Potter Heigham
Heigham Holmes
drainage pump
River Thurne



1950
1950

Heigham Holmes mill in the parish of Potter Heigham, was a 4 storey drainage pump built by in the mid 1800s beside Eelfleet Wall on the southeastern edge of the island, to north of the River Thurne. The tower had opposing doors and a window on the first and second floors. Power was supplied by 4 patent sails. The building is now Grade ll listed and is one of the earliest pumps to use an internal turbine casing. A modern pumphouse stands beside trhe tower.

In the 1870s the mill was known as Watson's marsh mill, having been named after the marshman Robert Watson that once ran it.

It was rumoured that during the Second World War part of Heigham Holmes was used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a secret landing ground. However, no concrete evidence for this has so far been found. A Broads Authority report of 2013 states - The mill sits on the site of an important WW2 airfield.

April 1972
April 1972

In November 1986 the tower still had two stocks and clamps and the remains of the sails and striking gear. The cap frame and tracking, the cast iron windshaft, fanstage and fan remains were still in situ. The two section wooden upright shaft, cast iron crownwheel and bevelled gear driving a cast iron horizontal shaft also remained. The internal turbine was still in its casing.

Map 1884
O. S. Map 1884
Courtesy of NLS map images

Census 1871: Watson's marsh mill, on the Holmes

1950: Derelict red brick tower with collapsed cap and fanstage; 2 stocks and remains of 3 sails, windshaft and brakewheel

April 1972: Derelict red brick tower with collapsed cap and fanstage; 2 stocks and remains of 3 sails, windshaft and brakewheel

1986: Mill tower with remains of most machinery still in situ

1987: Heigham Holmes acquired by National Trust to become a nature reserve

2013: Tower leaning to one side with severe brickwork erosion and rotting main beams


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 07836 675369 or

Nat Grid Ref TG 44962024
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2020