New Catton Philadelphia Lane towermill
(Cann's Mill)

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Norfolk Windmills

Cann's tower mill stood to the west of Bird's mill, which also stood to the North side of Philadelphia Lane in New Catton. It may have been standing in 1841 when James Vassar made an assignment.


JAMES VASSAR of the city of Norwich, Miller and Baker having by Indenture dated the sixteenth day of February instant, assigned all his Estate and Effects to a Trustee for the equal benefit of his Creditors. Notice is hereby given, that the Deed of Assignment is lying at our Office for the signature of such Creditors as may elect to execute the same within two Calendar Months from the date thereof. The Trustee also requests that the Creditors will send a statement of their respective claims to us immediately, that the same may be examined. – Dated this 18th day of February, 1841.


Solicitors to the Trustee.
Norfolk Chronicle - 20th February 1841

James Vassar was baptised on 3rd June 1817 in Mattishall. He married Anne Elizabeth Gurling, the daughter of John Fisher Gurling, millwright, in July 1838. A son, James, was born on the 20th April 1839 and in that year Robson's directory lists him as a miller living in St Magdalen Street.. In 1841 he was given as a miller aged 24, living in Sussex Street, St. Augustine’s with Ann (72), and George (1 week). His wife died on the 19th January 1844.


Yesterday se’nnight, Ann Elizabeth, the beloved wife of Mr. James Vassar, miller, and eldest daughter of the late Mr. John Fisher Gurling, engineer, all of this city, in the 25th year of her age.
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th January 1844

James Vassar took Eglington’s mill by 1845. John Fisher Gurling was a millwright who had premises at St. Martin at Oak Street and had died in 1827. The mill was a saw mill. Watling Cann was listed in Hunt and Co.’s Directory of 1850 as a saw miller at Philadelphia. He was born c.1802 at Kenninghall, Norfolk and in 1851 was given as a wood merchant aged 49 living in Philadelphia, St. Clement’s parish with his wife Ann (61) and sons John (21), a sawyer and Reuben aged 18. He was listed in White’s Directory of 1854 as a stave cutter at Philadelphia.

Samuel and John Cann were listed in Melville’s Directory of 1856 as timber merchants at the saw mills, Philadelphia. Samuel Cann was born c.1828 at Norwich and his wife was called Frances. John Cann was the son of Watling and Ann Cann and he was born c.1830 in Catton, Norfolk. At this time the mill was owned by Bailey Bird and was put up for auction after his death in 1860. John Cann was the landlord of the Windmill public house, Millers Lane, St. Clement Without from 1842 to 1845 and Watling Cann was the landlord in 1845.




Without Reserve,


At the Bull Inn, Magdalen Street, Norwich, on Thursday, the 14 th 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

In 1861 John Cann was given as a mill sawyer aged 30 employing 2 men and 1 boy living in Philadelphia, St. Clement’s with his wife Caroline (21) and daughter Ann aged 10. There was an accident at the mill in 1867.

Fatal Accident. – An inquest was held at the hospital, on Monday, by the Coroner, on the body of Robt. Palmer, in the employment of Mr. Cann, of the Philadelphia saw mills. The deceased was at Hevingham on the 16th of July, when in the act of coming down a tree he had placed on his gill, the horses sprang forward, and he was caught by the chin and thrown violently forward for some distance. He was removed to the hospital, where he died, on Saturday, from the effects of the injuries sustained. “Accidental” death was the verdict. Deceased leaves wife and six children.
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th July 1867

J. & S. Cann were listed in White’s Directory of 1868 as saw millers at Philadelphia and Harrod’s Directory as saw & planing millers.

In 1871 John Cann was given as a Sawyer at Wind Mill aged 40, living in Philadelphia Lane, St. Clement’s with his wife Clara (24), son John (6), and daughters Ann (20), Clara (1), and Henrietta aged 2 months; Samuel Cann was given as a Sawyer at Wind Mill, Partner with his Brother employing 2 men and 1 boy. He was aged 43, living in Philadelphia Lane, St. Clement’s with his wife Frances (41), sons Samuel (16), Watling aged 12 and daughter Martha (14). In 1881 John Cann was given as a retired tradesman aged 50 living in Philadelphia, St. Clement’s Without with wife Clarissa (34), son John (16) and daughters Clarissa (11), Haphira (8), Beatrice (5), Henrietta (3) and Alice aged 2.

The mill was marked on the 1874 map. Alfred Walker was listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1875 as a saw miller. He was born c.1837 at Sprowston, the son of Benjamin, a farmer, and Sarah Walker. In 1881 he was given as a sawyer aged 44 living at Plummer’s Buildings, Philadelphia, St. Clement’s Without with his wife Louisa (48), sons Frederick (17), Ezikel (10), Alfred David (6), Robert aged (4) and daughters Ellen (15) and Lettisha aged 13. The mill was for sale by auction in 1883.


JAMES MOBBS is instructed by the Mortgagee to Sell by Auction, at the Norfolk Hotel, Norwich, on Wednesday, March 7 th, 1883, at Six for Seven o'clock in the Evening, in One or Two Lots.

All that capital Piece of Freehold BUILDING LAND, situate in and having a frontage of 98 feet to Philadelphia Lane, and containing 45 Rods or thereabouts; together with the very substantially-erected BRICK TOWER WINDMILL, having five floors, with the Machinery and going Gear consisting of 2 Pairs of Pattern Sails, Capping and Fly Wheel, Head Wheel, Bell Wheel, Drums, Shafting, 2 Circular Saw Benches, &c.

Also a Wood and Tiled CART SHED, &c. lately occupied by Mr. Samuel Cann.

Particulars and Conditions of Sale may be obtained at the Auctioneer’s Offices, Orford Hill, Norwich; and of S. Garerd Hill, Esq., Opie Street, Norwich, Vendor’s Solicitor.
Norfolk Chronicle, 24th February 1883

The above was offered as one Lot and was withdrawn at £160. The mill was marked on the 1884 map.
On Christmas day, 1884, John Cann’s eldest daughter died.


NICHOLS.- On the 25th ult., at her residence, No. 16, Bull Close Road, Ann Elizabeth, the beloved wife of Henry L. Nichols, and eldest daughter of John Cann, of Philadelphia, Norwich, in her 35th year.

Norwich Mercury - 3rd January 1885

In 1885, Samuel Cann, 57, of Old Palace Road, was summoned for £32. 1s. 4d. for failing to repair part of Philadelphia Lane, which did not exist in 1824. It was stated in evidence that the saw mills were used to produce fish boxes. The mills had all been demolished by this time and houses built on their sites.

Alfred Walker was listed in White’s Directory of 1887 as a saw mill proprietor and brush wood cutter, Philadelphia Windmill. He was listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1900 as a brush board cutter, Aylsham Road.

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Nat Grid Ref TG22451043
-1841 to 1883+
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