Stoke Ferry


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

c.1906 with chalk pit in foreground

Stoke Ferry towermill was built by William Pollard snr in the 1860s on the site of his earlier mill that stood on the east side of the Boughton Road, The mill had five storeys built of red brick, until a further two were added c.1900 using a buff brick, taking the tower height up to 58 feet. At the same time a set of second hand sails and a new ogee cap were installed, these probably being made necessary by damage from the severe gale of 1895.

The mill used 2 pairs of double shuttered sails struck by rack and pinion to power 3 pairs of Peak stones, a dressing machine and a smut mill. One pair of sails had 12 bays of 3 shutters and the other pair had 11 bays of 3 shutters. The mill had a horizontally boarded ogee cap and at 17ft. diameter and 10ft. high, it was the largest ever seen by expert, Rex Wailes. The cap had a petticoat, gallery and a ball finial. The 8 bladed fan was held by struts from the fanframe to the cap.

... the unusually substantial framing of the fantail on Stoke Ferry mill ...
In Search of English Windmills - Hopkins & Freese - 1931

The wallower was attached by wooden wedges to a cast iron octagonal sleeve mounted on top of the wooden upright shaft.

After renovation and enlarging, the mill had a distinct conical shape as the two additional floors used the same batter as the original five.

The sails came from South Weald, Essex, by Hunts of Soham c.1900.

A steam mill stood to the rear of the mill cottage and powered a further pair of Peak stones

Tower Mill

1926 - Working
1945 - Demolished (Tower still standing 1971)
Largest ogee cap seen, 17 ft. by 10 ft. high
Curb had flanges for guide rollers to prevent cap from lifting.
Sails:- Spring patent with two-leaf quarter elliptic springs bolted to the spider. Two of these sails
(only one - JJN) blew off in November 1936, fell on the Mill House and injured the owners in bed. Windshaft:- Cast iron balance weights like muff couplings bolted on to the rear portion. 15 ins. diam. 42 ins. long.
Wallower:- Hung with wooden wedges on to a cast iron octagonal sleeve fitted over the top of the wooden upright shaft.
Wooden crane for lifting stones.
Rex Wailes

To Journeymen Millers etc.

WANTED, a Young Man as MILLER who understands his business. He will Board and Lodge in the House and be expected to make himself generally useful. A Wesleyan preferred. Also a Youth as an APPRENTICE to the same business, who will be treated as one of the Family.
Apply to Mr. Pollard, Junr., Stoke Ferry Windmill, Norfolk.

Norfolk News - 5th April 1862

Situations Vacant
WANTED, a man as MILLER to work a WINDMILL. Personal application required.
Apply to W. Pollard, Miller, Stoke Ferry, Norfolk.

Norfolk News - 30th September 1865

Wanted immediately, a steady respectable Young Man as BAKER, to board and lodge in the house.
Apply to Wm. Pollard, Miller and Baker, Stoke Ferry.

Lynn Advertiser - 7th January 1871


To Merchants, Millers and others

Valuable Estate situate at STOKE FERRY in the County of Norfolk
To be Sold by Auction by Messrs. CRUSO & HAWKINS at the Globe Inn, King’s Lynn on Tuesday 3 June, 1873 at 3 for 4 o’clock by order of the Mortgagee.

Lot 1. All those 3a. 0r. 23p. (more or less) of Land in Stoke Ferry aforesaid together with all that BRICK TOWER WINDMILL containing five floors with Patent Sails and Winding gear, working three pairs of Stones, with Dressing Machine, Smut Mill and all necessary appliances in good working order, with ample storage therein, together with a Building near fitted with two pairs of Stones and dressing Apparatus driven by a Portable Engine, with large and convenient Granaries adjoining, also Barn, Stabling, Piggeries and other Buildings.
23 Perches of this Lot are Copyhold of the Manor of Kavenham, Stoke, Wereham and Wretton.
All the above are newly erected and in thorough repair.
Apply to the Auctioneers, King’s Lynn and Downham Market or to Messrs. Wedlake & Letts, Solicitors, 3 Mitre Court, Temple, London.

Norfolk Chronicle - 24th May 1873
Lynn Advertiser & Norfolk News - 24th & 31st May 1873


The Bankruptcy Act 1869

In the County Court of Norfolk holden at King’s Lynn
In the matter of the Special Resolution for liquidation by arrangement of the affairs of WILLIAM POLLARD of Stoke Ferry in the county of Norfolk, Miller, Corn and Flour Factor and Baker, Coal Merchant and Horse Dealer.
William Briscoe Whall of King’s Lynn in the county of Norfolk, Accountant, has been appointed Trustee under this Liquidation by Arrangement.
All persons having in their possession any of the effects of the debtor must deliver them to the Trustee and all debts due to the debtor must be paid to the Trustee.
Creditors who have not yet proved their debts must forward their proofs of debts to the Trustee.
Dated this Eleventh day of June 1873
W. B. Whall

Lynn Advertiser - 14th June 1873


Important Notice to agriculturalists, Millers, Machinists and others
Is instructed by the trustee in the estate of Mr. William Pollard, Miller And Baker, to Sell by Auction at the Mill Premises on Friday June 20, 1873 the following valuable LIVE & DEAD FARMING STOCK & STOCK IN TRADE viz. HORSES….
The DEAD STOCK consists of a superior eight horse power portable steam engine and elevator (by ROBY & CO. Lincoln), two excellent threshing machines (by BURRELL, Thetford)…..THE STOCK
IN TRADE includes about 46 coombs of oats, six coombs of rye, 11 ditto of grey peas and 7 sacks of flour.
Sale to commence at One o’clock precisely.

Norfolk Chronicle & Lynn Advertiser - 14th June 1873

Mill working - c.1925 Mill working - c.1927
Mill working - c.1925
Mill working - c.1927

WANTED a young man to drive a baker's cart and to milk and to make himself generally useful . Must be steady and honest and good character required.
Apply to Wm. Pollard, Stoke Ferry.

Lynn Advertiser - 16th June 1883

WANTED to place a Youth aged 15 years as Apprentice to the Milling and Baking business; windmill where there is a fixed engine preferred.
Apply to J. Nix, Miller, Stoke Ferry, Brandon.

Lynn Advertiser - 14th May 1887

STOKE Ferry Wind Mill, has a first class Store or Hog for use.

Lynn Advertiser - 10th January 1885


Wanted a strong active Lad to live in house, to milk, feed stock and make himself generally useful.
Apply to J. Nix, Stoke Ferry Mill, Brandon.
Lynn Advertiser - 19th October 1889

Young man, steady, respectable, wanted to assist in windmill and carting; indoors.
Reference required. J. Nix, Stoke Ferry.
Lynn Advertiser - 4th November 1893

The mill was badly damaged during a gale on 24th March 1895.

The windmill also sustained great damage.
Dereham & Fakenham Times - 30th March 1895

The wind mill here has sustained severe injuries.
Lynn News & Norfolk County Press - 30th March 1895

21st November 1937
21st November 1937

On 16th October 1981, it was reported:
New owner and occupier, Roger Wright
R. & C. Wright, Suppliers to the Building Trade.
Caravan on site.
Has cleared premises.
Intends to convert to a restaurant

After renovation and enlarging, the mill had a distinct conical shape as the two additional floors used the same batter as the original five. On pair of the four double shuttered sails were fitted with 12 bays of 3 shutters and the other pair with 11 bays of 3 and were struck by rack and pinion. An 8 bladed fan was strutted to a 17 foot diameter horizontally boarded ogee cap with a petticoat and ball finial and a gallery.

Ted Sharpe ran the mill from c.1904 to c.1926 when he used a steam mill driving 2 pairs of stones in a building to the rear of the towermill.

When Roger Wright bought the mill to conserve it and turn the complex into a restaurant, much of the machinery was still intact, including a section of the upright shaft, the great spur wheel, 3 pairs of underdriven peak stones, stone nuts, tentering gear and governors, along with the cast iron crown wheel that powered the sackhoist gearing. Ancilliary equipment included a smut mill, dresser and a stone lifting crane.

Conversion included rebuilding the steam mill and linking it to the mill tower with a new two storey extension. The restaurant bar was in the ground floor of the new extension, the lounge cum function room was in the ground floor of the mill and the restaurant was in the upper floor of the granary. The top of the mill was fitted out with a 360 degree glazed sun lounge but access to this had not been provided by the time the mill was sold the following year.

11th July 1970
11th July 1970

Survey notes from visit by:
J. Lawn (millwright); M. A. C. Scott & S. J. Earl (Norfolk CC Planning Department)
29th April 1980

The mill is derelict, with no cap, windshaft or brakewheel and the first floor has been removed. An attempt was made in the 1930's to pull the tower down by means of a traction engine and chains but this failed, although some bricks were pulled out from below the curb.
There were seven storeys, the lower five being built of red bricks and to which have been added two built of buff bricks.
The remains are as follows:

Ground Floor Two doorways and one window opening
First Floor
(Meal Floor)
The floor is missing. There are two doorways and one window opening. Mounted high on the wall is a dressing machine, pasted onto which is "Penny Illustrated" paper dated M\arch 22nd, 1862. Below the second floor can be seen the great spur wheel, together with the stone nuts, tentering gear and governors for three sets of stones.
Second Floor
(Stone Floor)
One window opening. Three sets of stones. Octagonal upright shaft in oak. Cast iron crown wheel driving a sack hoist. Stone lifting crane. Wooden chutes from floor above. Two horses and hoppers. Hopper to dresser below. dressing machine mounted high on the wall.

Third Floor
(Bin Floor)

One window. Remains of bins. Lower end of middle section of upright shaft.
Fourth Floor
(Bin Floor)
One window. Upright shaft with coupling at top. Sail whips have been used as spars alongside the top of the shaft.
Fifth Floor
(Bin Floor)
Two windows. One bin. The upright shaft has been snapped off above the floor.
Sixth (top) Floor
(Dust Floor
Two windows. Brickwork broken away in part. Cast iron wallower on the floor. Remains of fan gear and a crown wheel with shaft.

26th May 1978
26th May 1978

... Stoke Ferry ... tower has been stripped of ivy and the site 'invaded' by builders who ... are preserving mill and renovating cottage.
Arthur C. Smith, Stevenage - 26th August 1981

ABBOTTS Chartered Surveyors, Estate Agents, Valuers, Auctioneers.
PROPERTY GUIDE No. 4 July/August 1983
Magnificent Mill restaurant, Mill house and luxurious 3 bedroomed bungalow amidst 3 acres.
Unique investment opportunity. Apply Downham Market office. (DM. 7391)

Eastern Daily Press 19th February 1982
Eastern Daily Press 19th February 1982

Tower Mill Restaurant
Tower Mill Restaurant

Tower and house / granary / steam mill block conversion completed.
Tower has been joined on to an old steam mill, the two-storey extension being a bar on the ground floor from which the ground floor of the tower acts as a lounge or function room, with access through a new opening in the tower wall. Central brick pillar in tower supports beam bearing upright shaft bridging box. Circular iron stairway goes to first floor only; there is no access yet for visitors to second and higher floors. Top of tower has been fitted with an all-round-glazed 'sun lounge'.
First floor also gives access to upper floor of granary, which is now the restaurant, opened as such on Tuesday 6 April 1982.

Builders, Roger and Mrs. C. Wright have leased mill and buildings as restaurant to CRUISEMARK LTD., seed merchants of Downham Market - Gerald Caley and partner. (K. Allison)
Wrights are moving out of caravan on site 20 April 1982 to a renovated cottage, No. 1 Tookes Cottages, Wretton Road, Stoke Ferry. (New bungalow on site 1983)
In the tower iron parts and woodwork have been cleaned up and walls sandblasted. Unfortunately, the paper, 'Penny Illustrated' dated 22 March 1862, pasted on the first floor bolter was lost during this operation. It is possible that this paper was put up to mark the completion of the mill, as the first known advertisement for a miller for it is dated 5 April 1862.
One pair of righthanded peak stones, with runner raised up, is still in situ on a hurst frame where the old steam mill was.

Loss of sails:-
Photo June 19836 by H. ER. S. Simmons shows mill derelict with only the complete inner pair of sails and half of the outer stock with a broken sail. So one of the outer sails had fallen off before June 1936, perhaps in the 1920s.
An original photo in the tower - as in November 1936 - shows mill with only half of the inner stock with a broken sail. The corner of the house (chimney end) roof and upper room crushed ion by the fall of the other sail. That is, only one sail fell causing the damage, not two sails., as stated by Rex Wailes (Trans. Newcomen Soc. Norfolk Corn Windmill). He has also said that these sails came from South Weald mill about 1900 (T. N. S. Essex Mills).

Against tower, one small grindstone and a 27 inch diameter Cologne blue stone - Niedermendig lava - righthanded. Probably from an old post mill on the site. 18th or early 19th cent. May be a runner stone, uncertain as central hole has been filled with cement. Used as doorstep?

No pieces of French burr noticed so far.
Large fish pond being made alongside mill and a kitchen garden at the back.
Old well adjacent to tower has been dug out and well-head rebuilt, but water has not yet been reached.

Harry Apling - 16th April 1982

Advert July 1983
July 1983

My gr grandparents were Ted Sharp and Emily Sharp (née Doy). They owned Stoke Ferry Mill and were the last working millers. I visited the mill in the middle nineties when it was a restaurant, I now believe the mill is a private house. I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge of the whereabouts of the photographs that were in the mill. I remember there being some of Ted and Emily as well as the mill.
Nicola Sharpe - 23rd April 2008

Re. Tower Mill, Stoke Ferry
The tenant of the restaurant part of the complex is a Mr. K. Allison and Mr. G. Caley who have a ten year lease with effect from April 1982 with a review in 1987. The rent is £10,000 per annum exclusive.

Abbots Estate Agents, Downham Market - 16th August 1983

CHARLES HAWKINS, The Estate Office, Downham Market
Mill, restaurant etc.

Large bungalow ...

Lynn News & Advertiser - 21st February 1984

By Order of the Receiver, instructed by Barclays Bamk plc.
Mill and Restaurant. £85,000
Present rent £9,500 p.a.
Property let on a 14 year lease from 1984 to C. Monk & P. A. J. Bayliss

For sale by William H. Brown, Estate Agents etc. Downham Market - March 1985

By Order of the Receiver and by Barclays Bamk plc.
With immediate vacant possession. £97,500
Last tenants have given up restaurant.
For Sale by WILLIAM H. BROWN, Estate Agents, Downham Market - April 1986

West Norfolk
One of the few remaining residential mills in the county.
Situated between King's Lynn and Cambridge. Extensively restored and fully refurbished ...
Region £225,000
Eastern Daily Press - 25th November 1988


Rent-a-mill: Couple earns £100,000 a year letting their seven-bedroom Old Mill home
out to holidaymakers

  • Gary and Sandra Coyne upped sticks and moved into a derelict windmill
  • After seven years in The Old Mill they couple now make £100,000 a year renting it out to holidaymakers

Gary and Sandra Coyne both had good jobs, a house in a desirable area and a comfortable lifestyle. So what made them exchange all that for the chaos that comes with renovating an old property - and sharing it with live-in builders?
The answer is a derelict windmill in Stoke Ferry near King's Lynn, Norfolk, which Gary spotted while browsing the internet.
At the time the Coynes had not even decided to move from their home in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, let alone relocate to Norfolk. But Gary, who had been working as a restaurant manager in London, fancied a change of pace and the couple could see the benefits of having more space for their five-year-old twins Louis and Rory.
For Sandra, 44, an air hostess based at  Heathrow, moving to Norfolk presented the prospect of a very long commute. However, after visiting the property just once, the  couple fell in love with it, and in 2005 they bought The Old Mill, complete with two-and-half acres of land, for £315,000.
The property comprises a mill house and an adjoining Grade II listed tower. Both needed a lot of updating - especially the tower, which hadn't been used for nearly 100 years except by nesting birds.
To complicate matters further, the Coynes' house in Gerrards Cross took a long time to sell, which meant the couple had to borrow the deposit for the mill and rent their old home until they found a buyer.
During one stage of the building work at their new property, the Coynes found themselves living in the four-bedroom mill house with their builders. The team knocked out walls to transform four small rooms into a large open-plan kitchen and living space. New bathrooms were also added.
The Coynes did not have a kitchen for three months, so meals were cooked on a camping stove, and the dishes were rinsed in the shower. As a tidy person, Sandra hated the chaos of living with builders, and confesses she was unprepared for all the upheaval.
Gary, 47, who gave up his restaurant job, did as much of the work as he could himself, including removing all the windows to repair broken panes before refitting them. But when a firm came to sandblast the interior walls to take them back to the original Victorian red brick, they failed to cover the windows, destroying all Gary's hard work.
The tower's ground floor has now been turned into a formal dining room with a circular table. The floor above is a games room and there are bedrooms on the next three floors. The final two floors have been transformed into a gallery with views over the surrounding countryside. The ground-floor dining room has underfloor heating, but the tower's listed status meant it was not possible to plumb in bathrooms. Instead, a glass walkway from the first floor of the tower links it to the house and its three bathrooms. In the winter, the upper floors of the tower are heated with plug-in oil radiators.
It took nearly two years, but the work was finished in time for Sandra's 40th birthday party at the end of 2007. The improvements cost the Coynes about £150,000.
They are delighted with what they've achieved, although Sandra admits there were times when she would have gladly scrapped the entire project. 'I would remember back to when we lived in Gerrards Cross and had two good salaries, a comfortable house and a settled life, and wondered what on earth we were doing,' she says.
The Coynes soon realised they had the ideal property to rent out and began letting  The Old Mill as a holiday home in 2008 when they were away.
Then, in July 2008, Sandra spotted a farmhouse in nearby Boughton. The Coynes raised the money to buy it and moved out of The Old Mill, enabling them to rent it all year round. The Old Mill, which now has seven bedrooms and three bathrooms and sleeps 15, has proved a big hit as a holiday let. And with Gary's new private chef service offering holidaymakers gourmet meals, the property earns the couple £100,000 a year.
'We do everything ourselves - we want everything to be perfect,' says Sandra.
The Old Mill costs from £2,500 a week through

Cherry Maslen, Mail Online - 3rd November 2012

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

O.S. Map 2010
O.S. Map 2010
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

Other mill at Stoke Ferry: Stoke Ferry postmill, Stoke Ferry southern postmill

White's 1836: Robert & William Pollard, bakers

Kelly's 1879: Martha Kezia Pollard (Mrs.), grocer

White's 1883: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper
White's 1883: William Pollard, baker, flour dealer & farmer

White's 1890: Mrs. Harriet Pollard, baker & flour dealer
White's 1890: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper

Kelly's 1892: Mrs. Harriet Pollard, baker
Kelly's 1892: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer

Kelly's 1896: Mrs. Harriet Pollard, baker
Kelly's 1896: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper

Kelly's 1900: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper

Kelly's 1904: John Nix, farmer
Kelly's 1904: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper

Kelly's 1908: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer & draper

Kelly's 1912: John Nix, farmer, Boughton road
Kelly's 1912: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer
Kelly's 1912: Ted Sharp, baker

Kelly's 1916: John Nix, farmer, Boughton road
Kelly's 1916: Mrs. Martha Kezia Pollard, grocer

c.1862: Mill built to replace Stoke Ferry postmill on the same site

1862: William Pollard jnr, miller

May 1873: William Pollard jnr defaulted on mortgage repayment and mill put up for sale by mortgagee

June 1873: William Pollard bankrupt

Kelly's 1879: William Pollard, miller

Census 1881: John Nix b.Whittlesea, Cambs, miller & farmer with 15 acres employing 1 man
Mary Ann Nix (48) b.Upwell
Adelaide Nix (17) b.Romsey
Emily Nix (14) b.Whittlesea, Cambs.
John Nix (8) b.Walsoken

White's 1883: John Nix, corn miller & farmer

1885: John Nix, miller

1889: John Nix, miller

White's 1890: John Nix, corn miller & farmer

Sunday 24th March 1895: Mill damaged in severe gale

Kelly's 1892: John Nix, miller (wind)

O.S. map 1891:
Windmill (Corn)

Sunday 24th March 1895: Mill badly damaged in a gale

Kelly's 1896: John Nix, miller (wind) & farmer

Kelly's 1900: John Nix, miller (wind) & farmer

c.1900: Two floors added and sails replaced by a set from a mill in South Weald, Essex

Kelly's 1904: Ted Sharp, baker & miller (wind)

Kelly's 1908: Ted Sharp, baker & miller (wind & steam)

1910: Ted Sharpe, miller; Emily Sharp (née Doy), Stanley Harold Sharp b.21st December 1910, Stoke Ferry

Kelly's 1916: Ted Sharp, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1922: Ted Sharp, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1925: Ted Sharp, miller (wind)

1926: Ted Sharpe, miller

Kelly's 1929: Ted Sharp, miller (wind)

Karl Wood painting 1933: Mill tower with cap and only 3 sails

June 1936: Mill derelict with no fantail and only inner sails remaining

1937: Mill with cap, windshaft and fan frame still in situ

November 1936: One of the remaining sails fell off, smashed into the mill house below, destroying part of the roof and injuring the occupants who were in bed at the time

c.1956: Attempt to demolished mill using traction engine winding gear. Only a small top section came down

O.S. map 1974; Windmill

1978: Mill and house derelict. Mill with no roof

12th November 1980: Derelict mill bought by Roger Wright

Tuesday 6th April 1982: Tower Mill Restaurant opened

July 1983: Mill complex and new bungalow advertised for sale by Abbotts for £175,000

February 1984: Mill and restaurant advertised for sale by Charles Hawkins for £150,000

March 1985: Mill and restaurant advertised for sale William H. Brown for £85,500

April 1986: Mill and restaurant advertised for sale by William H. Brown for £97,500

November 1988: Mill advertised for sale by Hamptons Bedford for £225,000

2005: Mill and 2½ acres bought by Gary & Sandra Coyne for £315,000

2008: Mill used as holiday let

2012: Mill used as holiday let

2019: Possibility that the mill site could be developed or the mill demolished to make way for housing

2020: Possibility of mill's demise appears to have receded with mill fully let after Covid 19 lockdown eased

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 TF70140049
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005