Foulden Mill
River Wissey tributary

24th April 1977
24th April 1977

Foulden water mill is on a small tributary of the River Wissey and was part of the Foulden Hall Estate. It was built of clay lump and brown weatherboarding with a slate roof. The mill certainly ground corn in years gone by but during its last working years it was used as a sawmill and for powering threshing machines. The building appears to have been single storey although it is not known if that was always the case. Unusually, it had an overshot wheel, this type of wheel is comparitively rare in Norfolk due to the mainly gentle terrain. The only other mills to use this system that I have found so far were at Brandiston, Buxton (one of the two wheels), Congham, Hingham, Mundesley, Tharston and Weybourne.

After it ceased to work it became derelict and was eventually put up for sale along with the rest of the estate in 1983.

June 1968 1977
June 1968
The wheelhouse and wheel in 1977

In 1972 the wheel and the majority of the machinery was intact although the wooden wheel slats were in need of replacement. Two 3 foot diameter Derby peakstones were still in their tun. A sawmill system had been set up and the pitwheel had been converted to belt pulley.

By 1977 the millpond had largely turned into mudflats.

NIAS Survey Plans 1977

1968 1968
The mill dam lake in June 1968
June 1968

On the opposite side of the road to the mill is a spring fed lake that covers several acres and is the water source for the mill, with the mill dam being fed via a culvert under the road. The whole of the surrounding area is drained via a network of ditches, one of which passes under the mill dam through a tunnel.

1982 1982
The collapsing roof November 1982
The wheelhouse November 1982

The mill was eventually bought by Graham Martin who restored it back to full working order by 1987.
In 1989 he contemplated moving it to an alternative site, however this did not happen.

For a short time the mill was open to the public as a working museum before being closed mainly due to the restraints of Health & Safety. In 2000 the property was sold once more and the new owners converted the centre barn section of the building into a residence. Although the machinery remained, the belt drive was then disconnected from its water power source.

1984 1984
Pump 14th September 1984
Runner stone 14th September 1984

1984   1984
New walls 14th September 1984
Wheel and gear 14th September 1984

1983   1987
Graham Martin amidst the ruins in 1983
Mill open 16th March 1987

The mill did not run with a conventional pit wheel but instead used a gear on the side of the waterwheel to drive a horizontal shaft that ran through the wall into the barn section where it drove a large belt pulley set in a pit. The pit pulley in turn drove another long pulley shaft in the roof section, one end of which went back through the gable wall where it was linked to the milling machinery via a belt that ran through the wheelhouse roof. The other end of the long pulley shaft ran almost the entire length of the barn section where it was originally connected to ancilliary machinery. This section has since been removed and is set in the garden in the form of a sculpture.

The outside drive pulley can be seen on each of the right hand photographs above and below.

2004   2004
Disconnected pulley shaft 6th March 2004
Wheel and milling house 6th March 2004

2004   2004
Wheel leat 6th March 2004
Wheelhouse pulley beneath the roof hatch 6th March 2004

Water to the overshot wheel was controlled via a sluice gate that allowed water to run along a metal channel or leat before cascading onto the wheel. Spokes of the red pit pulley can be seen through the window that appears top right on the left hand photograph above.

The drive to the milling machinery returned to the wheelhouse via a belt drive that came in through a hatch in the roof.

2004   2004
Milling machinery 6th March 2004
Stone tun 6th March 2004

Straw cutter 6th March 2004

2004   2004
25th January 2004
6th March 2004

O.S. Map 2005 of original site
O.S. Map 2005 of original site
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey TL75469828

O.S. Map 2005
O.S. Map 2005
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

Tithe Map 1838:

Mill shown as a circular building on an older site at within Gudgeon Fen enclosure no. 298, 15.0.9 acres of pasture. Owner Henry Berney Caldwell Esq. Occupier Daniel Sewell.

1983: Mill was sold along with the rest of the Foulden Estate

1983: Graham Martin bought the mill and set about restoring it

1987: Mill restored and working

2000: Mill sold and barn section converted to a private residence

January 2004: Mill advertised for sale by Bidwells with a guide price of £595,000

2018: Simon McMahon

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 TL76919853
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004


Graham Martin