File NICH-REP-UK-017 - Report - Bocking Windmill

Reference code



Report - Bocking Windmill


  • May 1980 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2 photocopies

Name of creator

(11 February 1938 - 21 August 2020)

Biographical history

Having attended Reading Collegiate School, David Nicholls' career as a millwright began as an employee at F. Ingram Smith Limited where he worked alongside Derek Ogden (and others) on the restoration of Woodbridge Tide Mill (1973). Other early projects involved F Ingram Smith Limited supporting the millwright, John Fairbanks, in dismantling and moving Alton Water Mill, Stutton to The Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket and the restoration of Felin Geri Water Mill, Newcastle Emlyn, for which the firm was awarded a European Architectural Heritage Award in 1975.

Nicholls left F Ingram Smith Limited in 1975 to join Jameson Marshall Limited during which period Nicholls took on the restoration of Wilton Windmill from Derek Ogden (1975 -1976). The project introduced Nicholls to stone dressing (under instruction from the Potter brothers of Ecchinswell Water Mill). The completed project at Wilton won a Civic Trust Award in 1976. Other highlights from this period included surveying work with Rex Wailes and for SPAB (1976), major repairs to the sweeps at Outwood Post Mill (1978-1979), and the restoration of Mapledurham Water Mill (1977). After its restoration, Nicholls set up a weekend milling operation at Mapledurham which he continued for five years before handing its operation over to Mildred Cookson in 198[3] who continued its operation with assistance from David, his wife, Diana, and family.

Nicholls left Jameson Marshall Limited in 1979, becoming one of five founding directors of Millwrights International Limited, where he took on the role of managing director and administrator and where he remained until his resignation in early 1988 (the company being liquidated in 1989). When time allowed, Nicholls worked on a variety of 'hands-on' repair and restoration projects, including the dismantling, moving and rebuild of Chiseldon Tower Mill (1984).

In 1988 Nicholls set up The Chiltern Partnership as sole proprietor, with a staff of eight employees. Major works during this period included the extensive restoration of Wellesbourne Watermill (1989), Warwick Castle Watermill (1991-1992), further restoration work on Wilton Windmill (1992-1993) and major repairs at Maddingley Post Mill (1993-1994) where dendrochronological analysis was deployed to reveal re-use of 16th century materials. It was also during this period that Nicholls carried out a survey and drew up proposals for the complete restoration of the Morgan Lewis Windmill, Barbados, the only remaining sugar mill in the Caribbean, resulting in a five year programme of repair (1994-1999). During this period Nicholls also set up The Amy Nicholls Mill Wall Project for the Barbadian Ministry of Education involving schools in plotting any mill walls remaining on the island, The Chiltern Partnership donating prizes for winning entries (1995-1996).

In 2000, the business of The Chiltern Partnership was sold to IJP Building Conservation Limited (now Owlsworth IJP) where Nicholls took the position of director of millwork, stepping down in 2002. Since then, Nicholls continued to work and advise as a millwright, often in a volunteer capacity (Quainton Windmill (2009-2011) and Pann Mill, High Wycombe (2007-2008)), a last major piece of consultancy being an extensive survey of House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow in 2011. From [2010], Nicholls was in regular contact with the Mills Archive, providing details of the scope of his career [NICH-PER-xxx] as well making two large deposits of the records which comprise the David Nicholls (Millwright) Collection.


Archival history

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Scope and content

Two reports by Nicholl's co-director, Chris Wallis, on Bocking Windmill, Braintree marked "DON Purely for General Background Information".
(1) Six page manuscript report (pages 1 to 9). Details the condition of the mill with a recommendation that preliminary work is carried out to expose hidden timbers allowing their condition to be assessed, a complete dimensions survey to be taken and a priced bill of quantities to be drawn up. The cost of this preliminary work (including the removal of the sails and stock) is £600.
(2) Four pages of drawings and measurements (pages 10 to 14) for works to improve the mill's stability. Includes drawings for a steel beam support to the mill's broken shears as well as for a cranked beam.

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This material may be consulted free of charge at the Mills Archive; please email to arrange an appointment.

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