Bixley
towermill


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Norfolk Windmills


Letterhead c.1856
Letterhead c.1856

Bixley towermill mill was built in 1838 for Charles Clare on the site of his now demolished Bixley_smockmill. At 11 floors, it was the tallest ever in the county. Although able to drive 5 pairs of stones, in 1857 it was supplemented by a 4 storey steam mill that was itself powering an additional 4 pairs of stones, the engine of which was built by Thomas_Smithdale. The mill had a boat shaped cap with a gallery and a 6 bladed fan. The 4 double shuttered sails drove the stones, 2 flour mills, a rubble machine and a jumper. A stage was set around the 6th floor. The wall at the base of the tower was 42ins thick and a datestone was placed over the door inscribed C.C. 1838.


A thief stole some money from Charles Clare's waggon in December 1838 but was caught red handed


CITY SESSIONS
PRISONERS
James Hewett, aged 16, was found guilty of stealing 300 penny pieces, 80 half pence, and a sack, the property of Mr. Elias Clare, of Bixley, The prisoner stole the above from a waggon in St. Andrew's Street, and was by Mr. Wright, the late superintendent of police, in the fact, and immediately apprehended with the money upon him. He was sentenced to seven years' transportation.
Norfolk Chronicle - 4th January 1838

Charles Clare had a son, also named Charles, and they worked the mill together in the 1850's. Charles Clare Jr. was born c.1826 in Bixley. They asked John Gregory Buttifant, the Norwich millwright, to do some work in the mill. His quote reads: -

Messrs. Clare & Son,
Norwich, January 8th 1851.

Gentlemen,
We beg to hand you a price to put your Flour Machine to work to drive with Gears. viz a cast iron nut to take into Spur Wheel, ham'd iron shaft, one pr. clutches, cast iron carriages, wheels, &c. necessary for driving the same & fitting up the case complete for work & fix'd with a rall upon the most improved principle will amount to Fifty five pounds 11/-
£55.11. 0.
We remain
Your Obedt. & Hble. Servts.
C. Buttifant & Son,
Millwrights.


In 1851 Charles Clare Sr. was given as a miller aged 50 employing 4 men, living at Bixley with his wife Mary, 52, and son Charles, 25, a farmer of 180 acres employing 6 men and 2 boys.
Charles Clare jn. was married on the 23rd November 1852.


MARRIED
Tuesday last, by the Rev. Edw Day, Mr. C. Clare, only son of Mr. C. Clare, of Bixley Mill, to Sarah Ann Varvill, only daughter of Mr. James Varvill, yeoman, of Kirby Bedon, late of Postwick.
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th November 1852

7 lbs prepd. plaster

CLARE & SON, BIXLEY 6d.
Smithdale's Day Book - 7th February 1853

Charles Clare sn. was listed in White's Directory of 1854 as a corn miller


Bixley tower mill was struck by lightning on the 23rd May 1854


Thunder Storm. - A Tempest passed over this city on Tuesday afternoon, between three and four o'clock. Although the peals of thunder were loud and long, and the lightning vivid, it was evident that we escaped the severest part of the storm. The clouds hung heavily over the south-eastern and eastern parts of the city, Bixley Mill, belonging to Mr. Colman, was struck, and considerable damage done; and we also hear that a man near Trowse Hill was knocked down and rendered insensible.
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th May 1854

v

It is so far unknown as to why Mr. Colman was reported as owning the mill as Charles Clare appeared to be the owner or incumbent.
Mr. Colman was later reported as having bought the mill at auction on 29th July 1872.


Thomas Smithdale, who had taken over from John Gregory Buttifant, was asked to make a new sail.
His quote reads: -

St. Ann's Foundry, King St. Norwich. May 31 1854.
Messrs Clare & Son
Gentlemen,
I will undertake to make a new Sail to your mill, thirteen yards long and eight feet wide with all new vanes, levers, flats, pivots, thimbles & Cuthead screws to Do. complete - Also a new Half Stock of Good Memel Timber 40 feet long 12x12 inches, new sail bolts, backstays &c. with Mens time and fixing new half stock and Sail for the sum of Sixty Two Pounds.
I remain,
Gentlemen,
Your Obedt. Servant,
for Thomas Smithdale,
Thos Smithdale Jnr.


From the above it is evident that this mill had a cross on the windshaft, an extremely rare fitting in Norfolk on a four sailed mill. This fitting being more usually found in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. However, instead of the sails being built in the manner normally associated with using a cross, which dispensed with stocks by making the sail back of a thicker cross section, normal sails were used mounted on four half stocks. A similar arrangement was to be found on Stamp's Mill, Faldingworth, Lincs (TF068849), although that mill carried spring sails.


Charles Clare Sr. was listed in Melville's Directory of 1856 as a corn miller


A Steam Mill was added to the windmill in 1857, the engine being built by Thomas Smithdale. His quote reads: -

St. Ann's Foundry, King St. Norwich, Jan. 13/57
Messrs. Clare & Son,
Gentlemen,
I will undertake to make one Horizontal Steam Engine of eight horse power viz,
One Cylinder Nine inch bore and Twenty inch Stroke with Governors complete & pumps for supplying Boiler, with an Eight foot Flywheel of one Ton weight with Cornish boiler Twelve feet long, Four foot diameter and Two foot flue and plates 3/8" thick to be supplied with Slacking Valve, Safety Valve, Two Gauge cocks and Glass water Gauge with Door frame & fire bars complete.
The above to be completed and fixed to the end of the Fly wheel shaft for the Sum of Two Hundred & Ten pounds.£210. 0. 0. This price will not include Steam pipe, Suction pipe, Masonry & Brick Work.
Yours Obediently,

Thos. Smithdale.


In September 1859 Charles Clare went to Court to settle a dispute about road usage with a Mr. Gowing

Norwich POLICE INTELLIGENCE
GUILDHALL. - SATURDAY, SEPT. 3.

Before the MAYOR, E. FIELD, Esq., J. J. UTTEN BROWNE, Esq., R. W. BLAKE, Esq., and
H. BOLINGBROKE, Esq.
ASSAULTS. - Mr. George Gowing, farmer, of Trowse, was charged, at the instance of Mr. Chas. Clare, miller, of Bixley, with assaulting him near Trowse Bridge, on the previous Tuesday. Both parties were driving on the Trowse Road, and had to stop at the railway crossing, the gate being closed. A number of vehicles were also waiting, there, and Mr. Clare was forced to occupy the only available place, which happened to be on the wrong side of the road. Mr. Gowing, conceiving he had a right to remove him, jumped from his gig and seized the reins of Mr. Clare's horse, with the view of diverting it into another direction. Mr. Clare insisting that he should "let go," but without effect, struck him on the knuckles with the handle of his whip; upon which Mr. Gowing struck Mr. Clare violently on the head. Mr. Gowing pleaded in defence that he was assaulted first, and that he thought he had a right to insist upon the complainant taking the proper side of the road. The bench, however, informed him, that as there was no room on the right side of the road, Mr. Clare had a perfect right to avail himself of a vacant space on the other. In hitting him on the knuckles for seizing the reins of the horse, Mr. Clare had only done what any other individual would most likely have done. As there was reason to believe that a good deal of animus was mixed up in the transaction, the bench ordered both parties to be bound over in their own recognizances of £10 to keep the peace towards each other for six months, and the expence of the summons to be divided betwixt them.

Norfolk Chronicle - 10th September 1859

Thomas Smithdale was asked to install a cast iron tank in the mills in December 1860. His quote reads: -

St. Ann's Iron Works,
King Street, Norwich, Decr. 15/60
Mr. Clare,
Sir,
Having made a calculation of the weight of the Cistern you mentioned, viz, 12ft. long, 3ft. wide & 3ft. Deep. The weight will be 25 Cwt. to include Bolts, Nuts, & Iron Cement, with mens time fitting the same, the price will be twelve pounds, ten shillings.
I am, Sir,
Your Obt. Servt.,

Thos Smithdale,


21st May 1980
21st May 1980

To Millers
Wanted immediately, a married Man as FOREMAN in a Wind & Steam Mill. He must be a good Stoneman.
Apply to Messrs. C. Clare & Son, Bixley MIlls.

Norfolk News - 6th September 1862


Charles Clare probably employed a miller, as by this time there was only the one mill in Bixley.
The employee appeared in Court in March 1862.

Norwich POLICE INELLIGENCE
MONDAY, MARCH 3.

Before the MAYOR, DEPUTY-MAYOR, H. WOODCOCK, R. CHAMBERLIN and J.BETTS, Esqrs.,
DRUNKENESS - James Duncan, a miller, of Bixley, was fined 5s. and costs, for being found drunk and incapable of taking care of himself last night, in White Lion-street.

Norfolk Chronicle - 8th March 1862

The mills were to let several times from March 1863


TO LET,
With Immediate Possession,
BIXLEY MILLS,

THE STEAM and WIND MILLS, with the convenient Dwelling-house, Stables, and suitable Buildings adjoining, as now in the occupation of the proprietors.
For Rent and particulars apply to Messrs. Clare and Son, Bixley, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 26th March 1863

TO LET,
BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich.
Within a mile of the Trowse Station.
NOW IN FULL TRADE, AND IN GOOD REPAIR.

The WINDMILL contains eleven Floors, with five pairs of stones, a Flour Machine, two Flour Mills, Rubble Machine, and Jumper.
The STEAMMILL attached consists of four floors, with four pairs of Stones, Flour Machine, Jumper, Hoisting tackle complete.
A good DWELLING-HOUSE, containing thirteen Rooms, Cellars, Counting-house, and Greenhouse attached. There are also Coal-bins, Stables, Cart and Gig-houses, Carpenter's and Blacksmith's Shops, and good Kitchen Garden adjoining.
For rent and particulars, apply to Messrs. Clare and Son, Bixley, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd April 1863

To Let with Immediate Possession
BIXLEY MILLS

The STEAM & WIND MILLS with the convenient Dwelling house, Stables & suitable Buildings adjoining as now in the occupation of the proprietors.
For Rent & particulars apply to Messrs. Clare & Son, Bixley, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 26th March 1864 & Norfolk News - 2nd April 1864

TO LET
BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich,

Within a mile of Trowse Station .
Now in full trade & in good repair.
THE WIND-MILL contains Eleven Floors and Five pairs of Stones, a Flour machine, 2 flour Mills, Rubble Machine & Jumper.
THE STEAM-MILL Four floors, 4 pairs of stones, Flour Machine, Jumper, Hoisting tackle complete.
and all necessary appurtances. A good DWELLING-HOUSE, with Stables and other Offices attached.
Forty to Fifty Acres of LAND may also be had if desired.
Apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, Norwich; or to Messrs. Clare and Son, Merchants, Bixley, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 9th July 1864

TO LET
BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich,
With Possession at Michaelmas,

THE WIND-MILL contains Eleven Floors and Five pairs of Stones.
THE STEAM-MILL attached comprises Four floors, with Four pairs of stones, and all necessary appurtances. A good DWELLING-HOUSE, with Stables and other Offices attached.
Forty to Fifty Acres of LAND may also be had if desired.
Apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, Norwich; or to Messrs. Clare and Son, Merchants, Bixley, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 9th July 1864

To Let on Lease
Bixley Mills, Norwich,

THE WINDMILL contains Eleven Floors and five pairs of Stones.
THE STEAM MILL attached comprises Four floors, with Four pairs of stones, and all requisite appurtances.
A good DWELLING HOUSE, with Stables and other offices attached.
Forty to Fifty Acres of LAND may also be had if desired.
Apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, Norwich; or to Messrs. Clare and Son, Merchants, Bixley, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 13th, 20th & 27th August 1864

BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich
With or without 40 or 50 Acres of Land,
TO LET,
On Lease, with Immediate Possession,

Apply to Messrs. Miller, and Co., Bank Chambers, Norwich, or Messrs. Clare and Son, Bixley.
Norwich, 6th October 1864.

Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 8th & 15th October 1864

There were still no takers, and the mills were advertised again four times in the first five months of 1865, again without success


Situations Vacant
To Millers

WANTED immediately, a FOREMAN for Wind & Steam Mills.
Apply personally at Bixley Mills or 94 Stand, Corn Exchange, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 5th November 1864

Situations Vacant
To Millers

WANTED immediately, a man who thoroughly understands Driving an Engine & Stone Dressing.
Apply personally, 94 Corn Exchange, Norwich or Bixley Mills.

Norfolk Chronicle - 26th November 1864

TO LET,
BIXLEY STEAM & WIND MILLS
near Norwich

WITH comfortable Residence adjoining, as now in the occupation of Messrs Clare and son, whose tenancy expires on the 25th of March next.
For rent and particulars apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, or Messrs. Wright and Woodrow, Land Agents, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 28th January,4th, 11th, 18th & 25th February & 4th March 1865

BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich
TO BE LET
Upon Lease or otherwise, Possession at Lady-day.

WITH comfortable RESIDENCE and necessary Outbuildings adjoining.
Part of the Capital may remain in the Business, if required.
For rent and further particulars apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, or Messrs. Wright and Woodrow, Land Agents, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 25th February 1865


BIXLEY MILLS, Norwich
To be Let

Upon Lease or otherwise with possession at Ladyday, with comfortable Residence & necessary Outbuildings adjoining.
Part of the Capital may remain in the Business, if required.
For rent and further particulars apply to Messrs. Miller, Son, and Bugg, Solicitors, or Messrs. Wright and Woodrow, Land Agents, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 11th March 1865


WIND AND STEAM CORN MILLS,
BIXLEY, NEAR Norwich,
TO BE LET, on Lease or otherwise, With immediate possession.

TO BE LET, on Lease or otherwise, With immediate possession.
These Mills work eight pairs of Stones, and have suitable Granary accommodation and other Outbuildings. There is also a comfortable Residence, with the requisite domestic offices.
The Mills are well situated in an elevated position within one mile of the Great Eastern Railway Station at Trowse.
Rent and Tenants’ Fixtures moderate.
For further particulars apply to Messrs. Wright and Woodrow, Land Agents, Queen Street, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 8th, 15th & 22nd April 1865


WIND AND STEAM CORN MILLS,
BIXLEY, NEAR Norwich,

TO BE LET, on Lease or otherwise, With immediate possession.
MILLS work Eight Pairs of Stones, and have suitable Granary accommodation and other Outbuildings.
There is also a Comfortable Residence with the requisite Domestic Offices. The Mills are well situated in an elevated position within one mile of the Great Eastern Railway Station at Trowse.
Rent and Tenants' Fixtures moderate.
N. B. - If desired the Mills may be used for any other Trade purposes.
For further particulars apply to Messrs. Wright and Woodrow, Land Agents, Queen Street, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 13th May 1865

Despite all this advertising, the mills remained vacant and it was decided to offer the machinery for sale


BIXLEY, NEAR Norwich,

A 10 h.p. high pressure Steam Engine, with all the valuable Machinery throughout the Wind and Steam Mills, Building Materials arising therefrom, Sacks, Straps, Beams, Scales and other Utensils.
MESSRS. SPELMAN have received instructions to Sell by Auction, on Friday August 25, 1865 the MACHNERY throughout the above Mills, the valuable materials of portion of the Tower Mill, including the Sails; also all the Sacks, Straps, Mill Cloths, Scales & Weights and other Utensils.
Particulars in next weeks papers & catalogues to be had of the Auctioneers.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 12th August 1865


BIXLEY, NEAR Norwich,

MESSRS. SPELMAN have received instructions to Sell by Auction, on Friday August 25th, 1865, in Lots.
All the MACHNERY & UTENSILS throughout the BIXLEY FLOUR MILLS; the Sails, Cap, and valuable materials of a considerable portion of the Tower, comprising a 10-horse-power high pressure Steam Engine, with 12-horse Cornish boiler and apparatus complete; all the valuable and nearly new Cog-gear for driving four pairs of stones, with steelyards and lighter tackle, the cap and winding tackle, the 14-in. oak main shafts, cast iron wind shaft, horizontal shafting, with head wheels, wallower, carriages and brasses, striking and sack tackle, and auxiliary machinery throughout the Tower. Four patent sails, 12 yards by 32 yards; 9 pairs of French Burr stones, with the fittings; 16-in flour machine, several dressing, rubbell, and offal machines, &c. All the strong Memel timber, fir flooring, frames, and sashes, and the brickwork of the greater part of the tower, 700 flour and meal sacks, beams and scales, weights, sack barrows, carts, and other utensils.
The substantial character of the structure and superior quality of the Machinery and Fittings throughout this Mill are so well Known as to render any further remarks with regard to them unnecessary.
Catalogues may be had at the Auctioneer's Offices, Norwich and Yarmouth.

Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 19th August 1865

The machinery remained unsold and the Mill House was to let separately in September 1865


BIXLEY MILL HOUSE AND LANDS
TO LET,
With possession at Michaelmas next,

THE DWELLING-HOUSE comprises Entrance-Hall, three Sitting-rooms on the ground floor, six Rooms on the first floor, and two large Attics; good Kitchen, Scullery, Store-room, and Cellar, with Green-house adjoining the Dwelling-house, together with Stables and other Outbuildings.
The Lands comprise about Three and a Half Acres of Arable Land in Front of the Dwelling-house, and about 19 Acres of Park.
Applications for Hire to be made to Mr. Pearce, Aldborough Cottage, Trowse, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 9th September 1865

The windmill was dismantled and the machinery was sold by auction in October 1865. The stump of the tower had been converted into a water tower by 1926 and was still in that format in 1982.


BIXLEY MILL, near Norwich.

The whole of the Excellent Building Materials & part of the Machinery of Bixley Mill which has been taken down & wil be sold in convenient Lots.
Mr. HUNTER is instructed to Sell by Auction in the Grounds at Bixley the MATERIALS etc. as above on Monday, October 30th, 1865.
Further particulars next week.
Offices, St. Andrew's Hall Plain, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 21st October 1865.

BIXLEY MILL, near Norwich.

The excellent Building Materials, and part of the Machinery of Bixley Mill, consisting of clean Deal Balks of large dimensions, several thousand feet of Joists and Flooring, Sash Windows, Doors, Broad Stave Ladders, Red Bricks, 1300 Fire Bricks, Stone Sills, and about 10 Tons of Iron; the Machinery includes upright and horizontal Shafts, wallower, winding tackle, &c.; also an Iron Crane, Lengths of Rope, Gas Piping, Spring Luggage Cart, &c.
Mr. HUNTER is instructed to Sell by Auction in the Grounds at Bixley, the MATERIALS &c. as above (which have been taken down and will be sold in convenient Lots), on Monday, October 30th, 1865.
Sale will commence at 11 o'clock.
Offices, St. Andrew's Hall Plain, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 28th October 1865.

Sir Robert John Harvey Harvey of Crown Point, Norwich
& the Crown Bank, Messrs. Harveys & Hudson.
Norfolk News 3 September 1870
The Bankruptcy Act 1869
In the County Court of Norfolk holden at Norwich
Harveys’ & Hudsons’ Bankruptcy
In the Matter of Roger Allday Kerrison & Roger Kerrison against whom jointly with Sir Robert John Harvey Harvey, Baronet, a Bunkruptcy Petition was filed on the 16 th day of July 180 & against whom respectively a Bankruptcy Petition was filed on the 21 st day of July 1870 …
Dated 22 August 1870 Thomas H. Palmer, Registrar.


Sir Robert J.E. Harvey shot himself at Crown Point on Friday 22 July 1870 & died on the following Tuesday, 26 July.

Crown Bank suspended payment.

Sir Robert’s Stock Exchange losses to blame.


Preliminary advertisment of sale of CROWN POINT ESTATE in July by Butcher & Bowler.
Norfolk News - 18th May 1872


c.1980 c.1980
c.1980

The 4 pairs of 4ft 10in stones were bought at the auction by Jacob Crane of Halvergate_postmill but were probably incorporated into his new towermill built the following year.


This ended the short life of Bixley mill, which may have been the tallest ever built in this country. The mill was reduced to a seven storey stump that was auctioned during July 1872. It was purchased for £840 by George Lovick Colman and passed into the ownership of Jeremiah James Colman and remains in the Colman family to this day.


In 1871 Charles Clare sn. was given as a retired miller aged 70 living at 8, Lakenham Road, St. Mark's, Lakenham with his wife Mary A.


In Chancery.

Lacey v Hill Leney v Hill
The Crown Point Estate
Late the seat of Sir Robert John Harvey Harvey, Bart., deceased
Butcher & Bowler of Norwich & London the person appointed to SELL the same at the Royal Hotel in the City of Norwich on Monday July 29, 1872 at 12 for 1 o’c
In BIXLEY
Lot 19. A Capital well build Brick & Tiled Dwelling House in the occupation of Mr. John W. Newman with Conservatory, walled-in Gardens etc.
Also the shell of a Brick Tower Windmill, now tiled Roofed with Stables and other Buildings and 3a.3r.35p. of Arable and Pasture Land.
Particulars of … Butcher & Bowler, Land & Timber Surveyors & Valuers, Estate Agents & Auctioneers, Theatre Street, Norwich and 7 Whitehall Place, London or I.B. Coaks, Norwich, Defendant’s Solicitor.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 22nd & 29th June & 6th July also Norfolk News - 13th July 1872

Crown Point Estate including Bixley windmill sold 29 July 1872


Crown Point Sale
Lot 19, the capital well built brick & tile dwelling house, in the occupation of Mr. John W. Newman with conservatory, walled-in garden etc. & also the shell of a brick tower windmill, now tiled roofed, with stables & other buildings & 3a. 3r. 35p. of arable & pasture land; bought by Mr. G. L. Coleman for £840.
Norfolk News - 3rd August 1872

SALE OF CROWN POINT ESTATE

Lot 1. Crown Point sold to J. & J. Colman for £55,700
Lot 19. Bixley Dwelling House & Mill to Mr. G. L. Coleman for £840.

Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd August 1872.

Title
Deeds of Bixley Lodge, farmhouse, 4 cottages, land (described) and shell of a windmill then used as a granary purchased by Samuel Base, Esq., from George Lovick Coleman in 1873 and conveyed to J. J. Colman in the same year (for Conveyance see MC 138/26/3/3)
Date 1784-1873
Description
Including Abstracts of Title from 1727 and deeds from 1784 of pieces in Trowse and Bixley, corn windmill described in 1798 as with boulting mill, stones, sails, wheels, cogs, brasses etc. Brick kiln mentioned in 1805 and land copyhold of the Manor of Trowse with Newton in Crossway field (see MC 138/26). Documents include Will of Thomas Foulger , 1799, mortgage deeds, sales particulars of Bixley Lodge, 1840, with plan and schedule of fittings, both undated, schedule of fittings in Purchase Agreement of 1873, suit papers in Leney vs Hill and Lacey vs Hill reclaim on estate of Sir Robert John Harvey Bart., banker, 1870-1872, and a Conveyance of 1835 has a plan. Parties in earlier deeds are Crane, Gilman and Story.
Norfolk Record Office Archive - 2013

July 1991
July 1991

The evidence for this being the tallest mill ever in England is this. Using the drawing on the letterhead and applying known dimensions and measuring from the drawing we get the following figures. Base 43' diameter (known), measuring the tower as a percentage of this figure we get a height of 127' to curb level and 137' to the top of the cap. The sails measure 36' x 9' using this method, with a span of 112'. They are known to have been 39' x 8' so the drawing isn't too far out. These figure far exceed those for the High Mill at Southtown, Great Yarmouth, which is claimed to have been the tallest ever. However, there may have been a taller mill than this one as a 5 sailed mill with 13 floors in Pickering, Yorkshire was advertised for sale in 1841. Any errors within the above figures in bold are mine alone.
Michael Roots



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