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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Watermill gazetteer I-R


(1-2)  Domesday Mills (see above)

(3-8)  Various mills from 13th to 17th century

(9)     On site of Kidd’s Mill; erected 1543 165759

(10)   On site of Kidd’s Mill; rebuilt 1669 165759

(11)   On site of Kidd’s Mill; burnt 1795 165759

(12)   Duke of Northumberland’s River, Kidd’s Mill 165759

(13)   River Thames, Good Intent Mill 167754 (approx.)

(14)   Duke of Northumberland’s River, Brazil Mill 159760

(15)   Duke of Northumberland’s River, Calico mills

In the thirteenth century a mill was built on the manor of Isleworth by Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III, to whom the manor had been given by the King. When in 1264 the rebellion led by the barons against the Crown broke out Richard supported his brother and by so doing aroused the wrath of the citizens of London, who came down to Isleworth to destroy his possessions there, the mill included. One chronicle includes a mill among the buildings belonging to Richard which were destroyed by the Londoners(1). As we know the rebellion was defeated, and the mill was presumably rebuilt for one is recorded in the manor in 1297(2). The manor was from then on granted to each Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall, for life, until the grant was revoked by Acts of Parliament in the reign of Henry V (1413-22) and the lands given to Syon Monastery.

 There are several references to a mill belonging to the manor in the early fourteenth century(3). In 1352 it stood near the manor house on a stream called the Bourne, which followed the course of the present Duke of Northumberland’s River. The house is believed to have been south of the river and west of Church Street(4).

 In 1362 John Weeke was steward of the Manor, and following his report into the condition of the buildings on it the bailiff was commanded to rebuild the watermill(5). In 1370, according to a survey of the manor made by Adam de Herlyngdon for the Treasury, there were two watermills attached to it; one of them was in need of rebuilding, the cost of which would be 40 pounds.(6) 

 The Bourne seems not to have been quite adequate as a mill-stream and by 1463 the Isleworth mill was disused and derelict; shortly afterwards its millstone was sold. By 1506 the building had been leased with the manor house to John Fox, Bishop of Winchester, who had granted Syon Abbey another mill, built on the Crane between Twickenham and Isleworth some years before, in exchange.(7)  

 In the time of Elizabeth I there were two watermills in existence in the parish, with an annual value of £20.

(1) Kidd’s Mill

By 1543 another mill was being built on the old site near the mouth of the Bourne(8). It and its successors remained an appurtenance of Hounslow Manor until 1876(9). It had two millstones in 1553(10), of which four ground corn and the fifth wood dyes. It was a corn mill only in 1669, when it was to be rebuilt by the lessee(11). The mill stood on the Duke of Northumberland’s River at Mill Bridge in Church Street, in what is now the old part of Isleworth. The successive mills on the site were owned by the Duke the mill was known as Manor Mill until well into the nineteenth century. In 1772 the mill was in the ownership of a Mr Edward Merchant, but George Merchant, presumably a relative, was in possession by 1788. It was destroyed by fire in 1795 and subsequently rebuilt. The original structure was of oak on a brick lower storey and had a tiled roof with three dormer windows.

 How long Marchant continued to own the mill is not clear but in 1804 Messrs Leader, Attlee and Co. of Wandsworth spent the sum of £29,999 19s 9d on repairing and carrying out modifications to it, in return for which the Duke leased it to them for sixty years. A few years later the lease became the property of Benjamin and Robert Kidd. Their partnership was dissolved in 1838 after which they sold the mill to their brother Samuel.

 “Sammy” Kidd, one contemporary newspaper wrote, was a man of impeccable character, jealous of his good name as a businessman, a kind employer, and always mindful of the effect the business might have on his fellow residents. The mill hands had to start work early in the morning, and also work night shifts, so that barges containing corn or meal could come under the road bridge into the mill basin to be loaded or unloaded whenever the tide was right, a sackcloth canopy attached to one of the lucams giving protection against inclement weather. It became the practice to knock them up at night and early in the morning so they could be at their duties. This so disturbed the local inhabitants’ peace and quiet that they complained to the churchwardens. Soon afterwards the following public notice was issued:

“To Millers and others,

In consequence of the continual complaints that are made of the annoyance caused by the Millers, &c., calling up their mates at all hours of the night, and bawling in the streets so as to disturb the inhabitants of the village, Mr Kidd has promised to dismiss from his service any person who shall repeat the offence after this warning, and those with whom they lodge are requested forthwith to have bells put up in the rooms they occupy, which will at once remedy the nuisance. The Millers are recommended not to take lodgings where they cannot get this indispensable accommodation.

(Signed) Horatio G. Day

Samuel R. Goodenough


March 6th 1850.”

 Mr Kidd’s generosity was demonstrated during the economic depression which followed the Crimean War when he donated a certain amount of flour to the poor inhabitants of Isleworth so that they could bake their own bread. In 1846 Kidd formed a partnership with William Podger, from Somerset, and at about the same time two steam engines were installed to supplement the waterwheels(12). The mill at this time was said to be one of the largest in England(13), and this we can well believe judging by  photographs of it. Its weatherboarded cowlings and three lucams of exceptional height made the building a distinctive sight. 

 In 1863 Kidd retired from the business, although it continued to be known as Samuel Kidd and Co; Podger now ran it in partnership with a Mr Odlum until the latter died in 1875. Two years later Mr Herbert Robert Perry entered the firm and became a partner, remaining until the business was made a joint stock company in 1886 under the name of Messrs S Kidd and Co. Mr Podger then retired from the active management of the business but continued to act as a buyer for it. Samuel Kidd and Co later became a subsidiary company of Associated Flour Mills Ltd. 

 A biography and character sketch of William Podger appeared in a local paper in March 1887:

“One of the most genial and honourable of men and the best buyer on the market” is a concise and literally correct description of the well-known proprietor of the Manor Mill, Isleworth; no man connected with the trade is better liked or could be more highly respected. A prominent member of the Corn Exchange remarked the other day that he had transacted business with Mr Podger for forty years without once having had any dispute or unpleasantness.

 “As all can testify who have ever done business with him his word is his bond, and when once it is given there is no need of a contract “signed, sealed and delivered”. He is a large buyer of the best English wheats, and much sought after by sellers of native and imported produce. There are always three or four deep waiting to get hold of him. Mr Podger attained the good age of three score years and ten in January last, but he is as hale and active, and cheery as the youngest man in the market, and it would certainly take the younger men all their time to steal a march on him. We trust his familiar presence will not be missed from the market for many years to come.”

 In 1887 the mill had two waterwheels and was fitted with 29 pairs of stones and 11 sets of rollers, an indication of its huge size, with machinery “of the most improved description”, and was capable of turning out 3,000 sacks of flour per week. A third steam engine had by now been added. In 1894 the business was converted entirely to roller grinding, making it one of the most modern and up-to-date mills in the London area if not the whole country. However its geographical position at Isleworth, comparatively far from the Port Of London, in time made it difficult for it to compete with the flour mills there and in 1934, on the expiry of the lease from the Duke of Northumberland, it was closed down and the business transferred to the Empire Mill at Victoria Docks. The machinery was then removed and the building allowed to stand derelict until demolished in 1941. 

 It is unlikely that the mill used water as its principal power source right up to the time of its closure, although a small channel off the River Crane was used to drive a stone plant for the manufacture of a called “bold metal meal”.

(2) Good Intent Mill

Said to have stood at the Town Wharf in Swan Street(14), This was one of a number of windmills and watermills to be run by a co-operative society; as such it was to play a notorious part in the political history of Middlesex.

 The Good Intent Society was formed in May 1801 for the purpose of grinding corn at a cheap rate for its members’ own use.  Originally there were only four or five of them, but by August the number had increased to eighty or ninety, who held 130 shares between them. The chief officials or “Inspectors” of the Society entered into an agreement with Richard Friday whereby he contracted to sell them a piece of freehold land in his ownership for £300 to build a mill on, at the same time clearing away ballast from the Thames so that barges could be brought up to the mill. The building was not completed until 1803; meanwhile, a general election had been held. 

 At this time, all those belonging to a co-operative society were legally entitled to vote. During the course of the election membership of the Good Intent Society increased considerably; many of the new members were labourers and mechanics, people who under other circumstances would have been unable to vote. Membership was being offered on especially easy terms, the subscription fee having been substantially reduced. Many people were allowed to vote after only having been members of the Society for one day, which was not strictly in accordance with legal procedure. One of the local candidates in the General Election, named Mainwaring, who had polled the least number of votes, objected to this. The matter was investigated by the House of Commons, and three hundred votes were struck off the register while the sheriff of the county along with the returning officer in the election were sent to prison. Besides other infringements of the law the Commons took into account the fact that at the time of the election the mill was in an incomplete state, with the roof not yet on; the Society could hardly be said to be fully established, which it had to be for the votes of its members to be of any account.(15)

 The mill was standing in 1826, when Bonner in his Guide To Richmond commented acidly that it had been in business before it was actually complete, grinding votes instead of flour. At some point the Good Intent Society was wound up and the premises became a cement works. The mill was still standing in 1888, when a line drawing depicts it with several other buildings adjoining it, from which rise a couple of large chimney-like structures presumably connected with the cement-manking process.

 The mill was a large structure, of brick for the first storey and wood above. It had a ninety-foot frontage with the river. The red-tiled roof had four dormer windows on each side and there was a lucam. 

(3) Brazil Mill(1)

Norden, in his Speculum Britanniae of 1592 (part one, page one) describes a copper and brass mill at Isleworth. It stood on the Duke of Northumberland’s River in St John’s Road, and according to the proceedings in a dispute in 1596 between the two partners who operated it was built between 1581 and 1587(16). One of the partners, John Broad or Brode, a renowned, metallurgist sought grants from Elizabeth I for the mill, which he claimed employed processes for the making of copper plate that had never before been used in England, but did not get them.

 Norden writes of the mill: “Thistleworth or Isleworth, a place scituate upon the Thames…not far from whence betwene it and Worton is a copper and brass myll, where it is wrought out of the oar, melted or forged. The oar or earth whereof it is contryved is brought out of Somersetshire from Mendipp, the most from a place called Worley Hill. The carriage is by wayne, which cannot but be very chargeable. The workmen make plates both of copper and brasse of all seyces little and great, thick and thyn, for all purposes. They make also kyttles. The furnace and forge are blown with great bellows, raysed with the force of the water, and suppressed agayne with a great poyes and weight. And the hammers wherewith they worke their plates are very great and weightie, some of them of wrought and beaten iron, some of cast iron, of 200, 300, some 400 weight, which hammers so massye…are lifted up by an artificiall engine, by the force of water, in that altogeather semblable to the Iron myll hammers. They have snippers, wherewith they snyppe and pare their plates, which snippers being also of a huge greatnes, farr beyond the power of man to use, are so artificially placed, and full ingenious devices thereunto added, that by the motion of the water also the snipper open and shut, and perform that with great facility, which ells were very harde to be done.”

 Glover’s map of 1635 describes it as a copper mill, although it is marked as a paper mill on a map of 1607(17). A map of 1623 calls it a brass mill, and also states it to be “decayed”.    Unlike many others in this area the mill never belonged to Isleworth Manor; the right of using the water of the Duke’s  River to drive it was leased to its owners. One of the terms of the lease was that it should not be used for grinding corn.(18) It may have been among those paper mills in Middlesex which were closed in 1638 becasuse of the danger from plague-infected rags(19). The mill was in operation again by 1671 when it was used both for making paper and for grinding brazil-wood for dyes(20). By 1721 it was a brazil-mill only, and continued to be called one despite performing in succession a variety of other uses. The mill was included in the will of Isaac Scott in 1752, according to which it had in recent years been a gunpowder mill but was now a copper mill again. At some point in the early nineteenth century it began grinding corn, the above stipulations concerning its use having been rescinded.(21)

 The largely wooden building was destroyed by fire in about 1860. At the time it was grinding snuff, and as this was contrary to the terms of the insurance policy the insurance company would not pay up. This ended the life of the mill. Two years later it was bought by the owners of the adjoining brewery, who demolished the remaining buildings(22).

 A few traces of the mill, including the millstones and remains of the wheel and mill race, were uncovered in 1936 by builders excavating new paving at the side of the stores erected on the site of the mill house.

 The mill was worked by a family named Stanborough in its latter years: Charles in 1839, A and E Stanborough in 1855, and E Stanborough in 1862.

(4) Brazil Mill(2)

Under a lease of 1752 a powder mill to the south of Baber Bridge in Isleworth manor and parish was to be pulled down and replaced by a brazil-wood mill(23). By 1810 the latter had been converted to a flax mill(24). In 1834 and on Ordnance Survey maps in the 1870s(25) it was a snuff mill. It subsequently went out of use but the date at which this happened is not recorded.

(5) Calico-Printing Mills

These were set up on the Duke of Northumberland’s River after its separation from the River Crane, near to the Brazil Mill mentioned in the previous entry(26). The first, which stood on the east bank near Worton Bridge and was leased from the Duke, was started by 1769(27), the other, on the west bank a little further upstream from the first, by 1818(28). Both mills had gone out of use by 1833(29).

 A print of one of the mills is of interest as it reveals the waterwheel to have been longer than it was high.

(1)   Camden Society publications 34, p61; see p104, VCH

(2)   Ministers’ Accounts of Earldom of Cornwall, 1296-7 (Camden Society 3rd Series no.56, p44-45)

(3)   SC 6/916/10, 11, 21

(4)   Ibid; SC 6/916/17

(5)   VCH vol.3 p86, 104

(6)   CCR 1369-74, 64; MOE 36/266, folio 48b

(7)   SC 6/916/17, 21, 22, 25; SC 6/Henry VII 377, 1786; E315/35, no.40

(8)   L & P Henry VIII, 18(2), p131; 20x(1), p270

(9)  “Report on Duke of Northumberland’s River” Appendix V (1917; copy in LMA)

(10) CPR 1553, 171

(11) Syon House MS Mx 3.2.a-c, f

(12) Kelly’s Directory of Middlesex 1845

(13) Ibid

(14) Framed print in Treaty Centre Library, Hounslow

(15) Aungier, History and Antiquities of Syon, p235-9

(16) Req. 2/131/38; BM Lansdowne MS 81; VCH Middlesex vol.2, p128

(17) Syon House MS.Mx 3.1a

(18) Syon House MS.Mx 3.12.g, Mx 3.6.c(1)

(19) LMA Acc.249/821-2

(20) As (18)

(21) LMA, Isleworth Enclosure Award  

(22) L Toms, “History of Isleworth Brewery” (typescript at Treaty Centre Library, Hounslow)

(23) Syon House MS Mx 3.2.d

(24) Map of General Roy’s baseline reproduced in Philosophical  Transactions 75, plate 1; Syon House MS Mx 3.2.1; VCH p118

(25) Gareth Hughes, Windmill Hoppers website 30th November 2013

(26) Syon House MS.Mx 3.2.m; OS Map 1.2500 Middlesex (1st and 2nd editions)

(27) Report on Duke of Northumberland’s River, 1917 (copy in LMA)

(28) LMA Acc.400/63; LMA, Isleworth Inclosure Award; BM Maps K30 5g is a view of the mill in 1795

(29) LMA, Isleworth Inclosure Award

(29) Ibid

(18) The Good Intent Mill, Isleworth (LMA)

(19) Kidd’s Mill, Isleworth, in its prime (Hounslow Libraries)


(1) Near Green Lanes; gone by mid-18th century

(2) Highbury, nineteenth-century mill

In 1271 land at Highbury given to the hospital of St John of Jerusalem included a mill, though it is not clear whether it was powered by wind or water(1). 

 We know very little about the mill which stood near Green Lanes and whose foundations remained until c1850 in a field behind a public house called the Pegasus. As it does not appear on Rocque’s map of 1754 the main part of the building probably disappeared before that date; certainly no trace of it is visible today. The stream which drove it was probably affected by the construction of the New River. At one time, prior to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the mill belonged to the Hospitallers of Clerkenwell.

 In the early nineteenth century new housing was being built on a large scale in the northern suburbs of Islington and in the late 1810s residents of Highbury Terrace requested a water supply, which they then lacked. A horse mill for pumping water from the river had been installed at Highbury Frame some time before, but parts had been stolen and the residents declined to meet the cost of repairs and of installing the new piping which would be required. On the advice of William Chadwell Mylne, engineer, the New River Head Company, then responsible for water supply within the area, replaced it with a waterwheel, which was working by December 1819. The wheel seems to have suffered frequently from drought which meant the river was often too low to work it – Mylne reported the problem in 1834 – and this led to supply difficulties, especially when the number of houses was continuing to increase. It was therefore supplemented by a steam engine, which finally replaced it in 1837 when its bearings wore out. It was removed and reinstalled on adjacent land belonging to the company for use in an experiment in filtration being carried out by Mylne, but whether this was a success is not known, nor at present do I have any information on the wheel’s subsequent career(2).

(1) CCP 25(1)/147/24, no. 493

(2) Robert Ward, London’s New River (Historical Publications 2003)


River Brent

(1) Domesday Mill (see above)

(2) Possible mill, 15th century

(3) C16 mill

(4) C16 mill

A place known as “Brentmill” existed here in 1461 and 1499(1), but there is no proof that this was a watermill, and besides it may have stood equally in Kingsbury, Hendon or Willesden. The same is true of a known watermill included among appurtenances of Coffers Manor in 1556(2). The only definite post-Domesday watermill in Kingsbury is mentioned in 1596 when Jon Chalkhill erected a mill over the Brent to the south of Blackbird Hill(3). Nothing is subsequently heard of it.

(1) Davenport MSS; All Souls College Oxford, Bursar’s Accounts

(2) CCP25(2)/74/630/010

(3) Bodleian Library MS DD All Souls C77/1799; All Souls College, Hovenden Map, portfolio 2, no.14


River Thames 042693

(1) Early mill

(2) 18th century mill

A watermill in the ownership of Laleham Abbey underwent major repairs in 1276 and in 1302 was moved to a new site(1). The mill and manor had been owned by Westminster Abbey since before the Norman Conquest(2). A watermill and a grain mill whose motive power is not mentioned were both recorded here in the fourteenth century(3).

A watermill is again recorded on the manor in 1608, 1631 and 1644; in the latter year it was the property of Sir Henry Spiller(4). It was presumably the mill mentioned in a grant of the site of the manor in 1668(5).

The most likely site for all these mills is thought to have been the weir to the north-west of the village.

(1) Documents in Westminster Abbey, Chest D no.27105, 27113

(2) Hund.R. (Rec. Com) i, 431 (per VCH)

(3) WAM Chest D no.27133 &c

(4) Exch Dept Mich 6 Chas I (per VCH)

(5) Pat 4 Jas I Part 9 m.17 (per VCH)


Flax mill, standing 1838

In 1838 a flax mill here made use of a waterwheel; it was of very low power (2 horse), and seems to have been basically a supplement to the two steam engines, of 14 and 30 h.p., which were the principal source of power for the works, to be used in case one or both of them should break down. The Parliamentary Return from which this information is obtained gives the number of people employed at the mill as thirty-three, all adults.(1)

(1) Simmons Collection, Science Museum Library


River Brent, 16th century mill

In the sixteenth century a tributary of the Brent ran through Osterley Park, which was owned by Sir Thomas Gresham, and here in c1571 he built a water corn mill(1), probably replacing one erected by the previous manorial lord, the Abbess of the nunnery of Syon. The mill-pond, the easternmost of the several on this stream, lay between Windmill Lane and the Brent(2). Before his death in 1579 Gresham established a paper mill within the same building as the corn mill(3). Norden in his account of the park and mansion in 1593 tells us the former was “garnished with manie faire ponds which afforded not only fish…but also great use for milles; as paper milles, oyle mills and corne mil, all of which are now decaied (a corne mill excepted)”(4). The corn mill does not seem to have survived for long after this. An inquiry was held in 1584 to decide whether Gresham’s mill had encroached onto the King’s highway, and during the proceedings its situation was described as being upon the Brent near “Cruxellesforde”. It had gone by 1754, although the pond remained.

(1) Norden, Speculum Britanniae 1 p37

(2) NA, E134/26 Eliz.Trin.2; Rocque, Map of 10 miles round London (1746)

(3) NA, E134/26 Eliz Trin.2

(4) Norden, as above; Glover, Map of Isleworth Hundred


River Pinn, Love Lane; demolished 1828 121900

Pinner’s watermill was to be a relatively short-lived one, leaving behind it no illustrations and featuring on none of the contemporary maps(1). The mill does not appear to have been standing in 1770 when the site was acquired by John Foster, for it is not mentioned in deeds concerning the transfer(2); it is first referred to in 1787 when a fire on 18th January caused damage worth £90 to the building and £20 to the stock within(3). Foster was prompted by this event to insure the mill, which by then had probably been partially rebuilt, and its contents, along with a kiln for drying beans (a fitting some insurance policies forbade on account of the fire risk, and possibly the cause of the blaze) with the Sun Insurance Company for £50 on 3rd January 1788; on 15 February he reinsured the property for £200, the repairs having by then been completed.(4)

 In 1795 the tenant miller was Joseph Dell, whose family operated the mill in conjunction with the local windmill(5). We do not know whether the Dells continued to use both mills up to 1826, when they relinquished the windmill. In 1828 the lease of the premises, which covered half an acre, was granted by John Foster to Vincent White, a bricklayer and builder who pulled down the watermill and replaced it with a row of four cottages, using (at a guess) the bricks from the former. The lease describes it as a building “formerly used as a watermill”, indicating that it had been disused for a number of years prior to its demise. (6)

The site of the mill was behind the present numbers 27-35 Love Lane.

(1) William Frankum, “The Wind- and Watermills of Pinner”, in “The Pinn” (journal of the Pinner Local History Society), no.2, 1986

(2) Frankum, as above

(3) HESS

(4) Frankum, as above

(5) Rates Book (C R Ellement), in Frankum

(6) MDR 1831 VIII, 368-9, in Frankum


River Pinn

(1) Early mill, 081875

(2) Possible mill, standing 1442

There seems to have been a watermill at Ruislip in or before 1248, when Roger de Southcote was paying rent for a millpond called Sitteclak(1). The first definite reference to one occurs in 1294. In that year the Abbey of Bec, whose lands included the manor of Ruislip, was taken over by the Crown, which compiled a survey or Extent of its new possession. This mentions a watermill, valued along with the local windmill at 40s(2). References to it cease after the early fifteenth century although a mill of unspecified type, which may be it, is mentioned in a rental of 1442(3). The site is believed to have been somewhere near Clack Lane.

A mill of unspecified type is mentioned in 1565(4).

 In the 1970s the remains of what appeared to be a mill leat were still partly traceable, starting from a pond on the Pinn near Fore Street in Eastcote and then running north of the Manor Farm to rejoin the river west of Bury Street(5). Rumours that the foundations of the building itself were discovered in the early twentieth century are unsubstantiated(6).

(1) BM Add. MS 24316

(2) NA, E106/21/1

(3) King’s College Cambridge, R.45

(4) King’s College Cambridge, R.36

(5) J Doharty, Map of the Demesne Lands (1750); photostat copy in LMA; OS map 1/2500 Mdx 5,9 (1865 edition). 

(6) Brown, Earliest Ruislip; TLMAS Vol.7, p120