Rushmere St Andrew Windmill and Dawsons Agricultural Engineering

Rushmere St Andrew Windmill 1924

From the descriptions of the Rushmere St. Andrew windmill in various publications we can discover it was an octagonal Smock Mill with cant posts seated on wooden sills which were laid on a brick base of just a few courses above ground, that it had two piece shafts and that it was noted as unusual in having a green coloured Fly.

The Dawson family occupied the Windmill/Mill House (113 Playford Road) for well over 100 years.

According to the Apportionment Of Rent Charge In Lieu Of Tithes Book dated 1845 the surname of the Occupier was Dawson and the landowner was stated as Widow Goodwin but according to both the 1841 and 1851 Census a Henry Betts was stated as the occupier. By the time the 1861 Census was taken William Dawson was the occupier. His occupation was described as Miller and Farmer of 80 acres.

By looking through the later Census it appears that William Dawson was a Corn Miller/Corn Merchant. By the time the 1901 Census was taken William’s son Alfred had taken over the trade. By this time the windmill was being powered by steam as well as wind. By 1911 Alfred, as well as being a Miller, also ran an Agricultural Engineering business at the same premises. The 1911 Census provided the additional information that the Mill House contained 11 rooms.

There is an entry in the Kelly’s Directory of Suffolk 1912 which states: Dawson A. & Co., Contractors for steam rolling, motor haulage, steam ploughing, cultivating, harrowing, mole draining, threshing, seed drawing, clover hulling, chaff cutting, sawing, self-binding, reaping, moving and C. T. A. Dawson, Rushmere. Kelly’s Directory of Suffolk 1922 states Alfred Dawson & Co., (Rushmere) Ltd (estab. 1898).

By 1928 the sails had been removed and the windmill was powered by steam only. The windmill had stopped being used by 1934.

Alfred Dawson and his family lived at the Mill House until his death in 1938 after which his son Douglas took over the business. The Mill was demolished about a year later but Douglas carried on living in the Mill House continuing with the Agricultural Engineering contractors business until around about 1971/2.

This steam roller, built by Ruston and Hornsby, works number 122282 and known as 'Gladiator', was supplied on 22 July 1924 to Alfred Dawson & Co of Rushmere St Andrew, and became No 7 in their steamroller fleet. She spent all her working life in Suffolk and parts of Essex, not retiring until 1970, by which time it is thought to have become the last commercially used steam roller in this county.
This photograph was taken in 2009 at Suffolk at Carlton Colville, but she is now believed to be in Lincolnshire.

Further information about Alfred Dawson and his steam rollers can be found at  http://www.oldglory.co.uk/news/steam-traction-alfred-dawson-co-rushmere-ipswich