August 2020

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Mill Lane leaves Claypole Lane just before the bridge over the Witham. About a mile down the lane there are farm buildings, a weir over the river and a home that was originally a Mill. There has been a Mill here for over 900 years. In 1086 the Domesday Book records “One mill rendering ten shillings”. For most of its life until closure in 1947 it was worked as a water corn mill where villagers and others brought their corn to be ground.
From 1797 until 1832 the mill was known as Claypole Flax Mill and operated by Wrigglesworth, Jalland & Co and later by Jos Welbourne. Flax was used to make linen, yarn and sailcloth. Production stopped soon after the protective duty was reduced. In 1859 Mr G E Arnold took over the Mill and started to grind corn again. He  was followed by two other millers, until in 1940 Mr G Arnold, grandson of GE, bought and ran the Mill with his farm on the same site.
Surrounding the mill were a dozen or so simple cottages for the mill workers and farm hands. It was an established “colony” separate from “Main Claypole”. Life was hard and hours long but the community spirit
Milling finally ended in 1947 when there was such a severe frost that the water wheel was badly damaged beyond repair. The water rights were sold, the weirs taken out and replaced with a new one. By 1977 the
water course was filled in, the wheelhouse demolished and buildings converted to housing. The main mill building was four storeyed. During the Second World War evacuees were inhabiting the mill cottages.
The Acts of Enclosure 1797 show that the land surrounding the Mill was the property of Rev Dr William Rastall, who was one of the two vicars ministering in Claypole for many years and who was also Lord
of the Manor.
Miss Kate Bunyan, who lived in Redthorne Way wrote an excellent history project for her GCSE in 1993 about buildings in Claypole. A copy is available here.
Claypole Mill
Handwritten notes on
the back of this card say
The original card was
found in May 1950
behind the mantelpiece
of a fireplace in one of
the small cottages at the
Baptism records show the following family details for people living
at Claypole Mill
16 Aug 1813SUTTON(Wheelwright)
26 Dec 1813HARDY twins(Book-keeper)
14 Jan 1814ATKINSON(Blacksmith)
13 June 1814MABBOT(Flax-dresser)
13 June 1814SESSIONS(Weaver)
14 Aug 1814 WELLBON (Heckler)
16 Oct 1814HARRISON(Bleacher)
A heckler teased or combed the flax fibres.
The fathers occupations are noted on the Baptismal records