Marsh Farm
drainage pump
River Bure

10th July 1973
10th July 1973

Mautby Marsh Farm mill was 3 storey Norfolk red brick towermill built to drain the marshes into the River Bure. Windpower was supplemented by and eventually replaced by a Ruston & Hornsby oil engine that worked there from 1919 to 1968.

When the above photograph was taken in 1973 the mill was becoming derelict. The cap had gone and only 1¾ of the sail stocks remained along with fragments of one sail. The windshaft, brakewheel and all the running gear including the large scoop wheel were still intact.

To be Sold.

At Mawtby, in Norfolk, A Skeleton Engine, which works by Wind, and is able to work two Pumps that will drain off thirty or forty Acres of Marsh Land; it is in good Repair. Enquire of Mr Edmund Woodcock, Millwright at Yarmouth.
Norfolk Chronicle - 15th March 1783

Oil painting by Owen Waters c.1974
Oil painting by Owen Waters c.1974

Mautby's Ruston & Hornsby oil engine October 2004
Mautby's Ruston & Hornsby oil engine October 2004

On 26th September 1919 E. Lacon & Son, brewers in Gt. Yarmouth, bought a Ruston & Hornsby oil engine to supplement windpower at the mill. As yet it is not known why a large brewing firm would have an interest in a remote section of grazing marsh. The engine was supplied and installed by local millwrights
Thomas_Smithdale_&_Sons of Acle. The engine was delivered to Acle station on 11th November 1919 and then transported to the site by Mr. Smithdale using a tractor. All the workmen stood by the tractor and engine for the one minute's silence to commemorate the armistice of 1918.

The engine was housed in a separate shed, part of which can be seen to the left of the mill in the photo at the top of the page. The engine remained working at the mill until 1968, when it was saved from destruction by Bob Morse of Repps. After that it became a museum exhibit at
The Village Experience in Fleggburgh, where it resided for many years. The musum closed in the autumn of 2004 and on 16th October 2004 the engine was sold at auction to engine enthusiast Steve Green, who embarked on an extensive restoration programme on the Engine that included the re-manufacture of several new parts.


The mill in its derelict state was bought by two ladies from London (I believe) as a retirement home and at considerable expense had the mill converted and the build on the side.

The Cap was rebuilt and the workings hoisted back to the top, a new walkway around the cap, new cross and sails fashioned. The central drive shaft was removed and an archway cut into the bottom of the mill to facilitate entry into the lower floor. The lower floor of the side build was a very large kitchen, then through to the staircase to the upper storey, which hosted a master en suite bedroom, then through to the mill, which had a bedroom on the second floor and a bathroom on the top floor with a hatch to gain entry to the cap.

One of the jobs we used to help with was every three months when the sails had to be turned one quarter revolution to stop the water from rotting the sail boards, it was not the getting the sails to start, it was stopping the darned thing if it was windy (when is it not windy in Norfolk?). Then back to the cap to tie off the shaft. Having stayed in the bedroom in the mill I can verify that the eerie creakings that came from the cap and the sails would keep anyone from sleeping.

Nigel Dowe - 2nd February 2006

9th December 2006
9th December 2006

9th December 2006
9th December 2006

We moved into the mill in 2003 and certainly enjoy living here. We sleep on the first floor of the mill and have grown used to the creaking noises at night, in fact we seldom notice them.  Recently the gale force winds caused the top five feet of one of the uppermost sails to break off. We are hoping to get this repaired sometime in the future but the cost is prohibitive at the moment.
Ray McKenzie-Blyth - 8th February 2008

I was intrigued to view the entry on your website about Mautby Marsh  windpump and to see the photographs of its current condition as well as some of the historical background.
My wife and I owned the property from 1988 to 1993, having purchased it from a solicitor (whose name escapes me) in Gt Yarmouth, who had been responsible for the conversion of the building to living accommodation. (We were never aware of the '"two ladies from London" referred to on the page!)
During our time, the bank had to be raised (as can be seen in the aerial photos) because of the risk of higher spring tides in the early 1990s. It's interesting to see that boats can now moor against the river bank adjacent to the property, something that was never possible during our time because the river was then too shallow at that point.
I too can attest that the movement of the cap and sail shaft in windy weather made for some creaky sounds. But my (then) young children all slept in the upper bedroom - as did several guests from time to time - and quickly got used to it.
The house featured in a GEC calendar in 1989 - the theme was Norfolk windmills and we were December!
As our work at the time kept us in London (and now in the United States), it became impractical to keep the property, and we sold it with great regret. But we loved it very much, and it remains for us a  family legend.

Nigel Patterson - 5th June 2010

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

March 1783: Skeleton pump advertised for sale

1919 - 1968: Wind power suppllemented by and eventually replaced by Ruston & Hornsby oil engine

Mill derelict - cap gone and only 1¾ sail stocks remaining with fragments of one sail. Windshaft, brakewheel and all running gear including scoop wheel still intact.

c.1980: Mill renovated and converted to residential use by Yarmouth solicitor

1988: Nigel Patterson bought mill

1993: Nigel Patterson sold mill

2003: Ray McKenzie-Blyth

2007: Top 5 ft of one sail blown off in a gale

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 48950992
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004