26 Jun 2020
Jesmond Old Mill
This is a
Current status is
Grade II Listed
'A water corn mill, belonging to the Ridley's exisited here by 1739. It was known as Mabel's/Maboll's Mill. It is shown as "Heaton corn mill" on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, and is now called Jesmond Old Mill. It was out of use by 1895. The mill was worked by several generations of the Freeman family as a flour mill, subsequently used by a Mr Pigg to grind pig meal, then by a Mr Charlton for grinding flint for the Ouseburn pottery industry. Lord Armstrong bought the mill in 1860 from Dr Headlam and from then until the 1920s it was used only as a dwelling. The last waterwheel was removed in 1978 for rebuilding and replacement. The tail race ran directly into the head race of Deep Dene Mill; the head race can be followed through the bridge. The existing ruins date to the early 19th century, possibly incorporating part of an earlier mill. Only the shell of the mill, some gearing and foundations of an adjacent cottage, inhabited until at least 1911, survive.'
'Watermills were in use in the Dene from at least the 13th Century. Northumberland Court records for 1271-2 mention a dispute over ownership of two watermills in Heaton and Jesmond Vale by heirs to Adam of Jesmond. Although the exact location of these mills is not known, it is possible that the Heaton mill was located at the site of the Old Mill.
A water corn mill certainly existed on the site by 1739, owned by the Ridley’s and known as Mabel’s Mill or Maboll’s Mill. Deeds record the owner as Matthew Ridley and John Cutler was the miller.
The current Listed Building probably dates to the early 19th Century (before 1820), possibly incorporating an earlier mill on the site and has been much repaired and altered over the years
A map from 1800 shows a small structure on the site and names the land as belonging to Batts and High Mill. A painting from 1820 shows the mill in its current layout but with a large extension to the West (upstream). It was recorded on the 1st Edition OS map as Heaton Corn Mill in 1858 by which time the extension to the West had been demolished. By the time of the 2nd Edition OS of 1895 it was called Jesmond Old Mill and so was out of use.
At about the time the current mill was built, the Freeman family from Gateshead began a long association with the mill. Archibald Freeman was operating a windmill at Windmill Hills, Gateshead and in 1795 his son Patrick (Paddy) Freeman moved to Heaton and took over the mill as a tenant of Sir Matthew Ridley, still using it to grind corn. He also took the tenancy of the 270 acre farm at High Heaton. In 1838 T.E. Headlam became the owner, with Paddy’s son, also Patrick, becoming the miller by the time of the 1841 Census. The Freemans gave up the mill in the 1850s and by 1856 the mill was being worked by a Mr. Pigg who used it to make pollards (bran feed) for pig feed from spoilt grain. By 1857 the next lessee was John Charlton who converted the mill to grinding flint. The powdered flint was then transported to the mouth of the Ouseburn for use as glaze at the pottery factories there. The 1861 Census shows that William Martin and his family lived at the mill. William was a carter by trade and perhaps it is his family shown in one of the old photos surviving from the period. William’s son, Thomas (aged 12) was shown in the Census as an apprentice to the flint miller.
In 1862 the Sir William Armstrong bought the land in the Dene which included the mill. Although still lived in until the 1920’s, milling ceased sometime between the 1860’s and 1890’s. The 1891 Census recorded William Thompson and his family were living in Old Mill House – William and his son James were stone masons, perhaps working for Lord Armstrong.
The Freemans remained in the area as tenants of Sir Matthew Ridley at High Heaton farm until at least 1871 but by the time of the 1891 Census, they had moved to Cambois Farm at Sleekburn near Bedlington. The farm at High Heaton later became the park known as Paddy Freeman’s.
Also shown in the 1891 Census is the Thompson family living at the Old Mill. William Thompson (aged 52) was a stone mason, as was his son James and it may be that they were then employed working for Armstrong in the Dene.'
The first two Ordnance Survey editions above illustrate the site of the mill situated at Jesmond Dene. The building, likely rebuilt in the 19th century, is labelled as Heaton Mill on the first edition, producing corn. It seems there were some associated buildings to the west along the dene, which may be part of a mill run or the estate.
The second edition labels the mill as 'old', as the building was out of use by this point but in situ. The related buildings mentioned above aren't illustrated on the map anymore. By this point the small arched bridge which is now adjacent to the site is labelled, with the area looking much more like how it does today. The area was donated by Armstrong a decade earlier.
The 1921 edition shows the Old Mill still lying in situ along the dene. The area developed into a beauty spot over the decades prior, and is much more recognisable at this point. The cottage was still inhabited until around 1911 but much of the mill had been demolished by then. At this point the site was likely to be have been still standing but decaying.
Photograph of the mill, 1864. The occupants of the building and a horse can be seen outside. The complex was much larger than the ruins of today as much of the industrial extension of the house was already dismantled, and just became a dwelling in later years.
Retrieved from Newcastle Libraries
Lantern Slide of the mill in 1888, after its use as a mill remaining as a dwelling. Its water wheel lied in situ. The stairs are still there, leading to a small paved area next to the mill. This portion of the site can still be seen while the back is more in ruins.
Retrieved from Newcastle Libraries
Photograph of the old mill before it was partially demolished. By ths point the dwelling was not lived in, and likely just left as an amenity of the park much like today. However its beauty is apparent, and a shame it does not still stand today. The arched bridge is a later edition when the park became public property after its donation by Lord Armstrong in the 1880s.
Retrieved from Chris Morgan, Geograph
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