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Imperial - Cawood's - Awe's Mill
Qonce (King William's Town), Eastern Cape



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32°52'18.46" S 27°23'00.91" E Alt: 374m

"Mill of Many Masters: There it is, awkwardly wedged between a couple of 1990’s style houses in this neat little suburban neighbourhood.

"Built in 1864, the Old Mill, located on the West Bank, is one of the oldest buildings in King Williams Town. Envisage a beautiful stone mill, three stories high and surrounded by orchards and gardens where, on a fine day, locals could visit and enjoy strawberries and cream under the shade of the trees. There was also a larger house, cottages, stabling and cow sheds. The mill sits on erf 469 and was erected in 1864. The owner, Mr Nicholas Ries named it Perks Mill.

"In 1870 it was purchased by William Pike Cawood and renamed as Cawoods Mill.

"A Mr Oscar Donian then purchased the property in 1873 and went about making some improvements to the design by substituting cups for the usual paddles on such wheels.

"Once more it took on a new name, Imperial Mill, though affectionately known as ‘Donians’ to the locals.

"The mill was advertised as having “the greatest water power near King Williams Town” and it was able to 'grind in the shortest time and at the lowest rates possible'

"It was then sold in 1875 to James Wilson Wier and once more changed hands in 1892 when Christian Frederick Born purchased it. In 1924, Ewald Awe took ownership and in 1947 ownership was passed to Eric Adolf Awe. At one point it was known as Anney’s Mill and then Awes Mill.

"In 1938 the Awes installed a turbine and in later years an electric motor. This was used when the water was low or in place of the turbine. The mill operated under the Awe family until 1970. The building passed through a number of owners before being sold to, “Osmond, Lange and Mosienyane” architects in 1982.

"In 1980 a proposal was put forward to have it declared a national monument, however this was declined due to lack of funding.

"Initial plans were to renovate the building into an office complex. However this idea was shelved.

"The mill stood lonely and derelict and eventually was gutted by fire and in 2012 auctioned off.

"The new owners had begun improvements, but the project seems to have come to a standstill.

"For now it is at least behind lock and key - preventing further damage for the short term."

(Sunshine Simplicities on FB, September 2023)

Writings about this entry

Staples, Chester O. 2006. Mills of Southern Africa : water, wind and horse. Pretoria: Umdaus. pg 87-88, 194, 198