History of the Mill

Although a mill at Towcester was recorded in the Domesday Book (1086), the oldest existing building is just over two hundred years old. The mill, which was powered by water, was used to grind corn into flour, and to mix animal feed. It is believed to be one of the only (maybe the only) water mill in Northamptonshire with a working turbine.

The water that powered the machinery was drawn from the River Tove via a leat or millstream which runs from the north end of Towcester adjacent to the premises of Towcester Tyres (Loughran's Garage), giving a head of 9 feet at the water wheel. The mill leat runs along the South West side of the water meadows which formed part of the Easton Neston Estate until it was recently acquired for a public open space, and the mill is shielded from the estate by mature trees.

Originally the mill consisted of a single building made using a rich source of Northamptonshire ironstone and was dated 1794. Two further sections were added in the 20 the century. There is a brick building with a pitched roof sandwiched between the original structure and a taller building visible at the bottom of Chantry Lane that has a flat roof with a semi-octagonal extension, probably built in the 1930s.

The original stone building housed two pairs of peak stones for grinding, a bean crusher, an oat clipper, a maize crusher, and the sack hoist. These were powered by the Turbine until lunchtimes when water ran out and the electric motor was switched on. The sharpening stone was also connected by a belt drive through the floor of room behind the present day function room. The front brick building housed an electric ‘hammer mill’ for producing animal feed pellets.

The original mill keepers’ cottage is clearly visible on the opposite side of the car park and was used by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust until 2015 and is now a recently refurbished private residence.

The mill was derelict for many years, but the buildings were renovated in 1996 by a Company called Phoenix VLSI Consultants Limited, and a year later the mill machinery was made to rotate once again underwater power, with help from the Hampshire Mill Group. After Phoenix VLSI left Towcester mill, the building was used by Infrared Integrated Systems Limited, then as offices by the South Northamptonshire Council until Towcester Mill Brewery Ltd who, in 2014, bought commercial brewing back to Towcester for the first time in over 100 years.

 


More reading…

Mill Machinery

1911 Fire

Turbine inspection 2016

Time line chronology