A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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In this section
MILLS (fn. 1)
Birmingham was, for geographical reasons, no more than adequately endowed with industrial power before the introduction of the steam-engine. (fn. 2) In their upper courses the local streams were swift and the construction of pools easy, and during dry weather water continued to flow from springs in the sandstone ridge in Birmingham and Edgbaston and from glacial gravels covering the clay especially in the Moseley area. In the lower valleys of the Rea and the Cole, however, which were broad and the gradient less steep, mill leats had to be long to provide a sufficient head of water. The number of mills which could be built was therefore limited, and the control and supply of water was a constant source of disputes between millers. Difficulties were caused by the rapid run-off after rain from the clays of the Rea valley, which until recent years caused widespread flooding, though in the valleys patches of boggy ground such as the Long Moor above Deritend tended to impede the flow of water to the mills below in dry weather.
The development of industrial milling in the Birmingham area was therefore comparatively late and consequent on developments in south Staffordshire. The rise in the number of corn mills, from four in the Domesday Survey to eighteen in the later Middle Ages, marked only the development of agriculture there. The two medieval fulling mills were in the Tame valley in the north of the area. During the 16th century the agricultural population continued to increase and an industrial population began to appear. The number of corn mills rose to 22, and new fulling mills, two in Aston and Nechells and those of the King family on the Bourn Brook, made fulling for a time a distinct local industry.
In the 16th century, too, the exhaustion of local fuel supplies in Staffordshire resulted in furnaces and forges and hammer mills being driven both further north, and southwards towards Birmingham along the Tame valley where timber and power were available. Blade mills, which were used in the grinding of edge tools, swords, and cutlery began to appear both as new erections on the tributaries of the Tame from the early 16th, and as conversions from corn and fulling, and this process continued in the 17th century. By then the area was beginning to change from a primarily agricultural to a primarily industrial one, where resources were intensively developed. The numbers of fulling mills declined and other types of mill began to appear throughout the area. Blade mills increased, the number mentioned during the civil war period and its aftermath being significant.
The period from the late 17th to the late 18th centuries was the great one of water-milling in the Birmingham area, and water power made possible the metal-using industries on which the town's prosperity was based. There were some fourteen blade mills and eight rolling, slitting, and boring mills in the area at that time.
Slitting mills, which had a great impact on the nail industry, had been introduced into the Midlands in the early 17th century and were widely used in Staffordshire at the end of the century. It seems likely that the large number of corn and blade mills and forges in the Tame valley checked the early introduction of slitting mills into the Birmingham area, for there is no evidence of any there until the early 18th century. When they did come they displaced old corn and blade mills and their advent coincided with the decay locally of domestic nail manufacture after 1680.
Paper milling made its appearance in the area in the 17th century and in the later 18th and early 19th century was carried on at four watermills and at least one windmill. The pressure on the use of water rights was thus considerable. There were in all some 48 watermills working on the Birmingham rivers in the early 18th century. The demand for sites led to a continued decline in the number of corn mills and to the virtual disappearance of fulling mills. The tributaries of the Tame were most intensively utilized, there being four mills on the Hol Brook, four on the Hawthorn Brook and seven on the Hockley Brook, while the mills on the lower and middle Rea were increasingly used for industrial purposes, and for the first time manufacturers were forced by the demand to look further east to the Cole. All the known windmills in the area were built in this period to supplement the resources of the streams, and the development of the steam engine was directly connected with the limitations of water power.
The advent of steam power in the late 18th century coincided with the demise of the blade mills but led to no immediate decline in water-milling in general.
The use of mills for rolling metal into sheets began to displace grinding in the early 18th century. Rollers were used not only for sheet iron but for gold, silver, and brass as well, and other mills turned over to the production of wire, buttons, pen steel, and thimbles. In the 19th century the rolling mill with the stamp and press was of great importance in the development of the Birmingham trades. During the war periods of the 18th and early 19th centuries a number of mills were used by gunmakers for boring and grinding. Thus while some of the mills on the overworked and uneconomical streams of the Hol and the Hawthorn brooks disappeared, to the south and east, on the upper Rea and the Cole, new watermills were built and some converted to industrial uses. There were still some 45 watermills, sixteen of them corn mills, working in the Birmingham area in the first half of the 19th century.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries many mills in central areas, where the competition of steam power had been strongest and where site values were high, disappeared entirely, the sites often being occupied by buildings of quite a different nature. In the suburban areas many of the mills which had earlier been converted to light industrial uses developed into factories on the same or neighbouring sites. Corn mills, which declined only slowly in the face of steam power, survived in the then rural areas until the coming of petrol engines and electricity, and a few of their disused buildings still stand in out-of-the-way places.
Mills on the Tame
OLD FORGE, or Hurstford Mill in Sandwell or Forge Lane is outside the boundary of modern Birmingham. It was a corn mill in the possessions of Sandwell Priory (West Bromwich), which held two mills in the 13th century. (fn. 3) It was held in the 16th century by the Wyrleys of Hamstead and associated with the manor of Handsworth. (fn. 4) It became an iron mill after the Dissolution, (fn. 5) and was the property of the Whorwood family in the early 17th century. (fn. 6)
HAMSTEAD MILL with its pool lies to the south of the Tame above the bridge on the Old Walsall Road. It may have been the mill in Handsworth mentioned in Domesday Book. (fn. 7) A mill in Handsworth was the subject of a dispute between Thomas of Hamstead and Thomas le Mouner of Handsworth in 1293; Thomas of Hamstead had inherited this mill from his grandfather. (fn. 8) The mill was held by the Wyrleys in the 16th century when it was probably the manorial corn mill of Handsworth. (fn. 9) Thomas Bell was miller in 1766, (fn. 10) and the mill and pool are shown in their present position in 1794. (fn. 11) James Swain was miller in 1818, and it remained a corn mill in the 19th century. (fn. 12) Henry Andrews was miller in 1908, (fn. 13) and Frank Andrews was still milling flour by water power there in 1920. (fn. 14) The buildings may afterwards have become part of Hamstead Mill Farm.
PERRY MILL stood in the elbow of the Tame near the site of the present Greyhound Racing Track. It may have been the mill of Perry mentioned in Domesday Book. (fn. 15) In 1576 half of Perry Mill was granted by John Ward of Birmingham to Thomas Wyrley; (fn. 16) in 1591 it was referred to as a corn mill; (fn. 17) and in 1602 Thomas Smith was miller there. (fn. 18) In 1632 John Curtler of Walsall leased half the mill from Humphrey Wyrley and entered into an agreement to carry grain only between Perry Mill, Walsall, and the mills at Wednesbury which Curtler held at the time. (fn. 19) The restriction was probably imposed to safeguard the business of Hamstead Mill. The mill fell into disuse in or before 1650 when William Spencer of Handsworth leased for 25 years the site of half the mill, agreeing to build neither a corn mill nor a paper mill there. The second restriction was probably imposed to prevent competition with a paper mill which was said in 1648 to have been 'lately made by Humphrey Wyrley'. (fn. 20) The mill was standing in 1794. (fn. 21) Charles Gallimore may have been miller in 1818, (fn. 22) Saul Elwell was miller from 1834 to 1843 (fn. 23) and John Wilcox in 1851. (fn. 24) The mill may have been in use in 1873 (fn. 25) but was apparently not in 1887. (fn. 26) The buildings were demolished in the 1890s to make way for a model farm. (fn. 27)
HOLFORD MILL stood at the end of a long mill-pool in the bend of the Tame above Witton. In 1358 John Botetourt gave permission to Roger of Wyrley to make sluices for a fulling mill at Holford. (fn. 28) By 1591 it was a hammer mill (fn. 29) and was later referred to as an iron mill or hammer mill. (fn. 30) By 1654, when it was leased to William Edwards of Deritend and John Crooley of Birmingham, grinders, it was a blade mill formerly 'a furnace or ironworks in the occupation of Thomas Foley'. Edwards and Crooley were not to convert it from a blade mill to any other use. (fn. 31) John Dalloway, who was tenant in 1784, was a member of a local family of edge-tool makers and grinders who were operating blade mills in Edgbaston at that time. (fn. 32) It was said to be occupied about 1810 by Messrs. Woolley & Co. of Birmingham, grinders. (fn. 33) Thomas Wilmore, who occupied the mill in 1815, was a 'manufacturer of rolled, plated, gilding and dipping metal, wires etc.' (fn. 34) Thomas Clowes was the tenant in 1839, (fn. 35) and James Turner, gunbarrel manufacturer, in 1855. (fn. 36) The Turners were still in possession in 1863, (fn. 37) but by 1875 the premises had been acquired by the National Arms and Ammunition Co. (fn. 38) A large ammunition factory has since been built on the site by various companies, and is now part of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd. (fn. 39) The mill, a two-storied brick building, was used as an office and store in 1954 and the wheel had been removed. (fn. 40)
STANTON'S MILL. A mill called a 'newlyerected ironwork upon or near the Tame', was in 1734 and 1736 in the possession of Thomas and Joseph Stanton. (fn. 41) This may be the slitting mill, marked a few years before on the Tame just below Holford Mill, (fn. 42) which was called an 'ironworker mill' or a slitting mill in 1729 when in the tenure of John Machin. (fn. 43) It had disappeared by 1759. (fn. 44)
ASTON MILL with its pool lay on a southern branch of the Tame north-east of Aston Church. It was probably the mill in Aston mentioned in Domesday Book. (fn. 45) The mill is mentioned in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, (fn. 46) and again in the 16th century. (fn. 47) Simon Othen was miller in 1574 (fn. 48) and William Stirrop in 1614. (fn. 49) It was mentioned with the manor in 1656. (fn. 50) Between 1718 and 1720 Daniel Saunders was the tenant. (fn. 51) At this time the mill was paying more than twice the tithe owed by the neighbouring mills in Castle Bromwich, Deritend, and Bordesley. (fn. 52) In 1762 it was leased for 21 years to Thomas Hooper. (fn. 53) The building marked as 'George Bicknell's' on the canal map of 1791 may be Aston Mill. (fn. 54) Between 1818 and 1828-9 it was held by James Collins. (fn. 55) In 1833 the premises were said to be both owned and occupied by the Birmingham Waterworks Company. (fn. 56) From 1845 to 1860 Thomas James was the tenant of the company at the mill, which was still a water corn mill, (fn. 57) but by 1887 the mill had disappeared and there was a pumping station on the site. (fn. 58)
BROMFORD MILL and ERDINGTON FULLING MILL. Bromford Mill with its pool stood to the north of the Tame about half a mile below its confluence with the Rea. It was probably the Erdington mill mentioned in Domesday Book. (fn. 59) In 1258 the lords of part of Erdington were to repair a mill in Erdington, (fn. 60) and in 1285 a stagnum de Bramford was mentioned; (fn. 61) Bromford Mill was so called in the 13th century. (fn. 62) The mill was mentioned in the court rolls of Erdington in 1333 (fn. 63) and in the manorial accounts from 1415-16 onwards. (fn. 64) The account of 1455-6 has attached to it a separate account of the expenses incurred in repairing the corn mill at Bromford, the skilled work being done by a John Wheelwright of Lichfield; a new cogwheel was made, the water wheel repaired, buckets and boards added and a floodgate replaced. There was also a fulling mill called a Walkmyln (fn. 65) possibly situated at Forge Meadow (fn. 66) on the Plants Brook. Bromford Mill was again repaired in 1479-80 and a new mill stone was purchased; the fulling mill was then in a state of complete disrepair. (fn. 67) Both Bromford Mill from the 13th century onwards, and the fulling mill from the 15th century onwards, appear to have been held jointly by the lords of Erdington and Pype Hall. (fn. 68) Both mills existed in the 16th and early 17th centuries; (fn. 69) William Lane (Alane) was for a time miller of Bromford Mill in the 16th century. (fn. 70)
Bromford Mill was first mentioned as a forge in 1605. (fn. 71) During the first half of the 17th century it was held by the Jennens family and may have been worked in connexion with Aston Furnace. (fn. 72) It was called Bromford Mill or Hammer Mill in 1683. (fn. 73) In 1746-7 it was leased to two members of the Stour Partnership, Abraham Spooner of Birmingham, merchant, and Edward Knight of Wolverley (Worcs.), ironmaster, who worked it in conjunction with Nechells Park Mill and Aston Furnace. (fn. 74) The Spooner family was still associated with it in 1800 and the early 19th century. (fn. 75) About 1816 machinery was introduced to press nails. (fn. 76) In 1828-9 the mill was occupied by John Bailey & Co., paper makers, (fn. 77) and in 1833 and 1845 Abel Rollason was tenant. (fn. 78) In the 1850s the Rollasons were said to be metal rollers, but they shared the mill with a firm of wire drawers and they themselves had turned to this trade by 1875. (fn. 79) The site was still occupied by the Rollason Wire Co. in 1956. (fn. 80)
CASTLE BROMWICH MILL. Of the various mills in the Castle Bromwich district mentioned from the 13th to the 18th centuries (fn. 81) one at least was probably the manorial corn mill of Castle Bromwich, the site of which is in modern Birmingham. The mill of Bromwich was mentioned frequently in 13th and 14th century deeds. (fn. 82) The site of the mill was a short distance above Castle Bromwich bridge near the eastern end of Birmingham racecourse. (fn. 83) It was shown as a corn mill in 1887 (fn. 84) and was still working in 1895. (fn. 85)
Mills on the Northern Tributaries of the Tame
MILLS ON THE HOL BROOK. There was a bloom smith, named Henry Grove, in Handsworth in 1543. (fn. 86) Towards the end of 1544 the same man, described as 'late of Perry Barr, iron branner', was employed by William Wyrley of Handsworth to work for a year in the latter's iron mill or 'branne' smithy in Perry Barr, known as Perry Smithy, which was afterwards burnt down by Grove's negligence. (fn. 87) In 1597 Humphrey Wyrley of Great Barr possessed the moiety of a smithy or furnace in Perry Barr. (fn. 88) This mill may be the iron mill at Perry Barr, owned by Wyrley and Robert Stamford, which later in the same year was among others attacked by a gang from Wednesbury. The tenant was then William Whorwood. The 'iron forge' of Thomas Parkes at Handsworth was also involved in the same series of attacks as was his 'furnace for melting and casting of iron', apparently at Perry Barr. (fn. 89) In 1599 William Hopkins of Birmingham was 'fyner of the forge' and in 1602 John Lapwicke was described as the 'filler of Pury furnace' and Blasius Vyntam (probably a Dutch refugee) as 'fyner of Purye Forge'. Blithe Dickinson was mentioned in connexion with the forge in 1613. (fn. 90) It is not clear whether forge and furnace are one and the same. Four blade mills in Hamstead, Perry Barr, and Oscott were mentioned about 1560, (fn. 91) and there was a blade mill called the Garrett blade mill in the district in 1597. (fn. 92) This mill was working in 1614. (fn. 93) It was probably situated at Garrett's Moor near the head of the valley. (fn. 94) Another may be the blade mill on the Hol Brook (Perry Stream or Barr Brook) above Perry Bridge which was occupied by Thomas Foley in 1654 (fn. 95) and by Samuel Porter in 1691. (fn. 96) A paper mill, 'lately made by Humphrey Wyrley', was mentioned in the district in 1648, (fn. 97) and in 1680 Samuel Jerrom the elder leased two paper mills on Perry Wood Brook from Sir John Wyrley. (fn. 98) There were four mills in Perry Barr in 1733. (fn. 99) A map of 1794 shows three mills on the Hol Brook, (fn. 100) presumably including the two blade mills formerly held by Samuel Harvey and acquired in 1788 by James Woolley and Thomas Archer. (fn. 101) A mill was described in a dispute of 1794 to 1802 as near the Tame but driven by a watercourse from Barr Brook, and as having formerly been a blade mill, then a paper mill and at that time a mill for boring and grinding gun-barrels. The mill was owned by John Gough, George Birch was the tenant, and his sub-tenants had been William Bayliss (1773-81) and Thomas Archer (c. 1781-92). (fn. 102) By 1814 this mill had been converted into a wire mill, (fn. 103) but it may have been held by John Benson, paper dealer, in 1818, (fn. 104) for by 1839 it was a paper mill owned by Joseph Webster and occupied by William Brindley. (fn. 105) There were two other millers in the district in 1818. (fn. 106) In 1843 there were four mills on the brook: Webster's paper mill; a corn mill 200 yards above it owned by John Gough; a wire mill half a mile higher owned by Wyrley Birch and occupied by William Bedson; and a rolling mill 250 yards above that, also owned by Wyrley Birch. (fn. 107) The four mills were still in existence in 1863 (fn. 108) but seem to have disappeared shortly after and none is shown in the 1880s. (fn. 109)
MILLS ON THE HAWTHORN BROOK. There was a mill in Witton and Erdington, probably on the Hawthorn Brook, in 1317. (fn. 110) In 1338-9 Giles de Erdington granted to Sir Roger Hillary a piece of waste called Coldfeld and rights to the water of the Hawthorn Brook, to build a mill. (fn. 111) This mill was probably that mentioned in 1486 and 1494-5 and may have been the later Over Mill. (fn. 112) In 1509-10 William Lane, called in 1518 a bladesmith, leased a watermill in Erdington to Richard Stich. (fn. 113) In 1533 John Bond leased to John Lane, bladesmith, water rights for a mill (fn. 114) and John Lane probably built the Nether Mill shortly before or after this. In 1541-2 Vincent Eagles was given water rights over the Hawthorn Brook from John Lane's Over Mill (then called Fitter's Mill) saving the rights of John's Nether Mill in Witton, to a mill of which he was then the tenant called Dwarf holes Mill. (fn. 115) In 1550 Henry Lane was the occupant of the Nether Mill and John Fitter of the Over Mill. (fn. 116) The Over Mill was held by the Fitter family until the end of the century, and then by Edward and John Kynnersley until the lease was sold to William Booth. (fn. 117) It was first called a blade mill at the death of Edward Lane in 1582. The Nether Mill was occupied by members of a younger branch of the Lane family, Henry, John and Lawrence, bladesmiths, until 1622 when the lease was acquired by John Goodyer or Gooderd. It was then called a blade, corn, or iron mill. (fn. 118) William Booth became owner of both mills, then blade mills called Fitter's and Lane's Mills, in 1620. (fn. 119) The Nether Mill was leased to Aquilla Banks in 1652 and 1664 (fn. 120) and to Richard Banks in 1684. (fn. 121) The tenant of Dwarfholes Mill in 1652 was Edward Mascall of Birmingham, cutler. (fn. 122) By 1729 another mill had been built on the Hawthorn Brook. There were then three blade mills, the Over and Nether in the tenure of John Woodcock, and another in the tenure of John Bennett. In the 1730s Woodcock's Nether Mill was held by Richard Goode, and two other blade mills by William Jordain. Jordain's mills were said to have been formerly called Upper or New Mill and Brown's Mill. (fn. 123) It seems likely that Brown's Mill was the former Fitter's or Over Mill. Probably the Upper or New Mill was Bennett's mill. By 1759 the three mills, then shown as Swadkins, Brooke's and Ashford's were probably the old Upper, Over, and Nether Mills. (fn. 124) Dwarfholes Mill, which in 1680 had been described as a paper mill, formerly a blade mill, (fn. 125) had disappeared, its site probably being marked in 1760 by the 'Paper Mill Bank' just below Ashford's Mill. (fn. 126) In all probability it was the mill described in 1734 as Sir Lister Holte's Ragg Mill, then in the possession of Peter Clark. (fn. 127) The Nether Mill was rebuilt towards the end of the century, and in 1800, when held by James Mills, a metal roller, it was described as Goode's Mill or 'the lower or lowermost mill'. (fn. 128) In 1833 it was a rolling mill, (fn. 129) but the following year it was called Witton Forge. (fn. 130) By 1833 the Over Mill had disappeared, but Upper Witton Mill was then held by William Chapman; its pool was called Leather Mill Pool. (fn. 131) All the mills had disappeared by 1887. (fn. 132)
MILLS ON THE PLANTS BROOK. A stretch of the Plants Brook, the medieval Ebroc, borders on the park of Pype Hayes House and it is possible that one of the mills mentioned in connexion with this estate was on the brook between Penns Mill and the Plants Brook Forge, the sites of which are in modern Sutton Coldfield. (fn. 133) In the 13th and 14th centuries there was also a mill, probably on the Plants Brook, attached to the manor of Berwood in Curdworth, now Berwood Hall Farm in modern Birmingham. (fn. 134)
Mills on the Southern Tributaries of the Tame (fn. 135)
CALVES CROFT MILL. Before the middle of the 19th century a stream, rising between Soho House and Handsworth, ran east to join the Tame near Aston Church, and was connected with pools called the Staffordshire and Dove House pools. The Calves Croft mill stood on this stream west of Aston Park. It may have been the blade mill which Ralph Forrest of Deritend, scythesmith, (fn. 136) devised to his son-in-law Richard Dolphin in 1548. (fn. 137) In 1578 Richard Norton of Witton and John Cockersall granted to Edward Holte of Duddeston a close called Cavels in Aston Manor and a house or mill there 'now in the tenure or occupation of Raffe Forreste'. (fn. 138) There was a mill in 'Calves Croft' in 1758 with a 'water engine' close to the mill pool. (fn. 139) James Watt the younger was the occupier of the mill in 1833 (fn. 140) and in 1845. (fn. 141) The mill was not marked in 1887. (fn. 142)
PIG MILL with its pool was on the Hockley Brook near the boundary between Handsworth and Smethwick. It was probably 'Mr. Lane's old corn mill and new blade mill' mentioned in the boundaries of Handsworth in 1659. (fn. 143) It was shown as Pig Mill in 1722-5 and 1752. (fn. 144) By 1767 it was known as Pig Mill Forge. (fn. 145) At the end of the 18th century it was owned by Abraham Spooner and in the tenure of Samuel Harvey of Birmingham, sword cutler. When Harvey went bankrupt the lease was assigned in 1790 to John Hurd, a Birmingham merchant, (fn. 146) who was still in occupation in 1794. (fn. 147) John Broomfield was tenant in 1818, (fn. 148) and this may have been the mill occupied as a slitting mill by Wright and Jesson in the early 19th century. (fn. 149) Both forge and pool were shown in 1831-2, but only a pool in 1834. (fn. 150)
SOHO MANUFACTORY stood on the Hockley Brook where it is crossed by Factory Road. In 1757 Edward Ruston and John Eaves, toymakers, of Birmingham, leased from John Wyrley a site with liberty to cut a leat to a mill pool constructed there, (fn. 151) and they built a small house and a mill for rolling metals. (fn. 152) In 1761-2 the property was acquired by Matthew Boulton, who first demolished the mill and rebuilt it. Even then he found the buildings unsatisfactory, and in 1764 he laid the foundations of the factory which was to become famous. Boulton was constantly in search of more power for his manufacturing projects. He installed a second water wheel, then a horse mill, and finally began to experiment with steam engines, at first only to pump water back into the mill pool to keep the water wheels working. (fn. 153) A large water wheel was still in use in 1818 and was driving a number of different tools, (fn. 154) but it probably became disused shortly after. (fn. 155) The Soho mill pool lay immediately south of Soho Road in the area of Ashwin Road, and the mill also used a stream from the Shell Pool in Soho House grounds. Downstream from the factory was the Great Hockley Pool, the site of which is occupied by railway yards, and the Little Hockley Pool, which was in the area of Hockley Station. (fn. 156) The Little Hockley Pool disappeared after 1834 and the Soho Pool when the factory came to an end after the death of the younger James Watt in 1848. It was demolished in 1862-3. The Great Hockley Pool then became known as the Soho Pool until it was drained in 1869. (fn. 157)
ASTON FURNACE stood above the point where Porchester Street crosses the Hockley Brook and is joined from the north by Furnace Lane. There is no evidence that milling by water power was done there, the water being used to work the bellows for the furnace. (fn. 158) The furnace is first mentioned in 1615 when William Cowper (or Cooper) was associated with it. (fn. 159) Later in the 17th century the Jennens family worked the furnace in connexion with Bromford Forge. (fn. 160) Richard Vaughton was the tenant in 1721. (fn. 161) The furnace was leased in 1746-7, together with Bromford Forge and the site of the slitting mill in Nechells Park, (fn. 162) to Abraham Spooner and Edward Knight. (fn. 163) Spooner and Knight renewed their lease of the furnace in 1768. (fn. 164) A Newcomen engine was installed to operate the bellows, (fn. 165) but the furnace was blown out in 1783. (fn. 166)
In the early 19th century the furnace became a paper mill worked by steam power. William Whitmore became the tenant in 1818, (fn. 167) Thornton, Anderson and Horn castle were the tenants in 1826 (fn. 168) and Grafton, Mole and Baron in 1830 and 1833. (fn. 169) In 1845 it was a wire mill, (fn. 170) and the buildings with the pools above and below were still in existence in about 1850. (fn. 171) By 1865 the premises had apparently been moved to Alma Street, where there was an Aston Furnace Mills, (fn. 172) and by 1887-8 the old buildings had disappeared. (fn. 173)
ASTON BROOK MILL with its pool lay above the point where the Aston Road crosses the Hockley Brook. It may have been the newly-built fulling mill in the tenure of Richard Short in 1532 (fn. 174) and one of the two fulling mills in Aston in 1585. (fn. 175) In 1721 it was a fulling mill in the tenure of Zachary Gisborne; (fn. 176) it was apparently at that time also known as Bourn Work Mill. (fn. 177) It was called Gisborne's Mill in 1758, (fn. 178) and Hooper's Mill in 1791; Thomas Hooper had earlier been the tenant of Aston corn mill and may have converted Aston Brook Mill for flour milling. (fn. 179) In 1806 an agreement was made between Walter and Thomas Phillips, tenants and late owners of the mills, and John Rose of Thimble Mill on the use of the waters of the brook. (fn. 180) Thomas Phillips was still miller in 1830 when it was known as Mr. Phillips' Mill, (fn. 181) but the mill was sometimes called Aston Mill at this time. (fn. 182) A steam engine had been installed in the premises by 1830 when steammill power was advertised as to let, and John Phillips was then described as a timber merchant and wood turner. (fn. 183) The water wheel continued to be used, for flour milling. Thomas Powell was miller in 1850 (fn. 184) and William Best in 1854; (fn. 185) in 1855 the property came into the hands of the Evans family. (fn. 186) During their tenure, which lasted at least until 1875, the premises were still used both for flour milling and other trades. (fn. 187) It was said that £10,000 worth of damage was done in a fire there in 1862. (fn. 188) The pools had disappeared by 1887-8, (fn. 189) but Edward Evans was a corn merchant at Aston Brook Flour Mills in 1908. (fn. 190) The site is marked by Pool Street, Powell Street, and Phillips Street.
THIMBLE MILL with its pool lay in Nechells above the point where Thimble Mill Lane crosses the Hockley Brook. It may have been the mill in 'brode more' held by John Norwood in 1532, (fn. 191) and among the mills in Aston and Nechells mentioned in the 16th century, (fn. 192) one of which was held by John Breamotte in 1606. (fn. 193) In 1684 the blade mill called Breamotte's Mill was leased by Sir Charles Holte to Joseph Hunt, a Birmingham glover. (fn. 194) In 1749 it was leased to Samuel Birch of Birmingham, button maker, who rebuilt it and converted it into a rolling mill. (fn. 195) The mill was first called Thimble Mill in 1758. (fn. 196) In 1800 it was a 'rolling and thimble mills belonging to Mr. Rose'. (fn. 197) In 1806 John Rose, thimble maker of 'Nechells Mills', made an agreement with the tenant of Aston Brook Mill on the use of the water of the brook. (fn. 198) Rose occupied the mill together with Charles Emery in 1830, (fn. 199) Mrs. Rose was owner and occupier in 1833, (fn. 200) and Samuel Emery occupier in 1834. (fn. 201) At some time between 1758 and 1833 the mill seems to have been rebuilt a few hundred yards further downstream. (fn. 202) E. Middleton, metal dealer, was tenant of 'Nechells Rolling Mill' in 1850, (fn. 203) John Bayliss was tenant in 1855, (fn. 204) and B. Mason in 1858. (fn. 205) The family of Harris, then described as gun-barrel makers, had become associated with the mill by 1863 and apparently remained in occupation for the rest of the mill's existence. (fn. 206) The premises were described as metalrolling mills in 1887-8. (fn. 207) The mill pool was filled in when the railway was laid to Windsor Street Gas Works, but the mill continued in use with a steam engine until 1918. (fn. 208)
STEEL'S MILL lay a short way downstream from Thimble Mill, above the point where Thimble Mill Lane crosses the Hockley Brook, and on the Aston side of the brook. It was shown as a blade mill in the early 18th century (fn. 209) and was leased with Thimble Mill to Samuel Birch in 1749. (fn. 210) It was called Steel's Mill in 1758. (fn. 211) It appears not to have had a pool but to have been driven direct from a leat. It had disappeared by 1833. (fn. 212)
BENTON'S MILL, also called Nechells Park or Park Mill, (fn. 213) stood on the south side of Plume Street near its junction with Long Acre. The mill pool lay some way upstream, above the point where Holborn Hill crosses the Hockley Brook. (fn. 214) The mill may have been one of the three mentioned in Aston and Nechells in 1532 (fn. 215) and during the 16th century, (fn. 216) and may have been that leased to John Brenard, grinder, in 1619. (fn. 217) The mill was known as Benton's Mill in 1758. (fn. 218) In 1774 it was leased to Richard Benton and was used for grinding edge tools. (fn. 219) During the early 19th century the Benton family leased the mill to Ezra Millward, a gunbarrel maker; (fn. 220) it was then sometimes called Park Mill. (fn. 221) By the middle of the century the mill was in the hands of Paul Moore & Co., who were engaged in various metal trades, (fn. 222) and who also called the premises Park Mill. (fn. 223) A. A. Bill, sandpaper manufacturer, occupied the premises in the late 19th century (fn. 224) and by 1900 the mill had apparently become part of the Plume Works' industrial premises. (fn. 225) The remains of the mill were demolished in 1941. (fn. 226)
Mills on the Rea and Bourn Brook
REDNAL AND FROG MILLS. There was a mill in Rednal Elde, one of the five eldes of King's Norton, in the late 15th century, (fn. 227) but it is impossible to say whether it was on the Rea or the Callow Brook, or further south at Rednal itself. Frog Mill, on one of the streams flowing into the Rea, north of Rubery Hill, was outside the boundaries of modern Birmingham. (fn. 228)
HAWKESLEY MILL. Hawkesley or Tessall Mill stood below the point where Hawkesley Mill Lane and the Mill Walk cross the Rea. (fn. 229) A mill in Tessall was first mentioned in 1255-6. (fn. 230) In 1323 William de Hazlewell obtained licence to grant a mill and land in King's Norton to Richard de Hawkeslow, who appears to have been the lord of Hawkesley. (fn. 231) The Tessall mill was in existence in 1425 (fn. 232) and in 1490 William Dene, the miller, was charged with taking excessive toll. (fn. 233) In 1671 there was a mill of William Middlemore near Tessall field. (fn. 234) The mill was marked in 1834. (fn. 235) In 1843 it was held by Richard Evans, who had interests in other local corn mills, (fn. 236) and it was shown as Hawkesley Mill (Corn) in 1882-3. (fn. 237) The premises may have fallen into disuse shortly after, and become part of Hawkesley Mill Farm. (fn. 238)
NORTHFIELD MILL stands on the north of the Rea at the point where Mill Lane meets Quarry Lane. Mills in Northfield were mentioned in 1273 (fn. 239) and throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, and one of these was the manorial corn mill. (fn. 240) It may have been the mill leased to Cornelius Follow by a Stourbridge clothier in 1721. (fn. 241) In 1839 Edward Withers was the tenant, (fn. 242) and in 1851, when it was called Cotterell's Mill, George Pearson. (fn. 243) James Hulston was the miller in 1873, (fn. 244) and Aaron Jones from 1880 to 1900; Walter Morris was miller in Quarry Lane in 1908. (fn. 245) It is probable that after the building of the railway in 1840 the mill was no longer driven by water power. The derelict mill building and the site of the pool were used as part of a dump for road-making materials in 1957.
WYCHALL MILL with its pool lies on the north bank of the Rea west of King's Norton. The mill was marked in the early 19th century (fn. 246) and was shown as a rolling mill in 1831. (fn. 247) Charles Emery was the tenant in 1843 (fn. 248) and G. Ellis & Sons, metal rollers, occupied the mill in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (fn. 249) The premises have been used as a factory in the 20th century and the old mill buildings only became derelict in the 1950s. A 19thcentury beam engine now in the Birmingham Industrial Museum was originally at this mill.
HURST MILL and pool lay north of the Rea in the corner of Camp Lane and Pershore Road South. In 1221 the manorial mill of King's Norton was held by Richard Clark. (fn. 250) In 1301 William Jurdan leased to his brother Thomas a water mill and pool in King's Norton, (fn. 251) and in 1311 he granted it to Richard de Brademedewe. (fn. 252) In 1584 Henry Field left the mill to his niece and her husband William Whorwood. (fn. 253) In 1625 the mill was owned by Sir Thomas Whorwood and George Guest and occupied by Edmond Baileys; (fn. 254) it was in the possession of the Guest family in the 18th century. (fn. 255) Thomas Oliver was the tenant in 1843, (fn. 256) William Summerton was miller in King's Norton in 1858, (fn. 257) and an Aaron Jones was miller at the Hurst Mill from 1873 to 1920. (fn. 258) Thomas Priest & Sons were still milling flour there in 1930 and Hurst Mill was probably the last of the Birmingham mills at which flour was milled. (fn. 259) The site is now (1957) occupied by industrial premises.
LIFFORD MILL and pool lie on the south side of Tunnel Lane where it crosses the eastern of the two branches of the Rea at Lifford. (fn. 260) It may have been the Dobbs Mill shown in the area in 1787-9. (fn. 261) The pool and the reservoir below the mill were formed when the Worcester and Birmingham Canal was constructed in the early 19th century. (fn. 262) In 1830 the mill was described as a 'rolling mill of 15 horse power upon a never-failing stream'. (fn. 263) In 1841 Joseph Davis left it together with Harborne Mill to his son Samuel. (fn. 264) In 1873 and 1890 it was occupied by india-rubber manufacturers. (fn. 265) By 1900 it had become part of the works of J. & E. Sturge, chemical manufacturers. (fn. 266) The mill building is now derelict, but both it and Lifford House form part of the premises of J. & E. Sturge, Ltd. (fn. 267)
HAZELWELL MILL and pool lie on the east of the Rea immediately above Hazelwell Fordrough. The three water corn mills in Hazelwell manor in 1704 were probably at this mill, (fn. 268) and the mill was similarly described when in the tenure of Thomas Hadley in 1733. (fn. 269) Edward Jordan, who took over the mill from John White in 1756, was, like the Hadleys, a gunsmith. The mill was, however, being used for corn milling, stones in the rye mill and the wheat mill being mentioned in the lease. (fn. 270) The three water corn mills were again mentioned in 1776 (fn. 271) and in 1787, (fn. 272) but by the early 19th century the mill had been converted to metal working. In 1843 and 1863 it was in the tenure of William Deakin and Sons, sword-cutlers, gun-barrel and bayonet manufacturers, (fn. 273) and in the 1870s of William Millward and Sons, sword-cutlers, gun and pistol-barrel makers. (fn. 274) It was a gun-barrel works in 1886, (fn. 275) but by 1900 had become a rubber factory, (fn. 276) and was still a rubber factory in 1957. (fn. 277)
DOGPOOL MILL with its pool lies to the west of the Rea just below the point where the Griffin's Brook joins the Rea. It was mentioned as Dog Poo' Mill in 1800 (fn. 278) and was a rolling mill in 1836. (fn. 279) The tenant in 1843 was John Phipson (fn. 280) and in 1863 Tomlinson and Co., tube- and wire-manufacturers. (fn. 281) By 1875 the mill had been taken over by C. Clifford and Sons, metal-rollers and tube-makers, (fn. 282) who were still in occupation in 1957. (fn. 283)
MOOR GREEN MILL. Moor Green, or Farmon's Mill, and its pool, lay on the east of the Rea just above the point where Holders Lane reaches the river. The mill, called a blade mill, was already in existence when the Moore family acquired it from John Middlemore, together with the manor, in 1597. It was held by the Moore family until 1783 when it was sold by John Moore to James Taylor. The Serjeant family held the lease of the mill from Moore and Taylor between 1780 and 1841, and William Serjeant greatly improved the mill, then still a blade mill, between 1816 and 1841. In 1841 his widow surrendered the lease to James Taylor and the freehold was sold to Charles Umpage, metal-roller. (fn. 284) William Betts and Co., metal-rollers, occupied the mill in the 1860s and 70s. (fn. 285) It was still in use as a rolling mill in the 1880s (fn. 286) but seems to have fallen into disuse shortly after, and only a part of the wheel channel still remains.
EDGBASTON MILL. Edgbaston, or Avern's Mill, and pool lay on the west of the Rea just below the point where the river is joined by the Bourn Brook. The manorial mill of Edgbaston was mentioned in 1231-2, (fn. 287) and in 1550, (fn. 288) and it was probably one of the mills in Edgbaston mentioned in the 17th century. (fn. 289) There were 'four water corn mills' there in 1700, when Richard Jackson was the tenant. (fn. 290) The tenant was Edward Richards in 1721 (fn. 291) and William Edwards in 1778. (fn. 292) The Avern family had taken over the mill by 1788, (fn. 293) and held it in the early 19th century when it was known as Avern's Mill. (fn. 294) Thomas Fullard was the tenant in 1843, (fn. 295) and W. H. Roper held it in 1855 and 1863. (fn. 296) By 1880 the mill had become a farmhouse. (fn. 297) The building was still standing in 1898. (fn. 298) The site, south of Edgbaston Road, is now part of the premises of the Tally-Ho Clubs.
SPEEDWELL MILL. Speedwell, or Fitter's Mill, and its pool lay on the west of the Rea above Balsall Heath Road. It was probably called Fitter's Mill after the Fitter family, scythesmiths in Bordesley (fn. 299) and mill tenants on the Hawthorn Brook in the 16th century. (fn. 300) Fitter's Mill was a blade mill in the tenure of Richard Clarke in 1648, (fn. 301) and a blade mill with four stones in 1672. (fn. 302) Joseph Clarke was the tenant in 1700. (fn. 303) A mill is shown there in 1787- 1789. (fn. 304) John Heeley was paying rates for 'the two Speedwell Mills', in 1810. (fn. 305) This may mean that he held half the mill, or that he held the whole mill together with a windmill which was close by. (fn. 306) In 1830 William Fox was making wire-gauze blinds at the mill, (fn. 307) and in 1843 Hawkins and Hickling were the tenants. (fn. 308) For some years William Nokes, metal button manufacturer, occupied the mill as a rolling mill, (fn. 309) but by 1875 Nokes had new premises, also called Speedwell Mills, in Chester Street, and the old building may have been disused. (fn. 310) The mill and pool had disappeared by 1864, and Princess Road, Alexandra Road, and the end of Speedwell Road now stand on the site. (fn. 311)
THE MALT MILL. The Malt, or Moat, Mill stood in the outer court of the manor house of Birmingham and was driven by the outflow of the moat. (fn. 312) Edward Lyttleton claimed in 1534 that he had held the lease of the mill from William Birmingham's widow and had granted the profits to Elizabeth Birmingham (later Ludford). (fn. 313) Elizabeth Birmingham held the mill in 1529 (fn. 314) and her lease was renewed in 1541. (fn. 315) She appears to have sub-let the mill to Robert Whitworth, the bailiff of the manor. (fn. 316) After her death, in 1559, her third husband, William Askerick, (fn. 317) and his second wife and relict, Mary, were tenants until 1575, when Mary left it to their infant son William. (fn. 318) The Taylor family occupied the mill in the first half of the 17th century. (fn. 319) In 1712 Judd Harding took a lease of the mill. (fn. 320) The mill was called the Moat blade mill, in 1717, (fn. 321) and in 1720 'a blade mill with the moat thereunto belonging'. (fn. 322) In the late 18th century it was a thread mill. (fn. 323) The mill disappeared in the early 19th century when the moat was filled in and the site cleared for Smithfield Market which was opened in 1817. (fn. 324)
TOWN MILL and its pool lay below the Malt Mill on the stream running from the moat to the Rea. It was built about 1549 by William Askerick, the terms of his grant requiring that he should build a corn mill to be worked by the water of the manor pool and the watercourses in Holme Park. (fn. 325) The cutting of a new mill race from the Rea at Vaughton's Hole was apparently not carried out until later. Askerick was still the tenant in 1562, (fn. 326) and the mill was left to William Askerick the younger in 1575. (fn. 327) The mill was held by the Taylor family in the early 17th century, (fn. 328) but was later taken over by Robert Porter, who converted it into a blade mill. (fn. 329) This was the mill destroyed by Prince Rupert's men in 1643 because it was alleged to have turned out swords for the parliamentary forces only. (fn. 330) After being rebuilt it appears again to have functioned as a corn mill. It was probably the mill called Digbeth Mill, held by John Townsend and later called Townsend's Mill, in the late 17th century. (fn. 331) In the early 18th century it was used, at least partly, as a slitting mill, and was called Farmer's Slitting Mill. (fn. 332) James Farmer, ironmonger, was paying rent for the 'Town Mill' in 1720, (fn. 333) and in 1728 Joseph Farmer obtained a lease of 'a water corn mill called the Town Mill'. (fn. 334) Charles Lloyd occupied the mill in 1731, (fn. 335) when it was called Lloyd's Slitting and Corn Mills; (fn. 336) it was still called Lloyd's Slitting Mill later in the century. (fn. 337) In 1808 it was a slitting mill in the occupation of Gibson and Shore, ironmasters, but in 1821 was again being used as a corn mill. (fn. 338) It may have been a metal mill in 1828-9. (fn. 339) The mill does not appear to be marked after 1839. The site is probably occupied by the meat market at the end of Mill Lane which was opened in 1897. (fn. 340)
HEATH MILL. Heath or Cooper's Mill with its pool lay on the Rea below Deritend Bridge, at the northern end of Heath Mill Lane. Several mills, some of which may have been in one building, were mentioned in Birmingham in the 15th century. (fn. 341) In 1525, because corn had been taken out of Birmingham to be ground at Aston mills, an agreement was made between the lords of Birmingham and Aston that the corn of each manor might be ground at the mill of either. (fn. 342) Heath Mill in the manor of Birmingham was leased in 1526 to Gilbert Webb who was holding it in 1529. (fn. 343) From 1532 (fn. 344) to c. 1554 (fn. 345) it was held by John Prattie (under a lease said to have been made to him by Edward Birmingham) (fn. 346) who apparently sublet it to members of the Sherwin family. During the tenures of Ralph and Nicholas Sherwin, c. 1542-3, a dispute again arose about corn being taken out of Birmingham to be ground at Saltley, and probably Duddeston, mills; (fn. 347) it seems to have been settled by reference to the agreement of 1525. (fn. 348) In 1554 the Crown leased Heath Mill to Edward Lyttleton (fn. 349) and in 1557 granted the reversion of this and other leases to Thomas Marrow. (fn. 350) In spite of claims made by the heirs of John Prattie (fn. 351) and others (fn. 352) Lyttleton held the mill (fn. 353) until at least 1592 when he mortgaged it to John Talbot of Craston (Worcs.). (fn. 354) Before 1603 the lease had passed to Richard Taylor and in that year to Zachary Taylor. (fn. 355) His son Richard was the tenant in 1649. (fn. 356) Soon after John Cooper obtained the lease of the mill, and the Cooper family were the tenants and the mill called Cooper's Mill until the end of the 18th century. In 1673 John Cooper was accused of raising the height of the water above the mill so that wagons could not pass through the ford next to the bridge at Deritend. (fn. 357) In 1728 William Cooper undertook to rebuild the mill within two years and not to raise the level of the water to the damage of the Town Mill. (fn. 358) It was still a corn mill in 1756, (fn. 359) but the Cooper family, who had been scythesmiths, (fn. 360) may have converted it into a blade mill shortly after. In the early 19th century the premises were held by James Woolley, a sword cutler, and were known both as Woolley's Mill and as Deritend Forge. (fn. 361) By 1828 and until at least 1835 Thomas Whitmore was a corn miller at the mill, then called Deritend Mills. (fn. 362) Several factories were built on adjacent sites at this time and the old mill buildings apparently became part of the factory premises. (fn. 363) The remains of the water mill probably disappeared during the improvements to the river in the 19th century.
WILLETT'S MEADOW MILL. In 1698 Robert Rotton, a member of a family which owned land in Bordesley near the Rea, (fn. 364) was amerced 2s. for an incroachment on the lord's waste near Duddeston Bridge. (fn. 365) It was probably on this land that John Greaves was said to have lately erected a blade mill in 1707. (fn. 366) Greaves was amerced for diverting water from the Rea to drive the mill, and continued to pay 4d. annually until 1711, when Rotton began to pay it in addition to the 2s. for the incroachment, which had also become a rent. (fn. 367) By 1732 the mill had been converted into a wire mill, and was then said to be situated in Willett's Meadow. Martha Rotton owned the mill and the meadow, and John Webster was the tenant of the mill. (fn. 368) Jonathan Ruston was the owner in 1754. (fn. 369) In 1763 Ruston's widow Susannah left all her property, including Willett's Meadow, to her children, but the mill was not mentioned. (fn. 370) It was not marked in 1760. (fn. 371)
DUDDESTON MILL and pool lay on the west of the Rea above Duddeston Mill Road. The original mill was probably built about 1530. (fn. 372) The mill was rebuilt on a new site in the 1570s; it was called 'three new water corn mills in Duddeston' in an agreement of 1576 between Edward Holte of Duddeston and Edward Arden, the occupier of Saltley Mill, on the use of a new watercourse there. (fn. 373) In the same year Holte leased to Arden the 'place where a mill in times past stood called old Duddeston Mill'. (fn. 374) It remained the manorial corn mill throughout the 17th century. (fn. 375) It was held at his death in 1741 by Joseph Farmer, and in 1744 by James Farmer, ironmonger; the lease was then for 'all corn and other mills'. (fn. 376) In 1756 Hutton 'went with Will Ryland to Horton's at Duddeston Mill to have some silver rolled'. (fn. 377) The mill probably continued to be primarily a rolling mill while the lease was held by the Farmers, who were ironmongers. (fn. 378) The rebuilding of Saltley Mill weir in 1822 led to a dispute between the successive occupiers of Duddeston and Saltley mills which was settled by an agreement between Benjamin Brentnall of Duddeston and John Woodhall of Saltley in 1829. (fn. 379) The mill was then apparently a corn mill. (fn. 380) The Galton family owned the mill in the early 19th century (fn. 381) and the Evans family were tenants between 1845 and 1865. (fn. 382) Shortly after, the mill pool was drained and the 'Great Moor', which had been between the mill leat and the river, became a railway goods yard, still known locally as 'mill meadow'. The course of the mill leat became that of the river itself. The building had become a saw mill by 1887-8, (fn. 383) but seems to have fallen into disuse soon after.
SALTLEY MILL with its pool lay on the east of the Rea above Saltley Bridge. The mill was in existence by about 1542-3, when James Wygnall (or Wednall) was the tenant. (fn. 384) It was called a 'new mill' in the agreement of 1576, when it was occupied by Edward Arden. (fn. 385) In 1618, when Sir Thomas Holte leased it to Zachary Taylor, it was fully equipped for corn grinding and had two sets of millstones (fn. 386) and it was still in existence in 1677. (fn. 387) It had been converted to a blade mill by 1689 (fn. 388) and was leased as such in 1696. (fn. 389) It was in the tenure of the Farmer family in 1760 and was perhaps being used as a rolling mill. (fn. 390) The rebuilding of the mill weir in 1822 led to a dispute between the successive occupiers of Duddeston and Saltley mills which was settled by the payment in 1829 of compensation by John Woodhall of Saltley. (fn. 391) Woodhall's tenants in 1828-9 and 1830 were W. & J. Butler, (fn. 392) and William Butler was tenant in 1833; (fn. 393) the mill was then apparently a corn mill. S. Butler & Co. were the tenants of Saltley Wire Mills in 1850. (fn. 394) The mill was still in existence in 1880, (fn. 395) but had disappeared by 1887-8 (fn. 396) and its site is now occupied by a gas holder.
NECHELLS PARK MILL. Nechells Park or Park Mill and its pool lay in the angle formed by the confluence of the Rea and the Tame. The mill may have been one of those in Aston and Nechells manors in existence in 1532 and during the 16th century; (fn. 397) if it was, it had fallen into decay by 1672, when it was leased to Thomas Banks, grinder, as 'that blade mill... now newly erected within Nechells park... in the place where the old Blade Mill stood' which was to be finished and set working at Banks's cost. (fn. 398) The mill was leased in 1693 to John Crowley, edge-tool grinder. (fn. 399) In 1700 Crowley was in trouble because the water which he had diverted to the mill by floodgates in Saltley Meadow was overflowing and flooding Park Lane. (fn. 400) The mill apparently decayed again after 1710, (fn. 401) for in 1746-7 a slitting mill was built by Abraham Spooner and Edward Knight on land at Nechells Park which they had recently leased. (fn. 402) When the lease was renewed in 1768 it was described as a 'slitting mill, formerly a blade mill... called Nechells Park Mill'. (fn. 403) The lease was again renewed in 1779 in the names of Spooner and John Knight, son of the former lessee, (fn. 404) and Park Mill was still being worked by the Spooner family in 1800. (fn. 405) It later became a rolling mill occupied in 1828-30 by Charles Emery and in 1833 owned by Robert Benton and occupied by the Bordesley Steel Company. (fn. 406) Soon afterwards a forge was set up on the premises. (fn. 407) The mill and forge were occupied in 1839 and 1849 by Samuel Savage (fn. 408) and in 1845 and 1863 by Walter Allcock, both manufacturers of edge tools. (fn. 409) In 1875 the premises were occupied by A. W. Wills, another edge-tool manufacturer, (fn. 410) whose firm gave the name 'Park Mill' to its new premises when it moved to Wolverhampton. The modern building on the site of the mill is in Wharton Street alongside the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal.
CONNOP'S MILL stood on the Stonehouse Brook on Mill Lane. It was probably one of the mills in Northfield first mentioned in the 13th century, (fn. 411) and the mill next to Weoley Castle referred to in the 15th century; (fn. 412) there was a mill field and a mill pool in the castle park. The mill was marked in 1834 and was called Connop's Mill in 1873 when Benjamin Connop was a miller, farmer, and beer retailer. (fn. 413) It later became the Mill Inn and Mill Farm; (fn. 414) the mill house, on the south side of the lane, appears to have become the inn, while the mill buildings were on the north of the lane. The buildings seem to have disappeared during the construction of the Weoley Castle housing estate.
HARBORNE MILL and its pools, one of which is now a reservoir, lay above Harborne Lane, below the point where the Bourn Brook is joined by the Stonehouse and Welche's Brooks. It was in existence before 1554, when half the mill, formerly leased to John Tottyl, was leased by Ralph Warley to William Birch. The lease was assigned by John Birch of Smethwick, fuller, to George Birch in 1588. (fn. 415) In 1605 the mill, then called Cacock's Mill, was sold by William Holmes of Northfield, who had bought it from Edward Bowyer, (fn. 416) to Roger Stanley of Harborne. It was leased to Edward Rotherham in 1636, and was sold in 1650 by Charles Stanley to John Darley. (fn. 417) In 1749 it was sold by William Collins and Thomas White to Edward Jordan, a gunsmith; (fn. 418) Jordan left it to his son Thomas and he to his three daughters. (fn. 419) In 1786, when the tenant was Basil Hunt, gunsmith, the mill was sold by Hugh Edwards to Thomas Green. (fn. 420) When Green mortgaged the mill to Catherine Blackman in 1788, the mill was for the first time called a grinding and boring mill, formerly a corn mill. (fn. 421) It was a wire mill in 1819, when it was leased by Theodore Price and Thomas Green Simcox to Joseph Davis (fn. 422) and was shown as an iron mill in 1831-2. (fn. 423) In Davis's will of 1841, in which the mill was devised to his son Samuel, it was again described as a flour mill. (fn. 424) By 1863 the mill was occupied by Thomas Millington, steel pen manufacturer; (fn. 425) it was called a steel mill in the 1880s, (fn. 426) and was still in the hands of Thomas Millington and Co. in 1908. (fn. 427) The build ings were standing in 1954 (fn. 428) but were no longer in existence in 1961.
BOURNBROOK MILLS. Bournbrook Mill and its pool lay on the south of the Bourn Brook above the Bristol Road. It was built as a blade mill by Henry Cambden the elder, a knife cutler, on part of Gower's Farm in 1707. Cambden mortgaged the premises to Alice Lloyd in 1720, and in 1727, after Cambden's death, Alice Lloyd assigned the mortgage to Henry Carver, brassfounder. (fn. 429) The building was called a 'mill or forge' in 1816 when it was occupied by Heeley & Co., gunmakers, (fn. 430) a forge in 1839, when held by James Kirby, (fn. 431) and a rolling mill in 1863 when occupied by Noah Fellows, an ironfounder and metal roller. (fn. 432) Arthur Holden, paint manufacturer, held Bournbrook Mill in 1873; the former mill pool, known as Kirby's Pools, was then used for boating. (fn. 433) The premises were occupied from 1880 to 1900 by Frederick Spurrier and in 1908 by Henry and Frederick Spurrier, metal rollers. The pool had then been filled in and industrial buildings erected on the site. (fn. 434)
Another mill was shown in 1787-9 on the most westerly of the streams from Edgbaston Pool where it joined the Bourn Brook near the Bristol Road. (fn. 435)
OVER MILL stood at the outlet from the lower of the pools in Edgbaston Park formed by the damming of the Chad Brook. It was in existence by 1557, when it was occupied by the King family and may have been a fulling mill. (fn. 436) It may have become a blade mill by 1624 when William Hunt, a bladesmith, bequeathed the lease to Thomas Hunt and George Greenwood. (fn. 437) In 1648 and 1672 it was held by Barnaby Smith, a member of a family of ironmongers. (fn. 438) It was probably the mill occupied in 1700 by John Dalloway, one of a family of bladesmiths; (fn. 439) the mill was shown as a blade mill shortly after. (fn. 440) William Dalloway held the mill, together with the Pebble Mill, in 1788. (fn. 441) In 1810 it was held by Richard Anderton, a member of a family of cutlers. (fn. 442) John Spurrier then occupied the house at the mill, and by 1843 the Spurriers were working the mill as a rolling mill. (fn. 443) In the 1850s and 1860s Thomas Spurrier, and in the 1870s Frederick Spurrier, gold and silver rollers, occupied the mill, then called Edgbaston Rolling Mill. (fn. 444) Shortly after the family business was moved to the Bournbrook Mill (fn. 445) and the Over Mill became disused, the lower of the two pools retaining the name Spurrier's Pool. (fn. 446) Some of the derelict buildings of the mill still stand (1957).
PEBBLE MILL lay on the Bourn Brook below, and its pool above, the junction of Pebble Mill Road and Pershore Road. It was probably one of the fulling mills held by the King family in the 16th century. (fn. 447) In 1648 it was held by Guy Benson, (fn. 448) who appears to have been still in occupation in 1672, when it was described as a blade mill called King's Mill. (fn. 449) By 1700 the mill, now called Benson's Mill, had passed to Thomas Bowcoate. (fn. 450) In 1788 it was apparently being worked by John Dalloway together with the Over Mill, (fn. 451) and in 1810 was in the hands of John Heeley, one of a family of gunbarrelmakers. (fn. 452) William Kendrick, the tenant in 1835 and 1843, had a cutlery business in the Bull Ring. (fn. 453) By 1850 it had been converted to corn grinding, the tenant being Joseph Flecknoe, miller, (fn. 454) and William Summerton, also a corn miller, was the tenant in 1863 and 1875. (fn. 455) The premises were occupied by Henry Harrison, dairyman, from 1880 to 1890, and seem to have been a farm in the 1920s. (fn. 456) The Cannon Hill Museum is now close to the site occupied by the mill.
WARD END MILL and its pool lay on the Wash Brook north of Ward End Hall. The mill in Little Bromwich was first mentioned in 1425, (fn. 457) and was regularly mentioned in connexion with estates there in the next 300 years, (fn. 458) being occasionally referred to as two watermills. (fn. 459) It was occupied by Widow Jorden in 1759. (fn. 460) The Lee family, (fn. 461) Henry Drake, John Drew, and A. J. Tongue were tenants in the 19th century. (fn. 462) The mill was part of the Ward End Hall estate when this was sold in 1842. (fn. 463) William Black, farmer and corn merchant, was the tenant in 1900. (fn. 464) The mill pool has been filled in and forms part of the site of the modern Ingleton Road.
Mills on the Cole
MILLS ON THE CHINN BROOK. There was a mill at Moundesley in King's Norton, probably on the upper reaches of the Chinn Brook, in the late 15th century. (fn. 465) It may have been the same as the Crab Mill of Crabmill Lane and Crabmill Farm south of Moundesley Hall; (fn. 466) if so, it was outside the boundaries of modern Birmingham.
Mill Pool Hill, where the Alcester Road leaves the valley of the Chinn Brook, has been so called since the 18th century, (fn. 467) and a Mill Pool Hill Farm stood in the neighbourhood of the modern Meadfoot Avenue. (fn. 468) Neither the mill nor the pool can be identified.
TRITTIFORD MILL stood at the junction of Trittiford Road and Highfield Road, the mill pool lying on the other side of Highfield Road. (fn. 469) In addition to the water from the Cole stored in the mill pool the mill also used a watercourse from the Chinn Brook. (fn. 470) The mill was first mentioned in 1778 when Joseph Baldwin was the tenant, (fn. 471) and when advertised as to let in 1783 it was described as 'a new and complete water corn mill'. (fn. 472) The tenant was William Harris in 1790 (fn. 473) and William Kendrick in 1809. The mill was mainly in the hands of the Tabbener family during the first half of the 19th century and of the Hill family in the second half, when the mill was converted to use as a rolling mill for pen steel, (fn. 474) the flour milling machinery being transferred to Sarehole Mill. (fn. 475) A steam engine had been installed by 1883. (fn. 476) Alfred Hill occupied the mill until 1926. (fn. 477) The mill pool is now the boating pool in Trittiford Park.
COLDBATH OR HOLTE'S MILL. In 1437 a mill was granted by Aymer (Adelmare) Holte of Greethurst in Yardley to the Mountfort family. (fn. 478) In 1519 the water mill called Holt Mill or Greethurst was granted by Thomas Holte to Robert Gresswold, (fn. 479) and it was still in existence in 1542. (fn. 480) It may have been one of the water corn mills in Swanshurst and Greethurst mentioned in 1664. (fn. 481) The Coldbath or Lady Mill, which later stood below Yardley Wood Road near the junction with Coldbath Road on the stream joining the Cole from Sarehole, was situated in Greethurst. (fn. 482) It may well have been identical with Holte's Mill. In 1746 Coldbath Mill was described as a water corn mill in the tenure of Thomas Hadley. (fn. 483) William Rotheram was the tenant for several years, (fn. 484) and it was still a water corn mill when part of the Grevis estate was sold in 1766. (fn. 485) When what was probably this mill was advertised in 1789 it was said to have been 'lately used in the thread business'; (fn. 486) the Yates family was in occupation at that time and for some years afterwards. (fn. 487) The mill was still in existence in 1834 but was probably pulled down shortly after. (fn. 488)
SAREHOLE MILL with its pool lies on the west of the Cole at the junction of Wake Green and Cole Bank Roads. It is said to have paid a small sum annually to Maxstoke Priory in the Middle Ages. (fn. 489) In 1542 Daniel Benford of Yardley granted to John Bedell land and a watercourse coming from Holte's Mill on which to build a corn mill. (fn. 490) If Holte's Mill is correctly identified with Coldbath Mill (fn. 491) then Bedell apparently reconstructed Sarehole Mill at this time. Since Sarehole Mill was known as Biddle's Mill in the 16th century (fn. 492) this explanation seems probable. When Richard Eaves bought the Yardley estate in 1727, it was described as a water corn mill called High Wheel Mill, late in the tenure of William Richards. (fn. 493) In the middle of the century James Green, Judd Harden or Harding, William Tallis, and Joseph Bellamy were tenants of the mill. Matthew Boulton the elder spent the last years of his life at Sarehole, and his widow held the mill in 1760. (fn. 494) In 1768 Richard Eaves cut a new leat from the Whyrl Hole in Sarehole Common, now near the Four Arches Bridge, to supplement the stream from Coldbath which had driven the mill until then; it was then a grinding mill. (fn. 495) In 1773 'Biddle's Mill otherwise the Little Mill' was described as a water corn mill 'lately taken down and new built' by Richard Eaves, and in 1775 was said to be a 'complete new erected corn mill, well supplied with water'. (fn. 496) John Jones was the tenant from 1768 to 1775, (fn. 497) and John Alien was in occupation from about 1777 to 1780. (fn. 498) The Siviter family was associated with the mill in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, followed by Thomas Anderton, Samuel Batsford, and John Mander, (fn. 499) and the Andrew family were tenants from 1858 to the early 20th century. (fn. 500) A steam engine had been installed and a chimney added to the buildings by 1873, but the mill remained a corn mill. (fn. 501) The buildings of 1773 still stand and have been given to the city council for preservation. (fn. 502) In 1960 they were reported to be in a dilapidated state. (fn. 503)
GREET MILL with its pool lay above the bridge by which the Stratford Road crosses the Cole. It was in existence by 1275, (fn. 504) and was also mentioned in the 16th century. (fn. 505) William Richards, James Green, (fn. 506) Judd Harding, (fn. 507) John Truss, (fn. 508) and James Bernard (fn. 509) were tenants in the 18th century. In 1775 the mill was described as a 'complete new erected water corn mill' (fn. 510) and was still a corn mill in 1793. (fn. 511) By 1799, when William Bonell, a grinder, was tenant, it may have been converted into a blade mill. (fn. 512) During 1806 the mill was considerably altered and then leased to Henry Osborne, a sword cutler of Bordesley. (fn. 513) By 1836-8 when Daniel Ledsam, plated metal manufacturer, was the tenant, the mill may have become a rolling mill. (fn. 514) Shortly after Edwin Harford, a leather dresser, was tenant, (fn. 515) and in 1873 Greet needle mills were occupied by a Mr. James. (fn. 516) The mill had disappeared by 1887-8, (fn. 517) but the remains of the mill and the mill stream were rediscovered during the construction of a new bridge there in 1913. (fn. 518)
HAY MILL stood on the east of the Cole above the Coventry Road. William Lewis was the tenant from 1756 to 1776, Joseph Smith from 1777 to 1790, and a Mr. Gill in 1810. (fn. 519) In 1820 it was said to be in use as a blade mill but suitable for conversion to corn milling or paper making. (fn. 520) Between 1836 and 1840 it was held by William Deakin, (fn. 521) who may have been a gun-barrel or bayonet maker. (fn. 522) Shortly after, Smith and Horsfall and James Horsfall, musicalwire maker, became the tenants, (fn. 523) and the firm of Webster and Horsfall, wire and cable makers, were the tenants until the end of the century. The first Atlantic cable was made there. (fn. 524) The premises have remained a wire mill in the hands of Latch & Batchelor, Ltd., since 1900. (fn. 525)
MEDLEY'S MILL. There was a watermill in Bordesley in the 14th century, (fn. 526) and Arthur Heath was said in a rental of Bordesley to be holding 'the mill' in 1586. (fn. 527) The mill was probably on the Spark Brook at the Coventry Road crossing, and may be identified with Medley's Mill, which existed in 1760, (fn. 528) and the boring mill shown on 18th-century maps just below Hay Mill. (fn. 529)
YARDLEY MILL. Yardley or Wash Mill and its pool lay on the east of the Cole near the junction of Millhouse Road and Wash Lane. In 1385 the Earl of Warwick granted to Richard Bradewell the site of a mill in Yardley called Wodemill on which to build a mill, (fn. 530) and Bradewell still held Wodemill in 1403-4. (fn. 531) What was probably this mill, then called Oldemill, was subject to the same rent of 6s. 8d. in 1479-80, but it did not pay rent in that year. (fn. 532) Two watermills in the manor of Yardley were mentioned in the 16th and 17th centuries, (fn. 533) and three in Yardley and King's Norton in 1648. (fn. 534) Yardley Mill was shown in the 18th century (fn. 535) and may have been the mill occupied by Richard Shaw in 1797. (fn. 536) It remained a corn mill in the 19th century, and was occupied by Thomas Wardbrough (1840-4), John Thornton (1846-51), Joseph Lee (1852-7), and Henry Smith (1859-82). (fn. 537) It was marked as a corn mill in 1886, (fn. 538) and may have become a farm in the early 20th century. (fn. 539)
STECHFORD MILL and pool lay on the west of the Cole above Stechford Bridge. It was in the hands of Giles de Erdington in 1249-50, (fn. 540) and in the 15th century was occupied by the heirs of William West, (fn. 541) John West being the tenant in 1463. (fn. 542) The mill is shown on 18th-century maps, (fn. 543) and John Mockley was tenant of the mill pool in 1759. (fn. 544) Thomas Smith was the tenant in 1833, (fn. 545) but the mill disappeared shortly after. (fn. 546) It is said to have been a blade mill (fn. 547) and a paper mill in the early 19th century. (fn. 548)
BABBS MILL stands on the southern branch of the Cole just inside the boundary of modern Birmingham, in Sheldon. It was in existence in the early 18th century. (fn. 549) In 1751 John Barrs, a baker, of Yardley, took it over from Edward Cook of Sheldon, (fn. 550) and John Andrews was the miller in 1850. (fn. 551) It was still a corn mill in 1889, (fn. 552) but by 1961 the buildings, though still standing, had been converted into cottages.
BROOMHALL MILL. The long pool on the Westley Brook, which joins the Hatchford Brook and the Cole, now in Fox Hollies Park, was shown as an 'Old Mill Pool' in 1886. (fn. 553) A mill called Broomhall Mill existed there in the late 18th century and was occupied from 1778 to 1803 by members of the Shaw family. (fn. 554)
COOPER'S WINDMILL stood on the west of the Rea near Heath Mill. It was first shown in 1731 (fn. 555) and called Cooper's Mill in 1753. (fn. 556) It was probably worked in conjunction with Heath Mill, which was occupied by the Cooper family at that time. (fn. 557) Windmill Piece was shown at the end of Heath Mill Lane in 1760. (fn. 558)
CHAPMAN'S WINDMILL gave its name to Windmill Street, (fn. 559) off Holloway Head. It is said to have been built about 1745 by Samuel Chapman, who was the owner in 1774. (fn. 560) Thomas Griffiths, miller, was in occupation in 1777, (fn. 561) and the windmill was shown in 1778. (fn. 562) It was later in the hands of W. Martin. (fn. 563) It appears on maps of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, (fn. 564) but was in a ruinous condition in the 1850s. (fn. 565) The mill was afterwards converted into a summer house, from the top of which fine panoramic views of the town could be obtained, but was demolished in the 1870s. (fn. 566)
BASKERVILLE'S WINDMILL. John Baskerville, the printer, erected a windmill on his estate on Easy Hill some time after 1745. The 'conical building in my own premises heretofore used as a mill' is mentioned in his will and he left directions that he should be buried in the building, but it is not clear for what purpose the mill had been used. It has been said that he made paper there, (fn. 567) but it is possible that he was concerned only with the finishing processes that would provide a suitable surface for his type. (fn. 568)
HUTTON'S WINDMILL. In 1759 William Hutton leased two acres of waste land in Handsworth on which to build a mill. (fn. 569) The piece of land lies off the modern Livingstone Road. Having little technical knowledge Hutton suffered badly at the hands of dishonest workmen and although he eventually succeeded in making a small quantity of paper, he gave up the venture. (fn. 570) He was persuaded to convert the mill to corn grinding, (fn. 571) but with no better success, and in 1762 he sold it to Josiah Honey borne who used it for polishing brass nails. (fn. 572) Windmill Piece, but not the mill, was marked in 1794, (fn. 573) and the land was sold without mention of the mill in 1813. (fn. 574)
OTHER WINDMILLS. There was a windmill attached to the manor of Greet in 1664. (fn. 575) What was probably the same mill was mentioned in Yardley in the late 17th century, (fn. 576) and was occupied by Richard Barrs in 1724. (fn. 577) It was shown in 18thcentury maps on the east of the Cole between Greet and Hay Mills. (fn. 578) The Windmill Piece at Lea Hall, Yardley, mentioned in the 19th century probably marks the site of another mill. (fn. 579) There appear to have been two windmills on the east of the Hawthorn Brook in Erdington. A windmill north of the Over Mill was occupied by Elizabeth Oldacre in 1833, and in the same year a Windmill Hill was shown north-east of the Dwarfholes Mill. (fn. 580) In 1773 John Taylor granted to John Alien a windmill near Wake Green, Moseley; (fn. 581) there was also a windmill on Birmingham Heath, (fn. 582) a windmill at Saltley (fn. 583) and one in Edgbaston, (fn. 584) and in 1753 a 'mill house' near Dale End. (fn. 585)