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Local Windmills

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The crude tower-mills built at the Cape before the end of the seventeenth century suffered so badly from the strong south-east winds that the Council of Seventeen (‘die Here Sewentien’) decided in 1717 to send out masons, carpenters and materials to erect a more efficient mill. This mill, completed in 1718, later became known as the Oude Molen, and is marked on a map of the Cape Peninsula (below). The mill was situated between the present Pinelands Station and the Black River and although demolished and gone without a trace, its name continues as a place name and a Technical school in Pinelands.

It is surprising with all the influence of Holland that mills were not given picturesque names. It is customary in Holland to name mills – ‘Our Interest’, ‘The Trusty Watchman’, ‘The Star’, and ‘The Young Hero’ and similar names. Most windmills in South Africa were named after an owner or they took the name of the farm on which the windmill stood.

The Cape Peninsula map of 1863 (below) shows the locations of eleven mills stretching from the North end of modern Paarden Eiland to Mowbray in the South.

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A number of other mills followed the construction of Oude Molen :

Clapperton’s Mill - situated in what is now Mowbray was built about 1773

Nieuwe Molen - the tower of which still stands in the grounds of the Alexandra Institution – 1782

Mostert’s Mill - the only surviving, complete South African windmill was built about 1796

Valkenberg Mill - situated in the grounds of Valkenberg and built about 1803 Onderneming Mill - standing between the Astronomical Observatory and the mountain – about 1833

Hope Mill - sited on the Cape Town bank of the Salt River on the farm Ebersted – about 1839

Salt River Mill - also sited on the Cape Town bank of the Salt River – about 1839

Not too much is known about the three other mills along the Salt River, between the two mouths of the river, towards the North, and designated as Dwars-in-de-Weg, Dur and Broekman.

The illustration of the Cape of Good Hope (1778) below, shows two windmills which were probably the Oude Molen and Clapperton’s Mill

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‘Vue du Cap de Bonne-esperance’ / View of the Cape of Good Hope Johannes Schumacher c 1778

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