The Fitz Roy Steam Flour Mill was established by William Hopkins at 309 George Street, Windsor, New South Wales and operated from the 1840s until the building was demolished in the 1890s. The block is now (2021) occupied by the Sun Sing Chinese Restaurant.
The growing of grain crops in the Hawkesbury area began as early as the 1790s and instigated the construction and development of many mills in the Hawkesbury district powered by both steam and water. Productive grain crops continued to be grown until the emergence of the destructive fungus known as rust decimated the industry in the 1870s, forcing the decline of milling and the eventual demolition of associated structures.
On 13 October 1843, William Hopkins purchased one of the portions of Mrs Maria Cope’s Catherine Farm subdivision facing George Street, Windsor for the sum of £40. At the back of this block he constructed a steam powered flour mill. Also constructed was a baker’s shop at the front, a residence for his family and a number of other buildings. The Sydney Morning Herald reported in November 1848 that:
The engine is of the high pressure kind, of ten horse power, driving two pair of four feet mill stones, one dressing machine, one smut machine, one set of meal elevators and self-acting hoisting tackle altogether the most complete piece of machinery ever setup in this neighbourhood, and reflecting the highest credit on the engineers (Messrs Rogers and Robertson). Owing to the peculiar construction of the furnace, a great saving is effected in the consumption of fuel, and I am told that 25 cwt of wood will be as much as can be used during sixteen hours full work of the mill.
William Hopkins died in January 1862 leaving the mill to his son Isaac (also a miller) and his widow Susannah who sold the property to Henry Moses of Windsor for £1200 (Old Systems Book 79 No. 728). Moses operated the mill for about eight years before it was again on the market, selling to Henry Keys (Keyes), a grazier from the Barwon River at the increased value of £1500 in May 1870 (Old Systems Book 119 No. 564).
Keys died in 1893 and in July of that year, George Wells, a Commission Agent from Sydney and Jeremiah Dodd of Reedy Creek near Mudgee, drover, became the new proprietors. Wells and Dodd had invested in other portions of land in Windsor including two blocks adjoining the mill and facing Church Street (now Little Church Street). Wells and Dodd applied for the conversion of the property from Old Systems to Torrens Title (Primary Application 8928) and the first certificate of title (Volume 1101 Folio 126) includes a plan of the mill property showing the existing buildings.
Results of auction sale of the property of the late Henry Keys of Windsor from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 21 October 1893, p. 3.
At the auction sale of the former estate of Henry Keys, the mill property was sold to Miss Annie Caroline Keys for £850. According to Early Days of Windsor by James Steele, the mill building was demolished in October 1893, by this time the milling industry in the Hawkesbury had collapsed.
The property changed hands several times during the early 20th century and previous owners included George Marden of Windsor, Postmaster who also owned Raymond Villa for a time. In the late 1950s, the site was purchased by Hinchey and Cross, a firm of Windsor builders and in the early 1960s the building housing the Chinese restaurant was constructed.
Extract from Old Form Torrens Title Certificate Volume 1101 Folio 126 dated 19 July 1893 following the conversion of the land from Old Systems to Torrens Title. The plan of property at 309 George Street Windsor shows the existing buildings including the shop and residence at the front and the mill structure in the centre. George Robertson had his yard and residence next door at this time. Retrieved 9 June 2021 from https://hlrv.nswlrs.com.au/
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