Windmills date to the 9th century in Persia and appear in Britain by the late 12th century. There are three basic forms of mill;
- Post Mills: These are the earliest form of mill, with the whole mill sitting on a substantial wooden post, the whole body of the mill being rotated to face the wind.
- Smock Mills: These have a fixed wooden body on which a cap rotates to orient the sails into the wind.
- Tower Mills: An extension of the principle applied to Smock Mills, the body of these being constructed of brick or stone.
In all cases, being wind-powered, windmills are found on high ground and, often, in the case of mills which have been demolished all that may remain is a circular mound upon which the mill stood. An example of this may be the 'tower' which Thomas Ross (1810-1881) described in the area of St Georges Graveyard during the early-mid 19th century. Other mills in the area have had the tower reduced in height and roofed in to form a storage shed such as the White Mill.
A useful resource is: Hastings Windmills by Mary Harding ESCC Library
The West Hill was the location of a number of windmills over the years, and the exact locations of these is still a matter of some contention to this day.Baines suggests the following numbers of mills as being extant on the hill as an aide to date images:-
- 1724 - 1760 : One
- 1769 - 1819 : Two
- 1823 - 1829 : Four
- 1833 - 1854 : Three
- 1861 - 1873 : Two
He further notes that this does not take into account French's Mill which was further inland.