Historic Mills

I thought this would be a gentle essay featuring a well-loved Cape Town heritage landmark. But between my first site visit and an interview with ‘Friends of the Mill,’ John Hammer, Devils Peak blazed, roared and leapt with a great fire. A UCT library/reading room filled with treasures, burned, structures and woodlands were consumed in spectacular fashion and the Mill and adjacent houses became forlorn, smoking ruins in the process. Now the task of Friends of the Mill is not so much about mollycoddling and preservation, as about resurrection and restoration.

In the article below Cathy Robertson tells the story of the meticulous restoration of Onze Molen in Durbanville in the mid 1980s. The article was first published in the 1986 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

We found the following article by B.I. Spaanderman in the 1991 edition of the old Johannesburg Historical Foundation's journal Between the Chains. It looks at a number of South African mills with a particular focus on Millbank, the closest to Johannesburg.

[Originally published in 2014] The mill on Kromrivier farm in the Cederberg conservancy milled wheat for the first time in living memory on Saturday 4 November 2014, witnessed by associates of the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) from Drakenstein and Swellendam.


An extensive milling industry was in operation since the very early days of Potchefstroom and between 1847 and 1890 no less than nine mills were strung out next to the Mooi River down from the North Bridge. This area was ideally suited for milling operations due to the slope of the riverbank.

We are very excited to publish this piece on what appears to be South Africa's oldest surviving windmill. The article was written by Ivor Dekenah (note the surname) and appeared in the 1981 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, known today as the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA). Thank you to the Restorica copyright holders, the University of Pretoria, for giving us permission to publish.

Very little remains of the historic Richardson's Mill in the Trappes Valley 10km north east of Bathurst in the Eastern Cape. Well known local enthusiast Bev Young first saw the structure in 2000 and described it as 'wrecked but visible and the grounds still accessible'. Over the years she has documented what is left of the mill and has watched as things have deteriorated to the point where there is almost nothing left today. The short article below, written by A S Basson, is very tough to read.

Subscribe to Historic Mills