Waren Mill

Waren Mill – NU146344

“This is another mill which has a very early beginning.  It was given by Henry I to Eustace Fitzjohn and is again mentioned in the reign of Henry III as being owned by Eustace de Vesci.

Mackenzie says “The Warn is an excellent fishing stream and near the mouth abounds with salmon trout.  But it is chiefly useful as giving power to several mills.  Two mills for grinding corn, and extensive granaries, were erected on the south side of the river, near its mouth by Messers ????? but they now belong to Mr. Phillip Nairn of Newcastle”.

Mackenzie goes on to say “Some call this small river the Waren, but suppose that it was so named from the extensive rabbit Warren at its estuary; but the Warn seems to be its proper appellation, and which Hodgson conjectures is derived from the circumstances of water-mills being upon it in the Saxon ages; the word Qvern in Swedish and Querd in English, signifying a mill”.

Mackenzie also describes ‘Warnmouth’ “as being one of the most ancient ports in Northumberland and it was evidently, at one time, a town of considerable importance.  The bay affords a safe harbour for vessels of about 80 tons.”  I was told by Mr Gladstone, one of the present owners, that Waren Mill used to process wheat imported from Australia.  Sailing ships had to lay off-shore the grain being brought by barges into the bay under the mill building.

The following account of an act of heroism by a foreman at Waren Mill in 1797 is taken from Syke’s ‘Local Record of Remarkable Events’ published in 1833 –
22 November 1797.  During a very heavy storm, the Felicity, of Aberdeen, was driven into the bay between Holy Island and Waren, and in attempting to make the harbour, she got aground, and afterwards went to pieces.  Duncan, the pilot, had his thigh bone broken, was washed overboard and drowned.  The desperate situation of the crew drew a number of commiserating spectators to the beach, one of whom, Martin Henderson, foreman to Messers Watson & Son, of Waren Mill, with an ardour of philanthropy and intrepidity, proposed, if any would join him, to procure a boat from Bamburgh castle, to attempt the relief of the crew, but the tremendous waves that were breaking over the shattered bark, appalled every other heart, he, therefore, as a last and almost hopeless expedient, tied a rope round his waist, and giving the other end to his companions, dauntlessly plunged into the boisterous sea, …… Henderson twice returned, and thus saved the lives of three of his fellow creatures, who must otherwise inevitably have perished, as the last man had not been three minutes on shore, till the vessel broke up.”

From:  E.P. Griffith, 1973.  A history of Northumberland Water Mills.  Unpublished.

Plaque on the office:

Waren Mill 1925.
was connected with the Royal Saxon City of Bamburgh in pre Norman time.
1187   Historically mentioned
1605   Mill race was derelict
1783  Admiralty erected mill for Watson in response to farmers request for an outlet for their wheat
1819   Steam installed for Gregson
1835   Heightened and enlarged for Nairn
1881   Burnt on December 21st
1883   Restored by Brown (owner) for Short
1913   Machinery installed by Short (owner)
1924   Malting completed by Short

Report on a visitation of Greenwich Hospital Estates.  1805
(extracted by E.P. Griffith)

Spindleston and Waren Mills (including Spindleston Farm)  containing 439a:0r:12p, are under lease to Messers William Watson and Son for 12 years, expiring 1816, at £1000 per annum…… Waren-mill is a large and substantial building of four stories, well constructed, and properly arranged for all the purposes of such an establishment; it contains three pair of French stones, and the water-wheel is five feet broad and twenty one feet in diameter, adjoining thereto is an excellent granary of three floors, sixty feet in length, and in good repair; with a counting house and clerks offices.  At a small distance from the mill is an establishment of various buildings……
The Warren-mill establishment is a very complete one, was erected in 1783, is situated near the sea, and communicating with it by a creek, along which craft are navigated close to the mill, corn, meal and other articles are received and delivered without being subject to land carriage.  This mill is used for wheat and all prime work, but that at Spindleston is much inferior, and is used principally for barley and oats.  We should have considered these mills, with their appendages, as excellent works of their kind had we not heard, with regret, that the stream supplying them is at some seasons of the year very short of water.  All the fore-going buildings belong exclusively to the Mill establishments, and are distinct from the farm.”

Report on a visitation of Greenwich Hospital Estates.  1815
(extracted by E.P. Griffith)

Waren Mill.  Is in tolerable good condition and also the dwelling-house belonging to it, the Water Wheel will however require considerable repair.  A small threshing machine to go by water would be useful for the land belonging to this farm (which, at the new letting, will consist of about 94 acres) and may be attached to the Water Wheel of the Mill at small expense but it will not be recommended by the receivers to the Board, unless the new tenant should require it and offer to pay the usual additional rent……

The following is taken from a newspaper cutting, 1858
(extracted by E.P. Griffith)

Waren & Spindleston Mills.
To be let and entered to at 12 May ensuring for a term of 15 years (with or without dwelling house, fit for a gentleman’s residence, pleasantly situated, with Garden, Stables, Coach house &c for which particulars will be given on application to Mr Grey of Dilston near Corbridge, Northumberland)  the TWO extensive and current going CORN MILLS or WAREN and SPINDLESTON in the Parish of Bamburgh and county of Northumberland Having the advantage of both water and steam power, with means of shipping on the premises and at a short distance from Belford station on the N.E. Railway…….

The Journal.  14-7-1984
Housing plans submitted
New plans have been submitted to Berwick Borough Council to convert a disused malting mill on the North Northumberland coast to provide housing.
H.O. Short and Son Ltd., want to provide 28 flats and three craft workshops at the mill at Waren Mills, near Belford, and also build 17 holiday cottages.

Journal  6-9-1983
The committee was not wholly in favour of the plan to build eight houses at Waren Mill and convert the mill into 18 flats.  The proposal had been sent by Berwick Borough Council for observations.
But the committee decided that although they were in favour of some work being carried out to the mill, a grade two listed building, they were not in favour of new housing in the area.

Journal  3-12-1983
Protesters have won round one of a battle to prevent a mill being turned into flats with houses built nearby.  Families living around Warren Mill, near Bamburgh, Northumberland, objected to the plan which they said would spoil the area.
Now it is proposed to submit a modified scheme.

Journal  4-5-1987
Holiday flats at mill are blocked
by Ken Smith
Plans to turn a historic mill into a complex of holiday flats and cottages have been rejected by the Department of Environment.
Builders H.O. Short Ltd. wanted to take over the 18th. Century Waren Mill at Belford, Northumberland, and convert it into 30 flats and cottages and build 12 new cottages in the area.
Later the proposals were amended to a total of 32 dwellings.
Mr John Steers, a D. of E. inspector who presided at a local enquiry in August last year, says the development is not acceptable as it would adversely affect the undeveloped character of a rural coast.
He suggest that as the site is so near the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, bird-watching facilities might be provided.
Negotiations should be held with the Nature Conservancy Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds with a view to providing a small bird observatory in part of the mill complex.
Milling has taken place in the area since the 12th. Century.  But Waren Mill, owned by the brothers Tom and Robert Gladstone, has been unused since 1978 and Mr Steers accepted that the owners had found it difficult to dispose of it.
Said Mr Steers: “There may be a case, in principle, for some form of acceptable conversion of the mill, and of some or all of the ancillary buildings.
“It is apparent, however, that any development in this area would need very careful consideration in term of suitable design to complement the character of the local environment.”
The Nature Conservancy Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had claimed that the proposed development would have an effect on birdlife on the Lindisfarne Reserve.
Although Mr Steers accepted that a barrier could ensure that people and traffic were not seen by birds on the mud banks, he believed that even opening th windows of the proposed cottages would disturb wildfowl.
The mill complex, he said, was an integral part of the landscape in an area designated as one of outstanding natural beauty.