The Tide Mill in Woodbridge gives visitors the opportunity to learn about a fascinating aspect of the history of this riverside town.
The first mill was recorded on this site in Woodbridge in 1170 when tidal power from the River Deben was used to grind corn in the mill. It was run and operated by three Augustinian Canons, whose abbey would have dominated the town at the time.
In 1563 Elizabeth I granted the mill to Thomas Seckford, whose foundation and work remain evident in the town today. The present building is later in date, from 1793, and it was in this form that the mill worked for 160 years and under 10 different owners, accepting and grinding the grain delivered from London.
In 1954 a hammermill was installed on the ground floor which was driven by a diesel engine. The increase in horsepower was too great for the mill’s delicate structure and the change lead to the fracture of the waterwheel shaft. This 22 inch square oak shaft broke in 1957, meaning that the tide mill fell into disuse. The millpond was sold off in 1962 and converted to a marina.
At this point The Tide Mill could easily have become a lost relic of Woodbridge’s history if it weren’t for a Mrs Jean Gardner who bought the mill at an auction in 1968 and started a programme of restoration on the property.
In 1981 a new, smaller millpond was constructed and The Tide Mill’s machinery could rotate but not grind corn as before. In the spring of 2012 The Tide Mill’s most recent restoration and a new exhibition will be unveiled for the first time. Visitors here will be able to learn about Woodbridge’s industrial heritage, the history of the UK’s mining and industrial heritage as well as the history of renewable energy, such as tidal energy.
The Woodbridge Tide Mill is one of only five mills of its kind left in the UK and offers a fascinating insight into the town’s industrial history.
Photo Credit: amandabhslater