Saxlingham Thorpe
Mill
River Tas

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Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills

1939
1939

Saxlingham Thorpe (sometimes know as Newton Flotman, as part of the site lies in that parish) watermill was one of the few working mills left in Norfolk in 2003, being owned and run by Duffields.

In its heyday of waterpower in the 1800s the mill wheel drove 3 pairs of stones and three flour mills.


July 1967 July 1967
July 1967
July 1967

In 1804 Saxlingham Thorpe mill was being worked in conjunction with the nearby postmill but by 1838 this had been rebuilt as Saxlingham Thorpe towermill.


Plan of estate, property of the late George Watson, esq., table of reference to distances, windmills, watermills, tollgate house and site of manor house, premises and gardens marked.

1828 - Norfolk Record Office


Rebuilding July 1970
Rebuilding July 1970

Notice re:-
Sale of Water Mill
Lease 37 years unexpired at Michaelmas next
In occupation of Mr. George WATSON the proprietor
Norfolk Chronicle - 19th April 1800


Water & Wind Mills, Norfolk
To be Sold by Auction By WM. BURT On Saturday 25 February 1804
At teh White Hart, St. Peters, Norwich, precisely at 4 o'c
All those valuabe MILLS at Saxlingham in Norfolk, in the occupation of Mr. Dennis Wright (a Bankrupt) comprising a water mill, three French stones, flour mills, cylinder and going geers, a granary and kiln to dry wheat with, a compact new built sashed dwelling house, walled in garden well planted, 5 acres of meadow and upland, spacious cart lodge and granary over over it, commodious 3-stalled stable, chaise and harness house, large stable for waggon horses, piggery and other useful buildings; also capital roundhouse windmill with two pair of French Stones 4 ft. 6 ins. wide.
The whole are calculated for a large business in a fine wheat country and adjoining the turnpike road, 7 miles from Norwich and 3 from Long Stratton.
Apply to Messrs. Foster, Son & Unthank, attornies, or the Auctioneer, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 11th & 18th February 1804


Such persons as stand indebted to the Estate & Effects of Dennis Wright of Saxlingham in the county of Norfolk, Miller to pay the same to Mr. Wright, Caldecote, Mr. Beverley, of Tibenham, Mr. Forster at Lenwade_Mills in Norfolk, at the Mills at Saxlingham or to Messrs. Foster, Son & Unthank, Norwich otherwise they will be sued.
February 17, 1804.
Norfolk Chronicle - 18th February 1804


Dennis Wright's Debtors
Notice is hereby given that unless the Debts due to Mr. Dennis Wright late of Saxlingham in Norfolk, Miller, (when he became bankrupt) are paid within one month to Mr. Robert Dring at Saxlingham Mill, such defaulters will be sued immediately after by Messrs. Foster, Son & Unthank, Attornies in Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd June 1804


Commissioners in a commission of Bankrupt against Dennis Wright of Saxlingham, Miller, dealer and chapman to meet 12 August next ...
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th July 1805


Notice re:-
Andrew Spratt late of Saxlingham, Miller, deceased.
Norfolk Chronicle - 28th February 1824


Valuable Freehold Water Corn Mill, Superior Tower_Windmill, Capital Dwelling House, Granaries and Land at Saxlingham and Mulbarton.
WM. BUTCHER Respectfully begs leave to announce to the Public that he has received instructions (from the Acting Executors of Mr. ANDREW SPRATT) to offer for Sale by Auction the latter end of the present month the valuable Freehold Water Corn Mill ... at Saxlingham. Also that superior TOWER_WINDMILL with patent sails, Dwelling house, Granaries, Outbuildings, Garden and Orchard adjoining pleasantly situated at Mulbarton within five miles of Norwich, possessing a Right of Commonage over the Common in that parish.
The above Estates are well situated for Trade having an excellent connection, are in the best possible state of repair and are certainly very desiarable for investment or to men of business.
Norfolk Chronicle - 2nd April 1825


Sale advert April 1825
Norfolk Chronicle - 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30 April 1825

Mr. BUTCHER announces to the Public that he has received instructions to submit to Public Competition at the Bowling Green Hotel, Norwich on Saturday 26 May, 1838, in lots.
Water_Corn_Mill, a newly-erected Brick Tower Windmill, neat Residence, Cottage, and other buildings at Saxlingham, in Norfolk, together with several acres of Arable and Pasture land.
The property is now in the occupation of Mr. Edward Reynolds, the Proprietor, who will give up possession at Michaelmas next.
Norfolk Chronicle - 21st April 1838


To MILLERS
Mr. BUTCHER Respectfully announces to the Public that he has received instructions to submit to Public Competition at the Bowling Green Hotel, Norwich on Saturday May 26, 1838
An Important and Valuable Freehold Water Corn Mill, a newly erected substantial Brick_Tower_Windmill, neat Residence, Cottage and other Buildings at Saxlingham in Norfolk, together with several Acres of fertile Arable & Pasture Land.
This desirable Property is well situated in a good Corn District, next the Turnpike Road from Norwich to London and in the immediate vicinity of excellent Markets.
It is now in the occupation of Mr. Edward REYNOLDS, the Proprietor, who will give up Possession at Michaelmas next.
Norfolk Chronicle - 28th April 1838


TO MILLERS
Superior Freehold Water Corn Mill, Brick Tower_Windmill, Residence and Land at Saxliongham near Norwich.
Mr. Butcher will Sell by Auction at the Bowling Green Hotel, Norwich on Saturday May 26, 1838 at 4 o'c
Thew undermentioned Important FREEHOLD MILLS at Saxlingham in Norfolk the Property of Mr. Edward Reynolds, who will give possession at Michaelmas next.
Lot 1. Water Corn Mill ...
Lot 2. That newly erected and substantila Brick Tower_Windmill with patent sails, winding herself and driving two pairs of stones, with a pightle of Land adjoining thereto containing One Acre.
Copyhold.
...
Each of the above Lots will be entitled to a Right of Commonage over the Commons of Saxlingham.
Apply to Messrs. Rackham & Cooke, Solrs. St Giles, Norwich or the Auctioneer.
Norfolk Chronicle - 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th May 1838


To Millers & Capitalists
Capital Estate and Corn Mills at SAXLINGHAM near Norwich With Possession at Michaelmas next or sooneer if required
To be SOLD or LET by Private Contract
A Superior and Valuable Freehold WATER CORN MILL at Saxlingham near Norwich and handsome new built Dwelling House adjoining the Mill ...
Also a capital and substantial Brick Tower_WINDMILL with Patent Sails, winding herself and driving two pairs of stomes and capable of manufacturing upon the average 3 Lasts per week; also a commodius Barn with Stable, and Lodges and tow pieces of superiort Arable and Meadow Land adjoining containing with the site of the Buildings Seven Acres or thereabouts.
The last mentioned Property has been erected withinb the last ten years uponm land adjacent to the Water Mill Premises and are in excellent repair. Copyhold of then Manor of Saxlingham Thorpe. Fine arbitrary and the only outgoing is an annual quit rent of 9s. There is an unlimited Right of COMMONAGE over the Common of Saxlingham attached to the whole Estate ...
The whole Estate is now in the occupation of Mr,. Edward Reynolds, the proprietor and possession will be give on 11th of October next or sooner if required.
Particulars on application to Mr. Reynolds or Mr. E. C. Bailey, Solr. Orford Street, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 25th March & 1st April 1843


To Millers and Capitalists
SAXLINGHAM MIILLS
Comprising Freehold Water Corn Mill, Dwelling House and Brick Tower_Wind_Mill with the requisite Outbuildings and about 13 acres of superior Arable and Meadow Land adjoining.
To be Sold by Private Contract.
Apply to Mr. Reynolds, the Proprietor, Boars Head Inn or to Mr. C. E. Bailey, Solr. Little Ordord Street, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norwich Gazette - 9th May 1846


To Millers
To be Sold or Let With Possession at Midsummer next
SAXLINGHAM MIILLS
Comprising Freehold WATER CORN MILL, Dwelling House, Brick_Tower_Windmill with requisite Outbuildings and about 13 acres of superior Arable and Meadow Land adjoining.
To be Sold by Private Contract.
Apply to Mr. Reynolds, Boars Head Inn or to Mr. C. E. Bailey, Solr. Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 6th March 1847


Capital Estates and Corn Mills at SAXLINGHAM near Norwich
With Possession at Michalemas next.
Mr. Butcher has received instructions to Sell by Auction at the Bell Inn, Orford Hill, Norwich on Saturday 11 September 1847 at 4 o'c the following most desirable Estate in one Lot comprising
A superior and well situate Freehold WATER CORN MILL ...
Adjacent to the Water Mill is a capital and substantial Brick_Tower_Windmill with patent sails, winding herself and drivingt two pairs of stones.
Also a commodious barn with stables and lodges and two pieces of superior Arable and Meadow Land adjoining containing with the site of the buildings 7 acres or thereabouts.
Copyhold, fine arbitrary. Quit rent 9s. ...
The above property forms one of the most complete Mill Estates in the county of Norfolk; it adjoins the turnpike road from Norwich to London and is distant only 7 miles from Norwich and 3 from Long Stratton. Its proximity to the Ipswich & Norwich Railway now constructing being withina mile of the proposed station at Flordon, gives it many superior advantages. The whole Estate is now in the occupation of Messrs. Candler whose lease expires at Michaelmas next.
Apply to Mr. E. C. Bailey, Solr. Little Orford Street or to Mr. Butcher, Auctioneer, Theatre Street, Norwich and at Mr. Bailey's office a Plan of the Estate may be seen.
Norfolk Chronicle - 28th August, 4th & 11th September 1847


Dissolution of Partnership:-
Lawrence Candler of Saxlingham &
Horatio Candler of Cringleford
Trading as L. & H. Candler.
Further trading on own account as above.
Norfolk Chronicle - 29th November 1851


Candler Family
Edward Candler, 1811 - 1888 was recorded as miller at Bawburgh in 1836 and 1845. His family were Quakers and several of his relatives were also millers. Lawrence Candler 1747 - 1820 was recorded at at Cringleford in 1806 (either the watermill or the postmill). His son Lawrence jnr. 1773 - 1824 was recorded at Cringleford_watermill in 1836 and again in 1845 with Horatio (his brother?). Horatio was again recorded there in 1864 and his son Horace Robert from 1883 - 1908. Lawrence and Horatio were recorded at Saxlingham Thorpe watermill from 1845 - 1863; they were also running Saxlingham_towermill in 1847. In 1879 and 1883 Horace was also recorded at East_Harling_watermill, where he lived and from at least 1890 - 1896 he was also running Keswick_watermill.

Valuable Steam, Water and Wind Mills with neat Residence, Cottage, offices and Land at
Saxlingham Thorpe
About 7 miles from Norwich, 1½ from Flordon Station, Great Eastern Railway
Messrs Butcher are favoured with instructions to Sell by Auction at the Royal Hotel, Norwich on Saturday 14 March 1863 at 3 for 4 o'c
All that important and valuable MILL PROPERTY at Saxlingham Thorpe in Norfolk comprising thew substantial and newly erected
STEAM MILL ...
WATER MILL ... under the same roof
TOWER_MILL is about 300 yards from the other Mills and has four floors and stage, patent sails and cast iron wind shaft driving two pair of French stones etc.
RESIDENCE
12 acres Meadow and Arable LAND
The entire Estate is Land Tax redeemed and in the occupation of the Proprietor Mr. Lawrence Candler who will give possession at Michaelmas next.
Particulars of Mr. Candler on the premises, Messrs Brightwell and Son, Solrs, Norwich and of Messrs. Butcher, Auctioneers, Norwich and 21 Bedford Row, London (W.C.)
Norfolk Chronicle - 21st & 28th February & 7th March & Norfolk News - 28th February 1863


Tony Watson stone dressing, September 1975
Tony Watson stone dressing, September 1975

In 1955, having left School and moved to Newton Flotman from Brooke, I worked for Duffield's at their Saxlingham Thorpe Mill, my job was to repair Sacks on the Sack floor. Some of them were repaired by having Patches sown on to them, this was the job of two Ladies, one of them, a young woman called Rita, and the other a Mrs Gailer. I repaired them by Gluing Patches on the inside with a EVOstick type substance. Another of my jobs was to clean out Flour Bags, which was done under cover in the Yard, by using a Suction Machine, the idea was to throw the neck of the Sack over the mouth of the Suction Pipe and the Sack would be sucked inside out. The Sacks were lined with Paper, therefore the suction was very strong, and on cold winter mornings, and your hands were numb if you didn't keep a tight grip on the Sack it would be swallowed up the Pipe to the Mesh Guard at the top, you then had to stop the Machine to allow it to fall back down again under it's own weight, you could often lose Fingernails if you were not careful doing this work. I left there to join the Royal Navy, (I was 16 and a half,) before I was called up for National Service. I also recall that at that time several of the Lorries were Ex-Army, named Crossleys.
Norman Fuller - 1st May 2004


April 1977 April 1977
April 1977 showing the gable end of the old mill
April 1977

After torrential rain on 16th September 1968, the whole of the Tas valley flooded and covered a vast area including the area around the mill. While the Anglian Water Authority were realigning the river course on both sides of the new road bridge, Duffields took the opportunity to fill in the watercourse cut from the river Tas that was originally used to provide water to power the mill. It took six thousand cubic yards of hardcore to block the old waterway.

During the summer of 1980 ten new grain silos were erected on the site of the old filled in waterway at a cost of £370,000. These silos had a storage capacity of 5.000 tonnes - six silos held 680 tonnes each and the other four 250 tonnes.

The mill was dramatically enlarged during the summer of 1970, at which time the front of the old watermill became lost to sight as it was encompassed by a new large cladded structure. A modern pneumatic roller flour mill was then installed by the company Henry Simon, one of the leading milling engineers in the UK. By 1972 Duffields, having enlarged and modernised the mill, were taking in 100 tons of cereals a week and storing 225 tons of flour for biscuit making.

Duffields chose to concentrate their business on one site for the purpose of efficiency and ease of communications - Saxlingham Thorpe mill is right beside the Norwich - Ipswich road. As a result Buxton and Tharston Mills were both closed in 1970.

Animal feed production was also increased with the installation of a new grinder and filters powered by a 130hp electric motor, along with a new California pellet mill, fat tank and other equipment increasing the production capacity from 12 tonnes per hour to 24 tonnes per hour. A new Christy X26 grinding mill was also installed bringing the total expenditure up to £117,000. On top of this a new 2,000 KvA transformer was required to run the plant, along with new computers and an increase in the size of the lorry fleet. The total cost of the expansion programme was £640,000. Despite all this, due to transport costs, the company only considered it economically viable to trade its animal feed products within 40 miles of its plant.

At the height of flour production the company was exclusively using locally grown wheat to supply biscuit flour to companies such as Huntley & Palmer, Peak Freans, Jacobs, Nabisco, Mars, Rowntree Mackintosh, Cadburys, Heinz, Lyons, Beechams, Farleys and Colmans.

Although no longer water powered the company still retained a pair of French buhr stones for specialist flour grinding.

On 1st March 1991 Duffields announced that after 101 years they would be closing the flour milling arm of the business in order to concentrate totally on the animal feed side.


2nd September 2007
2nd September 2007

Duffields' Milling History

1891-1892: W.I. Duffield started milling at the Black Tower Mill, Mattishall, making stone ground flour. The mill developed up to 20h.p.
1896: Tasburgh Mill was hired - Duffields' first steam-driven roller flour mill, producing two sacks per hour

1910: Saxlingham Mill was acquired

1919: Tharston Mill was acquired; Tasburgh and Saxlingham Mills were relinquished, but not for long

1924: William C. Duffield took over the mill at Buxton, remodelling it into a 2½ sacks per hour roller mill

1928: Saxlingham Mill was reacquired

1936: W.L. Duffield & Sons Ltd. was formed

1940: Animal feedstuff compound was first produced at Saxlingham

1950: Duffields acquired the tenancy of Hautbois Hall Farms (176 acres)

1951: Buxton flour mill was remodelled and capacity doubled

1952: Tharston flour mill was remodelled and capacity doubled

1953: Lamas Rectory and and 46 acres of glebeland adjacent to the farm were purchased

1960: The warehouse at Buxton was built

1962: The Duffield Group was formed with Duffield Mills Ltd. as the holding company

1963: A further 123 acres of land adjacent to the farm were purchased

1964: Buxton flour mill capacity was again doubled to ten sacks per hour

1965: The feed capacity at Saxlingham was doubled

1970: Modernisation at Saxlingham, doubling capacity for flour production despite the closure of Tharston and Buxton Mills. The group today employs a staff of 109.

Eastern Daily Press 19th September, 1970


...all the machinery has to be destroyed. It's not allowed oit be sold to another mill so they can increase their production. And the Four Milling Association would pay so much ... You couldn't sell off your machinery. That all had to go for scrap. In fact it even happened a few years ago with Duffield's Mill at Saxlingham. They decided to cease flour production and go completely onto animal feeds and all their machinery had to be scrapped just the same.
Peter Gowing, millwright, interviewed by Janet Few for NIAS Journal - 5th December 2008


I was employed by Duffields as project manager for the 1970 remodel and then mill manager until I took a new post in South Africa in 1973.
I still have drawings and photos from those days and I am sure the 1970 photo is one I took. I prepared a photo record for the firm which may still exist.
The millstone dresser in the photo is Tony Watson who used to operate the stone mills before the new mill. These stones were retained and mounted on a new floor inside what had been the old mill wheel pit, the mill race still flowing beneath (not now,probably).
Planning wasn't too strict in those days (how else could we have got away with that awful asbestos clad block!!) The 1970 pic shows the steelwork for the new wheat cleaning plant being built on top of the old engine house. I can remember a meeting during the project stages when the Henry Simon (contractor) engineer asked if a survey had been done to see if that structure (wheat cleaning and storage bins) could be supported on the engine house walls.
The response to that from Mr Harry Duffield was: "Grandfather always said there was more money spent below the ground under that building than was spent above, that's good enough for us."
Simon Cauthery - 28th September 2011


O. S. Map 1882

O. S. Map 1882
Courtesy of NLS map images

The dotted parish boundary line can be seen running along the original river course, latterly being used as the mill bypass. The river section now leading to the mill was dug in order to accommodate the mill and provide a sufficient head of water.

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

The mill suffered £10,000 worth of flood damage in 1968 but survived. In 1972 the wheel was removed and the site was greatly enlarged. The new buildings that were erected almost completely enclosed the original structure. Until that time the waterwheel had still been used on occasions and was cleaned monthly. The last time the spur wheel was recogged, synthetic wood was used.

The gable end of the old brick watermill building could still be seen from the road in 2005.


Saxlingham poll book 1768: George Watson

1778: William Durrant, miller

1782: William Durrant, miller (at Buxton Mill in 1782)

Saxlingham poll book 1786: George Watson

Saxlingham poll book 1794: George Watson

c.1795: John Spratt, miller - also at Saxlingham postmill, Shotesham watermill and Shotesham postmill

Faden's map 1797: Mill

1800: George Watson sold mill with 37 years of unexpired lease

Poll book 1802: Dennis Wright, miller

Poll book 1804: Dennis Wright, miller

1804: Dennis Wright, bankrupt

February 1804: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with postmill

1804: Robert Dring, miller

1828: Plan of late George Watson's estate drawn

Saxlingham poll book 1802: Dennis Wright

February 1824: Andrew Spratt, miller, died

April 1825: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with Mulbarton smockmill after the death of Andrew Spratt

White's 1836: Edward Reynolds, miller.
The water mill, with an estate, is the property of Mr. E. Reynolds

1838: Edward Reynolds, miller

April 1838: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Census 1841:
Edward Reynolds (50) miller
Harriot Reynolds (40)
Harriot Reynolds (19)
Robert Reynolds, grocer's assistant
Geo Reynolds (7)
Henry Reynolds (5)
James Burrell (18) miller's apprentice
Joseph Rolfe (20) journeyman miller
Elizabeth Bone (or Rone) (20) female servant.

White's 1843: Edward Reynolds

White's 1845: Lawrence & Horatio Candler, corn millers

May 1846: Mill advertised for sale by private contract along with windmill

March 1847: Mill advertised for sale or let along with windmill

August 1847: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with windmill

November 1851: Partnership of Lawrence Candler & Horatio Candler dissolved

White's 1854: Lawrence Candler, corn miller

Harrod's 1863: Lawrence & Horatio Candler, miller

c.1863: Steam mill built underr same roof as water mill

February 1863: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with windmill

White's 1864: John Wakelin Miles, corn miller

White's 1883: John Wakelin Miles, landowner, farmer & miller

White's 1890: John Wakelin Miles, landowner, farmer, miller & manure agent

Kelly's 1892: John W. Miles, miller (steam & water) & farmer & landowner

Kelly's 1896: John Gardiner Miles, miller (water & steam) & farmer

1896: Duffields hired Tasburgh mill, which became their first steam roller mill producing two sacks per hour

Kelly's 1900: John Gardiner Miles, miller (water & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1904: John Gardiner Miles, miller (water) & farmer

1906: William Duffield rented Saxlingham Thorpe mill

Kelly's 1908: William L. Duffield, miller (water) & farmer

1910: William Duffield bought Saxlingham Thorpe mill

Kelly's 1912: William L. Duffield, miller (water) & farmer

Kelly's 1916: Robert John Watlington, miller (steam & water) & corn & flour merchant; & at Cringleford, Norwich

1919: Duffields bought Tharston mill and sold Saxlingham Thorpe and Tasburgh mills

Kelly's 1922:
Robert John Watling, miller (steam & water) & corn & flour merchant (T A "Watling, Saxlingham"); & at Cringleford & Tasburgh, Norwich N.B. Not possible at Cringleford as the mill was never rebuilt after the 1916 fire.

Kelly's 1925:
Robert John Watling, miller (steam & water) & corn & flour merchant. T A "Watling, Saxlingham;" T N Mulbarton 26X4
Kelly's 1925: Robert John Watling, Mill house

1928: Duffields bought the mill back

Kelly's 1929: W. L. Duffield, miller, Saxlingham Thorpe roller mills; & at Tharston

Kelly's 1937:
William L. Duffield & Sons Ltd. flour millers & corn merchants (TA "Duffield, Saxlingham Nethergate), Saxlingham Thorpe roller mill; & at Tharston. T N Fundenhall 206

1965: Animal feed production capacity doubled

1970: Mill modernised and enlarged

1st March 1991: Duffields announce flour milling to cease after 101 years

May 2011: Tony Duffield died aged 83 at Lammas

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 TM21209787
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004