Letheringsett Brewery Mill
River Glaven


20th September 2003
20th September 2003


Letheringsett Brewery mill was a later addition to the maltings and Henry Hagon's (d.1780) brewery that William Hardy, a maltster from Coltishall, had bought on Saturday 11th November 1780, along with Letheringsett Hall and 30 acres of land for £1340, plus £270 for a further 20 acres. The main building was substantially built of local flint and brick with a Norfolk pantile roof. The mill was originally to be constructed purely as a malt mill but William Hardy saw the potential of a installing corn grinding stones despite being some 150 yards from Letheringsett_mill. The new mill was built within the existing main building. The Brewery mill first ground wheat to be sold as flour on 31st December 1784.

By the time William Hardy snr retired in 1797 the brewery owned 25 tied houses and William Hardy jnr went on to buy an additional 9, so that by 1838 the brewery owned 34 tied houses. The business was then further expanded by William jnr., who died in 1842. On William jnr's death, his nephew William Hardy Cozens inherited the estate and in accordance with the terms of his uncle's will, he then changed his surname to Cozens-Hardy. William Cozens-Hardy died in April 1895 and the firm of W.H. Cozens-Hardy and Son was bought by Morgan & Co in 1896.

Wheelrace sluice 4th February 1983
Wheelrace sluice 4th February 1983

The cut from the Glaven to the Brewery 20th Sept 2003 Wheelrace sluice 20th September 2003
The cut from the Glaven to the Brewery 20th Sept 2003
Wheelrace sluice 20th September 2003

Tailrace rejoining the Glaven - 1952 Tailrace tunnel April 1998
Tailrace rejoining the Glaven - 1952
Tailrace tunnel April 1998

William Hardy snr. was originally a Yorkshire born excise officer posted to Norfolk, who married Mary Raven at Whissonsett in 1765. Mary was born in Whissonsett in November 1733 and was the daughter of Robert Raven and his wife Mary (née Fox).
After William and Mary Hardy moved to Letheringsett Hall in 1781. Mary at the age of 40, went on to keep a daily diary from 28th November 1773 until 21st March 1809, two days before she died on 23rd March 1809 aged 75.


William Hardy had a wherry constructed for the transport of goods to and from his property at Coltishall.
It was named the William & Mary and was launched on 22nd August 1776. It was quite a small wherry with a capacity of some 13 tons.

Aug 22. Thurs. 1776 A very fine day. W.F. at Buxton afternoon. Launched the new wherry this afternoon, named the William & Mary. Mr. & Mrs DANCER & Miss GOOCH din'd here and drank tea on board the wherry. Mr. & Mrs SMITH, Mr. FIDDY & daughter, Mr. ANSELL & Mr EASTO drank tea with us, the gentlemen staid till past 12 a clock & were very drunk.

Dec 29. Wed. 1779 ZR & TJ loading our wherry with malt and finished.
Mary Hardy's Diary


The William & Mary was eventually sold at the Horning Swan in 1781, after which her name was probably changed.


Nov 11 Sat. 1780 Mr Hardy went with Brot. Natt from Whissonsett to Letheringsett and looked over Hagon's Brewing Office then went to Holt to attend the sale. Bought the office with 30 acres of Land for £1340 and 20 acres of land for £270 , came home even 10.
Mary Hardy's diary


Not long after moving to Letheringsett William Hardy decided to use the River Glaven to provide water power for his brewery - the malt mill and pumps probably being driven by horses previously. The brewery was not more than 150 yards below Letheringsett_water_mill and therefore there were problems as to how to secure sufficient head of water to drive a waterwheel in the brewery without impeding the flow of water from the corn mill upstream.

Nov 6. Tues. 1781. Cut a drain from the River to the Malthouse.
Mary Hardy's diary


William Hardy - 1785 Mary Hardy - 1785
William Hardy aged 53
Mary Hardy aged 51
both painted by Huguier in 1785

William Hardy vs. Richard Rouse

Tuesday 15th January 1782: A fine day. 2 millwrights began to remove the malt mill.

23rd February 1783:
A fine day, all went to our church afternoon. Mr. Burrell preached. A Mr. Baker from Borrough and Mr. Bliss and Edm. Beck came even 5 to see if they could contrive our malt mill to go by water.

Monday 12th January 1784:
3 mill wrights began the mill after levels had been taken.

Monday 8th March 1784:
A very rainy day and rough wind. 4 millwrights at work, pulled down the malt mill. A very great flood in the even broke down dams and did some damage.

Wednesday 17th March 1784: the millwrights
got the water well down.

Wednesday 24th March 1784: 4 mill wrights at work night and day

Thursday 25th March 1784: Mr. Hardy at home all day, sett the water mill a going. Mr. Burrell, Mr. Bensly Mar Baker, Mr. Mathews, Mr Bolton and Mr Myles drank drank tea and supt (as written) and about 30 workmen. Mr. Henry Goggs, R. Raven and Raven Hardy came.


By Quarter Day only finishing touches were left and by the next day the water mill was going. William Hardy then decided, as things were going so well, that he would extend the use of the waterwheel from malt to wheat. Richard Rouse, still the corn miller, saw the competition coming and cut a channel for the river across his meadow. On New Years Eve, Hardy started grinding wheat. The threat from Rouse caused Hardy to divert the stream by Little Thornage so that it flowed into the brewery yard and became a supplement.

Friday 20th August:
Wm. FREARY brought some French Burrs from Stalham

Saturday 11th December 1784:
Our Corn Mill sett to work

Monday 27th December 1784: A slow thaw. Rouse began to cut a channel for the river across his meadow.

Wednesday 29th December 1784: Rouse left of cutting across his meadow.

Friday 31st December 1784: Grinding began, grinding for sale, first wheat ground

Wednesday 16th March 1785: Wm. went to Barningham mill after to git a last of wheat cut.

Sunday 8th January 1786: Mr. Rouse let the water into T. Lound's meadow. A great deal of rain in the night.

Monday 9th January 1786: Mr. Burrell gave Rouse notice not to set foot on Lounds premises on any acct.

Monday 16th January 1786: Mr. Lound came in the even. shewed Mr. Hardy a letter from Rouse begging him to give him leave to make up the Bank next the river.

Tuesday 17th January 1786: Lown came abt. noon shewed us a notice to forwarn Rouse from coming upon his premises to stop the breach in the Bank on any pretention whatever.

Friday 20th January 1786: Mr. Rouse threatened Mr. Burrell to make up the Bank, in spite of him. Sent King to Mr. Burrell and Lound to ensnare them.

Thursday 26th January 1786: Mr. Rouse attempted to make up the Bank. Mr. John Burrell Junr. prevented them. He drank tea and Supt here.

Sunday 30th April 1786: Mr. Rouse caused the breach in Mr. Burrell's Bank to be filled up in the night or early this morning. Mr. Burrell had it opened again.

Saturday 6th May 1786: Rouse served writs on Mr. Burrell, our Wm. & several persons in town on acct of Mr. Burrell opening the cut that he had stopped up in the meadow.

Monday 8th May 1786: Mr. Hardy & Mr. Burrell went to Dereham m 6 in Mr. Sheppard's Postchaise to speak to Lawyer Crisp, concerning the suit with Rouse.

Friday 12th May 1786: Mr. Johnson of Clay, drank tea here afternoon, signed leases for Weybourne Public House. J. Burrell drank tea at Rouses, came to an agreement for an accomidation about the cut.

Friday 6th October 1786: Recd. a supenea to appear at Norwich in a trial between J. Burrell and Richard Rouse. It was given favour of Rouse with £ 90 damages.

Tuesday 10th October 1786: Thos. Newman took T. Lound's farm.

Tuesday 11th March 1788: Starling, the miller came to let himself Mr. Hardy and he did not agree.

Mary Hardy's diary

Flour from the mill was eventually sold as far afield as Newcastle.


The headrace and original brick arch 20th Sept 2003 The underground wheelrace channel 20th September 2003
The headrace and original brick arch 20th Sept 2003
The underground wheelrace channel 20th September 2003

Christopher Bird at the millpool end the wheelrace tunnel wheel marks in February 1989
Christopher Bird at the upstream end of the wheelrace tunnel
February 1989
Industrial Archaeologist David Durst
beside waterwheel marks in February 1989

Soon after my great-great-grandfather came to this parish in 1781 as the purchaser of the dwelling house (now the Hall) a small brewery and 50 acres of land he determined to make use of water power for his malting business and to provide pumped household water. He called in the services of Mr. Baker of Burgh_Mills near Aylsham "to contrive our malt mill to go by water" as his wife recorded in her diary. The problem was this:- the Domesday mill 150 yards upstream and in another ownership derived its power from a head of water in a mill dam. For the malt mill wheel a dam was impossible as it would have held up the outflow from the other mill. Accordingly the only course was to deepen the river below the wheel to be erected and this accounts for the waterfall just north of the road bridge. The same diary states "With five millwrights at work night and day they set the mill agoing" on Lady Day 1784.
The Glaven Valley by Basil Cozens-Hardy, D.L., M.A., F.S.A.


Of William Hardy jnr...
The SLAVE, this wheel is by its owner call'd,
A name befitting one that works so hard.
Though hard and long continued be its toil,
Of cruel tyranny it ne'er complains...

Excerpt from: The Garden of Norfolk - W. Stones 1823


The maltings, brewery and wheelhouse Sept 2003 Interior of the brewery 20th September 2003
The maltings and brewery complex September 2003
Interior of the malthouse 20th September 2003

According to Basil Cozens-Hardy there are or have been 3 water wheels, 11 sluices, 1 turbine, 5 hydraulic rams, 2 fountains, 5 cascades, 3 piped or culvert siphons under roads, a reservoir, an artificial lake and 6 bridges.


The maltings kiln furnaces 20 September 2003
The maltings kiln furnaces 20 September 2003

A horizontal turbine was also used on the Cozens Hardy Estate on the opposite side of the road to the north.


Map 1935
Estate map 1935
The long-disused Letheringsett maltings and brewery, from a plan originally of 1935, just before the fire of April 1936. The malt-kilns front the main road; the brewery occupies the north and north-west frontages. 
The sluice south-east of the malthouse is shown, controlling the flow along the channel which runs north to the waterwheel (‘turbine') tunnel under the road and rejoins the Glaven downstream of the road bridge at the point marked ‘tail race'.  The waterwheel tunnel built  by William Hardy 1783-84 had to bypass the cellars under the malt-kilns, which may be why there is a sharp bend before it re-enters the Glaven north of the road bridge of 1818, still in use today.
Basil Cozens-Hardy has crossed out the word 'turbine' and pencilled 'waterwheel' against the site of the wheel, which in 1936 had become a charred skeleton.    
A proposed new road line has been added after the fire, when the local authority proposed to slice off the blind, hazardous north-west corner. The new line is imposed on the plan as a wall running west from the malt-kilns to near the tun room (the most northern of the buildings along the western range).
The road was improved as shown on the plan, and today's A148, the Cromer to King's Lynn road, follows the course drawn here.
Until 1808 the King's Head stood, gable end to the road, roughly where the grassy triangle is shown facing the Hardys' house, Letheringsett Hall, which is partially depicted.
Margaret Bird, The Diary of Mary Hardy Vol. II - April 2013

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

1781: William Hardy bought the maltings and brewery along with Letheringsett Hall and 50 acres of land

January 1784: Work began on the malt mill


31st December 1784:
The first wheat was ground

1896: Maltings and mill sold to Morgan's brewery

1936: Part of maltings damaged by fire and soft drinks production ceased

September 2003: Maltings complex becoming derelict



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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003