Wilson, Helen Mary 1914 - 1998

(c. 1914-1998), Collector of windmill ephemera

Helen Mary Wilson, née West, was born in 1914 in Missouri, USA, but lived in Mill House, Cranbrook, Kent, as a child, adjacent to the Union Mill windmill which was owned and operated by her family, the Russells, between 1832 and 1958. Her uncle, John Russell, was the last of the family to operate the mill before its sale to Kent County Council in 1958, and he received an award from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1935 for his maintenance of the windmill. Photographs of Union Mill form a substantial part of the collection begun by Helen’s mother Gwendolen West, née Russell, and continued by Helen. It was John Russell to whom Rex Wailes dedicated his book ‘The English Windmill’ in 1954, Wailes and Russell having previously co-authored an article, ‘Windmills in Kent’, for the ‘Transactions of the Newcomen Society’ (volume 29) in 1953. Helen Wilson died in 1998 and is buried at Cranbrook.