Urban development, steam power and the industrial revolution all contributed to their decline in Britain, but a community in south London was yesterday celebrating the reopening of a historic 19th century windmill, the last remaining of its kind in inner London.
Now restored structurally after a fund-raising effort by local residents, Ashby's Mill in Brixton is to grind wheat once more.
Built in 1816, the windmill functioned for over a century. It became a Grade II* listed building in 1951, but limited restoration work was carried out and it became derelict in the 1970s.
Friends of Windmill Garden, the group behind the project, worked in partnership with Lambeth Council, which gave £55,000, and also received a Heritage Lottery grant of £397,000.
"Most people in Brixton didn't know it was there," said Jean Kerrigan, chairwoman of Friendsof Windmill Gardens. "We hope the mill will raise the profile of thelocal area, provide employmentand be a centre of fun and education for local people."