It is not certain when or why Mostert’s Mill ceased to operate, but it appears that it was no longer functioning in 1873. All machinery but especially machinery made from wood, deteriorates quite quickly unless used and maintained. Exposed timbers on the outside of the mill also have the weather elements of rain and sun that take their toll.
The mill fell into disrepair, and by 1935 was derelict as the picture alongside shows. Before the 1935 restoration commenced, the Public Works Department (PWD) surveyed and recorded the derelict windmill. Through the mediation of the Netherlands Government and the milling society De Hollandsche Molen, the millwrighting firm of Th. Bremer near Groningen was appointed to undertake the restoration work in conjunction with the PWD.
Chris Bremer, a young man in his father’s firm travelled to Cape Town to supervise and restore the machinery. He recorded that much of the original machinery was still present. Ships’ timbers had been used for some of the big beams and for the vertical shaft. His instructions were to retain as much of the original parts as possible. He carried out most of his work in a corrugated-iron shed that was erected near the mill and also kept a detailed account of the work he did over a period of many months. Other parts were manufactured in Holland and shipped to Cape Town.
The many parts manufactured on site and in Holland included the sails, tail pole and braces, brake lever and the wind shaft. In order to facilitate pulling the cap around to put the sails into the wind, Bremer added a winch to the tail of the mill. The circular wall of the mill was strengthened by the addition of a concrete ‘sleeve’ inside the mill. New doors and windows were made and the stones of the earthen platform around the base of the mill were repacked.
On the 1st February 1936 the mill was put in motion by Dr. Lorentz, Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary for the Netherlands, at a ceremony attended by the then Prime Minister, General J. B. M. Hertzog.
After the opening ceremony the mill was operated by the PWD from time to time until the outbreak of war in 1939. Sadly, the infrequency of the mill operation resulted in the deterioration of the timbers and in 1986 the windshaft broke and the sails fell to the ground.
(The PWD workshop then produced a large enough baulk of Iroko, fashioned it to shape and replaced the broken (circa 1935) gum windshaft and installed the repaired sails).