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09 September 2020

The Windmill Inn, 2 West Street, Portslade

Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2019)

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Windmill Inn May 1935, George V’s Silver Jubilee.

In July 1883 a piece of land popularly known as the Mill Plot was offered for sale. The plot included a substantially-built public house – the Windmill Inn – a dwelling house, stabling for two horses, a coach house and pony stables plus a ‘capital slaughter house’. 
copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
An advert in the Brighton Herald 9 June 1838
which states Copperas Gap was in the Parish of Southwick.
In the early 1860s when St Andrew's Church was built,
Copperas Gap was incorporated into Portslade which greatly
annoyed the Vicar of Southwick.

The property was sold for £750. The round base of the old Copperas Gap windmill could still be seen behind the inn, and the miller’s small cottage was nearby.

The inn acted as something of a social centre, as well as being a place to have a drink and complain about the current state of affairs. For example, the old-fashioned game of quoits was particularly popular at the inn and as a result they could field a strong team. Quoits was played in Sussex up until the First World War and did not require much equipment. A ‘proper’ quoit was a flat ring with a bevelled edge and varied in weight from 5-lbs or 6-lbs to 7-lbs. But an old horseshoe would do just as well. All you had to do was to pitch it at a peg using a round-arm action. The ideal playing area consisted of two parallel 4-ft square beds, clay-filled to a depth of from 4-in to 6-in.

copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
A report in the Brighton Herald 18 March 1843
the victim of the accident was taken to the Windmill Inn
It is not known where the regulars of the Windmill Inn practised their skills, but perhaps they just walked up to the Old Village where there was a quoits field on the east side of North Road (formerly North Lane). Some people in neighbouring Southdown Road have discovered, while digging in their west-facing gardens, the stems of clay pipes. This suggest that the regulars enjoyed smoking a pipe or two whilst waiting to pitch their quoit.

In 1898 the inn also had a slate club. This was a popular way of saving up your hard-earned cash – perhaps for Christmas or a pub outing in the summer.

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
A Victorian photograph of Copperas Gap Windmill

In 1899 a new clubroom was installed, and more alterations were carried out in 1912.

In the 1930s Fred Lucas used to play the piano in the evenings at the Windmill. His day-time job was being the ferryman who took the workers across the canal to the Portslade Gas Works, and back home afterwards.

Owners

1899 – Ashby & Co
1912 – Smith & Son, then
Smithers
1929 – Kemp Town Brewery (still the owners in 1954)

Landlords

In 1896 John Goble was the landlord, and he was still there in the 1920s.

George Hazelgrove took over in the 1930s. In May 1935 Hazelgrove organised the decoration of the pub to celebrate George V’s Silver Jubilee. There were strings of bunting and the place was floodlit at night. Hazelgrove saw out the years of the Second World War too.

The last landlord was probably R. J. Bohannon who was there from 1950 until at least 1958.

An Incident from the Second World War

The incident occurred during a training session for the local Home Guard, and it was something of an initiative test. C Company from Portslade was tasked with going from Shoreham, across the railway line, and on to the Gas Works all in the blackout of course, without being discovered by the Southwick Home Guard. C Company had almost made it and were creeping quietly along North Street just by the Windmill when they were spotted by Southwick Home Guard who promptly launched a thunder-flash at them. The missile landed at the feet of Charlie Todd, and his instinctive re-action was to kick it away. He was not to know that the pub’s cellar doors were open, and down the thunder-flash went, causing much noise and confusion.

The incident was not regarded as amusing, and indeed a courts-martial was swiftly convened to ascertain all the facts of the case. However, the result was only a slap on the wrist for Charlie Todd.

End of the Line

The Windmill was demolished in the 1960s.

Sources

Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Directories
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Middleton, J. Portslade and Hove Memories (2004)
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Copyright © J.Middleton 2020
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