Cawston Sygate
Black towermill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Sygate mills 1923
Black Mill is in the background 1923

Two brick towermills were both built in the same mill yard at Cawston Sygate in 1853 by farmer, merchant and auctioneer, John Shepheard Hickling. The Black mill was slightly smaller than the White mill and was so called because it had a black tarred cap. The mill house bears a datestone J.S.H. 1853.


Rex Wailes described the cap as the smallest he had seen at 11 ft. 6 ins. long by 7 ft. 3 ins. high.

John Shepheard Hickling was buried in Cawston chuchyard.

The Black mill was run as a sawmill by Baily Bird, who had two more wind sawmills at Philadelphia, Norwich. After he died and by 1860, the Black mill was rented to William Fuller for £25 per annum and continued to be run as a sawmill. Wood was sawn for the manufacture of herring boxes. At one point however, the Black Mill was grinding wheat to flour, which was then dressed in the White Mill.

Without Reserve,

At the Bull Inn, Magdalen Street, Norwich, on Thursday, the 14th day of June 1860, at Five for Six o'clock in the Afternoon, by order of the Executors of the Will of Mr. Bailey Bird, deceased, in Lots.
Lot 1. All that Brick Tower WINDMILL, USED as a Saw-mill, well situated in Cawston, Norfolk, erected within the last eight years, with the Machinery and going Gears complete, now in the occupation of William Fuller, a yearly tenant, at the rent of £25 per annum.
Lot 2. All that substantially erected Brick Tower WINDMILL, used as a Saw-mill, situated at Philadelphia, near St. Augustine’s-gates, Norwich, with the Machinery and going Gears belonging thereto, and occupied therewith, and ~ Rods of Ground, late in the occupation of the deceased.
Lot 3. A Tower WINDMILL, used as a Saw-mill, with Machinery and going Gears complete, A COTTAGE, with land, Garden, and Appurtances, late in the occupation of the deceased, adjoining the mill, and three Cottages near, now occupied by Miss Hannah Orton, James Revell, and the Widow, all situated at Philadelphia aforesaid.
The respective purchasers of Lots 2 and 3, will have the option of purchasing the Timber and other Trees, now lying on those Lots. Immediate Possession may be had of the Mills, Yards, and Cottage, late in the occupation of Mr. Bird.
Part of the purchase money may remain on mortgage at 4½ per cent.
Particulars and Conditions of Sale may be had of Mr. W. L. Mendham, Solicitor, St. Andrew’s Broad-street; or of the Auctioneers, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 26th May 1860


To be Sold or Let With possession at Christmas next

All that Freehold Brick TOWER SAW MILL with the Saws & Machinery & requisite Going Gears, in complete order & in full trade, with the Yard adjoining, now in the occupation of Mr. William Fuller. This Mill being situated in the centre of numerous Plantations affords great facilities for carrying on the Sawing Business & an industrious man with small capital & business habits will find this a most eligible opportunity for carrying on a profitable trade.

Apply to Mr. Mendham, Solr. St. Andrews St., Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 8th December 1860

Sale without Reserve

A newly erected Freehold BRICK TOWER WINDMILL at CAWSTON

To be Sold by Auction by Mr. H. J. Mason at the Woodrow Inn, Cawston on Tuesday 13 August 1861 at 5 for 6 o’c

By Order of the Executors of Mr. Bailey Bird deceased.

All that BRICK TOWER WINDMILL well fitted up with Sawing Machinery & requisite Going Gears complete & situate at Cawston, late in the occupation of Mr. William Fuller.

Immediate possession may be had of the Mill which is situate near several extensive Plantations & a remunerative trade can easily be obtained by an industrious man with a small capital. Part of the purchase money may remain on mortgage for a term if required.

Particulars of Mr. W.L. Mendham, Solr. St. Andrews, or of the Auctioneer opposite Maddermarket Church, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd August 1861

To … Mill Sawyers & others

To be Sold or Let with Immediate Possession


A Brick Tower WINDMILL well fitted up with sawing machinery & requisite going gears & large Yard, situate near several extensive Plantations. A good trade can be easily obtained by an industrious man with a small capital.

For rent & further particulars apply to Mr. W. I. Mendham, Solicitor, St. Andrews Street, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 31st August 1861

Michaelmas Sales by J. S. Hickling
Wednesday September 27 at the Lamb Inn, Cawston at 5 p.m.

Two Brick Tower WINDMILLS, Miller's House, two Cottages, Granary, Engine house, Stable and Gardens, containing altogether One acre.
Freehold. Rental £40 per annum.
Wm. Forster, Esq., Vendor's Solicitor

Norfolk Chronicle - 16th & 23rd September 1893

Sygate towermills c.1935 Towermills c.1938
Black Mill on the left c.1935
Mills and cottages c.1938

William Stackwood snr moved from Dilham to Cawston in the late 1890s. He had been running the two Sygate mills whilst also running Dilham watermill where he had been living. His son Sydney Stackwood remained behind and carried on the business in Dilham.
William Stackwood probably converted the Black mill to a cornmill c.1895 and ran both mills until his sons Charles and Bamber took over c.1912 and continued milling on the site until 1929. However, steam power was being used in the latter stages of production and the Black mill only had one pair of sails by 1923.

In 1923 Philip Unwin photographed the mil and recorded that both were derelict.

Mill Cottages 1924
Bamber & Rosie Stackwood, Mrs Nora Purdy & Mrs Stackwood outside Mill Cottages in 1924

At some point the mill had tailwinded and eventually caught fire. Bamber Stackwood then sold the mill to Stanley Oakes who wanted it for brick rubble to use on a private roadway leading from the Booton Road in Cawston. Taylor Bros of Wroxham were then then contracted to demolish the mill in 1955 and amongst the staff employed on the job was a Mr. Cox. They placed a girder on the inside across a top window and attached a rope to a winch on a Marshall tractor. This effectively pulled out the side of the mill at the top. The girder was then moved to a lower window until only the lower section remained and this was then taken down by hand.

Sygate Black tower1955
May and Victor Purdy standing in front of the part demolished mill in 1955

The White Mill would have suffered the same fate if the winch rope had not broken.

O.S. Map 1885
O.S. Map 1885 - black mill just to the northwest of the white mill
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 1885
25" O.S. Map 1885 - black mill just to the northwest of the white mill (not to scale)
Courtesy of NLS map images

1853: Mill built along with the White mill by John Shepheard Hickling

White's 1854: John Hickling, corn miller

c.1858: Baily Bird - sawmill

1860: William Fuller renting sawmill at £25 per annum from Baily Bird of Norwich

April 1860: Bailey Bird died

May 1860: Mill advertised for sale by auction along with New Catton east and New Catton west sawmills

December 1860: Mill advertised for sale or let in the occupation of William Fuller, sawyer

August 1861: Mill advertised for sale by auction, William Fuller having left

Kelly's 1879: John Shepheard Hickling, miller, corn merchant & farmer; & at Brandestone, Haveringland & Sall

O.S. map 1885: Windmill

1888-1890: William Handcock, tenant

Kelly's 1892: Alexander Wells, miller (wind) & c. Southgate

September 1893: Mills advertised for sale by auction

Kelly's 1900: William Stackwood, miller (wind & steam) & coal merchant

1896-1912: William Stackwood, coal merchant

1923: Mill derelict

1916-1929: Charles & Bamber Stackwood trading as Stackwood Bros.

1955: Mill pulled down

March 1967: Bamber Stackwood died

1970: Property owned by Mrs. Louisa Purdy, daughter of William Stackwood

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 TG13552463
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005