Earsham Mill
River Waveney


Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills


Earsham Mill dates from Saxon times and adjoins ancient earthworks. It was a brick built mill with a pantile roof. Along with Ditchingham and Ellingham, it was one of the only three Norfolk watermills on the Waveney.

The mill was rebuilt by R. H. Clarke on the existing site in 1862. It was fitted with 12 pairs of stones powered by a waterwheel and a steam engine. A roller plant manufactured by Whitman & Binyon was installed in 1893. At this time, flour from Earsham was being sent to Newcastle by water transport.

Thomas Clarke, miller in 1793
Thomas Clarke, miller in 1793

Earsham roller mills in 1893
Earsham roller mills in 1893

Thomas Clarke, miller in 1893
Thomas Clarke, miller in 1893

c.1824 Thomas Clarke made a will in which he made mention of his wife Ann and also stated that a further 30 years of his 60 year lease from the Duke of Norfolk was still yet to run. This means the lease was granted c.1784 and was possibly taken out by Thomas' father, Wiliam Clarke. Thomas Clarke died in 1834.

It would appear that sometime between 1845 and 1860 Richard and Charlotte Narburgh left for the USA, without their children. A Richard and Charlotte Narburgh show up in the Illinois census of 1860 and as their ages tie in it seems probable that it was the same couple. However, they presumably returned to England as they do not appear in any later surveys.

...I have definite evidence concerning their son Thomas (my great grandfather) who incidentally started a racing paper called the "Pink - un" which later became the "Sporting Life" that still survives. Thomas lived to age 90, and I can remember being taken to his home in Elstree to meet him when I was 5. I am now 81, and a US citizen, having emigrated here 40 years ago.
John Narburgh - 26th August 2004

To be let by Tender
for 4 or 6 years from Christmas next
Situate within One Mile of the Town of Bungay
The Mill will be Let with the Water-wheel, Pit wheels, three pairs of Stones, Flour mill and all the going gears and machinery as now in the mill, with Dwelling House, Stables, Granaries and Outbuildings and with 8 acres excellant Meadow Land including Garden and Yards.
Tenders sealed up to be delivered at the office of William HARTCUP Esq. Solicitor, Bungay on or before Thursday 20th instant, who will give further information.
The proprietor will not be bound to take the highest offer or accept any of the tenders.
Dated December 4, 1855

Norfolk Chronicle - 8th December 1855

Thomas Jeckyll , Architect and Designer, 1827-81

Jeckyll built a water mill and connecting cottage at Earsham for the Duke of Norfolk ....1862 ..... The contractors James Maxim Smith and Lewis Bull won the tender for this commission on an estimate of £1,069 with an additional £454.1.5 for the necessary machinery. The three-story mill composed of brick and cement had a small, attached four-bedroom house. The mill still stands today but in a poor condition, and the cottage has been demolished.
Susan Weber Soros & Catherine Arbuthnott - Yale University Press 2003


The steam engine house is to the left of the mill on the above photo but there is also an auxiliary drive belt attached to a pulley on the right hand side of the mill and is obviously being powered by some sort of engine hidden from view.


James Thurston was miller in the mid 1850s. He was born c.1802-05 in South Elmham and married Sarah Fairhead. They had some 15 children, one of whom was possibly George Thurston who was a miller's apprentice in 1841 living in South Elmham, before moving to Mundham by 1861.


Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph 1923
Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph 1923

Situations Vacant
To Millers
Wanted, a man of good character to work a Tower Mill.
Apply to R.H. Clarke, Earsham near Bungay.
Norfolk News - 28th January 1865

Earsham Mills,
Bungay, Mar 9/65.

Mr. Smithdale,
Pray what is your price for a good substantial ten horse power horizontal engine with heating apparatus & a 12 horse boiler, price on rail or into craft at Norwich.
Yours Respectfully,
R. H. Clarke.
King Street, Norwich,
March 10th 1865.

Mr. R. H. Clarke,
Dear Sir,
In reply to yours of the 9th to hand this morning I beg to say that I can supply you with a First Class 10 Horse Horizontal Steam Engine made from the same patterns as the one I fixed at Wainford Mills with 12 Horse Cornish Boiler 14ft long, 4ft. 6in. dia with Heating Apprts and all fixings complete, put to work exclusive of Brickwork for the sum of Two Hundred and thirty five pounds.
Awaiting your reply,
I remain, Dear Sir,
Yours respy,
£245. 0. 0. pro T. S., T. S. jr.
P.S. If you would name any day next week I would take the liberty of driving over to see you in reference to the above.

Following his inspection of Earsham mill, Thomas Smithdale sent in his tender for the work required to work the mill by steam power as well as water:
St. Ann's Iron Works,
King Street,
April 4th 1865.

To Mr. Clarke,
The following is a list of articles required for driving 4 pairs of Stones in your Mills by Steam Power, Viz
18 feet of 3¼ inch thick Wrought Iron Bright Shafting (or thereabouts), 4 Wrought Iron Crotch Spindles, turned & fitted with Damsels attached.
4 New Maces.
4 2½ In. Plumb blocks fitted with Brasses & Bolts.
3 3¼ in. do. do. do.
3 Cast Iron Brackets for carrying Counter Shaft.
6 Bolts & 6 Wall Plates for Do.
1 4ft. Drum, turned & Bored.
4 3ft. 4in. Do. Do. Do.
4 2ft. 6in Do. Do. Do.
2 Cast Iron Brays for carrying Top End of crotch Spindles.
8 Bolts, Nuts & Plates for Do. with Men's Time fitting and fixing the same in your Mill for the sum of Seventy Two pounds, ten shillings and sixpence.

£72.10. 6. The Whole of the above shall be made of the best materials & sound workmanship and put to work.
Awaiting your reply,
I remain,
Dr. Sir,
Yours Respy,
Thos Smithdale.

Situations Vacant
To Millers
WANTED, an experienced Man as SPOUTMAN.
Apply to R. H. Clarke, Earsham Mills, Bungay
Norfolk News - 9th September 1871

Charles Marston purchased the mill in 1900.

He was born in Bungay_Mill House in 1882 and apparently grew up learning every branch of his business as if it was his hobby. He also owned a 3 sack plant at Harleston and the watermill at Bungay, which for a short period was used as a roller mill. However, the mill burnt down in 1902 but by 1923 it was being used as a grist mill.

The plant was remodelled in 1904 and thereafter ran 24 hours per day. It's capacity by now was 3½ sacks per hour. Power for the new plant was supplied by a turbine and coal gas.

The Miller Challenge Cup 1923

British Wheat Flour

Class A 1st Prize - Charles Marston of Bungay
Class C 1st Prize - Charles Marston of Bungay

June 1967 September 1968
June 1967
September 1968

April 1969 April 1969
April 1969
April 1969

October 1969
October 1969


Modernisation of the 200-year-old Earsham Mill for use as a feed mill meant that to get heavy equipment into the the building yesterday part of the roof had to be removed.
A 100 ft. crane was used to lift pressing, feeding, cooling and sifting plants into the mill and today the 8 ft. square hole in the roof will be re-covered with asbestos sheeting.
The mill is owned by Brooks Savill Ltd., agricultural merchants, and the company are also building a 5000 sq. ft. warehouse alongside the mill.
The mill, which was converted from flour to feed in 1962, is 45 ft. high and is used to make cattle, pig and poultry feeds.
The heaviest machine lifted yesterday was a two-ton gearbox to drive the pressing plant and to accommodate all the machinery, holes were cut in the three top floorsof the four-storey building.

Eastern Daily Press - 14th November 1974

Sale notice Sept 1982
Norwich Mercury - 10th September 1982

RHM plaque 5th January 1984
RHM plaque 5th January 1984

Mill dam 5th January 1984
Mill dam 5th January 1984

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement meal

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement meal - Saturday 26th July 1971
Don Tilney is to the left of the window and wife Elsie beside him

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - presentation to his wife Nellie
Saturday 26th July 1971

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - newspaper report

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - newspaper report
July 1971

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

1793: Thomas Clarke, son of Hoxne miller William Clarke, took over at the age of 24

1809: Anthony Cole, wife Sarah left bequest in a will

1813 - 1827: Thomas Clark, miller (accounts held at Norfolk Record Office)

Bryant's map 1826: Mill

1834: Thomas Clarke died

1827 - 1838: Richard Narborough jnr, miller (accounts held at Norfolk Record Office)

White's 1836: Richard Narburgh, corn miller

Census 1841: Richard Narburgh snr, (80); Richard Narburgh jnr, (36); Charlotte Narburgh
Burtin Narburgh (10); Thomas Narburgh (5)

White's 1845: Richard Narburgh jnr, corn miller

1846: Richard Narburgh jnr, miller

White's 1854: James Thurston, corn miller

1856: James Thurston, miller

Mill rebuilt by James Maxim Smith & Lewis Bull for the 17th Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Jeckyll's design for a total of £1,523 1s 5d

White's 1864: Robert Harvey Clarke

Kelly's 1883: Thomas Clarke

Kelly's 1896: Thomas Clarke

Kelly's 1900: Robert Harvey Clarke. Also Waveney Steam Roller Mills, Southtown, Gt Yarmouth

Kelly's 1904: Charles Marston

1919: Charles Marston died and his son Charles Candace Marston b.1882, Bungay, took over

1920: Charles Marston, miller, Bungay and Earsham roller mills

Kelly's 1937: Charles Marston

1962: Mill converted from flour production to animal feed production

June 1971: Mill foreman, Don Tilney, retired

1975: Mill owned by Brooks Savill, part of R.H.M.

23rd July 1975: Mill reopened after £250,000 refit with capacity trebled to 1,000 tons per week

1975: F. E. Cannell, mill manager

March 1977: Rank, Hovis & McDougall (RHM)

September 1982: Mill advertised for sale along with 4 acre site for offers in excess of £100,000

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 TM32608870
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004