Twickenham: Mills

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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'Twickenham: Mills', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington, (London, 1962) pp. 151. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


During the Middle Ages the people of Twickenham used the mills attached to Isleworth manor. (fn. 1) In the 14th century one of these was a windmill, (fn. 2) which may have stood on the site of a 17th-century windmill in Twickenham parish. This stood on the edge of the heath east of the junction between the present Percy Road and Hospital Bridge Road. (fn. 3) It disappeared between 1675 and 1743. (fn. 4) There was also a medieval mill on the Crane at a place called Oldford which seems to have been near Hanworth Bridge, (fn. 5) perhaps close to the site of the later Hounslow Powder Mills. (fn. 6) This mill appears to have been partly in Isleworth manor (and Twickenham parish) and partly in Hanworth. It disappeared between 1340 and 1351. (fn. 7) In 1486 Elizabeth York (fn. 8) owned a mill-house with querns which probably stood on part of the later manor-house grounds. (fn. 9)

After the Duke of Northumberland's River had been constructed in the 16th century, two mills were built on the reinforced stretch of the Crane in Twickenham. (fn. 10) The first of these was referred to in 1753 as the New Mill: (fn. 11) it stood where Mill Road crosses the southern stream of the Crane by the former Fulwell Park. (fn. 12) It may possibly have been used for a while as a copper mill, but by 1767 was an oil mill. (fn. 13) In 1799 part of the buildings had formerly been used for drying tobacco and part had been erected as a windmill. (fn. 14) Linseed oil and cattle-cake were made at the mill in the late 18th century and the early 19th, and between 1845 and 1865 it was converted to papermaking. (fn. 15) This also seems to have been given up fairly soon afterwards and the mill had gone out of use by 1880. (fn. 16)

The second mill was higher up the river on the east of Hanworth Bridge. It was built in or shortly before 1757 as a corn-mill and was converted to the manufacture of gunpowder in 1768. (fn. 17) It was at this mill that explosions occurred which periodically killed workmen, frightened the neighbourhood, and broke windows for miles around. (fn. 18) In the effort to mitigate the effects of blast, the buildings were spread over wider areas in the 19th century until the mill site covered much of the land between Powder Mill Lane and the river. (fn. 19) Edmund Hill (d. 1809), who was joint lessee in 1768 and later sole lessee, (fn. 20) was reputed to have made £800,000, chiefly by exporting gunpowder to Turkey and trading there. (fn. 21) Messrs. Curtis & Harvey leased the mills in 1820, and bought them outright from the Duke of Northumberland in 1871. (fn. 22) The mills stopped work in the 1920's, and part of the site was built over, while the riverside became part of Crane Park. (fn. 23)


  • 1. See p. 112.
  • 2. S.C. 6/916/17, 18.
  • 3. Glover, Map of Isleworth Hundred.
  • 4. Ogilby, Brit. plate following p. 48; Syon Ho., MS. D. xvi. 5. a.
  • 5. C 133/95, no. 14; V.C.H. Mdx. ii. 394.
  • 6. This site seems to have already had the name Milford Stakes when the powder mill was built: Syon Ho., MS. M. xiii. 11. e.
  • 7. C 133/95, no. 14; V.C.H. Mdx. ii. 394; S.C. 6/916/17, 18, 22.
  • 8. See p. 148.
  • 9. Cat. Anct. D. vi, p. 398: for the site, cf. Garretts Ground in E 317/Mdx. 95.
  • 10. For the river and its mills in general, see pp. 86, 112-14.
  • 11. Syon Ho., Catalogue of Evidence Room, sub D. xiv. 14.b (deeds handed over to purchaser, 1880).
  • 12. e.g. M.R.O., Twickenham Incl. Award.
  • 13. B.M. Maps K. 30. 19. ee-ii: no other copper-mill in the parish is mentioned, nor does there seem to have been another possible site for it, but if these paintings represent the same mill, its buildings were much changed.
  • 14. Syon Ho., MS. M. xiii. 11. h.
  • 15. Ibid. MSS. M. xiii. 11. h, n; M.R.O., Acc. 32/DDX 883; Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 393; O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xx. 15 (1st edn.).
  • 16. Cobbett, op. cit.; 'Rep. on Duke of Northumberland's River' (1917; TS. in M.R.O.), 2.
  • 17. Syon Ho., MSS. M. xiii. 11. e, f; N. xii. 6. d; see Letters of Horace Walpole, ed. Toynbee, viii. 137, though the reference to an Act seems to be incorrect.
  • 18. e.g. Letters of Horace Walpole, loc. cit.; Lysons, Supplement to Environs, 312; contemporary newspaper cuttings in M.R.O., P.R. 17/50.
  • 19. O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xx. 14 (1st and later edns.).
  • 20. Syon Ho., MSS. M. xiii. 11. e, f, g.
  • 21. Lysons, Supplement to Environs, 312; Scatcherd and Letterman, Lond. and environs or gen. ambulator (1820), 324 n.
  • 22. Syon Ho., MS. M. xiii. 11. k; 'Rep. on Duke of Northumberland's River', 2.
  • 23. Mdx. Chron. 28 Sept. 1956; Twickenham Ratepayers' Assoc. Year Bk. 1949-50, sub. 1929.