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Holman Bros., Millwrights of Canterbury: A history

Barnsole Mill, Staple

Barnsole Mill, Staple
Barnsole Mill, Staple. Photo: Jack Hodges

Built by John Holman in 1820. A reference to the mill is in the following undated letter, transcribed as written:

293 London Road



To Messrs Holman & Collard

Dear Gentlemen

I am very sorry I cannot comply with your wish gest at the present but are in hopes I shall be able to do so in a short time for I have a Gentleman now in treaty for Staple Mill and premises and I meet him next Monday at the Lawyers office which I am in hopes the bargain will be struck and then in a few weeks I will soon pay you and I can assure you it will be a great relief off my mind

Yours truly

E W Stanley

It is not certain how E.W. Stanley was involved with the mill, but as it was addressed to Holman and Collard, it must have been written in 1869, and possibly refers to money owed for repairs before the mill was taken over by George Franks in 1870.

By October 1899 the sweeps were in such a state that ‘it would not be possible to repair them in situ, and that the best course of action would be to fit new slings and pins to the striking gear, re canvass shutters that had none, and to arrange for them to be taken down in the Spring for repair’. This was done during 1900. Apart from a couple of entries in the firm’s books stating that they supplied a new 4ft Peak stone, repaired some gearing and lightening damage to shutters, nothing is recorded until 1907 when an estimate for fitting an engine to the mill appears.

Estimate & specifications for new oil engine & gear & fixing at Staple mill for H M Barton Esq Oct 28th 1907.

One 12 BHP Blackstone oil engine complete with standard driving pulley holding down bolts. Water vessels & pipes, exhaust silencer & pipes & stays hand railing & cover plates £135.0.0
One set of 4ft stone gear complete comprising cast iron frame work with hold down bolts lay shaft & bearings & fast & loose pulleys & belt fork. Wood and iron bevel gears steel spindle with bearings & hopper complete (but not including the stones) £46.0.0
One Bentalls RSD combined corn crusher & kibbler with driving pulleys & holding down bolts £10.15.0
One 3cwt friction sack hoist with driving pulleys & snatch block & chain £12.15.0
The necessary driving belts from engine to stones mill & hoists £9.10.0
The necessary material for making about 24 bushel bin over stones & 12 bushel bin over mill. Fixing for sack hoist hatchways & co £9.0.0
One 100 gallon galvanised oil storage tank with screw lining? & brass tap £3
Engineers & millwrights labour at mill fixing engine stones & gear & setting to work. Rail fares lodgings & co £21
Add Mr Bretts estimate for building engine house £57.10.0
Mr Baker to cast all materials (including builder’s material) to the mill & provide one pair of 4ft diameter stones.

Holman Bros, Canterbury


Struck by lightning May 21.

H M Baker Esq.

June 1910

Staple mill a/c

Repair & paint sweeps. 4 pkts tacks. 8yds 30in wide canvas. 9 yards 36in canvas. 1cwt 1qr best white lead paint. ½ gallon turps (turpentine) . 12lbs stopping. £2.3.3
Half cartage men & gear to mill 5/-
Labour at mill repair & paint
Millwright 52 hours £1.19s 0d
Painter 110 hours £3.4s 2d
Painter 110 hours £3.4s 2d

Making good damage by lightning. 64ft run uplong for sweeps. 6 new shutters for leading side. 7 lifts. 6 nipples. 1 doz cleats. 1 gross screws. 4 packets tacks. 1 doz coach screws. 1 doz 3/8 bolts. 8 yards 30in wide canvass. 1/2 cwt best white lead paint £5.18.0
Half cartage men & gear to mill 5/-
Millwright 90 hours £3.7s 6d
Painter 30 hours 17s 6d
Painter 30 hours 17s 6d


Mr Kemp

Kibbler broken.

Date the mill ceased work unknown