Previous Restorations

1935

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).
 

1995

Sixty years after the first restoration in 1935, the mill was restored again. A retired Merchant Navy Captain – Brad Wallace-Bradley, largely initiated the events leading up to the 1995 restoration. He attended a UCT ‘Summer School’ lecture on Watermills and Windmills by James Walton, and following the advice given at a meeting later, joined the ‘Vernacular Architecture Society of S.A.

James Walton who was the Honorary Life President of the Society, and author of the definitive book on South African mills, focused attention on the old windmill in Mowbray.

The Vernacular Architecture Society of S.A. formed a sub-committee for Mostert’s Mill in 1986 following correspondence with Andre Bakker in Holland. This Sub-committee collated information about the mill and lobbied about improving the deteriorating condition of the mill.

In 1992 the Sub-committee decided that a new society should be formed to work for the restoring and operation of the mill. A public meeting was held on the 28th October 1992 in the Mowbray Town hall and it was resolved that a steering committee should draw up a draft constitution.

On the 9th March 1993 a second public meeting was held in the Mowbray Town hall. The ‘Friends of Mostert’s Mill’ was duly established, the draft constitution approved and a committee was elected.

Much liaison and negotiation between the new “Friends of Mostert’s Mill” and the Department of Public Works (DPW) followed which resulted in an announcement that in August 1995 the mill would be be closed for restoration. The DPW also announced that the cost for the machinery restoration would be R245 000.
The Dutch millwrighting company – Dunning-Bremmer (who restored the mill in 1935) once again carried out the machinery restoration.