This year we are trying to collect 200 stories about Bursledon Windmill in celebration of our 200th birthday. Our Community Engagement & Learning Officer Janet has got us started with a wonderful story of her first encounter with the mill.
If you’d like to share an experience of your own please get in touch with us!
As a small child in the 1960s I lived in Bursledon – down the hill from the Windmill on the main road. For the first few years of my life I had no idea that there was a ruined windmill so close, despite being a big fan of Windy Miller on Camberwick Green (I can still make that wonderful sound-effect!). Then one summer morning when I was 4 or 5 years old my dad asked me if I’d like to go for a walk with him. Presumably my Mum wanted me out of her way for a while.
I remember that we set off down the hill towards the river and that a horse leaning over a gate tried to eat my sun hat. It was always sunny those early summers in Bursledon. The weather was never so good after we moved into the city. Quite what our route around Swanwick was I don’t recall, but no doubt it took in a few pubs knowing my Dad, with me sitting outside with a lemonade and a packet of crisps with the little blue salt bag inside. I do remember ending up going back up the hill via Blundell’s Lane, or Coney Walk as I used to call it – not because of rabbits but because I used to collect pine cones there. This was before the lane was spoilt by the M27. When we emerged into Dodwell Lane I was expecting to return home via the Crow’s Nest pub and kicked up a bit of a fuss when Dad said we’d carry on up the hill to look at the ruined windmill. He persuaded me to go on by saying that if we did that and then walked back down the hill home, I would have walked 5 miles, an amazing achievement for my little legs.
So on we went. I was not that impressed with the windmill – it wasn’t the romantic ruin I was expecting. I recall it as dark and ivy-covered in quite a gloomy setting with no sign of any sails. I expect my Dad tried to paint a picture of it how it would have looked in its heyday – proudly turning in the wind on top of the hill with no trees in the way and farmers’ carts trundling up the hill with their bags of grain for the jovial miller. Camberwick Green in other words.
But what I was impressed with was my prowess as a walker. I clearly remember getting home and crowing to my older sister that I’d walked FIVE MILES. When, a few years later after we’d moved to Southampton, my Dad asked me if I wanted to walk 10 miles along the Itchen Navigation Path to Winchester with him I agreed to it because in my mind 10 miles was just the Windmill Walk twice over – easy! I did, however, bargain for a toy to be bought in Winchester before getting the train home.
For many years I was my Dad’s walking partner and walking has remained my number one hobby, with my husband taking my Dad’s place. My Dad died this year before I had finished my current challenge - walking round the boundaries of England a bit at a time. We set off from home in Gosport, heading East to do the coast and borders anti-clockwise because I wanted the last day’s walk to be Bursledon to home. We have reached the Welsh border now and generally do 15 to 20 miles a day which I can manage easily because after all it’s only 3 or 4 “Windmill Walks”!