In the 18th century there were already a very large number of water and steam powered corn mills in Wandsworth, producing flour on an industrial scale. Many of these were owned by John Watney whose house 'Rushmere' still stands on Southside, Wimbledon Common. So it seems strange that in 1799 he should apply to the Manor Court to enclose a piece of land on Wimbledon Common for the purpose of erecting a windmill. But it appears that the residents of Wimbledon were not wholly satisfied with factory produced flour and wanted to have their own mill for local use.
John Watney died before he had put his plan into effect, and it was not until 1816 that a new application was made by a Roehampton carpenter, Charles March. The following year he was granted a 99 year lease on a small plot of land on Wimbledon Common, at an annual rent of two shillings, 'upon this special condition that he shall erect and keep up a public Corn Mill for the advantage and convenience of the neighbourhood'.