drainage mill
River Yare


Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills


Limpenhoe drainage mill was built on the bank of the River Yare by millwright William_Thorold in 1831. The mill stood 1¼ miles down a track from Limpenhoe Farm. The 4 storey tower was about 35 feet to the curb and had an inside diameter of 16 ft at the base with 22 in thick walls. The tower had three internal floors, the top floor having two windows. It is presumed the mill had a boat shaped cap and an 8 bladed fantail without a gallery. The four double shuttered patent sails were probably 9 ft or 10 ft wide with 9 bays of shutters. The drive was via a 19 ft diameter wooden brake wheel to a 5 ft diameter cast iron wallower set on a wooden upright shaft to a second iron wallower driving a 10 ft diameter cast iron pitwheel with wooden teeth and then to a 19 ft diameter scoopwheel on the same axle.

13th June 1989
13th June 1989

The mill was to be paid for by each person in proportion to the acreage of marsh owned that was to be drained by the mill. In 2007 the mill was still surviving in a derelict condition, the tower being complete with the cap frame still on the top of the mill along with the remains of the fantail and the windshaft, broken at the back of the canister. The surviving scoopwheel axle bore the legend W. ENGLAND 1895. Limpenhoe drainage mill was the last surviving windmill built by William Thorold.

13th June 1989
13th June 1989

An Agreement for the Drainage of a certain level of Marshes lying in Limpenhoe & Southwood in the County of Norfolk.
That the specification of William_Thorold of the City of Norwich, Engineer hereunto annexed for the erection of a Drainage Mill & Cottage & for making the Drains & Road & other necessary works to be done for the purpose of the said drainage & his contract to perform the same for the sum of £744 is hereby accepted & agreed to by the said parties & that he shall forthwith commence the said works.
As Witness our hand this 15th day of October 1831.
John Frances Leathes.
H. N. Burroughes, Jer. Burroughes.
Agent for Mrs. C. Burroughes, Wm. Blake, Rt. Gilbert, Fras. Drake.
his Benj. X Browning mark
Rt. Walpole, by Wm. Foster, his agent.
W. H. Maddison, Agent for the execrs. of the Late Revd Jno. Emeris.

In 1989, Arthur Smith reported that the cap base frame remained on top of the mill and the iron windshaft was still in place but without its canister, however the brake wheel had collapsed. The floor beams and all the other machinery were still in situ. The 10 in square wooden upright shaft was in two sections and had chamfered corners. A 10 ft diameter pit wheel with a 8½ in square iron shaft connected to an outside 19 ft diamter scoop wheel over an outer iron hoop, with many of the wooden paddles still in situ.


The biggest problem preventing the mill being restored is that the ownership of the mill and land is unknown. The last know owner's estate deny that it is theirs. British Sugar (who own all the land except the bit where the mill is) deny it is theirs, and the farmer who farms the marshes and could claim the land under free occupancy and use rules, doesn't want to do so!
Michael Roots - 26th July 2007

20th February 2009
20th February 2009

21st October 2011
21st October 2011

1831: Mill built by millwright William Thorold at a cost of £744

1989: Tower still standing with machinery in situ, no sails, lying derelict

1989: Lease pending to Norfolk Windmills Trust

2007: Derelict

2010: Derelict - possibly owned by British Sugar

2011: Mill ownership claimed by Oliver J. Read with the intention of restoration

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 TG39460190
Top of Page

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007