roof will have been erected. Sails will be placed in the appropriate position and the sails will be built by Apexians.
INTEREST - That tourists will be interested in the "Old Mill" is proven by the fact that quite a number of interstate visitors stopped their cars when they saw that work was being carried out at the site and inspected it. A similar mill in Western Australia is one of Perth's chief tourist attractions. It is self-supporting, and parties of visitors inspect it every day.
This restoration of the "Old Mill" should interest everyone in the Hills. It is part of the history of the Hills, and when restored it should be on an equal or even higher plane than the one in Perth.
MBC 19/1/1966 10bc.
£86 FOR OLD MILL RESTORATION. - Mt Barker Apex Club, which has undertaken to restore the "Old Mill" on Windmill Hill, is making an appeal towards the cost of the project. To date £86/17/- has been received. The amount includes a donation of £50 from Mount Barker District Council. Total cost of the restoration of this historic landmark will be within the vicinity of £500.
According to plans tabled by the Apex sub-committee which is organising the project, when restored, the "Old Mill" will practically be a replica of its old self, complete with sails and so on. Undoubtedly when the work is finished the "Old Mill" will be attractive to tourists.
Hereunder is a list of donations received to date — District Council of Mount Barker, £50; Mr Jamie Shepherd £1, Dr W. Lawson £10, B.E. Braendler £1, A. Fry and family £2, E.A. Ware 5/-, anonymous 10/-, Miss M.J. Moffat £2, Misses M. & J. Milne £1, Miss J.E. Bennett £1, Mr E.W. Horstmann £2/2/-, K.H. Hetherington £2, J. Trigg 10/-, Mr and Mrs Bill Hoare £1, Miss A.E. Barker 10/-, Mr and Mrs A. Kuiper 10/-, Misses A. James and E. Williams £1, Miss N. Ransom 15/-, Mr R.M. Shephard £3/3/-, Mr R.R. Honeychurch £1, Rev. A. Davis 10/-, Mrs W. Jacobs £2, Gilbert Motors Pty Ltd £2/2/-, Mt Barker Methodist Youth Fellowship £1. Total to date £86/17/-.+
MBC 25/5/1966 3de.
APEX PROGRESS ON RESTORATION OF WINDMILL. - The Mount Barker Apex Club has taken another big step forward in its plan of restoring the old windmill, located midway between Hahndorf and Mt Barker. At a meeting on Wednesday night, the club's service director (Mr T. Kirby) announced that the contract had been let for the construction of sails. "They will be as near to the original sails as it is possible to get. The plans were drawn up by an architect from the Institute of Technology who had done a great deal of research into the various designs used by the early settlers..
"There will be four sails altogether, each 24 ft. long. This will provide a fan with a diameter of 48 ft. The cost of this phase of the project will be $380. "The sails will be delivered on June 10, and it is hoped that they will be fixed in place, together with the roof, by the end of June or early July," Mr Kirby added.
SPINDLE - The previous weekend two members of the club recovered a spindle similar to the one used in the old windmill. This will also be on show with many other old implements used in early agriculture in the Mount Barker district.
Any person wishing to donate to this project may do so by writing to the secretary of the Apex Club at Mount Barker.
MBC 15/6/1966 11a.
NEW SAILS FOR OLD WINDMILL. - The old windmill, which can be seen from the Prince's Highway between Mt Barker and Hahndorf, will soon be fitted with a new set of sails. This job is being undertaken by the members of the Mt Barker Apex Club, and is a major break-through in the club's plan of restoring the old mill as a monument to the pioneers and early agriculturists of this district. One of the four sails — each is 24 ft. long — is seen being constructed in the workshop of the Mt Barker joinery firm of Betta-Built Cabinets. The carpenters in the picture are Mr A.J. Bevelander (nearest camera) and Mr C.J. Schellenbach. The sails will cost $380. The project, although a public appeal was launched some time ago, is being financed nearly entirely by the club itself. Any person wishing to make a donation may send it c/o the Secretary, Mt Barker Apex Club, Mt Barker.
MBC 6/7/1966 16a-f.
APEX MOVES RAPIDLY ON RESTORATION OF OLD MILL. - A rapid and surprisingly extensive transformation is expected to take place within the next few weeks at the old mill, which overlooks the Prince's Highway between Hahndorf and Mount Barker. The restoration of the windmill is a big and expensive service-to-the-community project being undertaken by the members of the Mt Barker Apex Club, who have given hundreds and hundreds of hours to planning, painting and rebuilding parts of the old mill.
On Sunday the public was able to see the first major change in the appearance of the mill since it was painted by the Apexians nearly 12 months ago. After a great deal of effort by members, with the assistance of the local Civil Defence organisation and a few members of the public, the mill was fitted with its new dome roof. This 12 feet in diameter and 7'6"high structure of steel and timber had to be made on the ground before being hauled 45 feet up the side of the mill and set in place.
NEW SAILS - Within the next fortnight, weather permitting, the new dome roof will be tiled and the four new 24-ft. sails set in position. Wunderlich Ltd has seen fit to assist the Apex Club in its efforts to restore the windmill as a monument to the early agriculturists of the district, and has given free of cost, the tiles for the roof and the labour to affix them.
It has been estimated that the cost of materials and outside labour to restore the mill to this point is in excess of $1,000. Apart from a donation of $200 from the local council and other donations from a few members of the public — these total about $50—all expenses have been met by the Apex Club. With further plans in mind to improve the area as a beauty spot and tourist attraction, progress will be held up for a considerable time because of lack of funds. A public appeal was made some time ago but the response was disappointing.
OLD AGRICULTURAL EQUIPMENT - It is planned by the Apex Club to display in the area surrounding the old mill items of farming equipment used by the pioneers of the district. Already several ploughs, a bullock yoke and bows, and a couple of trimming axes, which were brought out from England in 1838, have been collected.
Mr Brian Brittain, who is in charge of this aspect of the project, said that he would like to get an old German wagon, or log cart, and an old hand pump. If any person has these items or anything else that is of historical value, would they contact Mr Brittain at Mt Barker 434.
● Top right: Apexians are seen putting the final touches in the construction of the framework of the dome roof. Nearly 500 feet of Kauri was used for the tile battens and 400 feet of piping for the framework.
● Top left: Inch by inch the roof was hauled 45 feet to the top.
MBC 20/7/1966 1a.
FACELIFT FOR WINDMILL. - For members of the Mt Barker Apex Club, Sunday's effort at the old mill between Mt Barker and Hahndorf, gave them good reason to feel proud and satisfied. The fitting of the four 24-foot sails, which was done on Sunday morning, signified the completion of stage one of a massive restoration project, a project which already represents about 1,000 hours of voluntary labour as well as about $1,000 in cash contributed by the club itself for materials.
A start was made on restoring the mill about two years ago. The stonework and masonry were repaired and painted, floors were laid and steel stairways built. A dome roof was constructed and set in place a week previously, the tiling of which—generously donated by Wunderlich Ltd — will be completed this week.
Stage two of the project of restoring the mill as a monument to the early pioneers of the district, will be aimed at preparing the surrounds.
● In the picture Apexians are seen hauling the third sail into place. The four sails cost nearly $400 to build.
MBC 17/8/1966 1f.
$300 SUBSIDY FOR WINDMILL PROJECT. - The member for Onkaparinga (Mr H.H. Shannon, MP) informed the 'Courier' on Friday that the Government has made available $300 as a subsidy to assist with the restoration of the old windmill near Mt Barker as a tourist attraction. The restoration of this old mill has been the project of the members of the Mt barker Apex Club, who up to the present have spent about $1,000 on the scheme as well as contributing about 1000 hours of voluntary labour. The $300 subsidy will be used in the second stage of the restoration plan, which is directed at preparing the surrounds. It has been stipulated that the work must be completed before March 31, 1967.
MBC 5/10/1966 1de, 15f.
LCL LEADER TO OPEN OLD WINDMILL. - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Steele Hall) has agreed to officially open the old windmill between Hahndorf and Mount Barker as a tourist attraction on Sunday afternoon, November 20. This will be Mr Hall's first official visit to the Mt Barker area since he was elected leader of the Liberal-Country Party three months ago.
For the Mt Barker Apex Club members, the official opening ceremony by Mr Hall will be the culmination of a restoration project spanning about two years, involving about 1,500 hours of voluntary labour, and at a cost of nearly $2,000. Between now and November 20, the Apex Club will fence the area around the mill and set in concrete many old pieces of agricultural equipment used by the early farmers in the Hills.
As a result of a generous offer from Mr Arthur Nitschke, of Albert Road, Mt Barker, the area around the mill will be beautified with gardens. Mr Nitschke has started work and has completed a rockery around the base of the mill itself. He proposes to build gardens on each side of the steps leading to the mill and also at certain vantage points in the area to give colour and beauty to the windmill reserve.
MBC 19/10/1966 2f.
TO IMPROVE APPROACHES TO OLD MILL. - The timbered area on the north-western side of the road to Mt Barker rubbish dump will be cleared to provide tourists with a better view of the old mill from the southern approach. The Mt Barker District Council approved this project at its monthly meeting. At present the mill—restored by the Mt Barker Apex Club in recognition of the pioneers of the district and as a tourist attraction is completely invisible from the southern side.
DISPLAY OF EARLY FARM IMPLEMENTS - The mill will be officially opened and handed over as a district tourist attraction in Sunday, November 20, by the Leader of the Opposition (Me Steele Hall). However, at present members of the Apex Club are busy collecting and arranging a display of agricultural equipment used by farmers in the early days of the district. Most of these are over 100 years old. Among these is a horse-drawn threshing roller, weighing about 1½ tons, which has been officially ascertained as having been made in 1848.
MBC 16/11/1966 1a.
PREPARING FOR OFFICIAL OPENING. - There was an air of feverish activity at the old mill between Hahndorf and Mount Barker during the weekend, as the members of the Mt Barker Apex Club completed the final jobs in readiness for the official opening next Sunday (November 20). When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Steele Hall) does officially declare the old mill open as a tourist attraction, it will be the climax of over two years of careful planning and several thousand man-hours of voluntary labour by the members.
Last weekend saw the erection of the fence around the area and the final touches put to the restoration of 10 pieces of early agricultural equipment (see picture), which are symbolic of the pioneering days of the Mt Barker district, when the old mill was in its hey-day. Most of the equipment is over 100 years old.
Already the mill is attracting a great number of visitors who have praised the club members for their foresight and enterprise. Interstate visitors have stated that the old mill is one of the best tourist attractions of its kind to be seen anywhere in Australia. Prior to the official opening, the mill and display of early agricultural equipment will be dedicated to the pioneers who established the agricultural industry of this district.
MBC 16/11/1966 17a. (Advertisement).
RE-OPENING AND DEDICATION OF THE OLD MILL - (Between Hahndorf and Mount Barker) By the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Steele Hall, Sunday, 20th November, 1966 at 3 p.m. Enjoy the Devonshire afternoon tea, rides in German wagon, stalls. This will be the climax of a two-year restoration project by the Mt Barker Apex Club. Your attendance is requested.
MBC 23/11/1966 1b-d; 17f; 18 c-e.
"OLD MILL" OPENED AS TOURIST ATTRACTION. - Nearly 500 people saw members of the official party conveyed through the adjoining paddock in a 50-year-old German wagon, drawn by two massive Clydesdales, for the official opening ceremony of the "Old Mill" between Mount Barker and Hahndorf on Sunday. For many of the crowd, particularly the older people who were born and bred in the district, the day brought back a flood of vivid memories. The ceremony itself was one of colour and ritual, with touches of light humour scattered through it.
The president of the Mr Barker Apex Club (Mr G. Paech) told the gathering that what they saw at the mill reserve in the form of a collection of early farm implements, and the restored version of the mill itself, represented over 2,000 man-hours of voluntary labour by Apex members. The total cost of the project was about $2,000, of which $400 is still owing.
The scene at the "Old Mill" between Mount Barker and Hahndorf on Sunday, was indeed one of colour. Gay beach umbrellas, rides in a genuine horse-drawn German wagon after an opening ceremony sparked with originality, brought to a fitting climax the two-year project of the Mount Barker Apex Club. Pastor G. Prove, Lutheran minister at Mt Barker, in dedicating the mill and its collection of early farm implements, drew attention to the trials and tribulations which beset the early Lutherans who came out from Germany to escape religious persecution and settle this area. He said it was the additional land put under wheat and the extra harvest that caused a Mr Nixon to erect this mill in the early 1840s.
IRONIC - In his remarks prior to declaring the mill and its surrounds officially open as a tourist attraction, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Steele Hall, considered that it was ironic that a wheatgrower from the Adelaide Plains should be asked to officially open a flour mill in the Adelaide Hills. He said that, according to the records, in the 1840's there were 50o acres of wheat grown annually in this area, some samples of which won prizes in world competition. "Some of this wheat weighed as much as 66¾ lb. per bushel. Now, over 100 years later, despite modern techniques, we still can't grow wheat to match this," Mr Hall added.
[ABOVE.—Mr Steele Hall is seen removing the sheaves of hay to unveil the plaque in front of the "Old Mill".]
TWO YEARS OF UNREMITTING EFFORT BY APEX — COLOSSAL UNDERTAKING Everybody knew that it was an historical monument, and as such should be preserved for posterity. Everybody also realised that to restore it in some small measure would be a colossal undertaking. Various bodies threw the ball of its restoration back and forth, but there were no takers until the young men of Apex said "We'll do it", and "do it" they did.
At the beginning they delved onto its history, they talked to old people about it. They worried over financing the project. They schemed and argued amongst themselves (sometimes hotly), but at last they came up with a plan of operation and got down to work. They did not stop at the mere restoration of the "Old Mill". They built a fence around it and made shallow steps on the hillside leading up to it. They then searched the district, with great success, to find farm implements of ancient vintage lying about, neglected on the various holdings. These implements they also renovated and restored to working order. They set up the old implements — some of which are weird and wonderful to modern eyes — in the mill yard, to give a final embellishing and greatly interesting touch to a colossal undertaking carried out to an extremely successful conclusion. The overall result is that this district and S.A. has a monument of which it can be more than proud, and which will be the Mecca of many tourists for years to come. In conclusion he congratulated the Mt Barker Apex Club and the people who supported it on providing S.A. with a very unique tourist attraction. He felt that so many of S.A.'s relics are lost to the community and families because of lack of support.
The chairman of the District Council of Mount Barker (Cr. K.W. Stephenson), in accepting the restored mill on behalf of the district, gave his assurance that it would be maintained in the same condition as it was today. He said that it was a symbol of the high ideals for which Apex stands, and it certainly looked well for the future of Mt Barker to have young men of foresight, tenacity and enterprise, as has been exemplified in the restoration of the mill.
[Members of the Mt Barker Apex Club "Farmer" R. Crompton (centre) and "Flourmiller" T Kirby (right), are seen presenting the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Steele Hall, with a small bag of flour to commemorate the opening of the 'Old Mill" near Mt Barker on Sunday.]
$80,000 APPEAL TO RESTORE NIXON’S MILL - An $80,000 appeal to restore Nixon’s Windmill, between Hahndorf and Mt Barker, was officially launched at a fund-raising dinner on Friday. Mr David Wotton, Minister for Environment and Planning and Member for Murray, was guest speaker at the dinner which raised a total of $522 towards the appeal.
The long-term objective is to restore the mill to full working condition. One of only two of the type in mainland Australia, the windmill was built by Frederick Nixon in 1842.
A Windmill Restoration Committee has been set up by the Mount Barker Council, including representatives of the Hahndorf branch of the National Trust, service clubs and the council.
WORK TO START BEFORE CHRISTMAS - Mr John Storey, a member of the committee said it was hoped that work could start before Christmas on restoring the structure of the mill, including cleaning the stone work, painting, pointing, strengthening the floors, timbers and doorways, etc. This is expected to take a good deal of the $13,000 Commonwealth Grant awarded last year. Local Architect, Mr George Liptak, has been appointed project manager and will be supervising the restoration work. The committee plans to build a caretaker’s cottage near the mill — in a suitable design — as well as installing full working mechanism, restoring the roof and the sails.
Another fund-raiser launched at the dinner was the special, limited-edition Bleasdale Port. The label is a reproduction of the late Sir Hans Heysen’s painting of the mill, by permission of David Heysen.
Historic Mt Barker mill may be restored - Nixon’s Mill, the windmill nestled behind Old Mount Barker Road, will be restored if proposals to be put to the State Government are accepted. The Nixon’s Mill Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Mount Barker Council, has requested a grant from the State Government Planning and Development Fund following a decision by the owner of land adjoining the mill, to sell. The sale price and name of the current owner are being withheld until the sale is completed, in case publicity affects the sale.
The committee treasurer, Mr Robert Macrow, said yesterday, the mill, built in the early 1840’s by Frederick Robert Nixon, would cost about $100,000 to fully restore. He said the committee hoped not only to restore the interior of the mill to working order but also hoped to replace the sails.
One of S.A.’s oldest buildings, it served its district until 1864. It now has a National Trust listing. The mill is also represented on the Mount Barker Council’s coat of arms.
Mr Macrow said he believed the mill not only had great potential as a tourist attraction, but also could be a valuable piece of community heritage. He said the committee hoped to get funding from the Government to redevelop the area through the heritage branch of the Department of Environment and Planning. Alternatively, he hoped a public company would be prepared to support the project. He said the extra $100,000 would be vital if the mill were to be made into a permanent tourist attraction. If the surrounding land were bought, a cottage, shop and historic display centre could be built.
The planning officer for the Mount Barker Council, Mr Robert Chambers, said last night that although he believed the council would be interested in supporting the project, it would not fund the entire restoration as it “could run into many thousands of dollars.”
Butler, M., The Mount Barker District 1977
Quotes Yelland and comments — The windmill was built by Mr Walter Paterson for Mr F.R. Nixon in 1842. Nixon had been the surveyor employed to make the Mount Barker Special Survey. The construction of the mill represented an act of faith on the part of Nixon in the future of wheat-growing in the district. The existence of the mill certainly made wheat-growing a more feasible proposition. The Germans started to grow wheat and the women regularly carried the wheat by wheelbarrow to the mill. In 1844 Mr. Nixon sold the his mill to Walter Paterson who was to play a very important role in the establishment of wheat-growing throughout the Mount Barker district.
Walter Paterson built a slab [pisé] hut near the mill and he and his family lived in it. One day a fight took place between two tribes of Aborigines ... On another occasion Mrs Paterson was alone at night in the slab hut when a group of Aborigines gathered outside the hut. She became very fearful when she saw eyes looking through the gaps between the slabs, but she remained safe and the aborigines disappeared into the night.
Walter Paterson worked the mill until 1853 when it was sold to F.W. Wittwer who already owned and ran the mill in Hahndorf. In 1864, because of competition from steam mills, the mill ceased operation. In 1928 it was donated to the public by Mr A.E. Braendler.
[Surveyor F.R. Nixon — 12 views of Adelaide, 1845. 1st etchings made in S.A. and among earliest in Australia. See Southern Australian 21/2/1845]
Fox, Anni Luur, Hahndorf
In the very early days Mr J. Wittwer operated a watermill on Cox’s Creek, the mill stones of which can be seen in the grounds of St Michael’s Church. When this was ruined by flood and later destroyed by fire, Mr Wittwer began work at a windmill which had been built in 1842 by F.R. Nixon near the road to Mt Barker. Nixon had arrived in South Australia in 1838 after having been appointed Assistant Surveyor by the Colonisation Commissioners in London.
During 1841-45 he purchased land in the Willunga, Onkaparinga and Mt Barker areas and constructed a windmill which was the second in South Australia. He was interested in the arts and by 1845 had produced a folio of lithographs entitled “Twelve Views in Adelaide and its Vicinity, South Australia.” Those were the first lithographs made in the State, and among the first in Australia. His busy mill, which was used by wheat farmers from as far away as the Murray, changed hands in 1844 when Mr Patterson bought it for £220. By 1853 Mr Wittwer became the owner and continued to operate it until 1864 when the business was transferred to Hahndorf by his son, F.W. Wittwer, who had built a new mill and installed larger machinery.
All the sheoak timbers and working parts of the windmill were destroyed by a big bush fire in 1912. The land on which it stands was fenced off and given as public property to the Royal Geographic Society by Mr A. A. Braendler in the 1930’s , with the title to the property being vested in the Mt Barker District Council. Little thought was given to the derelict old structure until 1961, when Dr W.S. Lawson brought its historical interest to the notice of the council. A relatively small body of men, the Apex Club of Mt Barker, took on the responsibility of rebuilding. By the middle of 1966, members had spent hundreds of hours in repairing the plaster, painting, constructing the roof, and installing a new floor in the upper section. Later that year, the preparation of the grounds was completed and so the old windmill was opened to the public by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Steele Hall, on the 20th November .
Harmstorf, I.A., German Migration ...”Thesis, U of A
Johann Carl Lauterbach interview. ... eventually he rented a little land at Schönthal (near Lobethal) and carried the wheat, a bushel at a time, on his back to Windmill on the Hill, a distance of three miles.
A splendid oil-painting of “Nixon’s Wind-mill” executed by Sir Hans Heysen in 1899 appears to be the best, and perhaps the only, reliable record we have of the mill’s condition at that time [not so, see old photographs predating Heysen’s painting]. Fortunately too Heysen’s picture is readily available for consultation at any time; it is reproduced in Colin Thiele’s book Heysen’s Early Hahndorf 1976.
Article for Adelaide Hills Weekender (published August 3-16, 2008, p. 4.)—
The article in the Weekender 6–19 July prompted a response from Mr Bernard Arnold of the Gumeracha and District History Centre Inc., who is researching South Australia's flour mills. The photo opposite is of the Hahndorf Windmill ruin c.1892 and was reproduced in The Adelaide Observer in 1902 and in other newspapers in later years. The photo was provided by H.M. Paterson, a grand-daughter of Walter Paterson.
This was not the second mill built in South Australia as stated but was the sixth wind-powered flour mill to be completed in that colony. Earlier mills being Lyndoch Valley (stone tower), Hay Valley, Adelaide West Terrace (Nixon's), North Road Prospect, and Adelaide West Terrace (Phillips', stone tower). Two more were completed later at Morphett Vale and Encounter Bay. Another windmill was begun in 1846 at Port Lincoln but was never completed.
Besides the five earlier windmills, there were four steam mills which predated the Hahndorf windmill, namely Ridley's at Hindmarsh (December 1840), Kent's at Kent Town (January 1841), the Finnissbrook Mill at Burnside (steam and water-power) and the Company's Mill at Hackney (1842). There was also one water mill (late 1842) on Cox's Creek near the junction with the Onkaparinga River.
Once steam mills became established, generally in more convenient sites than wind and water-mills, the latter became uneconomical to operate. Within ten months after its completion the Hahndorf windmill was offered for sale in February 1844 and again in November 1846 and it clearly was not a great business proposition. After 1844 John Dunn's steam-powered flour mill at Mount Barker would have provided serious competition.
F.R. Nixon, the first owner of the mill property is better known as the illustrator of ‘Twelve Views of Adelaide and its Vicinity’ published in 1845, which is said to be the earliest collection of etchings made and printed in South Australia. Nixon was no miller and leased his mill to others. In October 1844 Nixon sold the mill to Walter Paterson and he in turn sold to F.W. Wittwer in August 1853. Wittwer had it until 1864 but it is likely that it ceased working as a flour mill before then because Wittwer also appears to have abandoned his water-mill on Cox's Creek by 1856 as he had established his steam-powered mill at Hahndorf by 1855. He may even have purchased the windmill to remove competition. The miller's cottage stood adjacent to the mill.
Some interesting occurrences in the history of the Hahndorf windmill include a near accident when the miller's toddler child was tossed by the revolving sails; a ritual fight by two tribes of aborigines on Windmill Hill in 1846, frightening the miller's family; and the derelict mill being used in 1901 as a temple for religious worship by a passing "Afghan" hawker, a deposed former ruler of Guldustan, who owned a fabulous emerald set in a small Hindu idol.
On at least three occasions there was a movement for its restoration — in 1929, when the mill property was handed over to the Mount Barker District Council by its then owner, a Mr Braendler; in the 1960s, when a roof and dummy sail-spars were fitted. More recently in 1980 when an $80,000 appeal was launched for its restoration as a working mill. Unfortunately, that movement came to nought.
1 Actually the fifth not counting Hay Valley.