East Mill, Morpeth

“The East Water Mill is on the same side of the river as the Manor Mill, and both belong to lord Carlisle” This rather matter of fact account of East Mill is taken from Hodgson’s History of Morpeth, written in 1832. This account is in stark contrast to many subsequent descriptions but was written before the large imposing “NEW PROCESS FLOUR MILL 1892” was built on the site (e.g. Bibby, 1978 & Pike & Co (publishers), c1890s – see below).

The following extracts are not meant to give a definitive history of East Mill, but provide some interesting contemporary accounts of the mill and provide the bare bones for more detailed research.

Contemporary Account
The following is taken from: A descriptive account of Morpeth – illustrated. W.T. Pike & Co (c1890s).

Corn Miller, etc., East Mill.

East MillOur review of the industries of Morpeth would be incomplete without a brief sketch of the important business carried on by Mr. William Davison, of the East Mill. The business itself is a very old one. The old mill was erected many years ago, and was re-built as far back as 1798. Mr. Davison took over the business some thirty years ago, and in 1890 became the owner of the whole of the premises by purchase. The premises being quite inadequate for his rapidly increasing business, a year later, 1892, the present new mill was erected. This structure is a fine substantial and commodious stone building, equipped with all the latest and most improved machinery, and in every way suited to the conduct of the extensive trade. There is a fine range of sheds and stables adjoining; while the storage room is ample. The offices are roomy and well placed, and the yards exceptionally spacious and convenient. The whole presents a most cleanly appearance; while the entire buildings are lit up throughout by electricity. The old mill is used for the storage and manufacture of feeding stuffs; and the new mill for flour, both steam and water power being employed for driving the machinery in the new mill. Before being ground the wheat undergoes a very complete process of cleaning by effective and well arranged machinery. It is then passed on to the new mill, where the steam power is utilised for grinding it by the most improved process. After this the dressing and final processes are gone through. The flour is of the finest quality and bears a high reputation throughout the district. Many of the bakers, stores, and other retailers draw their supplies from here, while a considerable private retail trade is also done. The water power in the new mill is used in conjunction with steam for driving the dynamo used for electric lighting. Mr. Davison also deals largely in Scotch and English oatmeal, shelled barley, split peas, oats, beans, barley, Indian corn, etc. Large stocks of these are always on hand. The business in all departments is carried on both wholesale and retail, and is managed throughout in a manner reflecting great credit upon the proprietor. The enterprise shown by Mr. Davison during his lengthy term of proprietorship, has had its reward in the remarkable success achieved, and there is every indication of a further development of his already wide-spread connections. The business is one having a considerable interest for the people of Morpeth, seeing that Mr. Davison is the pioneer of electric lighting in the borough. On the completion of the new mill the subject of lighting became one of great importance, and with characteristic enterprise Mr. Davison determined to employ electricity, and showed that many mechanical engineers are wrong in their conclusions by proving that steam and water can be used together as motive powers. So successful has been the installation, that the Board of Health have employed Mr. Davison’s dynamo for lighting four lamps, which are their property, and a further extension may be anticipated.

The Eric Griffith account
The following is taken from the unpublished manuscript “A History of Northumberland Water mills” by E.P. Griffith. {Note: The Manor Mill almost certainly refers to another mill in Morpeth, Ed}

This mill is still in use but the motive power is electricity. The site is very old and Hodgson gives the history from the thirteenth century:- “In 1282 the burgesses of Morpeth bound themselves and their heirs not to grind the corn they grew upon the land of William, son of Thomas de Greystock, anywhere but at the manor mill of Morpeth and to grind at the aforesaid mill to the twentieth measure of multure. This mill still remains on its original site [this in 1827] on the north side of the Wansbeck at the east end of the town. (The East Windmill is on the same side of the river as the Manor Mill, and both belong to Lord Carlisle

In 1618, on the 5th October, Thomas Readhead and George Challiner, bailiffs, Cuthbert Oxley, serjeant and Richard Thursby, clerk, issued a notice to “All Christian people….. as also thereby did promise, that if any of the inhabitants of Morpeth should after that time grind any corn from the lord’s mills without lawful cause, that they the then burgesses would not defend any such inhabitants in any action concerning the not grinding at the lord’s mills, but present such of them at the court as they should know to offend herein, as by their said deed appeareth.”

Nothing of historical importance seems to have happened in the following centuries.

Some Millers of East Mill
Taken from local trade directories.
1822  Phillip Nairn & Sons (East Mills)    [Piggot]
1834  Robert Jobling  [Piggot]
1847  Jas. & Robert Jobling  [White’s]
1855  James Jobling  [Whellan’s]
1864  William Davison  [Slater’s]
1879  William Davison  [Kelly’s]
1897  William Davison, miller (water)  [Kelly’s]
1906  William Davison (exors of)  [Kelly’s]
1914  John Davison, miller (water & Steam)  [Kelly’s]

Some map evidence for East Mill

An extract from a map of Morpeth by Syrer et al 1932

An extract from a map of Morpeth by Syrer et al 1932

Haiwarde, 1604                  Marks a building on a ‘branch’ of the river but gives it no name
Ellison & Fowler, 1738       East Mill and East Mill Dam are marked
Armstrong, 1769                 A building is marked but not specified as a mill
Fryer, 1820                          An unnamed building is marked by river
Greenwood, 1828              Marks “Et Mill”
Bell, 1851                            “Mill” marked
Syrer, et al, 1852                Detailed plan of the mill (see above)
Ordnance Survey, 1859    shown as “East Mill (corn)”, “Mill Race” & “Weir” marked

References are given below for the more unusual of the above maps.

East Mill is located about ½ mile from the centre of Morpeth on the A197 towards Pegswood (Grid Reference: NZ205864). The mill lies between the road and the River Wansbeck. There is a large, well constructed weir just upstream of the mill and a race leading to the complex of largely stone built buildings. The mill is privately owned and there is no public access.

Some of the map references are difficult to give accurately.

Atkinson, F. 1974. Industrial Archaeology of North-east England, Vol 2, p249. David & Charles.
Bell, J.T.W. 1851. Plan of the Blyth and Warkworth Coal Districts etc.
Bibby, R. 1978. By Font and Wansbeck, Moepeth Herald, 10 February 1978.
Ellison, R. & Fowler, R. 1738. A survey of the River Wansbeck in order to make the said river navigable from Morpeth to the Sea
Haiwarde, W. 1604. Map of Morpeth (Northumberland Records Office: ZAN/M16/B6)
Hodgson, J. 1832. A History of Morpeth.
Hutt, D. (Ed) 1998. Mills old, new and reused. North East Mills Group
Pike & Co (Publisher). c1890s. A descriptive account of Morpeth – illustrated. W.T. Pike & Co
Syrer, Syrer & Hogarth. 1852. Survey of Morpeth (copy of parts in Morpeth library with unknown complete reference)

Compiled from various sources by Duncan Hutt
From Northumbrian Mills No 16, October 2000


One Response to East Mill, Morpeth

  1. marc says:

    it seems to have a hidden history that place it always seems odd when property has history missing it wouldnt suprise me if someone or persons addopted it for a pitence

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