History

Burton Mill - probably taken around 1950

 

2016 View

Burton Mill, West Sussex

The present 4 storey, 5 bay mill building dates from 1780 and was built on the foundations of an earlier forge or fulling mill. A mill is mentioned in the Domesday book as part of Burton manor but it is believed that this was located to the south under what is now Burton Mill Pond. By 1893 the present mill included 2 waterwheels (one either side) and 4 pairs of stones. Soon after, the eastern waterwheel was replaced by an early Francis type turbine driving a dynamo to provide power to Burton Park House. A second 27h.p. Gilkes turbine was installed in the western watercourse in 1929 to drive the 4 pairs of stones and additional machinery including a circular saw. It is around this time that the present arrangement of bins were installed in the attic to accommodate a larger variety of grains. This is probably the time that the eastern turbine ceased to be used as there would have been insufficient water available to drive both. The eastern turbine was uncovered during the renovation work and can be seen in the photo above just behind the gate.

In 1962 or 1963 part of the mill dam collapsed, closing the road along it and allowing some water to escape. The County Council as highway authority repaired the road, but claimed that the mill owner was liable for the cost. After a court case which the Council won, the two parties came to an agreement in 1966 whereby the mill, mill pond, and embankment were conveyed to the Council.

By 1976 the mill had been abandoned and had falling into a very poor state, to the extent that it was used as a 'derelict building' set in an early episode of the BBC series 'Shoestring'. In 1978, a lease on part of Burton Mill was acquired by Mrs Anne Mills who, with help from SIAS (Sussex Industrial Archeology Society) and naval volunteers restored the mill to working order using a pair of stones acquired from a mill near Cardiff coupled to the existing western turbine. The mill was once again producing flour and this continued until around 1987.

After considerably structural strengthening in 1994, the mill was part converted into a residence. Fortunately, the ground floor was left with the milling machinery installed by Mrs Mills and the first floor only adapted for use as a tea room.

The mill was acquired by the current owners in 2016 and by 2018 the mill was working once again.

Sources:
Dr A F Hughes, Historic Building Consultant – 2009 report;
Unknown author, 'A short History of Burton Mill';
The West Sussex Gazette, 16th November 1978;
SIAS Newsletter No. 10 (1980)

A full history of Burton Mill by Dr T P Hudson and Mr A G Allnutt

View of the eastern wheel

View of the western wheel

Drawing of the mill - taken from Sussex Industrial Heritage Society Newsletter 10 (1980)