Hertford's Former Mills

In past centuries, Hertford's economy was based around agriculture, particularly the corn and barley grown in the farms and fields beyond the town.

Much of this grain would end up in one of Hertford's six mills, driven by the water power provided by the Rivers Lea, Beane and Rib.

Some of the mill sites date back to the 11th century and are listed in The Domesday book.

Many of the names will be familiar to residents, such as Sele Mill and Horns Mill.

Scroll down to find out more about the background to some of Hertford's old mills.

Dicker Mill

Dicker Mill was originally the Priory Mill and was part of the priory estate that occupied land to the east of the town centre. Powered by the River Lea, it continued to operate after the priory was dissolved, but in 1630 was relocated further downstream.

The mill was destroyed by fire in 1840 and a new mill built on the same site.

In its later years it extracted oil from seeds, including linseed and pressing the remaining materials in to cake for feeding cattle. The mill closed in 1924.

The site is now an industrial estate. Some remains of the mill can still be found.

Horns Mill

Horns mill is featured in The Domesday Book. It ground corn, crushed oil seed and ground bones for fertiliser. In the 1800s it converted to making oil and cake only.

It was rebuilt in 1858, but by 1890 oil production ceased and the premises were sold to William Webb, who established a leather glove factory.

The mill has since been demolished and housing built on the site. The road names of Tanners Crescent and Glover Close give an indication of the location's history.

Ware Park Mill

Ware Park Mill was built in 1721 by James Fordham. It was the only overshot mill in Hertford and was powered by a stream fed by the River Rib. Like Horns Mill, it was a corn mill and by the 19th century was owned by local flour producer J.W.French & Co.

There were also two malthouses and an oast house on the site.

The mill and other buildings were demolished in 1951.

You can find out more about the history of the mill and recent redevelopment at www.watermillware.com.

TOWN MILL

The town mill was recorded in The Domesday Book. It was a corn mill and stood in the centre of town on Mill Bridge. Following purchase by Edmund Ilott in 1855, it was locally known as Ilott's mill.

It the latter part of World War Two a V1 Flying Bomb (also known as a doodlebug) fell on Mill Bridge, causing widespread damage. Part of the town mill survived but the southern part was gone by 1949.

The mill was eventually demolished in 1967 to make way for Hertford Theatre.

MOLEWOOD MILL

Another mill that featured in The Domesday Book was at Molewood. It was a corn mill until 1888 when it was purchased by Hertford Corporation to establish a pumping station for the town.

The mill has been demolished but the miller’s house remains, as does the stream or 'mill race' that used to feed the mill.

A plaque reading 'J BELL 1801' from the mill is incorporated in to the pumping station.

The mill race has recently dried up after a tree fell where the mill race leaves the River Beane at Waterford Marshes. A local campaign is underway to restore the flow.

SELE MILL

Also found in The Domesday Book is Sele Mill. It was a corn mill. The mill was destroyed in 1890 by fire that burnt for three days. A new mill was built further back from the street. The mill closed in 1988. The site was also a paper mill, set up by John Tate in 1495 and operating until around 1507.

The Millers house was built in the late 18th century.

Sele is the only mill in Hertford that still stands.

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