John Wallis Titt
John Wallis Titt
ChildrenTwo sons
Parent(s)John Titt
Eliza Titt (Née Wallis)
Engineering career
DisciplineAgricultural engineering, wind engines
Practice nameWoodcock Ironworks, Warminster

John Wallis Titt (1841–1910) was a late nineteenth-century English mechanical engineer and builder of a particular design of large wind engine.

Early life

Titt was born in 1841 at Elm Farm, Chitterne, Wiltshire to John Titt and Eliza Titt (née Wallis).[1] The farm had a post mill, which he worked for his father until he left in 1865 to join Messrs Wallis, Haslan and Stevens, agricultural engineers and steam engine manufacturers of Basingstoke, Hampshire. Titt worked for them for two years as a commercial traveller. In 1867, he joined the millwrighting firm of Brown & May, based in Devizes, Wiltshire. He remained with them for five years.[2] From 1870, Titt was an agent for Brown and May.[3]

Later life

In 1872, Titt established himself at Portway, Devizes as an agricultural engineer, employed by Brown & May. He was also an agent for Messrs Fowler's of Leeds, Yorkshire. In 1874 he entered business on his own account[3] and in 1876 he established the Woodcock Ironworks at Warminster. At first, he manufactured elevators. Titt continued in business as an agricultural engineer and iron founder. In 1884, Titt manufactured his first wind engine, for the Boyton estate. Titt continued to run the firm until he retired through ill health in 1903, the year in which he exhibited three wind engines at the Royal Agricultural Society's show, Park Royal, London. He died in May 1910.[2]

Identification plate for one of Titt's machines
Identification plate for one of Titt's machines

After his death, the firm was run by his two sons.[1] At its peak, 150 people were employed.[3] Apart from the agricultural side of the business, the firm also handled bicycles and motor cars.[1] The firm declined until in 1929 only 25 people were employed. In the 1940s, under the management of G. T. Frost, the firm expanded again, employing 60 people in 1952.[3] A branch was established at Frome, Somerset.[4] The Warminster headquarters closed in 1986[4] but the firm continued in business in Frome until 2009.[1]

Titt wind engines

Titt made three main types of wind engine: the Woodcock, Simplex direct and the Simplex geared. After the firm was taken over by his sons, another standard type of windpump, the Imperial, was produced.[2]

Woodcock engines

The Woodcock engine was a conventional iron windpump. It came in two sizes, with wind wheels of 10 feet (3.05 m) and 12 feet (3.66 m) and could be supplied with a wood or steel tower. The Woodcock wind engine could pump water to a total height of 150 feet (45.72 m).[2]

Simplex direct engines

The Simplex engines came either as direct drive or geared drive. The direct drive engines had a wind wheel diameter of 14 feet (4.27 m), 16 feet (4.88 m), 18 feet (5.49 m), 20 feet (6.10 m) and 25 feet (7.62 m). A 25 feet (7.62 m) high tower was supplied as standard, but could be made to any height a customer desired at extra cost. The blades of the wind wheel were similar in design and operation to the shutters on a Spring or Patent sail. Some of the larger direct engines were turned to wind by a fantail. A single or double fantail could be had, per the customer's wishes.[2]

Simplex geared engines

The geared engines came in the same sizes as the direct engines, and were also available in 30 feet (9.14 m), 35 feet (10.67 m) and 40 feet (12.19 m) diameter. A 25 feet (7.62 m) tower was standard for the smallest three sizes, and the larger sizes came with a 35 feet (10.67 m) as standard. Again, a taller tower could be supplied at extra cost. The geared Simplex engines were turned into wind by a fantail.[2]


Two remaining wind engines made by John Wallis Titt are on show at the Wind Energy Museum in Repps with Bastwick, Norfolk.[5]

Titt wind engines are known to have been built at the following locations:-[2] unless otherwise indicated

Location Type Notes
Almondsbury, Gloucestershire Erected c1894 for the Cattybrook Brick Co Ltd.
Amesbury, Wiltshire A wind engine was erected at Amesbury Junction for the London and South Western Railway.[6]
Barrowby, Lincolnshire Erected by 1899 for the Duke of Devonshire.
Basingstoke, Hampshire Erected in 1898 at Pitt Hall Farm, Upper Wooton.
Bentworth, Hampshire Simplex A wind engine was erected in 1901 at Bentworth and Lasham station on the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway.[7] It is present on a photo of the station dated 1928, just visible behind the station building.
Bitterne, Hampshire Erected at Thornhill Park in 1894.
Boyton, Wiltshire First wind engine supplied by Titt in 1884.
Bridgwater, Somerset Erected in 1893 at Stowey Farm.
Broome, Shropshire Erected in 1895 at Broome Station for the London and North Western Railway.
Burderop, Wiltshire Erected by 1899 on the Burderop Estate for Lt-Col Calley.
Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset Erected for Holt Bros, Burnham Brewery by 1894.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Simplex wind engine driving chain pumps. Erected in 1898 for Bury St Edmunds Town Council at a sewerage works in the town.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk 40 feet (12.19 m) geared Simplex wind engine on a 35 feet (10.67 m) steel tower, itself erected on a 22 feet 6 inches (6.86 m) brick tower. The largest Titt engine to date when built. The overall height of the engine was 81 feet (24.69 m). The 50 sails were 12 feet (3.66 m) long, tapering from 2 feet 6 inches (760 mm) at the tip to 1 foot (300 mm) at the heel. Equipped with twin fantails. Supplied the town with water. Proposal in 1900 to adapt it to generate electricity too.
Calne, Wiltshire Erected by 1900 at Bowood House for the Marquess of Lansdowne.
Castletown, Isle of Man Erected in May 1892, replaced a steam engine.
Chesfield, Hertfordshire Erected at Chesfield Park by 1896. Supplied water from a well 300 feet (91.44 m) deep to a 2,000 imperial gallons (9,100 l) tank.
Chitterne, Wiltshire Woodcock[8] Erected at Manor Farm in 1905, standing 1936.[8]
Cliddesden, Hampshire Simplex A wind engine was erected in 1901 at Cliddesden railway station on the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway. It was demolished in the late 1940s.[7] The wind engine can be seen briefly in the film Oh, Mr Porter![6]
Codford St. Mary, Wiltshire Erected by 1893.
Cookham, Berkshire 20 feet (6.10 m) geared Simplex on 40 feet (12.19 m) hexagonal tower. Powered a chaff cutter, corn grinder, oat crusher and peat moss breaker. Erected at Sutton Farm for F D Lambert by 1894.
Croscombe, Somerset 18 feet (5.49 m) Simplex Erected in 1899 for Shepton Mallett Rural District Council. Used a 4-inch (100 mm) double suction pump to pump water to a height of 84 feet (25.60 m).
Crux Easton, Hampshire
SU 4258 5642
20 feet (6.10 m) Simplex geared wind engine on a 32 feet (9.75 m)[9] hexagonal steel tower
Erected in 1891, last worked in the 1920s, sails removed in the 1960s and restoration completed in 2002.
Dover, Kent Erected at the Infectious Diseases Hospital by 1893 for Dover Corporation.
Dunwich, Suffolk Erected by 1895 for the Grey Friars.
Dursley, Gloucestershire Erected by 1901 at Cam Mills.
Dursley, Gloucestershire 16 feet (4.88 m) Simplex on a 60 feet (18.29 m) steel tower. Erected in 1898. Supplied over thirty properties in Dursley with water. Reservoir was 300 yards (270 m) from the wind engine.
Elsenham, Essex Simplex Drove an oat crusher in addition to pumping water. Erected for Walter Gilbey.
Faringdon, Berkshire Erected by 1900 at Royal Prize Farm, Wadley House.
Foxhill, Wanborough, Wiltshire Erected by 1896.
Gillingham, Dorset Simplex wind engine on a brick water tower. Erected at The Kendalls by 1895.
Glastonbury, Somerset Supplied water to The Elms. Erected by 1892.
Great Brington, Northamptonshire 30 feet (9.14 m) diameter Simplex geared wind engine. Supplied Great Brington and Little Brington with water from a well 202 feet (61.57 m) deep. Capacity 40,000 imperial gallons (180,000 l) per day. Erected for Earl Spencer by 1894.
Heytesbury, Wiltshire Erected by 1893 on the Tytherington Estate. Supplied water to a reservoir 34 mile (1,207 m) away. Water raised a total of 260 feet (79.25 m) in height.
Heytesbury, Wiltshire Erected in 1895 at Bolesbro' Knoll for Lord Heytesbury.
Highworth, Wiltshire Erected by 1898 at Hannington Hall. Supplied water to the house, farm and stables.
Hinton Charterhouse, Somerset
Wind engine erected in 1895 for Bath Union Rural District Council. Auxiliary power supplied by a horse. The engine was 13 mile (536 m) from the reservoir and 130 feet (39.62 m) lower than it was.
Hundon, Suffolk Simplex on hexagonal steel tower
Built at North Street, Hundon. Extant in 1940.
Knighton, Leicestershire Erected at Narborough Wood Farm by 1896.
Leiston, Suffolk Erected by 1892.
Leiston, Suffolk 16 feet (4.88 m) Simplex[10] Erected in 1924 on the site of a smock mill. Standing in 1979.
Leiston, Suffolk Erected by 1891 for C P Ogilvie. Supplied Sizewell house with water.
Limavady, Co Londonderry 35 feet (10.67 m) geared Simplex on a 50 feet (15.24 m) hexagonal steel tower. Drove an 18 feet (5.49 m) diameter scoop wheel. Erected at Limavady Junction.
Littleham, Devon Supplied Heale House via a 16,000 imperial gallons (73,000 l) water tank.
Lockinge, Berkshire 35 feet (10.67 m) geared Simplex on a 40 feet (12.19 m) hexagonal steel tower Erected on Lockinge Downs in 1895 to supply Lockinge House with water.
Lower Assendon, Oxfordshire 16 feet (4.88 m) Imperial Extant in 1977.
Lydbury North, Shropshire Erected in 1895 at the Walcot Estate for Lord Powis.
Lydbury North, Shropshire Erected in 1896 at the Walcot Estate for Lord Powis, replacing a steam engine. Supplied water from a well 15 feet (4.57 m) deep to a height of 84 feet (25.60 m). The tank was 480 yards (440 m) from the wind engine.
Marchwood, Hampshire 16 feet (4.88 m) engine on a 70 feet (21.34 m) steel tower. Erected in 1893 at a cost of £155.[11]
Margherita di Savoia, Italy Geared Simplex A wind engine was erected for the Italian Government.
Micheldever, Hampshire Erected by 1898 on the Stratton Estate for the Earl of Northbrook.
Narborough, Leicestershire
Odstock, Wiltshire Erected by 1886 for the Earl of Radnor.
Par, Cornwall Two Simplex engines Erected at Trenython, Par Station for the Bishop of Truro by 1894.
Radyr, Glamorganshire Erected by 1894.
Repps, Norfolk
TG 417 174
A Titt wind engine is preserved at Morse's Wind Engine Park, Repps. Photographs show it to be a small Simplex on a 30 feet (9.14 m) tower.[12]
Repps, Norfolk
TG 417 174
A second Titt wind engine is preserved at Morse's Wind Engine Park, Repps.[12]
Salisbury, Wiltshire Erected by 1890.
Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire Geared Simplex A geared Simplex wind engine driving horizontal treble barrel plunger pumps was erected at a waterworks at Ross-on-Wye.[13]
Savernake Forest, Wiltshire Erected at Chisbury Farm by 1888 for the Marquess of Ailesbury.
Shute, Devon Erected in 1900 for Baronet de la Pole. Supplied Shute House with water.
Southport, Lancashire Simplex mounted on a water tower Erected by 1894 for Southport Corporation.
Stockbridge, Hampshire Erected by 1900 at Marshcourt for Herbert Johnson.
Southwold, Suffolk Simplex Erected c1886 for Southwold Corporation. Standing in 1893.[10]
Stourton, Wiltshire Erected at Search Farm by 1888, replaced a Halliday's wind engine which had blown down.
Sutton Veny, Wiltshire Erected at The Beeches by 1895. Auxiliary drive powered by horse.
Swindon, Wiltshire A wind engine was erected in 1907 at Swindon Works to pump water for use by locomotives.[14]
Tisbury, Wiltshire Erected in 1888 for V F Bennett-Stanfore, Pyt House. Supplied Pyt House and Home Farm with water.
West Ardsley, Yorkshire 30 feet (9.14 m) Simplex on a 35 feet (10.67 m) hexagonal steel tower, itself built on a stone base. Erected in February 1899 at Boyle Hall for Luther Colbeck. Generated electricity. A dynamo powered 110 lights, mostly rated at 16 candlepower, with some rated at 8 candlepower.
Westbury, Wiltshire 16 feet (4.88 m) engine on a steel tower Erected by 1892, supplied water to Courtleigh.
West Dean, West Sussex 20 feet (6.10 m) wind engine Erected in 1898. Supplied water from a well 186 feet (56.69 m) deep.
West Dean, West Sussex 20 feet (6.10 m) wind engine Erected in 1898. Supplied water from a well 120 feet (36.58 m) deep.
West Stow, Suffolk Erected at the sewage works c1898.[10]
Westwick, Norfolk 18 feet (5.49 m) wind engine on a 60 feet (18.29 m) steel tower Erected in November 1893 at Westwick Hall. Supplied a 2,000 imperial gallons (9,100 l) tank at a total height to 57 feet (17.37 m).
Winterbourne Stoke, Wiltshire Erected in 1899 at Hill Farm.
Wold Newton, Lincolnshire Two wind pumps In 1910 a borehole was sunk in the middle of the village, which is situated in a valley. One pump was erected to move water up the hill to a reservoir which then supplied the village by gravity. This pump was later converted to electricity before being removed when mains water arrived in the 1970s. A second pump moved water further up the hill to a second reservoir which then fed water troughs for livestock.[15]

The name "Simplex" was independently used by an Australian windmill manufacturer (the Intercolonial Boring Company) for its windmills, with the name used to describe greatness in simplicity. The windmill and its design had no association with Titt's machines.[16] A restored IBC Direct Acting Simplex windmill is part of the National Museum of Australia collection. It is 13 metres high with a six-metre sail diameter. The windmill drew water from the Great Artesian Basin at Kenya Station in central Queensland from the 1920s until 1988, when it was decommissioned.[17] It was subsequently donated to the museum in 2008 and installed in 2011.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c d "John Wallis Titt". Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Major, J. Kenneth (1977). The Windmills of John Wallis Titt. The International Molinological Society.
  3. ^ a b c d "ENGINEERING AND RAILWAY WORKS". British History Online. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Warminster". Wiltshire County Council. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  5. ^ "Morse's Wind Engine Park - Repps with Bastwick". Windmill World. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Wind and Water". Colonel Stephens Museum. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  7. ^ a b Griffith, Edward (1982). The Basingstoke & Alton Light Railway 1901 - 1936. Newbury: Kingfisher Railway Publications. p. 16.
  8. ^ a b "Air Crash at Chitterne". Chitterne. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Crux Easton Wind Engine". Hampshire Mills Group. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  10. ^ a b c Flint, Brian (1979). Suffolk Windmills. Woodbridge: Boydell. pp. 99, 102, 145. ISBN 0-85115-112-4.
  11. ^ "Club History". Marchwood Yacht Club. Archived from the original on 29 September 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Morse's Wind Engine Park - Repps with Bastwick". Windmill World. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Archive Catalogue Record". Hereford Waterworks Museum. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  14. ^ "ENGINEERING AND RAILWAY WORKS". British History Online. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Jessop, Cecil P. (2004). Wheels and windmills. Murwillumbah: Privately Published (Hutchinson, Price & Musgrave). ISBN 0646440772.
  17. ^ National Museum of Australia (3 July 2018). "Kenya station windmill". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Windmill display for Canberra". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 July 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  19. ^ National Museum of Australia. "Kenya station windmill conservation". National Museum of Australia Landmarks.