A TALL STORY
The mill's history in a nutshell
In 1796 the local baker - THOMAS SMART by name and smart by nature - acquired from THOMAS EDWARDS, a wealthy clothier, not only the present mill site but also the hand of the clothier's daughter, ANN. Unfortunately for Thomas he also borrowed 1000 shillings (£50) from his father-in-law in order to build a windmill - this mortgage may well have been his downfall. Between 1806 and 1808 Smart built a five storey windmill topped off with a revolving cap and sails, which must have towered over the town. Being long before the first photographs, only a simple pen and ink drawing remains of its days as a mill.
Ten years later the mill was no more - whether its demise was bad luck, bad timing or bad workmanship is not recorded. Local rumour has it that the mill was tail winded, resulting in a dramatic fall from grace, with the cap, sails and fifth storey crashing down on the neighbours below.
A more likely answer comes from the Georgian records of Bradford, which show many cloth mills meeting their "WATERLOOs" just two years after the famous battle ended the Napoleonic wars and started a period of depression for the cloth industry in the area. Bankcruptcies were rife amongst the woollen mill owning classes (including Thomas Edwards) which resulted in a massive auction in 1817 of many properties - one of which was the windmill.
Whilst Thomas had been busy being an entrepreneur, he still had enough energy left to attend to his wife Ann who was left fully occupied bearing and bringing up a large new generation of "Smarties". The family business continued in baking and later as corn factors, cheesemongers and grocers in the building which now houses the DANDYLION Pub in MARKET STREET. At some point Bradford and the Smarts parted company, though the occasional descendant pops up from "DOWN UNDER" to rediscover their ancestral home town.
After the mill's fall from grace and now known for obvious reasons as the ROUND HOUSE, it had a period housing the teeming masses as tenements. In the 1840's, the truncated stone tower minus its timber gallery was "gothicised" in typical victorian style, producing the sort of ginger bread house found in the pages of a GRIMM'S FAIRY TALE. This perhaps accounts for the Windmill's later reputation amongst the more impressionable Bradfordians, as the haunt of ghosts and witches. Most of the ghosts have passed on and the witch has moved down the hill to the tiny thatched cottage, now known, not surprisingly, as the "Witch's Cottage". However, if you have a little imagination listen on windy nights for the ghostly sound of Ben the bakers dog who can be heard rattling his chain, as he tries to slip his leash!
A SHORT STORY
Peter and Priscilla's history
As anyone over six feet tall will soon discover, the Old Windmill was designed for and by economically sized people, not only us but the original builders.
Both of us were born under the flight path of LONDON AIRPORT, so it was no surprise that after careers as a teacher and government adviser, we ditched our jobs and followed the vapour trail to discover the end of our respective rainbows. We bought ourselves open ended air tickets to do the antipodean hippy experience, starting with INDIA and plumbing the depths that only B&B can reach - beds with bugs in NEPALESE hill towns and beds amongst the bugs in THAI Tree Houses. Having ticked off BURMA, MALAYSIA, INDONESIA, OZ, NZ, NEW CALEDONIA, THE COOK ISLANDS, FRENCH POLYNESIA and the USA, we arrived back in Thatcherite Britain with a bump.
Having seen B&B at its worst in the Far East and at its best in the States we decided self-employment might be a lot better than going back into "Public Service", so we put a sign at the end of the drive and waited for customers to arrive!
And luckily for us - arrive they did.
A few years later we started our "beds with a difference" consortium DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT which is now 20 years old.
As you may have gathered we are still here, sharing our house and beds with others - so come and join us.
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