Hempstead Mill
River Glaven
what3words location - ///bowls.headlines.actors


Hempstead watermill and the adjoining mill house are built of local flint and brick under a Norfolk pantiled roof and are Grade II listed. The present building was built by Richard John Gurney in 1830 and at that time was known as Holt Mill, undoubtably because the mill is actually within the parish of Holt. The original watercourse, along which the parish boundary still runs, was moved northwestwards some 40 yards slightly up the hill towards Holt in order to better accommodate the mill machinery. The Glaven, which used to be called Hempstead Beck, was effectively dammed by the mill thereby forming the large lake to supply the mill and that is still above the mill today.

At the time locals used to say,
"Mr. Gurney, he built a barn where there weren't enough corn to put in it and a mill where there weren't enough water to turn the wheel."

C18. Flint (Quaternary) and chert with red brick dressings. Hipped pantile roof. Three storeys. Brick dentil eaves. House and mill in one continuous range.
House of three bays. Central doorway with doorcase and six panelled door. Sashes with flat rubbed arches. Blocked openings over doorway. Chimney stack in line with entrance door.
Mill of four bays. Casements and fixed lights with glazing bars. Segmental brick arches over openings. Two doors at first floor level. Second floor window openings blocked. Small brick chimney on ridge line at party wall between house and mill. Water wheel replaced by Turbine Machinery removed.
English Heritage

Original of above hand coloured photo - c.1900

c.1902 c.1905

The River Glaven had 16 mills throughout its length at the time of Domesday.

In Domesday Holt is said to have had five watermills and this is not surprising as the parish is bounded by the river for a long distance. I can trace four of them. One of them is what is called Hempstead Mill, which is actually in the parish of Holt and is a rebuilding early last century.
Basil Cozens-Hardy

Mill dam c.1921
Mill dam c.1921

In about 1905 the wheel was removed and replaced by a turbine, this being a more efficient way of using the limited amount of available water. The wheel house was split into two sections lengthways by a new wall, each section with its own exit arch and then another wall was built across the section nearer to the mill to provide a sluice control for the turbine.

Turbine tailrace 6th January 2004 Marks on the wall left by the wheel 6th January 2004
Turbine tailrace 6th January 2004
Marks on the wall left by the wheel 6th January 2004

At the beginning of 20th century, when the turbine was fitted, there were 5 sources of water - mill dam, upper pond (swept away in the 1912 floods) Horsepit Pond, Old Decoy (Selbrigg Pond) and New Decoy.

Horsepit pond - 22nd March 2020
Horsepit pond - 22nd March 2020

Horsepit was originally the farm horse pond for Red House Farm, fed by runoff water from the farm and its buildings but the Gurney's added a sluice in order to supplement the mill dam. The mill could only run at full power for a maximum of 5 hours a day without emptying the dam above. Thus in later times a traction engine ran the mill via a pulley wheel on the outside of the building (see below). There were two pairs of stones by W. Tinsley of Ipswich, often only one would be worked due to lack of water. Maximum output was 4 coombs per hour.

Selbrigg Pond was dug by hand around 1810 as a header reserve for Hempstead Mill. The mill was suffering from insufficient water despite 4 other smaller ponds having been made between the mill and Selbrigg Pond.
The Tithe map of 1840 shows a pond around 9 acres in size with streams from Bodham and Baconsthorpe entering the pond. Indeed the pond stretched back to 'Selbrigg Road' In Lower Bodham. The parish boundary between Hempstead and Bodham runs through the pond, presumably along the original line of the streams. Subsequently to the original pond being dug, a duck decoy was incorporated - a funnel shaped area that was netted as a way of catching ducks. Furthermore, a boat house was subsequently built mid-way along the Northern bank, little now remains.

Francis Fielden, Selbrigg

J. Tuck Coal Merchant sign 1907 14th April 1983
J. Tuck Coal Merchant sign 1907
14th April 1983

John Tuck was both a miller and a coal merchant. He took over from George Bird and was running both businesses from the mill when the above left picture was taken in 1907.

c.1952 c.1952

4th September 2004
4th September 2004

Rear of mill 30th June 2004 22nd March 2020
Rear of mill 30th June 2004
22nd March 2020

August 1912 August 1912
Aftermath of the Great Flood of Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th August 1912

The road on the Holt side of the mill was washed away to a depth of several feet on Monday 26th August 1912. On the left hand photo above, Reggie Preston is inspecting the damage with his sister Mary (on the left) and friend Miss Gooch in the background. The name of the workman is not known.

27th August 1912
27th August 1912

The Great Flood as it became known, occurred after almost 30 hours of gales and continuous rain from 4.00am on 26th until 9.00am on Tuesday 27th August 1912. Around 8 inches of rain fell.

Reg Crowe, bakers' boy delivering in Holt - 1917
Reg Crowe, bakers' boy delivering in Holt - 1917


c.1925 c.1974

Prior to moving to Hempstead Mill in 1912, Mrs. Newell was living at the Mill Cottages. When required, the miller at Hempstead would carry a large bag of flour down through the woods to where Frank lived. He had a resting post on the side of the track about half way down.

In 1911 a bakery was built within the complex of cartsheds, haylofts, stables, pig sties and cowsheds. The oven built by T. Collins & Co. of Bristol, was coke fired and the boiler also heated the contents of a twenty gallon water tank above it that then used the heat of from hot water pipes to regulate the oven temperature. Coke was brought in from Holt gasworks or by train to Holt from Sheffield and then horse and cart to the mill. In those days transport cost exceeded the material cost.

The oven had a capacity of 208 1lb loves and was fired up twice before deliveries went out to the surrounding area. Water for the bread making was carried by bucket from a spring on the opposite side of the road.

Bread oven c.1974 Bread oven 12th July 1981 Bread oven 18th November 2021
Bread oven c.1974
Bread oven 12th July 1981
Bread oven 18th November 2021

c.1968 The turbine powered circular saw May 1967
West gable end with saw pit, showing what appear to be marks of a removed extension - c.1968
The turbine powered circular saw May 1967

Saw bench c.1974
Saw bench c.1974

The turbine powered circular saw 12th July 1981 The turbine powered circular saw January 2004
The turbine powered circular saw - 12th July 1981
The turbine powered circular saw - January 2004

May 1967
May 1967

Mill rear August 1954
Mill rear August 1954

Rear 1921 Rear January 2004
Mill rear 1921
Mil rear January 2004
Weed grid - c.1968 Weed grid - 6th January 2004
Weed grid - c.1968
Weed grid - 6th January 2004

c.1990 Frontage 16th March 2003
Frontage 16th March 2003

16th March 2003 16th March 2003
28th September 1997
16th March 2003

The turbine also ran a circular saw blade set in a steel bench made by Robinson & Son Ltd of Rochdale. It was used to cut timber for the Gurney Estate. The shed that sheltered the bench has long disappeared.

The turbine was also used to power a generator that was in use until about 1953.

Mill plans
Surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 5th September 1981

Mill plans
Surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 5th September 1981

Stone floor - c.1974
Stone floor - c.1974

Governor for the stone tentering gear January 2004 Driveshaft, crownwheel and tuns 6th January 2004
Governor for the stone tentering gear January 2004
Driveshaft, crownwheel and tuns 6th January 2004

Drive pulley
Drive pulley
The right hand photo above shows the drive shaft and gear which meshed into the crownwheel that was driven from the pulley on the outside of the mill in times of water shortage, when a traction engine would provide a belt drive.

Grain hopper feeding the stones 6th January 2004 Oatcrusher 6th January 2004
Grain hopper feeding the stones 6th January 2004
Oatcrusher 6th January 2004

Sackhoist pulley and shaft 6th January 2004 Redundant wallower 6th January 2004
Sackhoist pulley and shaft 6th January 2004
Redundant wallower 6th January 2004

The Newell brothers (Donald, Frank and William) rented the mill from the Gurneys in 1912. It only came with one field but after one year they were allowed to rent two more fields provided they took the bad fields along with the good fields.

In 1914, Frank (b. 1896) and Donald left William, who was disabled, to run the mill while they fought in the war. Donald had 6 beehives that he left in a nearby pit for the duration of the war, sadly only one survived. Donald appears to have survived the war unscathed but Frank, who was in the cavalry, was shot in the leg and spent several months convalescing before returning to the fray. After the war Frank moved to Kelling and managed the Deterding Estate.

By 1920 Donald's bakery at the mill was supplying much of the locality. As a boy, John Clarke started work at the mill by feeding the livestock going on to become master baker. When the demand for bread was high he would often work for 30 hours without sleep. Having undertaken the morning baking starting at 4.00 a.m., he would return in the afternoon. "I suppose looking back, I worked long hours but one didn't think about it in those days. In my spare time I was the village barber."

Donald died in 1947 and Frank then returned to take over the business. Baking ceased in September 1953, when the Norwich firm of Sunblest moved into the area and started a delivery service. New hygiene regulations were also preventing the use of the spring water for bread making.

Ledgers written between 1915 and 1929 indicate that some 90% of all sales related to crushing or grinding corn brought in by customers and from the sale of the resulting bran. Some flour was produced but mostly it was animal feed from oats, barley, wheat and maize. On occasions linseed, peas and beans were also processed.

Prices 1839-1841:

Wheat -
Barley -
Oats -
per bushel
per bushel
per bushel

At the beginning of the century there were five immediately available supplies of water to the (Mill, the existing mill pool, the upper mill pool swept away in the 1912 floods, the “Old Decoy'' (now Selbrigg Pond), the ''New Decoy', and Horsepit Pond. There was direct access close to the Glaven from the Mill House to all of these. Each of these stores of water had its own sluice gate.

Mr John Watson, who bought the freehold of the 400 acre woodland along the Glaven Valley in 1965 to the north of the Mill, is sure that the ''Old Decoy'' was on the site of the Selbrigg Pond (which is protected on the north side by “Old Decoy Wood''). It was some time later that the New Decoy appeared some 400 yards to the north east in “New Decoy Woods”. By 1965 this decoy pond had almost vanished owing to silting until Mr Watson dredged it. Mr Watson also removed the silt from Horsepit Pond which he enlarged to its present size. This was originally the farm horse-pond for Red_House_Farm, fed by the run-off of water from that farm and its buildings, but the Gurneys added a sluice so that its water could be released when necessary to augment the head of water in the Mill Pool.

In the late 19th Century Mr George Bird was the miller, as tenant of the Gurneys, to be succeeded by 1907 by Mr J Tuck who also ran a coal-merchant's business from the mill. He was succeeded by the Preston family who must have suffered severe losses and disruption in the 1912 floods when the second (upper) mill pool was swept away never to be replaced - so much so that they gave up their tenancy shortly afterwards.

In about 1916 the Newall family arrived and have been there ever since. The family came from Muswell Hill where the Mr Newall of the day had married a Miss Hannant from North Norfolk by whom he had had five children before (apparently) departing for Canada. The former Miss Hannant (whose family still live in Baconsthorpe) took the traditional step of bringing her family back to Norfolk where the eldest son Donald, helped by his brother William, took on the tenancy of the mill. The youngest brother Frank lived at Beck House Kelling, having taken on the position of managing several farms recently bought by the Deterding family.

By 1920 Mr Donald Newall was carrying on a baking business at the mill. Owing presumably to the reduced need of water, he had in 1916 on arrival put in a turbine and fly-wheel which (later) could be turned by a tractor engine to provide more continuous power. He and William had been able to persuade the Gurneys to add additional land to their tenancy so they also extended their activities to farming “Mill Farm''. This was an odd shaped farm including the Glaven meadows, higher land towards Holt (later to be built upon by Kongskilde), and land adjoining Hall_Farm. The combined enterprise employed seven people between the wars.

In 1947 Donald died and Frank (who had retired from working for the Deterdings) took over the mill. Meanwhile in 1945 Donald had fallen out with Mr George Knight who, having bought the Gurneys' estate, had offered to sell on to any tenants who wanted to buy at an enhanced price. The Newall family had thought that it had been agreed that they should buy at the price which Mr George Knight paid - so they refused to buy and stayed put as tenants.

By 1948 Mr Walter Platford and his family lived in one half of what became Hawksmere. The other half was occupied by the Yarham family. Both worked for the Newalls,

In 1953 the baking enterprise ceased as a result of Sunblest Bread starting its own bread round. ln the same year the generator ceased to work.

As with all water-mills the business of milling decreased and all that was left was the continuing sale of animal feed-stuffs, This continued to the late 1960s. However, a circular saw had been installed and this was still being occasionally run by water power in the early seventies.

The most romantic property in Hempstead, now known as Hawksmere, has an interesting history of its own. It is first shown on the 1841 Tithe Map and probably consisted originally of a pair of cottages overlooking the mill pool referred to in the 1945 sale as the Mill Cottages. The cottages abutted an estate road - bordered by lime trees - laid out by the Gurneys when they built the Mill and its very considerable supporting water supplies. Unlike many mills on the upper water of small rivers, which in the Summer months often only had enough water to work a few hours a day, the Hempstead Mill worked a regular twelve hour shift, its water supply being topped up at the main mill pond by releases from Selbrigg Pond, the upper mill pond (until it was swept away in 1912), from Horsepit Pond and occasionally from the Small Decoy. This arrangement meant that the miller had to walk or ride to operate the sluices of these other ponds at regular intervals. The roadway past Hawksmere, turning up hill to Horsepit Pond and the Red_House, leading on to Selbrigg, would have been built for this purpose.

Other mills were operated by the miller and his family alone. 'Why were there a pair of cottages as well? The occupiers of the Mill Cottages in the thirties worked both in the mill and on Mill_Farm. But before that the answer may lie in the very large sand and gravel pits which existed on the east side. Mr Hunt, the owner since a 1982, has dug up a variety of gravel-working equipment showing this was a major pit. Would it not, when worked by the Gurney estate, have required the presence of two cottages alongside to house its workers? The gravel pit existed by 1841.

In 1965, when the executors of Mr George Knight sold much of his Hempstead property, they were in something of a predicament as to how best to maximise their returns in regard to Mill_Farm Hempstead which was a tenanted farming property with, presumably, no chance of vacant possession and yet every likelihood of involving expense to the Landlord in the maintenance of the Mill. Mr George Knight's executors were in the course of selling Green_Farm to the Harmer family, who had expressed interest in all the adjoining land also being offered for sale.

Seemingly the executors entered into an asset stripping enterprise by selling off separately the two cottages, together with the millpond and such of the adjoining land as was not subject to the agricultural tenancy. They maximised value by selling the millpond with the cottages - even the ground up to the north wall of the Mill House itself - and the sluiceways under the mill so that the owners of the Mill Cottages (Hawksmere) could control the levels of their millpond.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver - 2000

The Mill

All features of the wood are known to me
For I have latched the gate which borders it
And scrambled through its fences many times
The long strange avenue sombre larches
The lofty spruce where sparrowhawks once nested,
The ruined cottage in the open clearing
With its old well all filled with heartstongue fern
And noonday stars; all these are dear to me
But most I love the mill-pond and the mill
Which shall not be forgotten in my time.
The pond was large till reeds invaded it
And with them coots, dabchicks, and all those things
That bide or nest in reeds; but still the pond
Is stocked with fishes; sharp-finned tench, great pike,
And eels which share with rats the mill-race darkness.
Some too, have seen an otter in the pond
Wrinkling the taut stretched surface with his snout,
The mill is not so ancient, yet it seems
As old as Britain, not to be destroyed
While men reap harvest, and while starlings build
Their villages beneath old hanging caves
I have but seen the miller now and then
But heard him singing often; such a one
And he who cared for nobody, or he
The lusty hairy-nosed Chaucer spoke of
Whose wife was gent and small as any weasel
And sang sweeter than swallow on a barn
Often and often I have walked down there
To stroke his pair of dogs or hunt for nests
A dozen? ten? I cannot count the times
But of them all, today there stands up one
Like one tall fir amid a hazel copse
Seen over all, though all are beautiful,
A glowing evening early on in spring
Ten minutes' rain had hushed the birds and left
A lambent smile upon the wet fresh earth
The pool was half a mirror and the rest
Lay in the deepening shadow of the mill
Which pushed its bulk up at the evening sky
Clear-cut, dark, and rigid the miller came
Outside to screws his sluices down; the sound
Of grinding which will heard all day way stilled.
All was silence save for one robin's song
Cold and remote as some far waterfall
Washing the basalt crags which edge the world
Flushed by a dying sun, and over all
The weir's music, more ancient than the bird,
Which hushes not for rain or wintry days,
Sung since Man built on earth, and not to cease
Till darkness shroud a ruined world's decay.

W. H. Auden - April 1925

Hempstead Mill Autobiography

Once I had learnt to ride my bike Hempstead mill was a popular destination from school.  When I arrived at boarding school aged 10 I couldn't ride a bike; all my friends pedalled off on a Sunday afternoon and left me behind to stew at school. It became a top priority to learn how not to fall off.  Once or twice I ran all the way to the Holt Lowes, arriving long after my peers, and exhausted to boot; I never got as far as Hempstead mill, which was even further away along the Hempstead Road.

In those days on the way down to Hempstead mill there was a level crossing by the railway station in Holt. If you were lucky a train was coming and you had to stop, because the level crossing would be closed. The gates were operated from the signal box which was adjacent to the gates. The signal man looked out and turned a wheel from inside the box.  All this has now vanished under the Holt bypass, except for the signal box itself; this was moved to Weybourne station where it replaced another signal box that had been demolished.
Slightly further along the Hempstead Road was the Corona warehouse where the lorry was loaded up with bottles of ginger beer and lemonade for delivery to thirsty throats by the Corona man. The lorry was bright yellow and the bottles were stacked on the sides, angled inwards to prevent them spilling. Corona has disappeared long ago, but one of its brand names has remained and has indeed flourished; Tango.
Continuing past the built up area of Holt and going down the hill to the river Glaven you first came to the pathway to the Holt Lowes. If you ignored this path you came  to the mill. The water wheel was removed in the early years of the twentieth century and was replaced by a turbine (very up to date). By 1960, when I regularly visited it on my new red Palm Beach Raleigh bicycle, grain milling had ceased at the mill but a circular saw was still used for wood cutting. This stood out in the open, covered by a tarpaulin when not in use, but it was not behind any kind of shed. It was run by water power from the turbine.
For me and my friends the main attraction was not so much the mill as the other side of the road, where the Lowes (or Holt Heath) spread out round the valley of the river Glaven. There, on the river banks, grew great bushes of rhododendrons in which we would make elaborate dens. Rhododendrons are ideal for making dens, and I had a lot of fun doing this, and so did my friend Robert George. Robert later forged a career in the Norfolk Police, ending up as the senior officer in the County Police Firearms Unit.
I was not the first Gresham's schoolboy to play round the area of Hempstead milll; years before, the young W. H. Auden found it a congenial spot. He was already a budding poet, and although I do not know if he wrote any poems about Hempstead mill he certainly did about other local features.
Slightly further up the river Glaven was Selbrigg pond , which was dug out two hundred years ago to provide additional head waters for Hempstead mill. When I mentioned this to my father at home it was assumed I was talking of Felbrigg , as no one had ever heard of Selbrigg. There is no village of Selbrigg, just a road of that name going to Bodham, the next village, so it not surprising that nobody has heard of it.
In the spring of 1963 Selbrigg pond was frozen over like the rest of the countryside. This was during the Big Freeze. A Big Freeze it may have been by our standards, but the pond was not frozen so solid that you could walk all over it.  Being foolish young children we enjoyed playing on the expanse of ice. How deep was it? I don't know but deep enough to be very dangerous. We could easily both have drowned. I was on the ice with another boy called Ward when it began to crack. I remained on the cracking ice but Ward fell into the freezing water. Luckily I was able to pull him out. He must have been very cold as we cycled back to school. Despite the cold weather we were wearing school uniform - shorts of course! All boys did in those days, even 14 year olds, and his were soaking wet as well.
That was in my last term in the junior school; I don't remember going to Hempstead mill again. The senior school directed my attention more towards Kelling, Weybourne and the sea. The childish pleasures of making dens faded and the foolishness of playing on ice dawned in my consciousness. Robert George went into a different house from me,  and my friendship with him waned as we made our separate ways into the adult world. Ward left the school entirely.

Joseph Mason


When the wheel was removed and the turbine installed, the pitwheel was also taken out as the turbine provided drive in the same plane as the upright shaft. Although redundant, the wallower was left on the upright shaft. The turbine then drove the spur wheel directly by means of a cast iron gear.

Turbine pit 6th January 2004 Belt and crownwheel drive January 2004
Turbine pit 6th January 2004
Belt and crownwheel drive January 2004

The mill machinery is now incapable of operating as one corner of the shaft support beam has sunk, preventing the turbine from disengaging.

Mill dam May 1967
Mill dam May 1967

W.H. Auden used to stay in the house next to the mill and would often visit the mill.

Rear of mill 30th June 2004
Rear of mill 30th June 2004

The millpond originally came right up to the back of the mill and the above photograph clearly shows the filled in area. The River Glaven originally ran to the left of the mill until the mill was built and the millpond was dug.
The Glaven was then diverted into a specially dug cut to drain the new mill's outflow. The change was enacted to accomodate the mill machinery as the wheel needed to be on the right hand side in order for the gears to run in the correct di

As a boy 1935 - 1945 I stayed with my grandparents at a cottage on the Norwich road about a mile out of Holt. 
Across Holt Heath, through the trees, I was able to see the light coloured lucum of  a mill, which my grandfather said was Hempstead Mill.

Basil Kybird, Drayton - 3rd March 2007

6th April 2008 6th April 2008
6th April 2008
Overgrown drive pulley 6th April 2008

The Newell family rented the mill house (the east section of the mill building) to Walter Platford and his wife Dot, from c.1946 to c.1960, after which, Walter moved to Stalham.
Walter’s parents, Mark and Bessie Platford, lived next door, in the end cottage on the south eastern side of what is now Hawksmere. They were there from c.1946 to c.1958, when Bessie moved in with one of her daughters in Baconsthorpe due to illness.

Mark & Bessie Platford Mark Platford
Mark & Bessie Platford
Mark Platford with millpond behind - c.1952

Dot and Walter Platford
Dot and Walter Platford

Walter Platford's brother Cyril, as a teenager, also lived at the cottage on the Hawksmere site.

Cyril Platford Dot, Walter, Cyril Platforde
Cyril Platford with millpond behind - c.1955
Dot, Walter and Cyril Platford

I am researching my family history.
My wife's great, grandfather was a man called John William Elsy and he had a sister called Harriet Elizabeth.
In 1875, Harriet married James Tuck, and, at the 1901 census, he is described as the "millers manager" at Watermill, Hempstead Road, HOLT.
In 1911 he is "miller corn and coal merchant" at The Watermill.

Brian Bartle - 14th February 2014

NEWALL PATRICK Suddenly in Holt on November 6th aged 76 years. Brother of Elizabeth and Mary, a dear uncle of Sarah, Gillian and Michael and great-uncle of Olivia and Imogen. A Thanksgiving service at St. Andrew's Church, Holt on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 at 2 p.m. will follow a private family cremation. Family flowers only please, donations, if desired payable to the British Heart Foundation c/o Lloyd Durham Funeral Services, Avenue Road, High Kelling, NR25 6RD.
Eastern Daily Press - 18th November 2014
I expect you will know that Patrick has died, late November 2014 I believe. There was a death notice in the paper and a Memorial Service was held at St Andrew's, Holt on 3rd December.
I do not know what is happening at the mill. To the best of my knowledge his sister Mary is dealing with his affairs. The mill is currently fenced off, or was when we visited just over a week ago.
As regular visitors (from Somerset) we had come to know and respect Patrick through many hours of conversation about the many odd corners of N Norfolk we found on our many visits.
For what it is worth, there is some information about the family and the mill in Robin Carver's Hempstead, A Norfolk Village, a copy of which we read in Hempstead church.
May I congratulate you on the details of the mill which I found on the internet. In particular, it led me to Patrick's surname and thence to the newspaper announcement after we heard of his death only a few days after our return from last autumn's visit. Only a few days previously we had enjoyed a long talk on the quay at Blakeney with Patrick and a yacht skipper on the history of the area and the exploits of the late Guy Todd, artist and sometime submariner.
Bob Pendleton - 5th April 2015

Mill rear 2nd May 2015 Mill fenced off 2nd May 2015
Mill rear 2nd May 2015
Mill fenced off 2nd May 2015

Mill bakery and outbuildings 2nd May 2015 Mill bakery 26th December 2017
Mill bakery and outbuildings 2nd May 2015
Mill bakery 26th December 2017

21st March 2020 18th November 2021
21st March 2020
18th November 2021

Bakehouse 18th November 2021
Bakehouse 18th November 2021

18th November 2021 18th November 2021
18th November 2021

On one of our school summer holidays the sluice gate at Hempstead Mill broke, the pit gang got there as soon as possible after hearing the news, it took three days for the mill pond to empty,
There were every fish imaginable, many fish escaped by swimming down river with the water flow, we threw a 25 pound pike out of the river with our bare hands. Many fish died, we collected the dead fish and they became chicken feed.
The next day the river authority came, they netted the river and stunned the fish enabling them to sort the fish and take them away in tanks and relocate them.
After the sluice was repaired many of the fish were returned to the mill pond.
When the Mill Pond emptied it separated into lots of little ponds, these were full of small fish unable to escape or be rescued because of the mud. All of the pit gang were naturally on site wanting to help. We at this stage were banned from the area as it was unsafe.
We walked about two miles along the river to Long Sally’s, the river was alive with fish escaping.
This was a sight never to be forgotten and seen only once in a lifetime.
Chiffy the story teller - June 2023

During WW2, my brother Victor known to most as Mickey and his good friend Kenny Goldsmith, were given work cutting down trees from Long Sallys to Hempstead water mill, the wood was sawn, at the saw mill at the top of Holt Hill toward Hempstead.
They also worked cutting trees in Holt Hall woods, the wood going to the same saw mill. There was a large sand pit at the bottom of Hempstead hill, opposite Hempstead water mill, at some time during WW2 the American soldiers made a camp there, and a dummy airfield at the top of Hempstead Hill.
My brother Mickey and his friend Kenny cut down the trees around the side of Hempstead mill pond, they didn’t work at the weekends, when they went back to continue cutting trees on the Monday the American soldiers had used all the cut down trees to make rafts to use on the Mill Pond.
My brother reported this to the American in charge, and was sent six helpers and two chain saws, something the hadn’t seen before. Needless to say the work became much easier, Mickey and Kenny just issued the work orders and watched the soldiers saw the trees down, two weeks work was achieved in two days. For the rest of the two weeks allocated to do the work, they spent most of the time in the naffi teaching the soldiers how to play darts.
As children we used to go and see my brother working, the soldiers used to feed us, often they gave us a lift home, my brother Peter kept chickens and ducks and used to give the soldiers fresh eggs, in return they gave large tins of powered eggs, and sometimes butter which my mum used for cooking.
But best all they gave us boys chocolate and chewing gum.
Chiffy the story teller - June 2023

Millpond Mill rear
Mill and millpond - 29th October 2023

Hempstead ground floor plan surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 12th July 1981
Hempstead ground floor plan surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 12th July 1981

Hempstead gearing surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 1981
Hempstead gearing surveyed and drawn by David Durst - 5th September 1981

Plans July 2023
Hempstead plan drawings from Rightmove sale website - August 2023

Tithe map 1839

Tithe map 1839
The map caption states Boundary Line set out by Charles Bureham Esq.
Charles Bureham's boundary line ran to the east of the original parish boundary that ran down the centre of the original course of the River Glaven

O. S. 6" Map 1885

O. S. 6" Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

The dotted old boundary line clearly shows the original course of the River Glaven before it was diverted to the northwest in order to accommodate the mill.

O. S. 25" Map 1885

O. S. 25" Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

O. S. 6" Map 1905

O. S. 6" Map 1905
The parish boundary running through the Mill Pond and Selbrigg Pond and the indicates the original course of the River Glaven before both ponds were hand dug in 1810
Courtesy of NLS map images

Map 1905

O. S. 25" Map 1905
The parish boundary running through the Mill Pond and to the east of the Mill indicates the original course of the River Glaven before the river was diverted to accommodate the Mill
Courtesy of NLS map images

Map November 2023

O. S. 25" Map November 2023
Courtesy of English Heritage map images

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

c.1810: Mill built and Selbrigg Pond dug by hand to provide a water supply from the River Glaven

Bryant's map 1826: New Mill

White's 1836: Isaac Everitt, corn miller residing Hempstead (possibly miller at Hempstead postmill)

Tithe map 1837: Owned by Richard Hanbury Gurney, Daniel Jex, miller

Tithe map 10th Sept 1839: Watermill, Occupier: William Dawson - also Hempstead postmill

1839: Daniel Jex, miller

Census 1851: John Pointer (68) b.Hempstead, Pauper (formerly Ag Lab)
Sarah Pointer (61) b.Holt, Pauper's Wife
Mill House
Census 1851: James Wright (42) b.Hempstead, Agricultural Labourer
May Wright (46) b.Corpusty, Wife
Sophia Wright (20) b.Hempstead, Pauper
James Wright (14) b.Hempstead, Agricultural Labourer
John Wright (12) b.Hempstead, Errand Boy
Stephen Wright (8) b.Hempstead, Scholar
Jonathan Wright (5) b.Hempstead
Elizabeth Wright (1) b.Hempstead
Mill House

1872: Frederick W. Harris, miller

Post Office Directory 1875: F.W. Harris

Kelly's 1879: Frederick William Harris, miller, Hempstead Water mill

White's 1883: Frederick William Harris, miller

Kelly's 1892: George Bird (tenant to the Gurney family) also at Holt towermill, Fairstead Road, Holt

Kellys 1896: George Bird (tenant to the Gurney family) also at Holt towermill, Fairstead Road, Holt

Kellys 1900: George Bird (tenant to the Gurney family)

Kelly's 1904: James Tuck, miller

Census 1901: James Tuck, millers manager

1907: John Tuck - last miller to grind flour for bread made on the premises and also coal merchant

Census 1911: James Tuck, miller, corn and coal merchant

c.1911 - 1912: Thomas John Preston - gave up shortly after the 1912 flood that swept away the upper pond

1912: Newell Bros took over - Donald, Frank & William

1917: Newell Bros. trading as W A Newell

Kellys 1922: Newell Bros.

Macdonald's 1930: Newell Bros.

Kellys 1937: Newell Bros.

Macdonald's 1939: Newell Bros.

1945: George Knights bought much of Hempstead, including the the mill from the Gurney family

1925-1953: John Clarke, mill worker and then master baker until closure

c.1946-c.1960: Walter Platford rented the mill house from the Newell family and lived there with wife Dot

1953: Baking ceased as Sunblest Bread started a delivery round

1960s: All milling ceased, with animal feed being the final commodity produced

Mill owned by the Harmer family of Green Farm, Hempstead, who bought it from George Knight, who in turn had bought it from the Gurney family in 1945

1970s: The turbine powered circular saw was still running as late as 1977

2004: Mill occupied by Pat Newell, son of Frank Newell

6th November 2014: Pat Newell died aged 76

March 2015: Mill buildings fenced off from the road after a break in

June 2015: Further intrusion into the mill with photographs being published online

July 2015: Police engaged in tracing intruders

April 2016: Grade ll Mill complex advertised for sale by Savills for c.£500,000

2018: Mill house undergoing renovation

2021: Site becoming derelict, renovation having ceased, after the death of the owner

July 2023: Mill advertised as sold subject to contract with a guide price of £500,000

1st October 2023: Millpool subjected to flooding after worst rain storm since August 1912

October 2023: Mill advertised for sale by Brown & Co with a guide price of £500,000 - brochure

October 2023: Building degrading with displaced tiles and severe roof leaks, interior held up with Acrow props

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 09463806
Top of Page
Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2023