Tattenhall Steam and Water Mill ….
The former Tattenhall Steam and Water Mill, not surprisingly, was located on ‘Mill Lane’.
This area has been completely redeveloped and is now known as ‘Old Mill Place’ (adjacent to the Barbour Institute).
Mill Lane was, in fact, a former hub of activity with a multiplicity of allied occupations as shown in the image to the left. The Corn Mill, Smithy, Cheese Factory, Creamery and the Tattenhall Gas and Coke Company Limited were all located on Mill Lane.
Other than the original three storey Corn Mill (currently occupied by Illingworth Seddon), the other businesses and their respective buildings are long since gone.
With few surviving written or photographic records, we have attempted to piece together this section of our village history.
The Tattenhall Corn Mill (Flour), Gas Works and adjacent Mill Pool can be identified on a number of early Ordnance Survey Maps as shown below:
Water from the Mill Pool was diverted to the Corn Mill and, dependent on the height of the water column, the power for the Mill was created. A newspaper report on 2 January 1897, makes reference to a ‘fall of 15 feet from the adjoining Mill Head, creating 1 horse power’ (Cheshire Observer).
The Mill and Mill Pool also receive mention in Robert Orton’s ‘Tattenhall: Being a sketch of the Village of that name Near Chester’ which was published in 1908 after his death. Robert Orton JP, who formerly lived at ‘Bank House’ (currently ‘The Rookery’), wrote ‘… the older road used to run nearer to the Mill Pool, and come out again up what is now the front of the Factory. An old water mill also used to be near the Hall, but has been removed for many years past. The factory now does the work, and much more and other than did the old Mill …’.
The Mill Pool itself did not escape early criticism,however, and was described as a public ‘nuisance’ when a complaint was lodged at Broxton Petty Sessions and which was reported in The Cheshire Observer and General Advertiser on 2 August 1856. The Mill Pool was identified as ‘the greatest part of sickness in Tattenhall … there (having) been 4 cases in the house of Mr Jackson since last February. Discussion (relating) to the right to clean it, without stopping the supply of water to the Mill (is recorded) and consent was to be sought from the owner’.
John Stoneley, the family of whom owned the village shop at No 1 High Street, recalls that ‘the water from the Mill Pool went down a brick tunnel which as kids we walked down many times. I went to see the tunnel when they were demolishing it to make way for the new houses (at the end of Old Mill Place)’.
Whilst John Stoneley never went in the Mill (health and safety regulations doubtless prohibited anyone going inside), he recalls that he could hear the machinery as he went past.
John also recalls that he ‘ … would see the Miller most days as he walked past the Stoneley family house and shop (No. 1 High Street) on his way home for his dinner. He lived at Alpha House with his wife Martha and their sons.
He was a proper ‘dusty miller’, I remember him most for his dusty flat cap and the fact the he ‘plodded’, placing his feet down very firmly with every step.
The Miller’s son, Reg, became a very good friend. I played football with him – a fine goalkeeper which all the old residents will remember. He also played Billiards in my team. His name is also engraved on the ‘Billiard Handicap Cup’ as ‘Winner – R Mellor – 1958’.
His older brother, Allan, was a local Insurance Agent and will be remembered by most villagers of a certain age.
Working alongside Frank Mellor at the Mill was another individual, ‘Jim (James) Viggor’, who lived in one of the ‘Nine Houses’ …
Activities of the Tattenhall Steam and Water Mill can also be identified from an advertisement which appeared in the Liverpool Mercury on Wednesday 9 August 1882.
To Millers – To be Let, a Steam and Water Mill, situated at Tattenhall, Cheshire, containing four pairs of stones, dressing machine, oilcake crusher, bean crusher etc. Machinery in good working order. Satisfactory reasons for disposing of same. Apply to Joseph Kent, 26 Drury Lane, Liverpool.
Mill Lane also appears to have received coverage in the local press with an enterprising and pioneering venture which was to be developed at Mr Jackson’s premises. Heralded as ‘the first English Cheese Making Factory’ (Cheshire Observer 2 April 1870), the newspaper report advised of the following developments:
The building adjoins the Tattenhall Corn Mill. The building is 3 storeys high. One side is cut of the solid rock of red sandstone. Lowest story devoted to dairy purposes. Two upper storeys serve as storerooms for the cheese after it is pressed.The vessel shed, which is one division of the first storey, is entered by a flight of steps. The shed contains a boiler and furnace, near which is a hot air chamber. There are rooms for the dairyman and his wife. The cheese is moved to the upper floors by a hoist, driven by a turbine.
There are few pieces of photographic evidence remaining of this area of the village but John Stoneley has kindly provided the photograph below which illustrates the volume of activity in ‘this hollow’. Generally, therefore, only the roof lines of the various properties can be identified since they are all located in the ‘hollow’ on what was ‘Mill Lane’.
From left to right …
- The Barbour Institute and War Memorial with the Brass Band marching past.
- The white building/shed on the immediate left housed the ‘Tattenhall Shooting Hut’. This was used by the Tattenhall Rifle Club until 1914 and was later used for storage of the trestle tables for the Barbour Institute. A silver inkwell trophy of the ‘Tattenhall Ladies Rifle Club’ dated 1911-12 and presented to SB Jackson, can also been seen on the Artefacts page of the Website.
- A thin vertical Steam Pipe can then be identified in the image. All tankards were steam-cleaned before pasteurized milk was placed within them – hence the steam pipe.
- The original 3 storey Mill building can be clearly identified, together with the Mill Chimney.
- To the immediate right of the Mill building is an Electric Utility Pole.
- The buildings to the immediate right of that Electric Utility Pole are the Smithy; an area of Storage for the Creamery and then the Tattenhall Gas Works Company building (later used by FZ Pierce as a Garage and storage for Petrol and Oil Carbine – the Pierce family also owned the shop which was located adjacent to John Stoneley’s grandmother’s shop and house – see Buildings).
- The small Chimney at the far right of the image which appears to be attached to the property of the Tattenhall Gas Works, was not. It actually stood in the rubble of a demolished building. The space between the Chimney and the actual building shown in the photograph was the site of the gas holding tank – long since removed.
- The shrubbery which can be clearly seen behind the building line was on the top of the sandstone cliff (walk to the end of ‘Old Mill Place’ to view a section of that sandstone cliff). This marked the boundary onto the Flacca Field. John Stoneley recalls that at the back of the bushes were Army trenches which both the British and American personnel used for exercises during WWII. As a lad, he and his friends would climb into the trenches and the planes would go over at about 20ft above them. John recalls that when the Americans left, they dumped a lot of waste in the trenches – packets of biscuits, K rations, chocolate, chewing gum, cigarettes, chewing tobacco and magazines were left behind. There was also a fence between the Moors (as they were called) and the rough bank.
A further image of the ‘Barbour Institute and War Memorial’ shown below gives a clear view of the 3 storey Mill and Chimney. Interestingly the extent of the sandstone boundary walls of the Barbour Institute is clearly visible, together with the iron railings. The white shed sited between the Barbour Institute and War Memorial is a different building to that shown in the previous image. This building was used by the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) during WWII.
The more recent image of the Barbour Institute (below) allows a direct comparison with that above and also illustrates the line of the new buildings which are located on the former ‘Mill Lane’ now ‘Old Mill Place’
We include below some of the fantastic images of the Old Mill, currently occupied by Illingworth Seddon. Importantly too, some of the old winding gear is still visible within the building.
Particular thanks to John Stoneley for his invaluable help with this webpage, to Jon Moseley at Rowan Marketing (former owners of the Mill) and to the current owners ‘Illingworth Seddon’.