Pinfold House Mill

When Pru Kitching started to undertake a conversion of a barn to a new house at Daddry Shield in Weardale it soon became apparent that this barn was actually the former Pinfold House Mill. Old map searches confirmed that the relatively small and rudimentary buildings were almost certainly the old mill, unused since around the turn of the 20th century. Further investigation and a certain amount of excavation revealed much about this ‘lost’ mill.

Pinfold House Mill,  Drawing by John Buxton

Pinfold House Mill, Drawing by John Buxton

The old mill is within a stone built building with slate roof, much altered over the years to convert it first to a dwelling (it seems) and later to a garage or barn. Almost at right angles to the mill are a couple of cart sheds and the corner between was covered by a large, rough-built, lean-too structure with very basic foundations and now covered with a corrugated iron roof.

Close investigation of the walls and floor level in the lean-too indicate that this was the wheelhouse. A large wooden beam on the floor suggests that other machinery may have been present, possibly a saw bench, for example. A very short section of a scratch mark on the wall show that the wheel was 15’6” (4.7m) in diameter and wall and floor arrangements at the back of the pit give a probable width of about 3 feet (0.9m). The lie of the land and traces of the headrace would suggest an overshot wheel.

Plan of the Mill Complex Building A was the Mill, Building B the ‘wheelhouse’

Plan of the Mill Complex
Building A was the Mill, Building B the ‘wheelhouse’

In the mill itself were a rather large heap of millstone pieces in addition to a large intact stone which was over 10” (0.25m) thick and 4’4” (1.3m) diameter, of gritstone. The pieces included a shelling stone and what appears to be a piece of German blue stone. Many of the millstone pieces came out of a part excavated pit which was where the pitwheel would have been. The pit was much larger than needed for a pitwheel and may indicate that the mill was driven using layshafts rather than the more conventional great-spur wheel arrangement. Two slots in the wall about 3’ (0.9m) either side of the former waterwheel axle opening may have been for the bridgetrees supporting the millstones though the vertical depth of 3’4” (1.0m) seems a bit excessive.

Daddry Sheild elevationThe headrace is easily traceable in the field behind the mill and was largely culverted beneath large stone slabs. The remains of two ponds remain though these may also have had a link with lead mining in the area. Part of the tailrace has been found as a deep culvert under the track and field below the mill.

Historically, it is known from a map by Greenwood (1820) that there was a corn mill here. The 1857 Ordnance Survey shows the mill with “Mill dam”(two of), “sluice” and “Mill race” as well as the name of “Pinfold House Mill (corn)”. Census returns indicate that there was still a miller in 1901.

Thanks to Pru Kitching for inviting a number of people to look at the mill during the early stages of conversion. In this way much has been gleaned about a mill which might otherwise have been lost forever. Thanks also to my fellow surveyors, Ian Forbes, Dick Graham, Margaret Graham & John Blackhouse. Many pairs of eyes and ideas are better than one when piecing together mill remains!

Use of the Mill Reservoir

An 1890 ‘Agreement’ between Mr John Coulthard (miller) and The Weardale Lead Company Limited sheds a little light on the uses and value of water in the 19th century. The agreement is “relating to use of reservoir and water troughs on certain land situate at Daddry Shields in the Parish of Stanhope in the County of Durham”.

Daddry Shiled elevation 2The agreement allows the company to retain water troughs on John Coulthard’s land and to use them for the “conveyance of water from the Daddry Burn” to their works. It also allowed them to take water from the reservoir but not to “hinder or lessen in any way the supply of water required at anytime … by John Coulthard either for the purposes of his mill at Daddry Shields … or for any other purpose whatever.” The sum of £2 was paid for the rights granted and in addition the company agreed to a fairly exacting maintenance and repair clauses so that “no injury may be done … to grazing stock or damage to … the land or crops…”. Six months notice was required by either party and on termination everything had to be removed and the land restored.

Duncan Hutt, with plans and elevations by Dick Graham. First appeared in Northumbrian Mills No 27. July 2003

pinfold house mill 1890s family

John Coulthard (centre right), miller at Pinfold House Mill, Daddry Shield, thought to have been taken in the 1890s at the mill. His wife Alice (nee Armstrong) is centre left and they are surrounded by their children including the youngest, Alice. Thanks to Catherine Irvine (Alice’s garandaughter) for this picture

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4 Responses to Pinfold House Mill

  1. Catherine Irving says:

    Mr. John Coulthard was my great grandfather. I have a photo of him and his family taken at about the time of this agreement. If anyone has an archive that they would like a copy of the photo for, I would be happy to email it to them.

    • nemills says:

      If you would be happy to e-mail it to me then I would be happy to append it to this article on the mill.
      Thanks and sorry for the delay in responding.

  2. Catherine Irving says:

    I will scan it and email it to you this week.
    Regards, Catherine

  3. nemills says:

    Thanks for the photo which is now included above.

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