Monday 31 July 2023

The Tide Mills Village

 By the mid 18th century the course of the River Ouse in East Sussex had changed direction and was meeting the sea at Bishopstone. Henry Pelham [the Duke of Newcastle] could see the financial potential in using the power of the water flow in this creek on his land to drive mills and in 1761 he leased it to three millers for that purpose. Three brick tidal mills were built to grind corn and at their peak they were producing 3500lb a week which was being transported by boat to Lewes or up to London.

By 1808 the site was in the sole ownership of the one miller William Catt who ran it very successfully until his death in 1853. Catt was a hard task master, but a fair man who made sure that his employees who had moved into the nearby and recently built flint cottages were treated well. He had a school put in along with a granary, office, blacksmith, carpenter and stores and both the business and the village flourished under his leadership. At its peak there were 70 living in the Tide Mills village. His success made him a wealthy man. Sadly the arrival of the railway at nearby Seaford in 1864 sounded the death knell for the mills as it was far cheaper for the locals to send their grain off by train to be milled elsewhere. Slowly the milling foundered and the machinery was sold off in 1883. The mill buildings continued as warehouses until 1901 when they were taken down.

The village itself continued to be lived in for several years after with the residents working on the nearby farms. By 1920 Dr David Dale, a former jockey and by then a racehorse doctor, had moved into one of the cottages and set up his own stables. He'd often take the injured horses down to the beach and into the seawater to aid their lameness. The horse bath is still evident.

With war looming.  people were served with notices of eviction and the last one left in 1939. The area was used for training troops and many of the houses were damaged by damaged by the bullets of their military practice. What was left was demolished after the end of WWII bar the few walls which remain still standing on the site. 






Nowadays it's a nature reserve leading down on to the beach. There is no charge either to visit or park.




If you haven't already guessed this was where I saw the flint cobbles last week. It was Mr GBT's delayed birthday outing [we had to cancel originally because Humphrey was really poorly]...he loves to be near the water. As we were already down on the coast we made a day of it and went elsewhere in the afternoon which I'll cover separately. It was an interesting day spent in a part of Sussex I really am not familiar with.

Arilx


2 comments:

  1. What a fascinating story - thank you for sharing the photos

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    Replies
    1. I only heard of it earlier this year when a friend paid a visit. Fascinating back story.

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