Heron Corn Mill, Beetham

A water-powered corn mill in the historic county of Westmorland, England.

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Heron Corn Mill is located on the banks of the River Bela in Beetham, South Cumbria, close to the Lancashire border. It occupies the west bank of the river immediately below Beetham waterfalls. Heron Corn Mill is a Grade II* listed building, the listed elements comprising the attached mill race (launder), attached grain kiln/dryer and internal machinery. One of the mill's most unusual features is the impressive wooden 'hurst frame' on which the four pairs of stones are mounted, raising them approximately 6ft above their usual position level with the stone floor. The millstones and internal machinery are operated by a 14ft diameter overshot waterwheel. The mill and its associated structures are of national significance as a relatively intact, operational, 18th century milling complex, located on an ancient mill site.

The existing structure of the mill dates from the first half of the 18th century, and was essentially constructed in a single phase. Milling has been documented on, or near, the site since at least the 13th century and it is likely that the mill has been constructed on the site of much earlier mills. The building passed through many hands, its longest association being with the Dallam Estate until 1927, when it came into the hands of W. & J. Pye, millers of Lancaster. From about 1955-58, they rationalised their business and closed the mill and for the next two decades the mill was left unused.

In 1973 Henry Cooke Ltd leased the mill to the newly-formed Beetham Trust, to restore and open the mill to the public. In 1975 the mill was opened by Princess Alexandra, and has since continued to demonstrate the engineering of a water driven corn mill. Henry Cooke Ltd was later taken over by Billerud Beetham Ltd, the current owners of the freehold, from whom the Trust have a 99 year lease on the site and buildings.

A fascinating and unusual aspect of the site is the newly-installed 100Kw hydropower Kaplan turbine which generates electricity using the power of the water, and takes the site's use of renewable energy into the 21st century.

Heron mill is looked after by the Beetham Trust.

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Full details

Alternative names Heron Mill
Power source Water
Mill type Watermill
River Bela
Mill function Corn mill
Archive ID 3820
Location Beetham
Historic county Westmorland
Country England, United Kingdom
NGR SD 497 799
Latitude/longitude 54.21294900, -2.77397400



  • Upstream view of the mill and the weir that directs river water to the waterwheel
  • Interior view showing the fine wooden ‘hurst frame’ on which the four pairs of millstones are mounted
  • Interior view showing the pitgear on the lower floor of the mill
  • The new sluices and small building which houses the hydro-electric turbine. Photo: Heron Corn Mill (Beetham) Ltd
  • Measured drawing by J Kenneth Major


  • Anthony Bryan, Mills Research Group Database

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