Norwich Mills

Eleanor Rd Lakenham Peafield Mill [4439] 1956-05-21
The tower mill was first introduced about 1500 and rapidly became a familiar feature of the countryside. This one at Lakenham, built in 1824, had a brick tower which contained the machinery. Standing 80 feet high and of eight storeys, its walls were 4 ft 6 ins thick at the base. Above it was the cap, fly wheel and sails, the latter nearly 100 feet in span. This superstructure rotated on a steel track with steel runners to keep the sails facing the wind. In about 1914-15 the sails came off, after which electric power was installed, but the tower continued to be used as a silo for grain.
Hellesdon Mill Lane millrace [6731] 1991-08-25
The mill itself has long since gone but the sluice gates remain and are used to control the flow of water between here and the New Mills further downstream. In heavy rain or during periods of thaw after snow, the gates may be closed to prevent the danger of flooding in the city, or, in dry weather, they may be opened more.
Hellesdon Mill Lane ancillary building [6732] 1991-08-25
Mansfield Lane Lakenham Water Mill [4362] 1955-08-20
Established 1834 for the spinning of mohair for manufacturing purposes.
Wensum New Mills Bridge south side [B632] 1933-07-18
Constructed 1896.
New Mills Yard New Mills [6294] 1984-04-24
Records of mills on this site go back at least to the 14c. Formerly known as Chese's, Bumpstede's and the Appleyard's Mills, they became known as the "New" Mills after being rebuilt in 1430. Corn was ground here up to and during the 19c but in 1897 Norwich Corporation erected the present building as an Air Compressor Station. Downstream from here the river level is tidal; but the upstream level is maintained by gates on the other side of the building. At low tide, a sufficient head of water could drive turbines set in the arches under the building. The turbines could then drive the air compressors. At times when there was no head of water, steam was generated in an adjacent building (destroyed during the war) using the City's rubbish as fuel, to drive a steam engine connected to the air compressors.
The compressed air was piped underground around the City and used for a variety of purposes such as driving lathes and other machinery in the City Technical College (later the Art School) and other Council workshops. However its main use was to power eight 'Shones Ejector' underground sewage pumps, located around the City. This unique system was closed in 1972.
Sprowston Rd Post Mill from Mousehold [B175] 1931-00-00
Beyond Pockthorpe we come to Sprowston, where the name Windmill Rd still indicates the site of Harrison's post mill, an example of the earliest kind of windmill known in England; there is an illustration of one on the memorial brass to Adam de Walsokne, who died in 1349, and his wife Margaret in St Margaret's Church, King's Lynn. In this type the box-like body revolves around the centre post so that the sails always face the wind. The supporting structure was often enclosed by a brick roundhouse for storing the grain, as it was here.
Sprowston mill was built about 1730. It was destroyed by fire on 23rd March 1933, the day before it was due to be handed over to the Norfolk Archaeological Trust. A working model of it, made by Mr H.O.Clarke of Norwich, used to be on display at the Science Museum, South Kensington.
For many years this mill at Sprowston had been known as Crome's mill, from a painting by that artist entitled "A Windmill on Mousehold Heath near Norwich". In a paper in Norfolk Archaeology in 1966 this identification was disputed by Dr M.Rajnai, who listed various titles over which Crome's painting had appeared since 1844; he particularly referred to an old label on the back of the frame, to which attention had recently been drawn, which said "Trowse Mill/near Norwich by/Old Crome". Dr Rajnai also compared the painting with a pencil drawing of apparently the same subject by George Vincent, in which the hill crowned by a post mill, the winding path, the sandpit and signpost are all found in the same relationships to each other as in Crome's painting. He concluded that the similarities were so striking that there could be no reasonable doubt that the scene was identical in both works. To clinch the matter, although the signpost in Crome's painting appeared to bear no inscription, Vincent's drawing shows it marked "To Crown Point". Reference to Faden's Topographical Map of Norfolk dated 1797 confirmed that there was indeed a windmill close to Crown Point at Trowse at that time.
That there should have been some confusion over the true location of Crome's mill is perhaps not to be wondered at, for old maps and "prospects" show the city to have been dotted around by both tower and post mills. These included at least two wood sawmills worked by wind, of which one stood near another mill at the top of Gas Hill. While only one is shown in this position on Corbridge's Map of Norfolk, published in 1750, two are shown on Faden's map in 1797, and both survived to be marked on the Ordnance Survey's large-scale town plans surveyed in the 1880s.
Sprowston Rd Post Mill from Windmill Rd [B193] 1931-00-00
Sprowston Rd Post Mill from allotments [B194] 1931-00-00
Sprowston Rd Post Mill burnt central post [B506] 1933-03-26
Sprowston Rd Post Mill after fire [B507] 1933-03-26
Stoke Rd Old Lakenham Old Mill House [7817] 2001-04-27
Ancillary building.

Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett