Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Short History of Marsh Mill

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Marsh Mill’s one of those buildings that, along with Lytham Mill, Staining Mill, Pilling Mill and Preesall Mill (watch this, somebody’s going to complain now because I haven’t featured their favourite Fylde pepper pot in that list) has become so much a part of our local heritage that the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Besides, it’s not exactly difficult researching for an article like this. It’s all been said before. We like to think of it as ‘disposable history’.

Anyhow, Marsh Mill was designed and constructed by Ralph Slater (who also built Clifton and Pilling mills) on behalf of Bold Fleetwood Hesketh in 1794.

“Who was Bold Fleetwood Hesketh?” you might be asking. (Actually, you’re prob
ably not, but we’re going to tell you anyway.)
He was the Lord of the Manor, (unmarried, apparently, but we’re not saying anything) at Rossall Hall and, obviously, he wanted a brand new windmill.

Marsh Mill was big and brash for its day, packed with all the latest milling inventions such as self-regulating sails (whatever they were) and a rotating cap that lined up the ‘sweeps’ with the wind. The bricks were produced from local clay by hand.


It wasn’t the first mill in Thornton, however. A watermill is recorded in documents from 1245 as belonging to Alice de Singleton, whilst ‘New Mill’ is included on Yates’s map of 1786 just north of Bourne. (Have you noticed how, nowadays, I’ve started adding an extra ‘s’ after the apostrophe in possessive nouns? When did that particular grammatical rule change? Presumably when some illiterate grammar book writer made a stupid mistake but wouldn’t admit to getting it wrong. Still…I digress.)
We reckon that New Mill originally stood beneath the plastic dragon at Farmer Parr’s. There won’t be anything left of it to excavate nowadays, of course, A couple of decades ago the government insisted that some water tank or other was sunk into the ground on the exact same spot. So much for local heritage.

In 1896 Marsh Mill was sold to Parkinson Tomlinson, Poulton Corn Merchants. The manager at the time was Edmund Freeborn who allegedly painted the outside of the mill one year later to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, along with the sails and fan tail, without any scaffolding. The Health and Safety people would be throwing an epileptic fit if he tried that on today.


Marsh Mill stopped producing flour in 1922 (the last miller, with a certain amount of serendipity, being Mr George Bunn) and by the 1930s had been converted into tearooms. An advert from this period informs us that: “Ham and Eggs, a Pot of Tea and Bread and Butter” would set the hungry visitor back by 2/-, whilst rooms were let for: “Picnic, Wedding and other Parties”.
Apparently the mill also possessed a: “Parking Ground for Patrons’ Cars and Char-a-bancs.” “Sweets, Chocolates, Mineral Waters and Novelties” were readily available. All of which information, now that I come to think about, can be seen in the actual advert below.



The mill was sold into private hands, despite public protestations, in 2004, but is still open to visitors. If you’re particularly lucky, on the day that you visit, the machinery (seen below) might actually be working; an ideal opportunity to boot some noisy kid who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words, “Stop pratting around and behave!” into the cogs for the full ‘milling experience’.

23 comments:

RVB said...

Dutch windmills are also pretty awesome. When I went there in 2007, I experienced many a wind and many a mill (but not necessarily in that order).

John said...

Nice post. Maybe you can show some of the other windmills someday?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

That's dutch food for you.

John,

Will do.

RVB said...

Dutch food is better than stagnant roast, pudding and greasy chips, Brian.

Brian Hughes said...

I totally agree Reuben, which is why I never buy ASDA home brand.

RVB said...

ASDA in Britain = Aldi in Australia = excellent quality.

By the way, I take it you've seen my trailer? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmam6xayVSM

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

That equation doesn't compute. If 'ASDA = Excellent Quality' then, to quote Arthur Dent after reading the 'Question to Life': "I always knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the unvierse."

Yep...seen your trailer...well, not the actual trailer for the series, but I did watch Parts One and Two of the pilot episode. Either I was very drunk at the time, or it was very enjoyable...probably both.

RVB said...

Brian, come to any Australian supermarket and I think you'll discover that there is nothing worst. I repeat: Nothing. Not even Ug Boots.

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

You've never tried ASDA's 'homebaked bread'. It looks wonderful, smells delicious and is all nice and crusty etc when you buy it. Two hours later it's transformed into a close approximation of the inside of a cheap toilet door, chewy, full of sawdust and unfit for consumption...unless it's just me doing something wrong with it. Mind you, their whitefish is horrible as well. It isn't white, it's yellow and grey and so full of bones that I wouldn't feed it to my cat, so it's probably not me at all.

Jayne said...

I make my own bread but the only grain I like to mill is of the timber variety underfoot :P

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

I really wish I knew what that meant so that I could formulate some sort of appropriate response.

RVB said...

In keeping with comparisons, you should try Safeway Brand candles. They look posh, smell new and even have a nice yellow light - but three hours later, when the cat is asleep, they explode into a small black-hole (well...one big enough to take out the entire kitty-litter).

Brian Hughes said...

I never shop at Safeway, Reuben. Our nearest branch is several miles away and was taken over a couple of years ago by Morrisons. As for kitty-litter, ours is trained to use the back garden. The house smells fresher nowadays, but the potted shrubs have lost a lot of their original zest.

Jayne said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk Brian.
I feed you a line that you could have done wonders with - "Is that why your sandwiches taste like sawdust?" or "I've heard your cakes can be used as bookends".
Must try harder! :P

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

It all depends on how many coffees I've had in the morning as to whether or not I recognise the feed line. Five, ultra-black, injected straight into the vein usually does the trick.

Jayne said...

Then I won't offer you any of my scones that could double as doorstops :P

Brian Hughes said...

Mmm...hot buttered scones. You're making me drool now.

Jayne said...

Or with lashings of freshly whipped cream and rich, home-made strawberry jam.
Think I've talked myself into making scones for morning tea now...

Brian Hughes said...

And the annoying thing is, I've got fasting blood tests this morning and can't even look at a scone let alone eat one for the next couple of hours.

Jayne said...

Floorboards won out, no scones made so you didn't miss out on one being emailed to you ;)
Fasting bloods, what's up?

Brian Hughes said...

"Fasting bloods, what's up?"

Just the usual physical degeneration that comes with a middle age fuelled by eating, drinking and smoking too much.

Jayne said...

Ahhh ok. You're where I'll be in a few years then.
Keep the seat warm!

Brian Hughes said...

My middle age flatulence will see to that.