Antingham Bone Mill - Upper
River Ant /
North Walsham & Dilham Canal

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Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills

Oct1967
The mill house October 1967

Antingham unsually had two watermills within a half a mile of each other -
Antingham Upper and Antingham_Lower.
Both were bone crushing mills and both under the same ownership.


12th January 2003
The mill house January 2003

The upper and smaller mill was built at the canal end of Antingham Pond. The mill was quite small and was joined to the mill house - Plot 231, Bone Mills & Yard - area 30 perches. The mill was connected to the main canal by a short waterway allowing a small fleet of boats to be used to transport goods between the two mills until the channel was filled in c.1905.


Bones from local butchers and slaughterhouses were crushed along with phosphates from ocean islands that arrived in the form of ships' ballast, which was then transported by rail to North Walsham station or by wherry up the canal. The resulting fertilizing compounds were then sold to Fisons. A staithe was built nearby as the canal terminated here in a basin 80 feet wide and 150 feet long. This section of the canal remained navigable until 1893 when Swafield staithe became the terminus. The mills ceased operation in the early 1920s and the buildings were demolished after the second world war.


May1968 May1968
Brickwork remains May 1968
Old watercourse May 1968

March1977
Tailrace March 1977

Contents of the Upper Mill as listed in Schedule 1 of the 1847 Lease Agreement

Water and pit wheels
Floodgates
Two nut wheels
One pair of cutters with machinery in wooden frames and screens
Sack tackle

Indemnity and insurance at Norwich Union.
Materials for repairs to be supplied by Lord Suffield but all other expenses to be borne by H. Smith.
If damaged by fire and insurance policy insufficient to cover rebuilding costs Lord Suffield to fund the excess.


The 1847 Lease mentions the right to burn bricks on the land forming Bradfield Hall Farm on Plot No. 2 on the Map of Indenture.


The North Walsham & Dilham Canal

This was the only official canal in Norfolk and was really the canalisation of the River Ant. It was made wider than most other canals in order to accommodate Norfolk wherries. The main cargoes were offal to the two Antingham Bone mills with return loads of fertiliser. Corn and flour moved in and out of Bacton Wood and Swafield mills with other commodities such as timber, farm produce and coal making up the majority of the remainder of trade. It was hoped that coal would be the mainstay cargo but this never materialised. The canal was just over 8¾ miles long, ran from Smallburgh to Antingham and contained 6 locks: Honing, Briggate mill, Ebridge mill, Bacton Wood mill, Swafield lower and Swafield Upper.

1812: Act of Parliament passed authorising construction of the canal

July 1826: Canal opened having cost £32,000 to build

1885: Ailing canal sold for £600 but the company's London solicitor absconded with the money

1886: Scheme introduced to encourage tourist traffic

c.1893: Antingham - Swafield section abandoned because of lack of traffic

1934: The wherry Ella, sailed from Bacton Wood Staithe for the last time

2003: Canal navigable for the first 2 miles as far as Honing Lock

September 1967
Antingham Pond September 1967

Men were busy in the mills from January until the end of May, sometimes working until midnight. They then maintained the mill and went on to work on local farms.


30Jun2004 30Jun2004
Antingham Lower site in foreground and Antingham Upper
at the foot of the pond 30th June 2004
Antingham Upper 30th June 2004

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Antingham Upper mill at the south end of the pond
Courtesy of NLS map images


O.S. Map 2005
O.S. Map 2005
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

1257: Chamberlain of St. Benet's Abbey held Antingham with a Mill

29th August 1826: North Walsham & Dilham Canal opened to Antingham

White's 1836: Benson Smith, bone crusher

White's 1845: James Allison, bone crusher (Antingham)

White's 1845: John Allison, bone crusher (Bradfield)

18th May 1847: Lord Suffield granted a 21 year lease to Henry Smith from 11th October 1846

Census 1861: Henry Smith (62) widower b.Middleton, Lancashire, land agent and bone crusher
Gertrude Smith (24) daughter b.Gunton, farmer of 393 acres
Agnes H. Smith (18) daughter b.Gunton

John Hall (45) b.Thurgarton, bone miller (employee)
Mary Hall (43) b.Antingham
Charlotte Hall (21) b.North Walsham
William Hall (15) b.Bradfield, agricultural labourer
Rosetta Hall (12) b.Bradfield
Thomas C. Hall (10) b.Bradfield, agricultural labourer
Jane Hall (7) b.Bradfield
Edward Hall (2) b.Bradfield

Robert Silvey (23) b.Knapton, bone miller (employee)

Census 1871: William Gibbons (33) b.Coleby, bone miller (employee)
Hannah Gibbons (27) b.St Faiths
Alfred Gibbons (6) b.Catton
Samuel Gibbons (3) b.Bradfield
Agnes Gibbons (1) b.Bradfield

Kelly's 1879:
James Horsfield, farmer, bone crusher & artificial manure manufacturer, Antingham & North Walsingham bone mills

White's 1883:
Edward Darby Horsfield, artificial manure manufacturer, bone crusher, guano and salt merchant and farmer. The Hall; Antingham Bone Mills and North Walsham

Census 1891:

John Mobbs (54) b.Wingfield, foreman at bone mills
Emma Mobbs (42) b.Ha*land, Herts
Harry Mobbs (6) b.Suffolk, labourer in bone mills
Frederick Mobbs (19) b.Saxtead, Suffolk, harness maker
William Mobbs (18) b.Ha*land, Herts, jeweller's assistant
John Mobbs (9) b.Fritton, Suffolk, scholar
Rachel Mobbs (7) b.Bradfield , scholar

Robert Mobbs (5) b.Bradfield, scholar
Charlie Mobbs (1) b.Bradfield

Kelly's 1892: Mrs Charlotte Horsfield, bone crusher

Kelly's 1896: Edward Darby Horsfield, farmer, bone crusher and artificial manure manufacturer

1896: Edward Darby Horsfield was living in Antingham Hall

Kelly's 1900: Edward Darby Horsfield, bone crusher

Census 1901:

John Mobbs (64) b.Wingfield, foreman at bone mills
Emma Mobbs (52) b.Ha*land, Herts
Robert Mobbs (5) b.Bradfield, grocer apprentice
Charles Mobbs (11) b.Bradfield


Kelly's 1904:

Edward Darby Horsfield, farmer, bone crusher and artificial manure manufacturer Antingham bone mills; & at Bradfield


Kelly's 1912:

Edward Darby Horsfield, farmer, bone crusher and artificial manure manufacturer Antingham bone mills; & at Bradfield

Kelly's 1922: Edward Darby Horsfield, bone crusher

Kelly's 1922: Edward Darby Horsfield, manure manufacturer


Kelly's 1922: Edward Darby Horsfield, manure manufacturer

c.1935-1936: Mill closed

Kelly's 1937: Edward Darby Horsfield, manure manufacturer


RAF aerial photo 1946: Mill complex clearly visible

c.1946: Mill converted to residential use by Girling & Smith of Cromer, who also converted Itteringham Mill


If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 01263 713658 or

Nat Grid Ref TG 26433246
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004