Haversham Mill River Ouse
Haversham Mill - ¾m. N.E. of Church.
Standing empty 1768, 1793, (1809), 1824, 1833, (1847), 1870, 1875, 1887, 1926.
No one would suspect, as they stood on the rickety old bridge against Haversham Mill, they were within walking distance of the insalubrious neighbourhood of Wolverton unless they happened to observe distant chimney shafts. Approached by a steep gated track, the mill stands forlorn beside the renovated mill cottage; and beyond id the great marsh stretching away to the hills on which old Bradwell Windmill is perched cattle and a cowman with his dog are about the only signs of life if one continues along the stony, grass-grown track and through more gates; but the cries of gulls and lapwings and the wild musical whistle of the redshank, will give way to wailing factory sirens and locomotive whistles ere a hard road is reached.
V.C.H. Vol.IV records that the mill amongst the appurtenances of the Manor of Haversham in 1086, was worth 8 shillings and 75 eels; and the rentals of the Manor in the 15th century show Haversham Mill was then worth 66/8d per annum to the lord. At this time there was a second watermill called Helwell Mill or the New Mill where the Priory of Bradwell had a fishery, this being, possibly the New Mill already mentioned under my Mead Mill heading. In 1619 two grist-mills existed here, but only one is mentioned in 1764.
William Peverel had the Manor in 1086; and we later read that “Galf’r Molindar holds 18 acres with the mill from Matilda, daughter of Nicholas of Haversham and pays 113/4d per annum”. Sir Thomas Lucy, Kt, associated with the Manor in the late 16th century, is noted for his alleged prosecution of Shakespeare about 1585 for deer-stealing in his Warwickshire park, which resulted in Shakespeare immortalising his enemy in the character of Mr. Justice Shallow!
In 1729 the Manor sold for £24,500 to Lucy Knightley, a descendant of the Lucys; and the mill portion of the estate was assigned to Roger Ratcliffe for £600 in 1806. Meanwhile Mary Holman was tenant in 1798; and William Carr who later had the mill also occupied Castlethorpe Mill in 1864, probably concentrating his attention upon it, for he left Haversham Mill in a bad state. In fact after it had stood idle for some while, a sum of £400 had to be spent on new floodgates, belts and equipment of all sorts before Mr. Robert Adams from Bradwell Windmill, was able to set to work there in 1871. An unexpected financial hitch arose over this expenditure, as a result of which Mr. Adams eventually left the mill in 1877 and turned to farming: he was succeeded by W.G. Perry from Salford Watermill (Beds); and very shortly by John Carr from Mursley Windmill and Woolstone Watermill, with his two sons no relation of William Carr, although he in the past had bought a little corn from his namesake to grind. The coincidence was completed when John’s son William, became proprietor, and was followed by another Mr. Perry, probably related to the Perrys of Olney and Lavendon Mills in former years, at about the outbreak of the Great War; but he soon vacated and the machinery has since been entirely removed.
In Mr. Adam’s time a large breast wheel with only a slight lip to the buckets, drove the mill in spur gear; but John Carr had a smaller one installed with curved buckets, and also had a false floor built over the original to raise it. Both wheels were chiefly of wood. Except for the wheel-room which is over the stream, the mill stands on the left bank with brick cottage adjoining, and is by-passed southwards via a large weir; it is of stone with shallow slate roof, wooden sack-loft, now broken, projecting over the bridge; and usual three floors, including attic. Water was admitted to the wheel by a curved worm-geared “flash” the worm being on the end of a long crank handle projected into the mill.
Tree pairs of stones were eventually located in line on the first floor, underdriven from a heavy horizontal shaft as at Wolverton, the shaft being at axle level of the watermill with pinion geared to inner face of the peripheral cog-ring on the wheel, which was 15ft. quatershot, of 7ft. tread; and plummer block for mainshaft is still in situ in the wall.
On the ground floor, beneath each pair of stones, is a shallow iron trough to accommodate each spur on the mainshaft, this being necessitated by the raising of the floor and the consequent reduced clearance; and adjoining the cottage is an engine room, now empty like the mill proper.
In 1869 a man and his horse were drowned on the mill track in a tremendous flood, just after Mr. N.T. Cole, author of I Remember had scrambled through with his father on their baker’s cart. Again on “Black Tuesday”, 1881 their greatest difficulties were at the mill, where they had to unhitch the two hoses they had attached to the cart and leave them at Hill Farm, having only progress thus far after much digging of snow.
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