Every neighbourhood has its quirks whether it be a wonky lamppost or a pretty view – but one Croydon cul de sac stands apart from the rest due to its very unusual landmark – a 19th-century windmill.
Standing upright at the centre of the quiet Postmill Close development, the imposing tower of Shirley Windmill sits.
The seven-storey windmill dates back to 1854 and is protected by English Heritage and the passionate local community.
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It’s truly one of the last things you’d expect to find on the streets of Croydon, and indeed, many local people don’t even know it’s there.
So what’s it like living next to a windmill? We went down to Croydon to find out.
‘I used to go to school here and now I live here – the windmill hasn’t changed’
As soon as you turn into Postmill Close, Shirley Windmill dominates your senses. Set on a green mound in the centre of the conurbation, it fills the scene providing a centre to the disconnected lives of the close.
The houses in the close date back to 1992 and one man who remembers moving in on that date is Mark Reason, 76.
He tells us that the use of the windmill has changed a lot in the almost 30 years he’s lived there.
He said: “When we first moved in they had a few events around the mill – Morris Dancing and the like. It was kind of amusing but also a bit irritating as well. Now people come once a month or so.
“It’s nice to live by for the novelty value as much as anything.
“There aren’t many windmills about these days!”
Another resident who remembers the old days of the windmill also spoke to MyLondon.
As a former pupil of the John Ruskin School, he remembers walking past the mill on his way to lessons.
Now he wakes up with it outside his window.
He said: “I’ve lived here twenty years, it doesn’t give us any bother at all.
“I used to go to school here before they built houses here, the windmill is part of Croydon’s history and hasn’t ever been touched.
“I’ve been up it a few times, it’s seven floors and very cool inside.”
‘It gives the area a boost’
It’s no secret that owning property is one way to accumulate cash in London.
According to Zoopla, the average price of a house in Croydon is £405,679, which is substantially lower than the London average of £699,433.
But with their beautiful neighbour, are residents hopeful that their houses will go up in value faster?
Mrs Patel lives directly opposite the windmill and tells MyLondon it’s a fantastic addition to the area.
She said: “I think the windmill is great, it’s probably added value to our houses.
“It gives the area a boost, it’s nice to be opposite, it’s a nice space to meet around.”
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‘It dominates the landscape’
Postmill Close is a tight-knit community and as such, the windmill and the residents have a fairly close relationship.
Many residents, including Anna Higgins, 74, are involved in its preservation.
She said: “We moved here in 1993, we wanted a bigger house at the time, the windmill was a nice bonus really, it dominates the landscape around here.
“I’ve been up it loads of time, me and my husband run the Friends of Shirley Windmill and work in it in the summer months.
“About a hundred people come every time we open it.
“It’s lovely living here with it.”
Anna’s neighbour Tim Roberson is also involved in the mill’s preservation and tells us that it could be considered Croydon’s ‘best kept secret’.
He said: “The windmill dates back to 1854, I work as one of the tour guides in the summer months.
“We open it from May to October. It’s a state of the art windmill – it has all sorts of gadgets in it.
“Before we moved here we didn’t know it was there, it could be considered one of Croydon’s best kept secrets certainly.”
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