Monday, January 10, 2011

Barnes Mill

Drowned reedmace

Barnes Mill in winter without the protective covering of green leafed trees at least shows some of the water works that must have made it an impressive working mill in its day. I have never ceased to be fascinated by mills, they have been with us from an early age, and the great turning wheels of the later centuries show a harnessing of water for energy that we could well emulate today.
The river is in full flow, not quite flooding yet, but the water meadows are an essential part of the landscape to capture the run-off from the surrounding land and the Chelmer is well protected by them. There is an excitement about swift flowing water, it ripples softly and yet noisily over the shallow mill races, foaming small white waves curving and twisting to join the mother river. The swans and ducks caught in the currents in the mill pond are swept to the far side, but they are well fed at the mill, and the two creatures are probably resident here.
No water wheel remains and one would expect the original mill to be very different to what it is today, on one old photo there is an old nissan hut just by it called The Cabin.
What else, reading a 2002 account by someone who lives there, wildlife abound, kingfishers, herons and cormorants fish the water, what lurks underneath is a bit scary the great pike can be found here as well, probably feeding on the graylings, and there is the more exotic carp to be found in the mill ponds. If I had a dog I would walk all the river banks for there are kingcup marsh marigolds to be found along the way, an exciting nature walk exploring the flora and fauna.

One of the outflow ponds, see how the water us diverted into two streams around the pond

Barnes Mill pub in the background with the now disused overflowing leat in the water meadows

The Chelmer almost full to tipping point

Barnes Mill, converted now into three dwellings 

There seems to be more than one mill race, several mill ponds of course


  1. As a child I remember going to Barnes Mill and see whole families there spending sunny Sunday afternoons having picnics and enjoying paddling in the mill pond. There use to be boats for hire and ice cream vans. I even remember seeing the mill running too.

  2. Wow, it is so private now, you would'nt dare venture into the gardens. Lovely bit of history by the way ;), when we walked by the canal lock that day there was someone meditating on the bank, same position for about 20 minutes, a bit of a change!