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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Watermill gazetteer E


(1) Domesday Mill (see above)

(2) Salmon Brook; early mill, later Sadler’s Mill

(3) Pymme’s Brook, Weir Hall Estate, C17-C19 mill

(4) Pymme’s Brook, Tanners End 329925

In the late twelfth century a watermill at Edmonton was in the ownership of William, son of Fulbert. By 1204 it had passed to Roger Fitz Alan who in that year granted it to John Bucointe(1). Bucointe leased it to Gundred de Warenne sometime before 1224(2), and in 1275 it was part of the fee paid by Lawrence de la Ford to Clerkenwell Priory(3). It may have been the mill known as “Scerewes mill”, which stood in 1256 near Pymme’s brook(4). It was leased by Nicholas Roldsby to William Caton, a tanner, in 1577 along with the watermill and millhouse in Nun’s Field(5). In 1591 a copyhold watermill, in the ownership of Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Chancellor, stood to the south of Bury Street(6). It was sold to Edward Nowell in 1613 and is not heard of afterwards although the site continued to be known for some considerable time as Sadler’s Mill, Sadler having been a late sixteenth-century tenant(7).

 In 1605 another watermill stood among ponds and osiers on Jasper Leake’s freehold estate at Weir Hall(8); it was in existence in the early nineteenth century when it was alienated from the rest of the estate(9), but had disappeared by 1851(10). Millbrook Road, which runs from Croyland Road to Bury Street, is thought to mark the site. A further mill was that at Tanners End, latterly known, together with the Edmonton windmill with which it operated in conjunction, as the Huxley Flour Mills. It is likely that it derived its name from having originally been owned by the Huxley family; it is first heard of in 1776 when Sarah Huxley, spinster, insured her “water corn mill house”, of timber on a brick base and with a tiled roof, for £800 including the machinery and “materials adjoining”. The tenant miller was then William Bellis.(11) In 1791 Benjamin Heal of Tottenham High Cross, mealman, insured the stock and utensils he kept in the mill for £1,000(12). Joseph Wigston also had stock at the mill, likewise taking out an insurance policy on it(13). The last definite proof of the mill’s existence is from 1866, when a directory gives John William Neave as miller at Huxley Flour Mills (water). It was probably shortly after this that the windmill and watermill were amalgamated into one business. Entries in 1878 and 1882 are for simply “Huxley Mill”, and there is confusion with the windmill which was also being operated by Neave. In fact the likelihood is that by this time water power was no longer being used, the windmill along with the steam mill adjacent to it having been deemed quite sufficient for Neave’s purposes.

(1)   CCP25(1)/146/3/36

(2)   Clerkenwell Cart. (Camden Society 3rd Series no.72, p107-8)

(3)   CCP 25(1)/148/26/31

(4)   NA,E 40/2378

(5)   Hatfield CFEP 61/14

(6)   Hatfield CFEP (Accounts) 5/21; Hatfield CP 291.1, ff.119 sqq.; LMA Acc.695/42, folio 23

(7)   Sturges, Edmonton Past and Present, 3.3; HOP 107/1703 p.21

(8)   LMA Acc 695/42 folio 3

(9)   Robinson, Edmonton, p282

(10) HOP 1071/1703 p56

(11) Sun FIP no 364947, vol.244, 7th February 1776  

(12) Sun FIP vol.375 no 580175, 12th February 1791

(13) Sun FIP vol.386 no 597359, 2nd March 1792


(1)      Domesday Mill (see above)

(2-7)  Various mills from the 13th century to the 17th; all on River Lea with one exception

(8)      River Lea, Ponders End; replaced by (9) c1650

(9)      River Lea, Ponders End; replaced by (10) late 18th century

(10)    River Lea, Ponders End; standing today.

(11)    River Lea, oil mill near Ponders End; standing late 17th century

(12)    River Lea, paper mill on Enfield Marsh; standing late 18th century.

(13)    Leather mill, power source unclear

Early mills

Geoffrey de Mandeville, earl of Essex, who died in 1144, granted a mill in Enfield to the abbot of Walden(1), and Roger de Canteloup held one there in 1234-5(2). Richard de Plessis held fulling and corn mills, the former said to be one of only two of its kind then standing in the London area, of the abbot in 1289; they later became part of Durants Manor(3). In 1362 one of them, which was leased to John Garton, would not grind for lack of millstones(4). They were probably ancestors of the two mills standing on the manor in 1614, when Sir Robert Wroth was lord(5).

 John of Enfield held a mill there in 1329(6) while another, thought to be the same, was granted along with the manor of Worcesters to Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) in 1550(7). Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, had one in the area in 1363(8). A mill by New Pond in the Chase was rented from the King by John Witherings in 1635 but had been demolished by 1686(9).

Leather mill see below

Oil mill

Situated up the river from Ponders End corn mill, this had been a gunpowder mill in 1665 according to the hearth tax but was an oil mill in 1671 when the lay subsidy (a tax levied specifically upon the common people) recorded that it was owned by John Cornish who paid nine shillings for the profits from the mills after £150 of stock had been allowed for.(10) John may have been the father of Joseph Cornish to whom the corn mill was at one point leased. Local historian David Pam believed the oil might have been used at the leather mill.

Gunpowder mills

(1) From August 1673, and perhaps April 1665, James Lucas worked the Naked Hall Mills in Enfield. Although it is far from certain, Mr Fairclough believes these may have been the powder mills shown at the lower end of the Small River Lea, just before it re-enters the main river, on Sellar’s map of Middlesex in 1679 and Morden’s in 1695(11). By 1685 they had passed to John Freeman, who left them in his will to Polycarpus Wharton; the latter would have used them in conjunction with his mills at Sewardstone in Essex.(12)   

(2) The other mill stood in Mill Marsh, to which it gave its name, near Enfield Lock and like other watermills in Enfield was originally owned by the Wroth family. In 1653 the Council of State of the Commonwealth instructed the Board of Ordnance to negotiate with John and Henry Wroth about the use of the mill for making gunpowder(13), implying it had previously been used for some other purpose.

 In January 1665 Thomas Carter, who had supplied gunpowder to the government since 1652 and was at the Hounslow Heath mills from 1655, signed a contract to deliver 200 barrels a month from “ye Locke Mills.”(14) In the lay subsidy in 1671 the then owners of the mills paid nine shillings(15). They were standing in 1697 when there is a reference to a meadow in Wild Marsh near “ye powder mills”(16).

 By 1744 a nearby stream had been named Powder Mill River(17), but it is not known whether the mills were then still in existence, or in use if they were.

The oil mill was originally a gunpowder mill (see above).

South Marsh, Ponders End Corn Mill 362956

A considerable amount of information on this mill, more than on any other in the area, is available due to what seems to have been the extreme litiginousness of Enfield millers. It has been assiduously compiled by Mr Keith Fairclough from whose notes the references in the relevant entries have been obtained, except where otherwise indicated, and I am extremely grateful to him for sharing it with me.

 The ancestor of the present mill was held of the Crown by the Wroth family by 1572(18). It may have been used to produce gunpowder for a time, as Thomas Carter in 1665 (see above) was delivering that commodity from the Enfield Mills, as it was known, as well as from Lock Mill. The use of the plural to describe the mill is significant, indicating that a second set of machinery had been added. A survey of Enfield in 1572 noted that there were “two mills under roof, which within twenty years was but one, which are driven by the stream issuing forth out of the River of Lea.”(19) The building had two storeys with a tiled roof(20). The sub-tenant miller was Jacob Harlow, who the following year made his will in which he left the lease of the mill(s) to his son John, with the proviso that he gave his mother half a bushel of wheat, and his brothers James and Luke £6 13s 4d each, every week. John was still the miller in 1592 but was later succeeded by Jacob Harlow, who in 1608 accused one of his former servants, Nicholas Young, of stealing three quarters of wheat from him. In turn Jacob was accused of assaulting one Nicholas Gibson.(21)

 In the early 1590s John Norden remarked, “Enfeyld myll is a myll of great gayne, for that the most of the meale men of Enfeyld doe ther grind ther corne, which is infinite And it is mearlous {marvellous} to consider that one myll shoulde dispatch so manie quarters as the same is reported. It belongeth unto Mr Robert Wroth Esquire.”(22) Robert Wroth died in 1605, leaving the mills to his eldest son, Sir Robert(23). In February 1614 the latter mortgaged the “two water grist mills” and other properties in Enfield with Sir Anthony Archer in an attempt to meet his debts. He died soon afterwards, leaving his property in trust for his baby son, and in May 1624 rows broke out over the repayment of the mortgage.(24) John Wroth was tenant in 1635(25).

 In 1650 a charter was granted by Act of Parliament for a new mill to be built. In 1662 Thomas Clark of Enfield, miller, was involved in a dispute over Chingford mill in Essex, which he had tenanted between 1654 and 1658 and then turned over to another miller, John Harlow, also of Enfield, who subsequently ran away.(26) It was presumably the mill under discussion which they worked while at Enfield. In November 1670 Robert Lowe of Enfield, miller, brought a complaint against Dame Ann Wroth, widow, over the lease of 1 acre of marsh that her steward had let him for 15 years at 30 shillings a year by word of mouth in 1665, which rent the steward was now refusing to accept.(27)

 At this time the mill was owned by the Wroth family, but the millstream was copyhold of the manor of Enfield, rented at £6 a year, until the Wroths bought the freehold in September 1671(28).

 By now that of the mills had come into the hands of James Cowper through his marriage to Ann Wroth. In July he leased the mill to Joseph Cornish, owner of the oil mill, for thirty-five years at £100 a year. The property was described as “All that the Scite of the Millnes of Enfield together…with all Houses Buildings Wharfes Aprons Gates Bridges ditches gutters Millnes pooles Lock and Leather Milne thereunto adjoining”. It was said to have previously been in the occupation of Charles Whitehead and Nicholas Whare. There were fourteen acres of meadow attached. In May 1672 Joseph raised a mortgage of £800 on the corn mill from Benjamin Hinton. He died in 1675, survived by his father John to whom he left most of his property including the mill. In June 1678 John Cornish sublet the premises to Thomas Flanders, who took out a twenty-one -year lease on them, which was inherited by his widow Johanna when he died intestate later that year. The deeds of the mill reverted to Cornish when he paid off his son’s mortgage and he gave James Cowper, the landlord, power to let the property provided any new tenant was prepared to sublet to himself the leather mills which were part of it along with the liberty to dry his leather in the accustomed manner for seven years at £20 a year. Cowper issued a new lease to Joanne Flanders with this proviso.(29)

 According to some sources the leather mills were situated within the same building as the corn mills, but they are differentiated on a map of 1754(30). Local historian David Pam suggests it would have used the oil from Cornish’s oil mill. The Ponders End mills were described in the the will of marriage settlement of Katherine Flanders, the then tenant (see below) and John Clarke as consisting of “two watermills, one leather mill and two tenements. The two houses…on the site stand one at each end of the mill.” The wording suggests the leather mill was powered by some source other than water. It may have been the mill for dressing skins which is recorded in 1831(31). In 1747 the leather mills owned by the Cowpers and sublet to one Greenwood(32). They were in the possession of Elizabeth Greenwood in 1756(33). In 1786 when Augustine King George (see below) carried out repairs to the corn mill they had lately been in the tenure of Dutton Greenwood. In March 1770 the tenant was Francis Joseph who received compensation from the Lee Trustees for a stoppage to the mills during navigation works.(34) They had ceased work by 1845 when “the old buildings of the leather mill” were let along with the corn mill to William Farmer(35). When Johanna Flanders died in 1703 she left the corn mill to her son, John, who was probably already working it by 1701. By 1713 he was also the tenant at Ramney Reach fishery in which there was a “frame” which controlled the flow of water to the mill. He died in the autumn of 1736, having bequeathed the mill to his brother James in his will of 1724.(36)

 In 1735 the mill was let at £100 on a lease which had seven years to run from the coming Michaelmas. An inventory of the business noted seven cart horses, “Two pair of French stones & iron work one pair of small French stones making one Peak one Colen and Iron Work one flint one French and Iron Work one pair of old French Cast off £80.”(37)

 Until October of this year Margaret Flanders had worked the mill for James; subsequently he and Katherine Flanders ran it as partners until James’ death in October 1738, after which Katherine inherited the property and worked the mills. In July 1739 she made her will leaving her estate to John Clarke “now living with me as a recompense for his Care and industry in the management of my affairs” and making him her sole executor.(38)

 In April 1741 William Cowper, whose family were still the landlords, let the corn mill, leather mill, lock and the fourteen acres of meadow to Clarke for forty-one years from Michaelmas 1743 at £100 a year.(39) In 1744 Clarke became involved in legal disputes with the Flanders family over the accounts of the business when James and Katherine had worked it.(40) Mr Fairclough notes, “the papers associated with these disputes provide a list of all customers at the mill, and a thorough investigation of these customers and a comparison with local parish registers could provide a rare insight into the workings of such a business in this period.”

 In 1746 the mill was offered for sale by a decree of the Court of Chancery. The property was described as “Corn Grist Mills and Leather Mills on the River Lee, called Endfield Mills, with two dwelling houses, a Lock on the said River, a coal wharf and about 54 acres of Land and Right of Common in Enfield Chace, lett to one Tenant at the yearly rent of £125-10-0 upon two Leases.” At first difficulty was experienced in finding a purchaser, but in February 1747 Francis Craiesteyn, a London merchant of Dutch descent, bought the premises from Wiliam Cowper junior, who had come into ownership in 1742. The sale may have been an attempt to pay off a mortgage taken out on the mills by Sir John Cowper in 1691.(41)

 In February 1751 John Clark made his will in which he left the lease of the mill to his wife Ann for the rest of her natural life after which it was to go to Mr Peter Donde, the son of his widow by a previous marriage and miller by August 1751, provided he agreed to pay an annuity of £10 to John’s sisters Ann and Jane and an annuity of £20 to Thomas Bittleston, son of his sister Margaret.(42) The will was contested and a Chancery case brought against Ann Clark by Thomas Flanders and others, as a result of which James Ibbott, a local butcher, was appointed receiver of the rents and and profits of the mill estate. In July 1756 Ibbott let the mills for the remainder of the forty-one-year lease to George Berner at £150 a year. In 1758 a new lease was granted to Berner for 25 years at £150. The following year the trustees of Francis Craeisteyn’s will sold the mill in order to meet the financial losses Craiesteyn had incurred by making various monetary bequests. It was bought for £3,270 by Edward Nash of Southwark, hop factor(43). In July 1763 Elizabeth Bittleston, executrix of the estate of John Clarke, assigned the remainder of the lease to John Brooks, corn factor, who surrendered it to Charles Smith in November 1763. Smith granted a new lease to George Berner, to run for twenty-one years from the previous April, along with a £100 mortgage on the property which was transferred to James Stevenson of Edmonton in 1767.(44) Smith died in 1777 leaving his freehold estate in Enfield to trustees for the benefit of his widow, Judith, during her natural life. The trustees were given powers to issue leases of up to 61 years on properties on the estate which were said to be in the occupation of George Berner, Dutton Greenwood and William Naylor(45).

 Berners’ lease expired in 1784 and the splendidly named Augustine King George was granted the tenancy on the condition that he first rebuilt and repaired the mills. He spent £2000 on the task.(46) Unfortunately, no sooner had the work been finished, just after eight o’clock on the evening of 4th March, than all the floors fell in from top to bottom. The workmen had just been paid off and only one man was in the building, his skull being laid bare by the accident. 100 sacks of flour and 80 quarters of wheat fell into the river and were ruined. The collapse was attributed to the great weight of all the corn and flour inside the building.(47) George was allowed £100 out of the first year’s rent and when the work was finally completed in November 1786 he was awarded the 61-year lease at £280 a year. George insured the property, spending a further £1000 on it over the next seven years. An inventory of the mill at this time noted two water wheels, two pairs of 4 foot 6in French stones, two sets of sack tackle, three flour machines, a corn machine, and a bolter.(48) Presumably there was one waterwheel and one pair of stones for each mill.

 George was to remain tenant for nearly fifty years; he was at the mill in 1830 when he complained about the condition of the road leading to it(49). During the 1830s he seems to have sublet to Joseph and William Farmer. By now a bakehouse had been established on the premises, if it had not been before. William Pluck was engaged as a nightwatchman until he was transported for stealing two sacks of flour, having entered into an arrangement with one of the servants to turn a blind eye to the theft.(50)

 In 1845 a further inventory was taken of the two corn mills by John Caston, millwright of Romford in Essex. The equipment of the second mill is of a far more primitive quality than the first, with greater use of wood; the likelihood is that it was soon dispensed with, since there is nothing thereafter to suggest two separate mills were in use within the same structure.

First mill.

“Ground floor:

Waterwheel with iron arms, rims and shaft, iron spur pit wheel (wood cogs), iron pinion to work De {De = the same}, iron bevel pit wheel (wood cogs), 4 iron pinions to work De, four iron bridge trees with lifting and lighter irons, iron upright and horizontal shafts with iron bridge trees to De, four meal troughs, and set of wheels, racks and pinions to lift the wheel shaft.

Stone floor and upper floor. 4 pair of French burr stones 4″4′ in diameter with spindles, irons, casings, hoppers complete – iron crown wheel (wood cogs), 2 iron pinions to work De, 2 iron horizontal shafts, 2 iron riggers to drive flour machine and sack tackle, four wood riggers to drive grindstones, smut and flour-sacking machines, bolting mill, flour machines, revolving screens, and sack tackle.

Second mill.

Ground floor:

Wood water wheel with iron shaft, 2 floodgates with wheels, racks and pinions to work De. 2 pairs of iron pulley-blocks with ropes to lift trapdoors, iron bevel pit wheel (wood cogs), iron wallower, iron spur wheel (wood cogs), 3 iron pinions to work De, 3 iron bridge trees with lifting and lighter irons complete, wood upright shaft, wood bridge trees, 3 meal troughs and set of wheels, racks and pinions to lift wheel shaft.

Stone floor and upper floor.

3 pair of French burr stones 4ft 6in. in diameter with spindles, irons, casings, hoppers, etc., complete, wood crown wheel, one iron and one wood pinions to work De, 2 wooden horizontal shafts, 3 wood riggers to drive machine and bolting mills, 1 iron rigger to drive sack tackle; 2 bolting mills, flour machine, revolving screen and sack tackle.

“The whole of the machinery complete with all spindles, brasses, carriages, straps, bands, cords, pulleys etc., as fixed.

 In 1850 the foreman at the mill stated that if the mill worked well it could probably grind in the region of 500 sacks per week. (51)

 George or a relative still held the lease in 1845, with William Farmer as sub-tenant at £750 a year, increasing to £850 when George obtained a new lease at Michaelmas 1850(52). The tenancy was advertised at this time, but unsuccessfully. The advert read:

“To Millers and Mealmen

To Be Let, with possession at Michaelmas next, that splendid Water Corn Mill, called Enfield Mill, on the river Lea, 10 miles from London, and within 100 yards of the Ponders End Station on the Eastern Counties Railway. The mill possesses ample stowage and granary room, works seven pairs of stones, and has an unlimited supply of water. There is also a most commodious mansion, with excellent walled garden, pleasure ground, and all suitable offices, miller’s house (a good family residence), millwright’s cottage, lodge &c, with about 60 acres of fine arable and meadow land and extensive right of fishery.”

In 1853 Sir Charles Cunliffe-Smith of Saltons, Essex, who had acquired the property two years before, decided to sell it. George appears by this time to have left or died. According to the advert the wheels were undershot and of the stones, three pairs were 4’4″ and four 4’6″ in diameter. Good transport links were emphasised. The mill was close to Ponders End station and there was of course the river; barges could come in from the Lea Navigation and draw up alongside a wharf to be loaded and unloaded. Initially the mill failed to achieve its reserve price and it was not until two years later that it was bought by the East London Waterworks Company for the sum of £15,250, the  fixtures and plant being valued at £1,300 18s 6d.(53)

 The company’s agents reported that Farmer rented the mill at £600 a year, but had no proper lease. The mill needed repainting and retarring and the larger water wheel was derelict and should be scrapped. A number of other repairs were required including new stones and new floats for the waterwheels. In March 1858 the replacement stones were ordered for £30 and the property improved by the installation of a new water closet which did not, like the old one, empty directly into the mill stream. Farmer died in January 1869 and by July 1860 had been succeeded as tenant by G D Young. In 1863 an additional pair of millstones was installed from St Thomas’ Mill at Stratford, which the Company also owned.(54)

 Various further repairs were carried out over the next few years, accompanied by disagreements over the level of compensation to be allowed Young for the stoppage while the work was done. In 1866 the large waterwheel was finally replaced and the following year the sluice which had become damaged was mended, the Company refusing Young’s request to erect cottages on site for his workmen to live in while the repairs were in progress. In 1871 Young received permission to put in a portable steam engine. The following January he asked for an allowance “in consequence of the shortness of water during the past season”, which was refused. In 1873 a new wheel (presumably a replacement for the smaller one retained in 1866) was put in, despite claims that Young was not taking sufficient care of the wheels. These complaints were renewed in 1874 after they sustained further damage. Towards the end of the year Young requested improved flour-dressing machinery which was installed for £370; he agreed to pay an additional £18 a year in rent in return. In October 1877 he asked that the mill be converted entirely to steam power so that it could work at all times and not shut down during floods or droughts. The Company agreed, and an old engine which had been lying around at their premises at Old Ford was installed, together with a new boiler and gearing, to replace the portable plant.(55) Wright set it up to drive four pairs of stones, keeping the other pairs, of which there were now five, in reserve(56).

 In 1867 a new chapter in the mill’s history had begun with the arrival there of George Wright. He was born at Castle Farm, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in 1842. After a disagreement with his father he left his farming apprenticeship to become a miller. He was first apprenticed to a watermill at Whetwell, near Luton, afterwards moving to Lensford mill near Welwyn, where he is said to have carried a sack of flour weighing 280 pounds from the mill to the local church, a distance of two and a half miles, for a wager. He came to Ponders End at the age of 25, and entered into partnership with G D Young, taking up residence in one of the two mill houses.

 By the time the modifications had been completed Young was in a poor state of health and in February 1878 Wright took over as tenant. There was some dispute over the terms of the tenancy so for the first few years he rented the mill on a yearly basis, but in 1884 a long-term lease was signed.(57)

 Further modifications were carried out in 1893(58) including the replacement of the stones by roller plant. In 1904 the East London Waterworks Company was wound up, being absorbed into the Metropolitan Water Board, but Wrights remained tenants and this well-known local family have continued to operate the mill ever since. The business is flourishing, though it long ago ceased to be dependent on natural sources of power. The waterwheels remained in occasional use until 1909 when the Lea was diverted to serve the new King George’s Reservoir (named after the monarch, not the late eighteenth-early nineteenth-century tenant), after which they were dispensed with. For a time at least one pair of millstones was retained to grind a speciality product, Imperial Wholemeal Bread. In 1968 one complete set of stones and the bedstones of five more, along with the vertical shafts which drove them, and the feeding apparatus for another were still in place. Since then internal alterations have removed all trace of the original equipment.(59) Today of course the mill is operated entirely by electricity.

 Together with one of the eighteenth-century mill houses, the mill building stands today in what despite the presence on the site of several large metal and concrete silos gives the impression – enhanced by the river with its lock and a wooded area nearby – of being a tranquil “olde worlde” oasis, hemmed in by modernity with a flyover on one side and two massive tower blocks on the other.  Unlike the other surviving Middlesex watermills, which are wholly or largely brick-built, Ponders End is entirely weatherboarded, with the exception of the brick first floor, and white-painted. There is a lucam, flat-topped and therefore less aesthetically pleasing than some. Its one window has been boarded over, giving it a blind appearance. The mill is a large affair, with four storeys in all including the first; the second and third are within the weatherboarded portion and the fourth the roof.

 G R Wright & Sons, as the business is still known, have done their best to preserve the character of the mill and its surroundings, in so far as this is consistent with the efficient operation of the business, which understandably must be their first consideration. A covered loading bay has had to be constructed in front of the mill, and several large extensions built on, but it is still recognisable as the structure existing at the turn of the century. The firm’s philosophy was expressed in a letter by Mr K R Wright to the Enfield Gazette in 1975, which he wrote to reassure local people worried about an application to remodel and extend the premises:

“We are fully in favour of the conservation of historic buildings and sites for posterity where it is feasible and sensible…much thought has gone into the general layout of our application so as to ensure that the buildings are situated in such a way as to be of as little detriment to the view of the buildings under preservation orders as possible.

 It should be noted that the preserved buildings are grouped on the south side of our premises while the proposed new buildings are on the north side amongst the industrial-type structures already there. 

 As stated on the application, it is not expected that the new buildings will be over 45 feet high, which is more than can be said of the massive council tower blocks that now overshadow us on the west side of the railway!

 Flour milling has been carried on at Ponders End Mills for hundreds of years and we would like to see that tradition continued. Each generation has had to develop and modernise as time has passed and we must do the same to remain a viable business.

 We feel it is sensible for our company and the community to safeguard the livelihood of those employed here, and for us to remain a contributor to the rates and not a charge thereon. To do so we must invest in new plant and new buildings.

 We…feel that we are presenting a plan which would not interfere with the preserved buildings but at the same time would help to ensure that we have a working mill on this site in the future.”

 The view on the back cover of this book shows the mill as it was c1900. The absence of a contemporary image is due to the fact that as part of an active business, and hemmed in by modern additions, the mill is at present difficult to photograph.

 At Enfield, as in many other cases throughout the country (though whether to the same extent is a moot point), there were frequent disputes between the millers and other users of the river whose rights to it were just as legitimate; this conflict could be exacerbated by the effect of improvements to the navigation. The channelling of too much water to the mills could have an adverse effect on the carriage of goods, while it the level were reduced to assist navigation it might impair a mill’s efficiency. Between 1575 and 1580, as part of improvements to the river by the Commissioners of Sewers, a new lock was erected which when in operation cut off the supply of water to the mill(60). The Wroth family objected to this and tried to be obstructive; in 1581 the bargemen were told that their continued passage along the river would be resisted(61). The exception was presumably vessels carrying corn to and flour from the mills, unless these commodities were transported by land. The existence of the lock did not prevent the Wroth family drawing off so much water for Enfield mill that in 1608 barges were being left stranded for some days, to the bargemen’s fury. The miller may have been attempting to catch up on a backlog of work resulting from the freezing of the river for ten weeks the previous winter.(62) 

 In 1709 John Flanders pulled down the lock and erected a new one which was designed to draw off less water. At the same time he widened and deepened the mouth of the mill stream and dumped earth into the navigable channel. Barges were unable to pass without the lock being closed, for which they had to pay an increased toll. In 1719 a Commission was set up to investigate complaints against Flanders, which he rejected, on account of this and to look into the problems at Enfield generally. The Commissioners ordered Flanders to repair the banks at the mouth of the stream, to clear the navigable channel and to raise the cill of the lock by twenty inches. Several months later he had failed to carry out the work and the orders were reissued (with the exception that the cill was to be raised by only eighteen inches) with a fine to be imposed if he ignored them, which he did.(63) What eventually happened is uncertain as from this point the minutes of the Commission’s meetings seem to cease, but they evidently failed to solve the long-term problem of the competing interests of millers and bargemen. Fishing rights often went with the mill(64), and in August 1750s it was complained that miller Peter Donde had been abusing his position as tenant of four fisheries along the river to force the bargemen to pay greater tolls(65).

 In 1770 Francis Joseph at the leather mill was compensated for stoppage during navigation works(66), and George Berner at the corn mill for trees floating down the stream and damaging his waterwheels(67).

 In September 1781 the Trustees of the river requested Berner to “take up the Boards of the Dead Rooms in Enfield Lock again for supplying the Navigation with a sufficient quantity of Water.”(68)

 Augustine King George was also accused of illicitly lowering the water level, in June 1801, the Trustees taking legal advice as a result. He had erected a temporary weir, described as a tumbling bay, to control the flow of the millstream to his advantage.(69) Much of the trouble was caused by the outflow of waste water from the wheel. In 1804 the engineer John Rennie proposed building a cut enabling barges to bypass the mill, which would have solved the problem, but the scheme was never implemented and instead an Act of Parliament the following year (45 George III) stipulated that if the water level fell below six feet upon the sill of the gate through which the waste was discharged, the miller on request of the Trustees or a person authorised by them was to shut the mill down until it had risen above that level. A new weir was built, this time to divert water away from the mill and to the lock when required.(70) In the long run this measure may not have been entirely successful as in September 1823 George was ordered to remove a dam he had placed in the stream which was obstructing his waste water flow and thus also interfering with the regulation of that to the lock(71).

 In October 1866 there were complaints that the tenant was interfering with the water channel between his mill and that at Sewardstone mill on the Essex side of the Lea, depriving the latter of part ot its supply. The East London Waterworks Company claimed the tenant had removed ballast from the sluice leading to Enfield mill and that it was his right to do this. Connell, the miller at Sewardstone, insisted it was not gravel that had been removed but solid earth, and brought an injunction.(72)

Other mills

There was a paper mill on the marshes near Brimsdown in 1776, when it was insured by John Lightly, paper maker, of Thames Street in London(73). No other reference to it has been found which suggests that it was short-lived. It had gone by 1801 when the tumbling bay illegally erected by Augustine King George in the stream serving the corn mill was said to have been erected upon the foundation of an old paper mill(74).

 Of the fulling mill situated on the Lea in 1805 all we know is its appearance on a map of 1805(75).

(1)   CR 1226-57, 337

(2)   JIP I/536 1

(3)   CIPM 2 p442, 7 p492

(4)   Ibid 11 p266

(5)   C2/Jas I/W17/6

(6)   CPR 1327-30, p210

(7)   Ibid 1549-51, 240

(8)   CIPM 11, p366

(9)   DOL 42/125-6

(10) K Fairclough to author

(11) Trinity College Cambridge Estate MSS, Enfield Survey and map

(12) LMA Acc.311/38

(13) Lewis, Topographical Dictionary 2, 135 

(14) BL, Maps K1 TAB 18(10)

(15) NA: WO 47/19B, 5 August 1673; WO 47/7 folios 58, 90; Prob.11/380(103)

(16) CSP(D) 1652-3, 391, 399

(17) NA, WO 47/2, 10 June 1653, WO 47/6 folio 119, Prob. 4/3776, Prob. 11/327(92); Bedfont Gunpowder Mills article (see section on Bedfont)

(18) ERO, E179/253/23

(19) BL Harleian MS 1579 folio 155

(20) LMA Acc.276/238

(21) MDR/1744/2/146

(22) BL, Harleian MS 1579, folio 155   

(23) Hatfield CPM II/53

(24) LMA, Middlesex Sessions Rolls and Registers 1607-8, 114, 140

(25) BL, Harleian MS 570, folio 196 

(26) DOL 42/125 

(27) NA, Prob. 11/107(4)

(28) NA, Prob. 11/123(60), C2 Jas I/W17/6

(29) NA C10 66/38

(30) NA C8199/87

(31) NA, DL 42/125, 43/7 no.12; Pam (see below), 234

(32) LMA Acc.144/2, Acc.261 Stl/11-13; NA, Prob.4/4733, Prob.11/347(32), Exchequer 179/253/23; ERO, T/R 36/1

(33) Trinity College, Cambridge, Estate MSS, Enfield Survey and Map

(34) LMA MDR/1760/1/268, MDR/1767/2/372

(35) Trustees 17 March 1770

(36) Lewis, Topographical Dictionary 2, 135

(37) LMA Acc.311/38

(38) LMA Acc 311/37-39 

(39) See (42)

(40) NA, Prob. 11/469(50); LMA, Acc.349/117, O/409/2; HRO, 66614; DL30/403B folio 150

(41) NA, C11 1168/1

(42) NA, Prob. 11/698(211), DL30/406 folio 56, RAIL 845/53, Court of Sewers, 7 August 1740, C11 1168/1

(43) NA, MDR 1750/3/282, MDR 1752/1/178; CLRO, Repertories 147 folios 145, 170, 195

(44) NA, Prob. 11/698(211), DL30/406 folio 56, RAIL 845/53, Court of Sewers, 7 August 1740, C11 1168/1

(45) London Gazette nos. 8539, 8540, 8852, 8482, 8588, 8591; LMA MDR 1747/2/601-04; Acc.407/1; House of Lords Record Office, 11581; NA 11/701(67)

(46) NA, Prob. 31/368/328; RAIL845/2, Trustees, 5 August 1751; LMA MDR/1752/1/179. MDR 1753/3/316-317; NA, Prob.31/368/328, Prob. 31/370/473

(47) NA, Prob. 11/840(289); LMA Acc.407/1, MDR/1759/3/353, MDR/1759/3/373

(48) LMA, MDR/1763/3/201, MDR/1763/4/461, MDR/1764/1/115, MDR/1767/2/372; NA, Prob. 11/871 sig 445, Prob. 11/1028 sig 85; MDR/1756/2/92-3, MDR/1764/1/115, MDR/1767/2/372; cj, XXXVII.270-72 

(49) NA Prob.11/1028(85)

(50) LMA, Acc.407/4   

(51) Unknown source 

(52) Pam, A Parish Near London, p313

(53) Pam, A Parish Near London, p237

(54) LMA Acc.311/37-39

(55) LMA Acc.311/37-39  

(56) LMA Acc.311/44, Acc 311/55; ERO, D/DOp B19/3; LMA, Acc. 2558/EL/1/35/1, 7 April 1853, 21 April 1853, 19 May 1853, 15 Sept 1853, Acc.2558/EL/1/36/1, 15 February 1855, 28 June 1855

(57) Ibid

(58) LMA Acc.2558/EL/1/36/1, 5 July 1855, 19 July 1855, 18 October 1855, Acc.2558/EL/1/37/1, 4 March 1858, 1 July 1858, 2 January 1859, Acc.2558/EL/1/38/1, 12 July 1860, 19 November 1863, 26 November 1863

(59) LMA Acc.2558/EL/1/39/1, 10 May 1866, 28 June 1866, 26 July 1866, 2 August 1866, 11 October 1866, 31 January 1867, 29 August 1867, 7 May 1868, 21 May 1868, 20 August 1868, 22 October 1868, Acc.2558/EL/1/40/1, 30 June 1870, 25 May 1871, 18 January 1872, 10 April 1873, 16 October 1873, 6 November 1873, 26 March 1874, 1 October 1874, 12 November 1874, 3 December 1874, Acc.2558/EL/1/41/1 28 October 1875, 9 August 1877, 25 October 1877, 1 November 1877

(60) LMA Acc.2558/EL/1/39/114 February 1878, 21 February 1878, 28 February 1878, 19 September 1878, 15 January 1880, Acc. 2558/EL/1/42/1 15 May 1884

(61) LMA Acc.2558/EL/1/44/1 October 26 1893, November 2 1893

(62) Industrial Archaeology in Enfield, Enfield Archaeological Society Research Report no.2 (1971), p6-7

(63) BL, Lansdowne 32 nos. 33, 41, Lansdowne 53 nos. 76, 78; NA, DL 42/97 folio 42; Hatfield House, Maps II.53

(64) BL, Lansdowne 32 no.41

(65) Remembrancia of the City of London Vol 2 p320; W G Hoskins,The Age of Plunder, p199

(66) London Borough of Enfield Library Services, River Lea Book of Sewers in the Years 1719 and 1720, passim

(67) See 1853 sale notice

(68) RAIL845/2, Trustees, 5 August 1751; LMA, MDR/1752/1/179; MDR 1753/3/316-317; NA, Prob.31/368/328, Prob.31/370/473

(69) Trustees 17 March 1770

(70) K Fairclough to author

(71) Trustees, 24 September 1781, 31 December 1781

(72) Trustees 7 May 1801, 24 June 1801, 26 August 1801, 13 January 1802, 26 May 1802, 21 July 1802, 6 April 1803

(73) Trustees 14 November 1804

(74) Trustees, 16 Sept 1823

(75) LMA Acc.2558/NR/1/25/1 folios 413, 422, 479, 496, 504, 508, 513

(76) A H Shorter, Paper Mills and Paper Makers in England, p213; Industrial Archaology in Enfield, p6

(77) Trustees 7 May 1801, 24 June 1801, 26 August 1801, 13 January 1802, 26 May 1802, 21 July 1802)

(78) OS 1-inch map Middlesex Sheet 1 (1805) 

(9) Ponders End Mill, Enfield, early C20 (LBOEL)