Steam Mill


Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills


By 1864 Aylsham steam mill had been built and was running in competition to the watermill. The steam mill was built only a hundred yards away from the watermill, on the other side of the canal in the industrial hamlet of Dunkirk. The mills both worked independently for half a century until Barclay, Pallett and Co., having acquired the steam mill in 1907, bought the watermill in 1914 at auction. The roller mill finally closed on 22nd December 1967.

c.1910 with a wherry in the cut leading under the mill

Over the centuries the whole area was moulded and developed with Millgate becoming a hub of industrial activity once the 11 mile long Aylsham_Navigation was opened on completion of the new canal basin excavated alongside the mill in October 1779. A channel was cut to the north of the mill and a staithe with warehousing was built to house the goods transported in and out by wherry. By 1854 wherries plied weekly between Aylsham and Yarmouth. At the height of the water transport years 26 wherries were serving Aylsham.

In 1880 the railway arrived. Aylsham North's M&GN station a few hundred yards away took over some of the traffic when it opened, as did the GER's Aylsham South station. Nearby pubs and inns such as The Anchor thrived for many generations.

The Aylsham Navigation

1773: Navigation authorised by an Act of Parliament

1774: Work started

1779: Navigation opened, running for 9½ miles with 5 locks, one at each of the mills
Aylsham, Burgh, Buxton, Oxnead, Coltishall

26th August 1912: The great flood effectively closed the Naviagation by destroying the locks

1974: Aylsham Canal Basin filled in

The disastrous flood of August 1912 destroyed many of the locks of the Aylsham_Navigation. These were never repaired as the commissioners had insufficient funds. Traffic to Aylsham was thus reduced to road and rail only. The wherry Zulu was on its way back from Aylsham to the coast when it was caught by the flood. After the destruction of the lock gates the Zulu had to be carried over the road at Buxton.

c.1910 c.1920
Foden steam lorry with a horse and cart from
Barclay & Pallet & Co. Ltd, Felmingham

1956 1985

In the 1950s power was supplied by a Ruston Hornsby 120 h.p. diesel engine.

Workforce in 1910
Workforce in 1910

Workforce in February 1985
Workforce in February 1985
L-R: Bill Brady, Nigel Watts, John Wilton, Brian Medler, Alan Glasspoole, Tony Tortice, Donna Clements, Ben Rust, Philip Howlett, Roy Soames, David Southgate, Derek Medler, Clive Philpott, Kelly Shreeve,
Mervyn Martins, Peter Spooner

December 1967 E. Yaxley December 1967 E. Yaxley F. Jarvis
Roller mill machinery December 1967
December 1967
Above photos taken just prior to closure on 22nd December 1967.
Left hand photo - E. Yaxley. Right hand photo - E. Yaxley and F. Jarvis

c.1956 c.1969

O.S. Map 1885
O.S. Map 1885 - mill marked as Corn Mill under Dunkirk
Courtesy of NLS map images

White's 1845: Michael Cadge

White's 1864: Edmund, Scott Mann and William Scales - corn millers & seedsmen

1864: Mr. Girdlestone named as contact re sale of Buttlands towermill

White's 1883: Samual Benjamin Cooke, miller & Horstead. ? Borroughes, mill manager

Kelly's 1896: Horace Howlett, miller (steam), wheat meal manufacturer, coal & seed merchant, Wroxham roller flour mills; & at Salhouse, Horning & Acle

Kelly's 1900: Horace Howlett, miller (steam), wheat meal manufacturer, coal & seed merchant, Wroxham roller flour mills; & at Salhouse, Horning & Acle

1907: Mill bought by Barclay, Pallett and Co. Ltd.

Yates 1966: Barclay, Pallett and Co. Ltd., Dunkirk Roller Mills. Ph. 3275

22nd December 1967: The roller mill finally closed

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 07836 675369 or

Nat Grid Ref TG 19992756
Top of Page
Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004