North West Mills Group

    
 

 

Walk Mill, Cheshire

by Stuart Mousdale

 

How many times in your life do you have the opportunity to visit a new watermill? That chance is now available at Walk Mill, Waverton, to the south east of Chester. This new building is constructed on the footprint of an earlier mill, which was demolished only about 1965, having been latterly used as a house. A mill was recorded in the area at Domesday, although this could refer to the neighbouring corn mill downstream on the River Gowy at Stapleford (differentiating this site from Walk Mill in the documentary record presents many problems for researchers). Certainly there was a mill here in medieval times, evidently employed for fulling for a period, judging by the site’s name, but by the 1790s the mill was certainly being used to grind corn.   

 

 

 

The landowners, the Jones family, only found out that a mill had stood on this site when remains started to become exposed during farm work in the area a few years ago. Their application to rebuild the mill as part of a farm diversification scheme was passed in 2006 and the new mill now has two pairs of stones driven from an all-metal undershot wheel, the gearing being acquired second hand from various sites. A damsel, retrieved during building work, is now at work again on the stone floor. Some original bricks and floor tiles have been reused in the building, along with a datestone over the tearoom fireplace, engraved “RW 1688” (this probably refers to the Winnington family, the owners at that time). The tearoom also has an album of photographs taken during the building work, showing the exposed foundations of the original mill and the subsequent development of the site. The Jones family grind their own wheat, grown in the surrounding fields, the first time this has happened since the original mill ceased to work, probably before WW 2 – flour, along with snacks made from their produce, are available from the excellent tearoom. 

 

 

This is the first watermill to be built in Cheshire since Bollington Mill (Dunham Massey New Mill) was completely rebuilt in 1860, unless anyone knows of any later examples. The mill is open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday (also Bank Holiday Mondays), with further details on www.walkmillflour.co.uk. A photograph of the original mill is on display and another can be found in Images of Hargrave & Huxley: A Pictorial History of Two West Cheshire Villages (Hargrave & Huxley Historical Group, 1999). 

 

 

 

Close-up of the waterwheel 

 

 

 

Mill gearing 

 

 

 

Millstone furniture, complete with the rescued damsel