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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Watermill gazetteer S


Possible mill 311812

Milford Lane, off the Strand, could well indicate the former existence of a stream which powered a watermill, although there is no way of being certain.  The name may equally have come from a windmill (see below).


London Bridge

No study of Middlesex mills would be complete without some mention of the famous waterwheels situated between the arches of London Bridge, which, to my dismay, I had quite forgotten until reminded of them by the late J Kenneth Major. Whether they should be regarded as Middlesex or as Surrey mills might seem a matter for debate, but either the bridge was not thought of as belonging to any particular parish, so that we may as well include the site here, or, and this was the case in the sixteenth century at least, it was split between two, the northern end of the bridge where the wheels were being regarded as falling within St Magnus rather than Southwark(1). The mills were destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, but subsequently rebuilt.

With the author’s permission I reproduce here an article by Kenneth Major in International Molinology no.65 (December 2002), p23-25:

Waterworks Of London Bridge

The cities of London and Westminster are bounded on their south sides by the river Thames. The river has been a formidable barrier since the earliest times, but the ferries were amplified by a bridge – on the site of the Roman occupation. This single bridge connected the City of London with the Borough of Southwark and so linked the capital to the south-east of England and the near continent of Europe.

 In 1176 the first stone bridge was begun by Peter of Colechurch and this displaced the wooden bridge when it was completed in 1200. This bridge was carried on nineteen stone piers which in turn were founded on the starlings. The starlings were the foundations which transmitted the load from the stone piers to a wider ring of piles containing a cage of timbers and stone infill. It is important to realise that the starlings reduced the openings to 50% of the river’s width, which was some 550 metres. The piers carried pointed arches which supported the roadway and the double row of houses and shops. At each end there was a stone-built gatehouse with a portcullis to seal off the City at night. It was on the gatehouses that the heads of executed felons were displayed. 

 The river Thames is tidal up to Teddington, which is some 15km above London Bridge and is where the first weir is situated. It is known that the mediaeval bridge had a head across the starlings of 30cm at high tide and 130cm at low tide. This created a tremendous surge through the bridge and seemed to be a natural place in which to harness the tidal effect of the bridge.  The river was the highway linking all the important places of trade and government together: Westminster, London and Greenwich. Often, the citizens would take a boat from Westminster to London Bridge and walk across the tail of the bridge to get a different boat to go on to Greenwich. The watermen did not like taking passengers through the rush of water at the bridge; they changed boats above and below the bridge. The bridge was in itself a traffic bottleneck and so there were many ferrymen plying for hire to take citizens from London to Southwark. Southwark became, with other places on the south bank, renowned for entertainment. The Shakespearian theatres were there as well as bear pits and, later, private gardens. All this created river-borne traffic on a scale we find hard to imagine today.

 Water was a scarce commodity in the tightly-packed communities of London and Southwark. A lot of water was obtained from private wells and from water carriers who used the Thames for their supply. In 1582 a naturalised Dutchman {by some accounts German(2)}, Peter Morris, introduced a water-wheel-driven force pump to the first arch of the bridge at the north end. This water engine was driven by an undershot water-wheel, which did not adjust to meet the state of the tidal flow, and two pump cylinders. The water was raised by the pumps to a lead cistern at the top of a conduit house on the north end of the bridge. The water flowed down over a wire grating to filter it before flowing along nearby streets in wooden pipes. Houses which had a private supply contract with the water company received their water by means of their own lead pipe off the wooden pipe and a stopcock.

 Following the apparent success of Morris’ water engine a second arch was leased in 1584 and a further water engine was inserted there. Almost in parallel with the work of Peter Morris of pumping water at London Bridge, a massive scheme was under way to bring fresh spring water to the higher parts of London. This scheme, known as the New River, brought water from springs at Amwell and Hertford to Clerkenwell. The New River was an artificial cut some 3m wide and up to 1.25m deep. Dug as a contour canal, it fell slightly all the way to the New River Head.

 In spite of the larger supply of water created by the New River, water was still in short supply in London and several schemes to lift water from the Thames were in use. One such was Sir Bevis Balmer’s horse engine. Generally there was a growing urgency throughout Britain to supply an adequate amount of clean water to the larger communities. London and the entrepreneurs of the London Bridge Water Company sought the advice of George Sorocold. He was to be involved in the installation of waterwheel-driven pumps in the north arches of London Bridge. Sorocold came with good recommendations as he had created water supply systems at Macclesfield, Wirksworth, Yarmouth, Portsmouth, Norwich, Kings Lynn, Deal and Doncaster. Indeed, such was his reputation that he could be described as a “consulting engineer”. Similar careers were exhibited by men like Andrew Yarranton of Worcester, who was responsible for water engines at Bridgnorth, Reading and Windsor.  What do we know of Sorocold’s London Bridge waterwheel-driven pumps of 1703? Henry Beighton gives a very complete description and drawing in volume XXXVII of the Philosophical Transactions published in 1731. The important element in the design is the way in which the waterwheel was lifted up or down to meet the varying stages and head of the tidal flow through the bridge. John Hadley, an engineer from Derby like Sorocold, invented the device shown in the Beighton drawing which raised the arms supporting the water-wheel. In some measure this was like the Panstermuhle in Germany and was not at all similar to the Moulin Pendant of France.  However, it had a drawback in that the waterwheel could only be raised or lowered manually. This meant that at least two men had to be on duty throughout the tidal range in order to give the greatest efficiency to the waterwheel. Looking at the Beighton illustration, the handles W at the top were the controls by which the two arms were raised which carried the waterwheel shaft. The wet wooden waterwheel must have been incredibly heavy, a point which is shown by the peg gears V, T, R and Q and the chain to raise the rocker arm by the pumps at letter N. The operatives turned handles W, causing the lantern gear V to turn peg gear T, which engaged apparently with R. When R turned the chain was wound up on Q. The supporting lever arm L could not move other than in a circular motion and thus (like the Cornish beam engines) the motion must have been of a chain unwrapping from a circular seg-ment. However, it is stated (by Beighton in the Philosophical Transactions of 1744) that the waterwheels were efficient at almost all stages of the tide without any fine tuning of raising and lowering them being necessary. Whichever way the waterwheel turned, the beams serving the pumps continued to work them and so gave a continuous supply of water. The beauty of this system lay in the fact that whilst the waterwheel moved up and down the pumps remained fixed in their frame mounted in the arch of the bridge.

 By the middle of the eighteenth century the New River Company was growing and was, increasingly, the supply company for north London. To meet this competition the London Bridge Company took over more arches at the northern end. Sorocold’s engines stood outside these arches. The tidal function was not deemed to be necessary as the restrictions in the pressure of the waterwheels and the starlings kept the head more constant. By 1768 the Company had the lease on the fifth arch and into that they commissioned John Smeaton to build another waterwheel-driven pumping plant.  This was a waterwheel with fixed bearings on the starlings and was 32ft (9.75m) in diameter by 15ft 6in (4.70m) wide which is shown on drawings held by the Royal Society. These dimensions are quoted in “London Bridge Waterworks” by Rhys Jenkins in The Engineer of 30th May 1919, p356-7. The waterwheel drove a crank with three arms on its shaft on either side of the wheel. The six pumps were 10in (25cm) in diameter, with a stroke of 4ft 6in (1.37m). This work was followed by the installation of a waterwheel by Smeaton in the second arch at the Southwark end. This meant that the distribution was assured in the Borough as well as the City. As far as is known the Sorocold wheels were still in situ when supplemented by Smeaton and an engraving by Thomas Shepherd dated 1830 shows them in place between the starlings.

 By 1817 all the wooden waterwheels had been replaced by iron waterwheels and gears. In 1828 a new bridge was built adjacent to the existing one, which had been widened by 12ft (3.65m) in 1758.  The older bridge and all the waterwheels and pumps were demolished in 1828 after the opening of the new bridge. No attempt was made to replace the waterwheels as the river was able to flow with greater freedom through only five arches in the width.

 By 1828 the river Thames was unbelievably polluted, with a greatly increasing population discharging waste into it without restriction. It is perhaps as well that the use of the river Thames at London Bridge as a water supply had ceased. The new London Bridge of 1828 brought the long history of a waterwheel-driven water supply on that site to an end.


London Bridge, G B Besant, London 1927

The Collected Papers of Rhys Jenkins, Cambridge 1936

Hydraulia, William Matthews, London 1836

A Catalogue of the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Designs 1741-1792 of John Smeaton, London 1950

Private collection of papers and illustrations held by J Kenneth Major 

London’s New River by Robert Ward (p16-17) also contains valuable information on the wheels. Morris, who charged for the water he supplied, convinced sceptical city fathers of the efficacy of his system by using it to direct a jet of water over the roof of St Magnus’ Church. Mr Ward observes that the penning back of the water by the starlings would have caused strong currents, so that the wheels ran swiftly and smoothly. However their effectiveness was limited by various factors. They were located under the arches nearest the shore where the water was at its shallowest, and building further wheels under the inner ones would have been resisted by the watermen. Then there was the pollution, the technical difficulties involved in pumping the water to the higher parts of the city, and the tendency of the Thames to rise and fall considerably twice a day with the tide, which of course varied in its power according to the phases of the moon and the strength and direction of the wind. Hence the wheels, although useful, could never quite supply sufficient water for the city’s needs.

(1) Stephen Freeth (Keeper of Manuscripts at Guildhall Library), e-mail to author 26th May 2005; Howard Doble (Senior Archivist, Corporation of London Records Office), 28th May 2005

(2)  Ward, see above


(1) Early mill

(2) 14th century mill

(3) 14th century mill

(4) River Thames, standing 1805  077675

A watermill was standing on Halliford Manor in 1289(1). There were two newly-built watermills there in 1320(2), which suggests that the original one had gone out of use. It may be that referred to in documents of 1336 and 1343 as old and of little value, although this seems to have stood on the separate manor of Shepperton(3). Another mill, perhaps the successor to one of those mentioned above, was standing in 1805; it survived until well into the nineteenth century and is thought to have given its name to Millbrook House. It stood to the south of the church(4).

(1) WAM 5017, 27010-14, 27016, 27017

(2) WAM 4987

(3) Chanc.135/47/2; Chanc.135/70/7/21

(4) Shepperton Poor Assessment 1805, Vestry Minute Book (Poor Rates 1831-9); OS Map 1/2500 Middlesex (1st edition)


(1) Domesday Mill (see above and below)

(2) Overshot mill, Dormans Well 143807

The mill mentioned under Hayes in Domesday Book is thought to have been in Norwood(1). The next reference to a watermill in the area occurs in 1578 when one was leased by Robert Chamberlain, the lord of the manor of Norwood(2). In 1596 the executors of Anne, Lady Dacre, reserved for themselves along with the windmill then standing in the manor a watermill and garden in the vicinity(3). There was still a mill in Norwood in 1611(4) and in 1673 an overshot watermill was situated there. A Mr Hamton owned or leased the mill in 1676(5). In 1716 it came into the possession of Sir George Cooke, the future lord of the manor(6), and was offered for sale with the other Cooke properties in 1770(7). It still comprised part of the manorial estate in 1800 (8), when it stood along with a house and other property at Windmill Lane, Dorman’s Well(9). In 1819 a former miller, George Hudd, was registered as bankrupt. In 1821 the mill, house, millpond and land were owned by the Earl of Jersey(10).

 From at least 1862 until 1886 the mill was worked by Alfred Robinson, who appears to have been assisted on and off by a relative named Herbert. Shortly after the latter date it went out of use. By the end of the nineteenth century it had been converted into a house called Mill Farm(11). By 1912 it had been renamed Old Greenford mill; although most of the machinery had disappeared the wheelhouse and some of the millstones still remained(12). The mill had gone by 1961 and the site in 1961 was covered by the West Middlesex Golf Course.

The mill was supplied not by the Brent but by its own pond.     

 Rocque’s map of 1754 shows a mill standing on a small stream running through Osterley Park on the southern boundary of Norwood parish, between Windmill Lane and the stream’s confluence with the Brent. There is no other record of a mill here, and as the overshot mill is not marked it is possible this may be it, placed in the wrong position.

(1)  VCH Middlesex Vol.4, p119

(2)  LMA Acc 435/ED.16, folio 46

(3)  LMA Acc.436/11(2)

(4)  LMA CMR.6.176

(5)  Southall Library, Norwood Poor Rate Assessments and Disbursement Book 1653-86

(6)  Ibid 1687-1720

(7)  LMA Acc.264/123

(8)  LMA Acc.436/16

(9)  LMA Acc.397/19

(10) Southall Borough Library, Norwood Valuation

(11) OS Map 1/2500 Middlesex (1896 edition)

(12) Short, Southall, p12-13


(1-6) Domesday Mills (see above)

(7-9) At least three mills, one of which was in Yeoveney: the sites of the others cannot be identified

(10)  River Colne, Hale Mill 033717

(11)  River Colne, New Mill 033718 (approx.)

(12)  Wraysbury River, Pound or Mustard mill  033718

Staines’ position on the river Thames, of which it was a major crossing-point, enabled watermills to flourish there. There were six at the time of Domesday Book, if those in parts of the manor other than Staines itself are included. Later in the Middle Ages there were two in Staines town, each with several sets of machinery, and one at Yeoveney. There are a number of references to mills which cannot be traced, such as the “Hurst Mill” mentioned in 1354(1). Various others are included in conveyances of properties in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and it is not clear whether these represent a third mill or one of the above. In the fifteenth century one of the mills was fitted with a small plant for grinding malt(2). Another seems to have disappeared by 1500. 

The following individual mills can be differentiated:

Hale Mill

During its early life the ownership of Hale Mill appears to have been divided; in the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) part belonged to John de la Hale(3), from whom its name is derived, and part was in separate ownership – we do not know whose – from 1271 to 1353(4). After this date the mill belonged to Westminster Abbey. It was derelict and out of use from c1472 to 1490(5); if it was one of the two mills recorded in existence in 1503 and 1694(6) it must have been reconditioned. Since it stood on the River Colne it may well have been that whose occupier claimed to have been injured financially by Henry VIII’s construction of the Duke of Northumberland’s River(7).

 As with many other sites it is highly unlikely that the mill standing in the late thirteenth century, and that recorded in 1694 and subsequently, are identical, although the same site may have been used. By 1755 the mill had come into the possession of John Finch, also owner of Pound Mill, whose family were to retain it until the mid-nineteenth century though latterly they did not work it themselves(8). In 1781 John Finch insured the brick-and-tiled mill for £700. By the following year the miller seems to have been a Thomas Finch, presumably a relative, for it was he who took out a new insurance policy to include the adjacent house and offices, the overall cost of the property now rising to £1,080. By 1855 Hale Mill had ceased to produce flour and was in use as a papier-mache factory(9). In 1864 it was taken over by the Linoleum Manufacturing Company who bought it outright in 1871(10).

Until fairly recently the mill buildings were still evident, but now nothing at all remains of them.

New Mill

New Mill, first mentioned in 1388(11), stood just to the east of the now defunct Great Western Railway station, on or near the site of the later Pound Mill. It originally belonged to Westminster Abbey but was later divided among various owners and lessees. In the fifteenth century part of the mill was in use as a fulling mill(12), while in 1472-3 another, or the same, portion had been disused and occupied for eight years, the remainder of the building presumably still being in use, but in 1490 the whole of it was occupied(13). Here is another example of the practice, common in western Middlesex at this time, for two mills within the same building to be in separate ownership and used for different purposes.

Pound Mill

Pound Mill, so named after the neighbouring parish pound(14), is first heard of in 1747 when it came into the possession of John Finch, mealman, who eight years later was to add the Hale Mill to his properties(15). It was then said to be newly-erected, although there was a mill on the site in 1682(16), and in 1916 part of the machinery was found to be dated 1712(17). It seems likely therefore that Finch’s mill had been substantially rebuilt, incorporating material from an earlier one. It has been suggested that the latter was the mill listed as among the appurtenances of the manor in a grant of 1610(18), but the Victoria County History (volume 3) believes it could equally have been Hale Mill which also belonged to Westminster Abbey(19). In 1782 the mill, brick-and-tiled like Hale Mill, and its contents were worth £500. In 1793 the mill was worked jointly by Thomas and John Finch and was valued at £1,000. Unlike Hale Mill it continued to be worked for some time by the Finch family. During the nineteenth century its chief business, latterly carried on under the name of Finch, Rickman and Co, was the production of mustard, presumably by crushing the seeds between the millstones, although part of it was still used for grinding corn. In the middle years of the century trade was prosperous, with a considerable number of people being employed at the mill.(20) At this time the owner was Charles Finch, whose grand residence  nearby later became the GWR station house. Later the business declined and was sold in 1900. The mill continued to function as one until 1912 and in 1916 was purchased by the Linoleum Manufacturing Company, one-time owners of Hale Mill, who shortly afterwards demolished the upper part of the structure(21).

 The lower part, to first floor level, was still standing in December 1945 when examined by Denis Sanders of Feltham but has now gone. The building was of red brick and thirty-three feet wide. A fourteen-foot diameter breast shot wheel was still in place on the east side of the building. There was evidence that at some time a turbine had been installed.

Contradicting Sanders, Ralph Parsons of Spelthorne Museum informs me that Pound Mill had two waterwheels of twelve foot diameter, one three feet wide and the other four feet. One of the beams in the mill bore the date 16-(22).

Yeoveney Mill

A house and two mills in Yeoveney were quitclaimed by William, son of Walter Poyle, to Westminster Abbey in 1258(23). One of these may have been the Yeoveney Mill which belonged to the Abbey in 1275(24). This probably stood on the Wyrardisbury River, for a contemporary document mentions a bridge over against the moor beyond the millpond(25). The manorial accounts show that the mill was often in need of repair, and it seems to have been rebuilt in 1320(26). Subsequently part of it may have been used as a fulling mill(27). It was still in existence in 1636 but seems to have disappeared shortly after this date(28).

(1)   WAM 16872

(2)   WAM 16943

(3)   WAM 16771

(4)   CCP25(1)/147/24/489; WAM 16786

(5)   WAM 16936, 16805, 16807

(6)   WAM 16966, MRO; F34/229-37

(7)   Chanc.78/27/13, m15; Chanc.3/110/64, 50/68; CCP25(2)/171/14 Eliz.Hil

(8)   LMA: Parish Records, Churchwardens’ Account Book 1750-95; LTA Mdx 6631, 6675, 6680, Staines Tithe Award

(9)   Kelly 1855, 1863, OS map 1/25000 Middlesex (1st edition)

(10) VCH, per Linoleum Manufacturing Co. Ltd

(11) WAM 16934

(12) WAM 16801, 16936; CCR 1447-54, 73

(13) SC 6/917/29; WAM 16807

(14) G P Warner-Terry, “Pound Mill, Staines”, TLMAS Vol.9 455-6

(15) LMA, EMC32

(16) CCP25(2)/69233-34 Chas II Hil, 946/11 Anne Trin.

(17) TLMAS 9, 456

(18) TLMAS 9, 453-4

(19) West.RCO64, document of 1795; Chanc.66/1998 no.10

(20) LMA, LTA 6631, 6675, 6680; LMA, Staines Tithe Award; TLMAS Vol.9 p454; Kelly 1845-82

(21) VCH, per Linoleum Manufacturing Co Ltd

(22) Personal communication with author, summer 2003

(23) WAM 16746

(24) WAM 16822

(25) WAM 16849

(26) WAM 16907, 16923, 16849, 16873, 16883

(27) WAM 16796

(28) WAM 16886; WAM 16890; WAM 16892

(20) Hale Mill, Staines, C20 (Image supplied by Ralph Parsons of Spelthorne Museum)

(21) Pound Mill, Staines, late C19/early C20 (Sheila Viner)


(1-4)   Domesday and other early mills

(5-10) At least five mills known to have existed in mediaeval and early modern period

(11)    River Colne, Poyle Mill 033766

(12)    River Colne, Upper Mill 041751

(13)    River Colne, Snuff Mill  034741

(14)    River Colne, Lower Mill, Leylands Lane  039749

The sites of the four watermills recorded at Stanwell in Domesday Book cannot now be established. In the later Middle Ages there were a number of mills which it is likewise impossible to identify, though some may be among those listed below. None of them were under manorial ownership.(1) One of them was held by Richard Peacock, and later his son John, in the fourteenth century, and was still in existence in the early seventeenth by which time it had become known as “Peacock’s Mill”(2). A second mill was acquired in the fifteenth century by Richard Bulstrode(3); in view of the name it may have been identical with that which formed part of an estate belonging to Edward Bulstrode in 1598(4). A new mill appears to have been built sometime in the fourteenth century, and there were at least three in 1606(5). Like others in the area the mills at Poyle and Stanwell were adversely affected by the making of the Duke of Northumberland’s River(6). Another new mill was built later in the seventeenth century(7, possibly on the site of those standing in 1606, and four are recorded in the late eighteenth.

 At one time a pound per year was paid to the poor of the parish out of the profits of the local corn mill, according to a list of charges preserved in St Mary the Virgin Church, Stanwell, which is undated but appears to be eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It’s not clear whether the mill in question was wind- or water-powered.

Poyle Mill

Of all the Stanwell mills this has the longest continuous history. A mill stood on Poyle Manor in the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries(8); it later passed with the Manor to Andrew Windsor, to be alienated by the Crown in 1612 along with his other properties(9). In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it consisted of two mills under one roof.

 By 1636 it was being used in the manufacture of paper and twelve men were employed there(10). In the eighteenth century it came into the tenancy of the Bullock family, who later acquired the freehold(11). The first of the family to work it, Henry Bullock, and his sons used it for the dressing of leather as well as paper making(12). The Bullocks sold the mill in the early nineteenth  century(13) and in 1807 it was run by William East and Richard Ibbotson. Ibbotson and his sons later became owners of the property(14). The family used it principally for making paper, but also leather and asbestos board(15), until the partnership between the Ibbotson brothers, Richard, Thomas and Percy, then carrying on the business of paper and millboard manufacturers under the name of P and R Ibbotson, was dissolved in 1850. After 1890 it was used by various owners for purposes including asbestos, fibre, flock, artificial manure and bricks(16). By 1956 the building had been pulled down and its site was occupied by two firms, one the Wilkinsons Sword Company and the other named Graviner, although the weir still remained(17).

Upper Mill

In 1385 John Donet was presented for building a mill over a common footpath in Stanwellmoor, and was ordered to remove it(18); but for some reason this illegal mill remained, becoming the ancestor of the building which stands today in Horton Road. In 1472 it passed to Thomas Windsor(19). It is almost certainly the same as that known in the fifteenth century as North Mill and from about 1630 as the Upper Mill. The North Mill was the property of the crown in the sixteenth century and up to 1612, when it was granted to Lord Knyvett(20). From c1610 to 1652 it functioned both as a corn and a paper mill; individuals we know to have been employed in paper-making there are George Hagar from 1682 to 1691 and Eustace Burnley during the eighteenth century. In 1768 John Stevens was miller and the mill and mill house, which communicated with each other (as they do today), were worth £150. The mill was then constructed partly of timber and partly of brick. From 1771 it is referred to as the “New Mill”, probably due to a recent rebuilding. 

 The mill ceased to produce paper between 1772 and 1793, afterwards functioning entirely as a corn mill until the early twentieth century. At about the same time that the change occurred the lord of the manor sold it; in 1781 it was owned by a Mr Dell and in 1787 Simeon Warner Hagen. The latter was still owner in 1803 but in 1806 the mill was in the possession of John and Samuel Saunders. In 1813 it was advertised in the Reading Mercury to be sold by auction, the notice stating that it had four pairs of stones. Apart from the mill itself and the mill house the premises included a stable. An advert also appeared in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of 2nd August:

“Stanwell mill, Middlesex – to be sold by auction by Mr Hawkes 9/8/1813 with early possession, by order of the trustees under an Act of Parliament; freehold and tithe-free property, 18ft waterwheel working four pairs of French stones, premises comprising a modern and substantial structure with excellent granaries, lofts, barn, cart lodge, chaise house, commodious dwelling house, yard, 3 fertile enclosures of arable and meadowland adjoining, and productive rates of fishery belonging to the mill.”

It will be seen that the notice gives a different diameter for the wheel from that estimated by Denis Sanders. It could have been replaced at some time, unless the notice is simply inaccurate.

 In 1832-4 the miller was Henry Carpenter; by 1845 he had been succeeded by James Carpenter Ward, the name indicating a merger through marriage between two families. “J C & H Ward” are listed in an 1862 directory, the “H” probably being Henry Carpenter Ward who worked the mill in 1866 and 1890. William Wooster operated it from 1895 to at least 1917. By 1931 the mill had ceased to produce flour and was instead used in the manufacture of dyes.

 From about the beginning of the last century water power was supplemented by steam, though it was not finally discontinued until c1950, after which electricity was used for a short time before closure. The wheel and machinery remained in 1956 but were removed shortly afterwards. The former and parts of the latter were at some point examined by Denis Sanders. The all-iron breast shot wheel measured 16 feet by 8 feet wide and had three rims, with eight arms of eight segments each, and 48 buckets. It was mounted on a square iron wheelshaft with wooden starts. The pitwheel was also of iron, 12 feet in diameter with eight arms and 112 wooden teeth.

 The building we see today dates essentially from c1900, when the mill was rebuilt after being severely damaged by fire, although it has been altered on a number of occasions since. It is a fair-sized building of red brick, nicely built but unremarkable in appearance, the wooden lucam being the only distinctive feature. It now houses a chemical company while the mill house, with which it forms an unbroken front, is still occupied.

Snuff mill

By 1791 Edmund Hill owned a gunpowder mill at Stanwell about 550 yards south-west of Hithermoor Farm(21); around 1820 it was taken over from his successor by the firm of Curtis and Harvey, of the gunpowder mills at Bedfont and Hounslow, who had already been working it for some years(22). By 1896 it had been converted to a snuff mill, but later became a corn mill, remaining as such until burnt down in 1925(23).

Lower Mill

It is not clear whether the Lower Mill was one of the two held by the lords of the manor in the seventeenth century, or was built much later. Documentary evidence proves it was in existence by the late eighteenth century(24). It appears on the 1816 Ordnance Survey, represented by the words “Corn Mill”. Thomas Wheeler was the miller in 1832, but from the mid-nineteenth century until its demolition between c1886 and 1896(25) it was managed by the Carpenter Ward family who operated the Upper Mill a few hundred yards downstream(26). It stood at the weir in Leylands Lane where this crosses the Colne, a few hundred yards downstream from the Upper Mill(27).

(1)   VCH vol.3 p36 n.97-98; CCP25(1)/149/52/329;/151/71/462;/151/81/151; CCP25(2)/27/19(7?)8/12, 692/2 Chas II Trin.

(2)   Year Book 17 & 18 ED III (Rolls Series), p209; BM Add.MS 20216, folio 13

(3)   CCR 1461-8 p367

(4)   Chanc.142/253/69

(5)   BM Add.MS 20216, ff.4d 11/1

(6)   SC12/13/16

(7)   Historical MSS. Commission, 13th Report part 5 House Of Lords 498

(8)   Chanc.133/89/5; Chanc.139/10/8; CP25(1)/152/98/76

(9)   Chanc.66/1967

(10) LMA Acc.249/820-1, 826, 829

(11) LMA Acc 27/2, Acc.132/125

(12) Middleton, View of Agriculture of Middlesex 438; LMA Acc.132/113, 137, 166; LTA Middlesex 6691; Shorter 214-15

(13) LMA, LTA Mx 6700; VCH, p39

(14) Guildhall MS 9580/3, 20/6/1807; LMA Stanwell Tithe Award

(15) Kelly’s 1890; see also p49

(16) Ibid 1890-1937

(17) Personal observation

(18) Public Works in Mediaeval Law 2 (Selden Society vol.40), 48

(19) CCP25(1)/151/79/105; Cal Close 1468-76, 228

(20) CPR 1554-5, 296; E123/23 folio 143; CSP(D) 1611-18, 3

(21) LMA, LTA Mx 6694

(22) Ibid. 6719-27; Stanwell Tithe Award

(23) Personal observation and information from Mrs Wooster, Stanwellmoor

(24) LMA, LTA Mx 6681

(25) Kelly 1866, 1886-94

(26) LMA, Stanwell Tithe Award; Ibid

(27) OS Map 1/2500 Middlesex (2nd edition)

(22) Upper Mill, Stanwell, 1994 (Guy Blythman)


Domesday Mill (see above).


(1) River Thames, early mills  101677?

(2) Kempton Park, Feltham Hill Stream  121702 (approx.)

(3) Fordbridge Road, standing 1826.

A succession of watermills existed at Sunbury between the twelfth century and the twentieth. A mill belonging to Merton Priory, which held Charlton Manor, was standing in 1291(1). The 1722 map of Sunbury Manor shows a field called Mill Acre between the present day Fordbridge Road and The Creek(2). Its western boundary follows roughly the line of the River Ash, making it likely that the mill which stood there was a watermill, probably that which is mentioned in 1591 and 1603(3).

 In 1623 100 poor bargemen complained that Sir Thomas Lake had “caused watermilles to be built” at Sunbury “to the great hindrance of a great many poore men which gets their living by the…River.” Their statement ended, “But what cares he or such as he?” The diversion of water to drive the wheels meant that there was not enough of it in the locks to allow the passage of barges. The Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex wrote to the Lord Mayor of London in his capacity as Conservator of the Thames requesting that he suppress the mills.

 A watermill was standing in the manor of Kempton, on the Feltham Hill stream, by the sixteenth century. It was rebuilt in or after 1650 by the lord of the manor(4). Under the terms of a lease of Kempton Park by its owner Edmund Hill to William Rolfe in 1803, the former reserved the right of penning up the water in the fish ponds there in order to supply a watermill which was to be erected between the ponds and the River Thames on premises then in the occupation of John Shore, along with that of laying pipes and digging a canal to convey the water to the mill(5).

 Early in the nineteenth century John Gerard Colbert, a watchmaker of St Marylebone who is said to have been of Swiss or German origin, took out a patent for certain improvements in the manufacture of screws. It was later acquired by John Sutton Nettlefold, an ironmonger of Holborn. In 1826 Nettlefold issued his first price list in which he stated that he had established a screw factory, powered by water, at Sunbury-on-Thames. The enterprise was a great success and in 1834, to cope with increasing demand, Nettlefold transferred the works to Birmingham where he formed a partnership with Joseph Chamberlain, later to be a famous Radical politician and Colonial Secretary during the Boer War.

The mill is known to have stood in Fordbridge Road, where it would have been driven either by the Ash or the Thames, but its exact site has never been established.

(1) Tax Eccl.(Rec.Com), 14; CCP 25(1)/147/23/452) 

(2) LMA Acc.598,(Court Book 1708); Acc.598 (Map of Sunbury Manor 1722)

(3) CCP 25(2)/261/33 Eliz I; Chanc.66/1606, m.24. 

(4) CCP 25(2)/574/1651 East;/575/1656 Mich; CCP 43/273, m.123; LMA Acc.24811

(5) LMA Acc.333/31/6. The mill was standing in 1816.

(6) H W Dickinson, Transactions of the Newcomen Society vol.22 (December 1941), p83-4