Water and Wind Mills

Mankind has been harnessing the power of water for centuries, for spinning yarn, weaving cloth, for processing iron or lead and that most primitive of industries, grinding grain into flour.

A manorial document from c.1280 describes part of Great Warford which formerly lay adjacent to Ollerton, referring to “situm molendini in villa de Magna Werford” .  This goes on to describe ” a watermill in the township of Magna Werford, with the site of a mill-dam made or to be made, for the diversion of water to the mill upon the stream between Magna Werford and Holreton”

The site of any such mill is a mystery, though it is interesting to note on the Tithe Map of 1848, the names of two fields, “Big Mill Field” and “Little Mill Field”, which do not appear to relate to the site of Colthurst Mill further upstream.


The Tithe Map of 1848 showing Big Mill Field on the left and Little Mill Field on the left

Township: Marthall and Little Warford          Parish: Rostherne

Cheshire Record Office Ref: EDT/264/2     O.S  Grid Ref: SJ 801 772

Marthall and Little Warford Tithe Map



The location of the “Mill fields”


Another interesting but perhaps obscure reference to a mill in Marthall appears in the form of a field named “Mill Stone Meadow” to the southeast of Marthall crossroads.

This name appears on the Tithe Map of 1848, but not on any later maps, not is there any indication of a mill building.



Mill Stone Meadow at Marthall in 1848


In the present day however, this site is occupied by an agricultural site known as Marthall Mill, but the history of this is unknown.



A particularly interesting discovery has been evidence of the existence of a windmill in the area.

In the Overseers Accounts for 1672, a windmill is referred to in reference to the Pavements of Warford Heath Lanes:

“Thomas Grastie, beginneth where the Windmill stoode, and hath 7 roodes or thereabouts, Thomas Roylance hath his 4 roods and some yards…”

This reads as if the windmill was gone by the time this survey was carried out.

Warford Heath Lanes are the area around present day Ancoats Lane up to Knutsford Road.

Oliver Bott made reference to the site in his essay on corn mill sites in Cheshire 1066-1850, after finding it on several old maps, but was unable to discover any other information.

John Speed’s map of 1610 clearly shows a windmill on land north of Marthall:

John Speed's Map of Cheshire, 1610

John Speed’s Map of Cheshire, 1610


An earlier map of 1577 does not show it, so it may be that it was built between these dates, but maps such as these can never be guaranteed as geographically or factually accurate.


Christopher Saxton's Map of 1577

Christopher Saxton’s Map of 1577


Peter Burdetts map is a very interesting source on this subject; it shows what appears to be a windmill north of Norbury Houses:

Extract from Burdetts Map of Cheshire, 1777, showing a windmill

Extract from Burdetts Map of Cheshire, 1777, showing a windmill


Taking into account the lack of scale on these maps, it is thought that this roughly refers to the area around Springfield Farm.

Looking at the key of this map, the icon for a windmill was drawn in a different way, as shown by these two contemporary examples near Warrington, so it is unclear why the windmill at Warford had its own artistic design.  Could it have been in a state of disrepair, or perhaps it was a much larger example?



Windmills in the Grappenhall area

Windmills in the Grappenhall area


[Many thanks to Tony Simpson for his assistance in researching this, and to Cheshire Local History Association for the use of  their digitized maps, available here]


Little is known about Peck Mill which now gives its name to a farm, and lies in Marthall, near to the border with Chelford:




Presumably, any mill in the vicinity would have been situated on Pedley Brook.

The name “Peck Mill” may refer to a type of mill with a pecking movement or to the capacity of the grindstones, ie. a peck measure.

Alan Dale also thought that it might refer to an ancient pack horse route which he describes as follows:

“Starting at the Monks Abbey Mill, (where Abbey Farm is now) in the 12th century, on the main road from Chelford to Macclesfield, then down some hollow flag stones, which had been made hollow by the horses shoes.  They are now covered over with soil. 

Then to Peck Mill, then to a very old house on the top of the bank, once the home of the Cooper family.  (I saw it burn down).  Then to near Kell Green Hall, Marthall then on to the borders of Ollerton to Spring Wood Mill.  This had been built  by the Legh family of Booth Hall, and was demolished when they built the Booth Mill on the Mobberley Road. 

The route would be from Spring Wood Mill to near Booth Hall, on to Knutsford.  Before the Tatton Mere was dammed up, there was a paved road on the East side of the Moor, leading on to the Tattno Hall, and probably there was a mill there.”

Information about Peck Mill Farm, can be found in the Farms area of the website.

By far the most well documented mill in the area was Colthurst Mill, sadly demolished in the 1960’s.


The Mill at Sandlebridge, showing the Mill Pond in the foreground

The Mill at Sandlebridge, showing the Mill Pond in the foreground


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This is roughly where the United Utilities water station is, at the Sandlebridge end of Mill Lane.

“Colthurst Mill was only a few yards away from Dales House.  It formerly had a heavy flag roof, and the Drying Kiln on the roadside originally had a thatched roof, but in my young days it was re-roofed with slates.  There were two  very big waterwheels , side by side, one was over-flow, and the other under-flow.  I presume the one on the far side came from the old Peck Mill further up the stream and was put here in 1567, as that date was scored on some timber near to it.  The water previously came  from the old Alderley Mill, now a National Trust Mill.

I have seen the old Drying Kiln working several times, and in the underneath chamber , the fire place, there were a number of inscriptions and dates on some of the stones and woodwork.  This end of the mill was the oldest  and has started  to subside.  Even the floor in the living room in the dwelling house sloped to one side.  The Rawlins family lived here and were Millers here for many years, and when they left, they went to Old Alderley Mill. 

Then Harry Groves was the Miller for some 40 or 50 years.  He lived in a house in Mill Lane until the mill was demolished by the David Lewis Committee, at about the same time as Colthurst House in 1960.”         Alan Dale


Sandlebridge came into the possession of the Holland family through Samuel Holland’s wife, Ann Colthurst.

One source, written in 1913, discloses that on the mill, was an inscription, “M.S.C, 1659.”


This photograph was taken from Kell Green Lane, looking back towards the mill

Extract from the Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser:  Saturday December 11th, 1875

“A few weeks ago, the heavy rains caused the boundary of the mill-pool to give way and a sad thing it has been for Mr Rawlins the much respected miller, also to those who patronise his establishment.  But through the untiring energy of Mr Bowden whose engineering ability has proved quite equal to the emergency and a little neighbourly help, we hope in a few days to see the breach made up and the mill at work again”



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One Comment

  1. Good morning,
    Im doing a little project on West Cheshire corn mills with particular interest in one near my home in Delamere.
    Any new information will be shared with the National Mills Archive, Reading.
    They tell me there is very little information on the history and social context of many mills generally and in Cheshire.
    Wondered if they have any of the material here, especially the photos and more so, interior shots and any social information ie workers there, production etc.
    Just thought I would say hello and like the website.
    Best regards
    David in Delamere

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