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William Coles Finch

William Coles Finch MICE (1864–1944) was a British historian and author of a number of books on Kent-related topics. He is best known for writing Watermills and Windmills, published in 1933 and reprinted in 1976, which is considered a standard work on the topic of Kent windmills.

William Coles Finch
Born(1864-10-23)23 October 1864
Died6 June 1944(1944-06-06) (aged 79)
ResidenceWaterworks House, Luton, Chatham
Other namesWilliam Coles-Finch
OccupationWaterworks manager
Known forWriting a number of books on Kent
Spouse(s)Emily Sarah (née Hall)


Jaffa Gate Mill, Jerusalem. Picture originally published in Illustrated London News and republished in "Watermills and Windmills" by William Coles Finch, first published in 1933.

William Coles Finch was born on 23 October,[1] 1864 in Rochester, Kent.[2][3][4] His wife was Emily, and they had four children, Vera, Dorothy, Irene and Neville.[5] In 1908, his first book, Water, its origin and use, was published. This was followed in 1914 by Water in Nature, jointly authored with Ellison Hawks. In 1925, In Kentish Pilgirm Land was published, followed by The Lure of the Countryside in 1927, Life in Rural England in 1928 and Watermills in Windmills in 1933.[6] The latter is considered a bible on windmills in Kent.[7] Coles Finch died in Luton, Kent on 6 June 1944, aged 79.[3] In 1976, Watermills and Windmills was reprinted. BBC Radio Medway produced an hour-long documentary Sweeping Changes, The Windmills of Kent in response to the reprint.[8]


Coles Finch was the resident engineer of the Brompton, Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester Water Company.[9] He lived at Waterworks House, Luton, Chatham.[10] In 1897, Coles Finch read a paper at the British Association of Waterworks Engineers meeting at the Town Hall, Westminster, London on Electrical Water Level Recorders.[11]

Published worksEdit

  • Water, its origin and use. London: C W Daniel. 1908.
  • Water in Nature. Nelson. 1914. (jointly authored with Ellison Hawks).
  • The Foords of Rochester : Reminiscences. Parrett & Neves. 1917.
  • In Kentish Pilgrim Land. London: C W Daniel. 1925.
  • The Lure of the Countryside. London: C W Daniel. 1927.
  • Life in Rural England. London: C W Daniel. 1928.
  • The Medway River & Valley. London: C W Daniel. 1929.
  • Watermills and Windmills. London: C W Daniel. 1933.
    • Watermills and Windmills. Sheerness: A J Cassell. 1976. ISBN 0-903253-02-X. (reprint)


  1. ^ "In Memoriam". The Times (51210). London. 23 October 1948. col A, p. 1.
  2. ^ General Register Office index of births registered in October, November, December, 1864 - Name: Finch, William Coles. District: Medway Volume: 2A Page: 373.
  3. ^ a b "Deaths". The Times (49877). London. 8 June 1944. col A, p. 1.
  4. ^ 1901 Census of Medway, RG13/731, Folio 11, Page 14, Name: William C Finch, Address: 55 Queen's Road, Chatham, Occupation: Mining Engineer (Waterworks) Where Born: Rochester, Kent Condition: Married
  5. ^ "Deaths". The Times (51930). London. 20 February 1951. col A, p. 1.
  6. ^ See Published Works section of this article
  7. ^ Cumming 2010, p. 24.
  8. ^ Nicholas 1993, pp. 2-3.
  9. ^ Coles-Finch 1908, p. Title page.
  10. ^ Coles Finch 1933, p. 12.
  11. ^ "British Association of Waterworks Engineers". The Times (35263). London. 23 July 1897. col F, p. 13.


  • Cumming, Rob (2010). "Bromley's Windmill:Debunking a few myths". Cant Post. Kent: Kent Mills Society (2).
  • Coles-Finch, William (1908). Water, its origin and use. London: C W Daniel.
  • Coles Finch, William (1933). Watermills and Windmills. London: C W Daniel.
  • Nicholas, Nick (1993). "William Coles-Finch". Newsletter 55. Ipswich: Suffolk Mills Group.