River Great Stour Wier Bridge - 1829 - Canterbury, Kent, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 51° 16.935 E 001° 04.789
31U E 366086 N 5682964
Quick Description: An elegant metal bridge over the River Great Stour Wier near the site of the destroyed Abbot's Mill in Abbots Mill Park off the well-beaten tourist trail in Canterbury
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/25/2016 12:14:57 PM
Waymark Code: WMT4Q0
Views: 8

Long Description:
All that is left of the Abbot's Mill is the millrace and the dam that powered the mill, plus some other infrastructure marks and water-level monitoring artifacts.

The historic marker at the site reads as follows:

Canterbury's Riverside Great Stour Way

A water mill stood on this eastern branch of the River Great Stour for 800 years until 1933. The mill was bought by Abbot Hugh II (1126-51) for St. Augustine's Abbey and remained in the Abbey's hands until the dissolution of the Monastery in 1538.

The mill was rebuilt in 1792, using materials from the city wall immediately to the north. These materials are still in evidence in the surviving foundations.

The new Mel designed by John Smeaton, who also designed the Eddystone Lighthouse, stood over 30m high and had six working floors and an octagonal observatory in the center of the roof. The two waterwheels which worked the machinery were 4.8m in diameter and 2.1m wide.

The mill was destroyed by fire on the 17 October 1933 whilst being repainted. Overlooking the river, Mill House is a scaled-down version of the old mill. It was designed by a local architect.

For more information, visit Canterbury.gov.uk/riversidewalk"

For more on the historic Abbot's Mill, see here: (visit link)

"he Abbot’s Mill Project

The Abbot’s Mill project is centred on the site of a former water mill on the River Stour in Canterbury. The project aims to re-instate a water wheel into the old mill race which will generate electricity for an education centre about sustainable living, renewable energy and the importance of the River Stour in the history of Canterbury’s development. This centre will be downstream on the opposite bank to the mill on the other side of St Radigund’s Bridge. A community café and a community-led woodland/wildlife garden based on permaculture principles will be created here.

Both sites have interesting histories. The first watermill here belonged to the monks of St Augustine’s Abbey – hence the name. The last mill on the site was built in 1792 as a city granary during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a landmark construction, six storeys high, and was designed by John Smeaton who also designed the Eddystone lighthouse. From 1896 the mill was known as Denne’s Mill and it was sometimes called the White Mill. In October 1933 the mill was destroyed by fire. The timber-frame burnt for seven days and nights, half a million gallons of water were poured on the flames and the streets were lined with spectators."

And here, from the Canterbury Archeological and Historical Society: (visit link)

"For nearly 150 years the second largest Canterbury building by a wide margin was the Abbot's Mill, standing where Radigund Street bridge now crosses a branch of the Great Stour (Image 1). It was designed by John Smeaton (of Eddystone light house fame), built in 1792 at a cost of £8000 and burnt to the ground in a spectacular fire in 1933 (Image 2). The 100 feet high six storey building with octagonal turret replaced an earlier mill known as Brown's mill. Two water wheels, each 16 feet diameter, produced '500 quarters of corn weekly' despite a drop in water level only a little over 5 feet. Earlier mills on the site had been owned by St Augustine's (hence the name) but it was owned by the City from the dissolution in 1538 up until Victorian times. Owners in Victorian times have included James Simmons and the artist Sydney Cooper, who purchased it when he married Mary Cannon the miller's daughter. There is no evidence that Cooper had any interest in milling or (as often asserted) in painting views from the octagonal look-out. He was simply easing the finances of his bride's father. All that now remains of the Smeaton building is the spindle of one of the wheels and two iron pillars.

Reminiscences of the young miller in charge of the mill during the years leading up to the fire make interest reading. He describes how they avoided walking up five flights of stairs by hanging on to the rising bags of grain, banging through trap doors as they went. He also mentions night shift work when, if the miller dozed off, the gearwheels slowed to the point where water backed up and flooded the street at Eastbridge. The nearby 'Mill House' reflects key architectural features of Smeaton's mill, including a pretend lookout on top and timber cladding below.

What to see:

* the remaining metal work from the 1792 mill (Image 3)

* pictures of the original mill and the fire, displayed on the walls of the adjacent Millers Arms pub (Image 4 and 5)

* the water height stone (Image 6) set to gauge the water level as it entered the mill - the City regulated water levels to ensure that upstream mills did not disadvantage those lower down the river

* a date marker of 1829 on the weir bridge (Image 7)

* stones set in recent years in one water wheel channel (Image 8), intended for use by otters (none have yet turned up!) - and vertical boards in the other wheel channel to assist fish moving up river

* 'fullering marks' (Image 9) on the weir bridge hand rails (Image 10) - left by blacksmiths who needed to extend the metal length using fullering and swaging tools

Access: open during daylight hours"
Date built or dedicated as indicated on the date stone or plaque.: 1829

Date stone, plaque location.: on the Great River Stour Weir Bridge

Road, body of water, land feature, etc. that the bridge spans.: Great Rover Stour

Website (if available): [Web Link]

Parking (safe parking location): Not Listed

Visit Instructions:
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Master Mariner visited River Great Stour Wier Bridge - 1829 - Canterbury, Kent, UK 11/6/2020 Master Mariner visited it
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