Power is needed for industrial activities of all kinds and a number of sources have been exploited in the area in the past. These include the power of water, of wind, of animals and the expan sive power of steam or other gases. Most recently, electricity has become the commonest power source.
Water power has been most often used to drive mills on the local rivers and streams; there was a mill about every mile down the Arrow and Alne at one time. Windmills are less common but wind power has been used to pump water up from wells. Animal power was used to work cider mills, needle-making machinery and farm implem ents such as chaff cutters and turnip choppers and to operate horse engines as a general power source. Steam, gas and oil engines were widely used until electricity replaced all of them as a small power source. The watermills are the commonest visible relic of all this. Most of the others have vanished completely; gas engines were, at one time, numerous but no examples of this predecessor of the petrol engine (using town gas as a fuel) survives. This section, therefore,is mostly devoted to the various types of mills; the other power sources, such as steam engines and gas engines, are referred to under the industries which they served.
Those with a greater interest in watermills should consult "Watermills of Warwickshire by T.N.Booth (Midlands Mill Group)
N.B. O.S. - U.K. Ordnance Survey (Map Reference)
A. Water Mills
1. Water Mills on the Arrow
||The mill is intact but all
machinery removed and structure used as ofiices; houses Turners Flail Mowers; head
and tail races filled in. Built as needle mill c.179O; 1850s used as corn mill as
well; housed maltsters business for many years; used for wire-drawing by Messrs
Guillaume after 1945; wheel used to generate electricity; corn milling ceased c.1930.
||A jumble of red-brick buildings to
east of A435 north of Alcester Grammar School; used as cattle shed; one part a typical
industrial building. Waterwheel still in position with 2 drive pinions but no other
mach inery. Head race blocked off from Arrow but still visible to mill; tail race clear.
Flood gates removed and installed at Hoo Mill(H 156)
Ragley Mill first mentioned 1241;formerly mill of Alcester Priory, hence old name of Priory Mill. Also known as Alcester Mill and Morgans Mill; sold to Lord Hertford by Earl of Warwick,1805; converted to needle making soon after;continued as corn and needle mill for some time. C.1890 used by Fatent Turned Spoke Co for prod uction of bicycle spokes (Spoke Factory on 1905 OS).Closed as needle scouring mill c.l920. About 1915 a large gas engine installed to supplement water-power(Gas Co .minutes ,CRO). Existing waterwheel by Ball and Horton of Stratford.Evidence of another wheel in west wing of building from bricked-up arch and tail race running south from mill; present tailrace runs east.
||Large brick mill now converted to
restaurant;buildings much altered;waterwheel and stones present but not original - came
from Bubbenhall Mill on R.Avon. Mentioned in Domesday, 1086. Worked by Sisam family from
1820s to 1921, then Adkins and Thomas (v.Broom Mill below) until 1962 when milling
ceased. In later years powered by two turbines;also an oil engine (early kind of diesel
engine) and a horse powered chaff cutter in the stable block. Used rollers, not stones in
later years and produced animal feed,not bread flour, from the 1920s.
||Still is use but not with
waterpower which was used till 1958. Old 6 storey brick mill surrounded by new
extensions;dust extractor cowls on roof;2 Armfield turbines inside buildings not in use;
stones still inside and wooden screening machine by Turner of Ipswich still in use;roller
mill used for an imal feed production in modern buildings. Mentioned in Domeday; the
Adkins family held mill from 1892, Adkins and Thomas Ltd from 1916 to 1977 since then in
ownership of Hemming and Sons.
||Possible lines of old mill-race may
be seen close to R.Arrow near Mill Ford Farm. Site as Old Mill on Beighton
map,1725. Nothing else known.
|C 127||Coughton Mill||SP 086604||By Coughton ford; no visible
remains except some masonry and large beam by the Arrow and the watercourse upstream.
Mentioned in Domesday but disused on 1886 03 -- held by Shepherd family until
1880 (D); at one time landlord of Throckmorton Arms on A435 was a miller,
presumably at Coughton.
||Brick built,tiled roof, in
dilapidated condition; originally 3 floors, now only two; large add itions 1950s in
light brick and corrugated asbestos. Stone insets in walls possibly mark remains of
earlier structures. No machinery inside but wheen pit with groove for sluice visible at
N.end of building with girder structure which held a turbine. Dry head race still visible
as well as 2 water intakes on east wall of mill. Mentioned in Domesday; present building
probably mostly 18th or early 19th cent;held by Hopkins family 1780s to 1870s
(D) and the Sisams worked it together with Arrow Mill 1885 - 1919; then sold by
Throckmortons. Worked by Adkins and Thomas of Broom 1921 (D)
Originally a 2 plant mill with waterwheels at both N and S ends of main building;replaced early in 20th cent.by 2 turbines,one by J.Armfield of Ringwood,Hants (notable makers of these machines) Each turbine drove 2 pairs of stones. Southern plant worked shaft gear, other operated through a conventional spur wheel. Other machinery included oatmeal machine and flour dresser; mill ceased work 1920s; N.turbine removed 1929 when weir dismantled by Severn River Board. At one time mill track formed a bridge across Arrow as footpath from Alcester to Wixford.
VCH maintains that Oversley used for needle scouring; only documentary evidence found to support this is notice in Warwick Advertiser that the miller had pointing and scouring places to rent. If the mill was used in this way there is little evidence from industrial archaeology to support it. (The details of machinery above from the Simmons Collection, Science Museum).
|St 256||Washford Mill||SP 071650||L shaped buildings converted to public house and restaurant. Waterwheel preserved in west wing but no other machinery;wheel is low breat shot type. Buildings believed to date from 1664.ln VCH a mill at Washford owned by Dame Mary Shel ley c.1708; converted to needle scouring c.1730.Ceased work 1930s.|
|St 250||Priory Mill ,Studley||SP 077640||Present building by Arrow said to
date from 1920 but bricks from older mill to east of present buildings; 18m x 12m x 8m
high;still at work scouring needles but by electricity. Mill leat sealed off. In VCH 2
Domesday mills at Studley; in 1504 a mill owned by Priory leased to William Crawley; in
1712 and 1754 there were 3 mills called Priory Mill. At one time believed to
have ground corn as well as scouring needles. Worked by Abel Morrall of Redditch after
|2. Water Mills on the Alne|
|GA 65||Great Alne Mill||SP 122588||Four storeys with wooden
lucam(covered sack hoist) ;mostly 19th cent. No water wheel remaining; power supplied by
turbine of German origin installed before 1914, replacing the wheel and installed in wheel
pit. Grain elevator and some flour dressing plant still remain but roller mills have gone.
Supplementary power at one time supplied by steam engine which was replaced by a 2
cylinder oil machine; latter removed when mill closed. Spencer family (later Spencer Son
and Hancox) had the mill from the 1870s (D);in heyday employed 15 people, supplying
flour to bakers and biscuit makers as far as Weston-Super. Mare. For local
deliveries firm had own vans. Specialised in pig food and pigs kept in pigsties(still
present) to test the products. Ceased operation 1966;latest owner plans to restart milling
using stones,not rollers.
|H 156||Hoo Mill||SP 107578||The most complete traditional water- mill in the area stands by river in Haselor parish; stone lower courses, brick above. Internal waterwheel still in place and operational; complete set of grinding machinery remains although this has not been used for corn grinding for many years;other machinery (kibblers,etc) still in place and used occasionally as well as ex ternal drive pulley which powers circular saw. Three pairs of stones remain and a rare type of sack hoist mechanism with device to disconnect drive if sack attempts to overrun; flour dresser and oat crusher still present. The mill built 1810;at one time used for needle pointing but not for scouring;from 1850s mill held by Morris family from whom present owner, John Stewart, is descended he still generates own. electricity with a turbine.|
|3 Other Water Mills|
|B 116 & 117||Bidford Mills||SP 118516||Both were close together on the
Avon to east of Bidford one a corn mill, the other for paper. Corn mill disused by
1886;last paper maker on record in 1872 (D). Corn mill worked by Stanton family from
1850s. No visible remains of either mill except for millers house. Both are
mentioned in Domesday. Nearby was old lock of Upper Avon Navigation;this was a flash
lock,having only one pair of gates instead of the two pairs of a pound lock;this a
primitive device used to make rivers navig able in early times;gates were winched open
against the water pres
sure and boats travelled downstream on the flood or flash and upstream boats were hauled up by a winch; the lock was in dilapidated state when a new one was built on its site in the 1970s as part of the Upper Avon restoration scheme.
|Sm 218||Sambourne Mill||SP 060616||A large earth bank impounds Thundering Ditch and holds back a large volume of water. Mr. J.G.Rollins (local expert on needle mills) believes this to be the site of Sambourne Mill, a needle and corn mill. A mill at Sambourne is mentioned in Domesday. The mill probably ceased work c.1820|
|OA 351||Morton Bagot Mill||SP 103645||Stood on minor tributary of R.Arrow just over Studley parish boundary;visible remains only a grass mound about 16m E - W by 6m N S. At E end some masonry visible - could be edges of wheel pit;number of depressions round about could have been watercourses. Mill shown 1830 0S; T.N.Booth (Warwickshire Watermills) states first reference to mill is 1680. G.Lane miller till 1854;demolished not later than 1884.|
A Lost Water Mill:- Domesday mentions a mill at Spernall but exact location unknown.
Other Water Wheels:- For description of water wheel at Arrow v.Public Utilities