The Robert Brown Windmill

    Robert William BROWN was born at Lethbridge, Victoria in 1851, and his family moved to Beeac, Victoria in the early 1860's, where they were amongst the earliest settlers. His father was a carpenter, and Robert also joined the trade at an early age, until by the mid 1870's the two men were working together as "BROWN & SON Carpenters" in premises on the corner of Lang and Weston Streets. In 1874 he married Mary PIERCE, and over the next several years the couple had eleven children. She apparently also helped with the business and when she died in 1948, it was reported that she assisted in the construction of the windmills. Robert appears to have entered the windmill business by 1891. He sold out in about 1900 to James PROWSE, who continued to use the same premises. During his time in the trade he is known to have produced at least two different models of windmill.

R. W. Brown dockets from 1895-96, and 1899.

R. W. Brown docket from 1899.

    The first type of windmill made by Robert BROWN was a direct action design, with the hub shaft supported at either end of the crank by a "V" shaped main casting. An all metal wind wheel was used with the blades fitted inside the outer ring. This model appears to have been available in wind wheel sizes up to in excess of twelve foot in diameter. Four legged towers were used on known examples. This was possibly the later of the two models , as one small example has been located with "R. BROWN Maker Beeac 1898" still visible on the tail vane
    At present there is no description of the second type of mill he made.

    After selling the business he stayed in Beeac until about 1923, before moving to Colac, where he died in August 1935, aged 85. During this time BROWN appears to have made at least one other windmill. This was a fairly primitive fabricated variation on his open crank cast design, but used wooden block bearings. The fan was about four feet in the diameter, and the approximately ten foot high galvanized tower was riveted together.
    Two of Robert BROWN's sons were William and Albert BROWN, who manufactured windmills at Cressy as "Brown Bros".

An example of a Robert Brown Windmill. Victoria.
The tail for this windmill has R BROWN Maker Beeac 1898 painted onto it, but unfortunately it is not visible in the photograph. This particular windmill was on the JACOB property on the Beeac Dreeite road. This was not its original site as it was acquired second-hand. The wind wheel was over nine feet in diameter and the casting was heavy enough to make two men struggle to lift it.

Information and images courtesy of Craig Pink
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