Narborough Mill
River Nar


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Oil painting by Henry Ladbrooke - c.1840

Narborough Mill was built c.1780, although several additions, renovations and modifications have been undertaken since then. The last structure was built of brick and was 3 storeys high with a single lucum and a pantiled roof. It has distinctive large recessed brick arches. The rear still has some weathboarding left from an earlier structure.

Charles Tyssen enlarged the mill in 1845 with a poorly built extension, the foundations of which slowly sank over many years until part of the roof collapsed in 1980. This complete section, along with the Victorian miller's house built onto the front, had to be demolished. Thirteen fifty-foot piles had to be sunk in order to make the building safe when restoration began.

The 1897 plan shows an engine house on the front of the building. This was converted into the miller's residence soon after. At that time the tributary was then made wider and deeper than the parallel stretch of the Nar, providing an adequate fall of water and more power to drive the wheel.

c.1900 c.1910

In 2007 the building still contained its machinery and had been listed. It has been the source of considerable archaeological interest over the years and several detailed studies have been carried out. Some of the information gathered is detailed on a separate page that is linked below.

c.1920 1980
c.1920 showing the miller's house
1980 demolition of the 1845 extension

Originally the 14' cast iron waterwheel drove 4 sets of stones. At an unknown date the horizontal mainshaft was extended to take a further 2 sets of stones.

The original sack hoists installed in 1780 remained working right to the end of operations.

A bevel gear cast in 8 sections was also installed to carry drive power through to the first floor. These gears were retoothed in 1950-1 in order to drive a 1905 high speed multi-mill on the first floor. However, it appears the mill ceased to work at about that time.

28th January 1977 24th April 1977
28th January 1977 - back of the mill
24th April 1977


c.1960 27th October 2002
27th October 2002

Jas. Loomb of Narborough in the County of Norfolk, Mealman. On his Dwelling House & Offices adjoining brick built & tiled, £400. On Household Furniture therein, £160. On Wearing Apparel in the same, £30. On his Water Millhouse adjoining with Chambers over the same & on the Mills in the said Millhouse together with the running tackle & other parts of the Machinery belonging thereto brick & timber built & tiled, £400. On Utensils & Goods in Trade in the same, £400. On an Outhouse & Cheese Chamber over it brick & tiled, £20. On the 4 Stall Stable brick built & tiled, £40. On the Team Horse Stable brick built & thatch'd, £50. The said Buildings being situate near each other in Narborough aforesd. - Return £1-1 for 8 Months 2 Weeks unexpired time on No. 47140.
Royal Exchange Fire Insurance - 1776

Lease and Release in Trust. (1) Abraham Sewell, senior, late of Shouldham, now of Swaffham, grocer; Joseph Ransome, late of Wereham, now of Great Yarmouth, miller; surviving Trustees of Lease and Release dated 13-14 Nov 1741. (2) John Birkbeck of King's Lynn, banker; Joseph Loombe of Narborough, miller; Abraham Sewell, junior, of Swaffham, grocer; Richard Ransome of Westacre, miller; John Langley, junior, of Wereham, woolcomber; John Hallam of Middleton, Norfolk, miller; Thomas Gales of King's Lynn, druggist; Zachariah Clarke of Deaver, Norfolk, yeoman.
Two parchments held at Norfolk Record Office dated 1st - 2nd July 1784

c.1975 27th October 2002
27th October 2002

In 1751 an Act of Parliament authorised the ...making of the River Nar navigable, from the Town and Port of Kings Lynn, to Westacre in the county of Norfolk. The navigation opened in 1759 and was used to bring in coal, grain and bones from Kings Lynn by horse drawn lighters or barges. Return cargoes included sand and gravel from Pentney pits and bonemeal fertilizer from Narborough Bone Mill. The Marriott family were Lords of the Manor from 1857 - 1875 and proprietors of the navigation. Besides owning the wharf and maltings, they were also corn and coal merchants.

Navigation above Narborough possibly ceased by the early nineteenth century. In 1881 the Marriotts sold the navigation to the Nar Valley Drainage Board who, as part of a projected drainage scheme, soon built a sluice at Kings Lynn that made further use of the Nar for navigation impossible. Thus the majority of commercial traffic on the Nar had ceased to operate by about 1885.

9th July 2007 9th July 2007
9th July 2007

Robert Everett snr, a gentleman from Wymondham, married Sarah Frith in Derbyshire (she mentions her brother Philip Frith). They had 4 children (possibly not born in the order shown).

1. Joseph Everett, miller at Westacre_mill married Martha Bloomfield in 1823 and they had a son, Joseph Frith Everett c.1824. However they both died, leaving Joseph Frith Everett an orphan at the age of 2.

2. Robert Everett jnr who is mentioned in his father's will of 1835 will got the remainder of his father's estate - that which had not been placed in Trusts etc. Robert & Harriet (née Bradfield) Everett were the parents of Frith Everett, who was born at Narborough in 1824. Robert was miller at Narborough and also at West_Acre after his brother Joseph died c.1826.

3. John Everett, who had Henry & Jane - were also mentioned in the will of 1835.

4. Ann Everett who was obviously single in 1833 when the will was written but may have married later.

9th July 2007
Rear of mill 9th July 2007

Frith Everett was the son of Robert & Harriet Everett, he was born in 1824 and baptised at Narborough on 29th Febriuary 1824 where his father was miller. Frith Everett married Emily Fisher King.

Robert Everett later worked in partnership with his son, Frith Everett and they ran Narborough watermill in conjunction with Gaywood towermill, Homeland Road, King's Lynn until Robert died in 1870.

Notice is hereby given that the Partnership lately subsisting between Robert Everett & Frith Everett, both of Narborough in the county of Norfolk, in the business of Millers, Merchants & Bakers, carried on at Narborough & Gaywood_Mills in the said county, determined on the 28th day of May last by the death of the said Robert Everett & that the Business is now carried on by the said Frith Everett alone. And all persons having any Claims or Demands against the late Partnership Firm are requested to send particulars of their respective Claims & Demands to the said Frith Everett forthwith & all persons who stood indebted to the said Partnership Firm are requested to pay the amount of their respective debts to the said Frith Everett forthwith.
Dated this 20th day of September 1870
T. G. Archer Solr. To the Executor of the said Robert Everett & the said Frith Everett

Important Freehold Business & Residential Properties, comprising Steam, Water & Wind Mills, three well built Dwelling houses, Cottage & Pasture Land, all in the occupation of the Proprietor & Possession can be had at Michaelmas next.
SALTER & SIMPSON are favoured with instructions from Mr. Frith EVERETT to Sell by Auction at the Globe Hotel, Kings Lynn, on Monday July 31, 1883 at 3 for 4 o'c in the afternoon in the following Lots.

Lot 1. Narborough Water Mill …

Lot 2. Residence …

Lot 3. Dwelling houses …

Lot 4. The GAYWOOD_STEAM_&_WIND_MILLS with Dwelling house, Garden, Cottage & Pasture Land adjoining.
Further particulars of Messrs. ARCHER & ARCHER, Solrs. Kings Lynn, Messrs. FOSTERS, BURROUGHES & ROBBERDS, solrs. Norwich or of the Auctioneers, Attleborough.

Norfolk Chronicle & Lynn Advertiser 21st July 1883

1897 site map
1897 site map

Pit wheel 1977 Pit wheel September 1980
Pit wheels 1977 and September 1980

9th July 2007 9th July 2007
9th July 2007

In 1897 Frith Everett made a deed of Assignment for the benefit of his creditors: "Conveyance of freehold Water mill and hereditaments situate of Narborough. Mortgages of Mr. Frith Everett to Lt. Col. Wm. Herring. Default having been made by Frith Everett on money owing for the mortgage Margaret Elizabeth Pumpfre Howes of Thorpe St, Andrew (Norfolk) Spinster + Charles Forster of the City of Norwich who were the mortgages put up the property for sale at public auction at the Globe Hotel, King's Lynn, 31st August 1897. Lot 2 (The Mill) was sold to Wm. Herring for £150. Consisting of Water Mill, with cartshed, stables and other buildings. Also the wheels gring (sic) gear iron and brass work apparatus and machinery belonging to the Mill."

Machinery of the past may revolve again

As it weaves its way through West Norfolk, the A47 - Norfolk's artery into the Midlands - is alive with industrial and commercial traffic carrying goods and raw materials to meet the modern needs of the Seventies.

But passing through the village of Narborough, the traffic thunders past a reminder of a bygone era.
For standing bold and proud across the River Nar is the Narborough Water Mill, a disused six-stone corn mill. Believed to have been last in use in the early 1950s, the building at one time used for storage purposes, has gradually fallen into decay.

But during the autumn new interest was generated in the mill with the exciting possibility of its being given a new lease of life.
The result is the publication of a report giving detailed information about the watermill.
It is based on a survey of the mill, and is the first report to be prepared by the recently formed Lynn and West Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society.

Since it was formed in August last year, the society's membership has grown to twelve. The first report was the work of a nucleus of five active members.
Mr. Bob Trett, curator of Lynn museum, and one of the society's founder members, explained why it was formed. "Basically it was felt that there is a gap to be filled in recording the industrial history of the area, in which people have a considerable interest," he said.

The mill at Narborough was chosen as the group's first study because the machinery inside is still largely complete, and for that reason quite rare.The group are keen to record the area's industrial heritage before it disappears through neglect and decay.

The owner of the Mill, Mr. Brian Ash, of Park Cottage, Narborough, has dreams of preserving the mill and restoring it to working order. One idea he is toying with is open it as a museum in which ancient farm implements could be exhibited alongside the machinery. The museum, he feels, could also be incorporated in a fishing centre. But an ambitious scheme of that nature would obviously require considerable finance to make it a practical proposition.

Mr. Ash feels that the report will be a valuable aid to him in the future if he applies for a grant for the mill's restoration. Although he is enthusiastic about such a project taking shape, his more immediate concern is the mill's state of repair. He said part of the roof was in danger of collapse, and was causing concern.

But the archaeology group do not consider themselves preservationists. Mr. Anthony Beaumont, also a founder member, who was responsible for writing the report, explained that the society's role was to provide a written and photographic record of the area's industrial heritage before it disappeared. "It's up to the owner of the property concerned to try to restore a particular building. We do not have the necessary finances for this work," he said.

The report on the mill is a comprehensive account. It includes detailed information on the internal machinery, much of which is still intact. Other aspects covered included location, history, the buildings and their state of repair. It is illustrated with plans, drawings, photographs and a map of its location. A series of technical drawings has been produced by Mr. Vic Walker, who used to work at Savages, the old Lynn engineering firm. A copy of the report is available for inspection at Lynn Museum.
Lynn News & Advertiser 28th January 1977

Narborough Mill - Report No. 1 from the N.W. Norfolk & King's Lynn Branch:

Narborough Water Mill
This report is based on a survey carried out in the autumn of 1976. A series of technical drawings by R. V. Walker and others were produced and copies are available for consultation at King's Lynn Museum. Other copies are held by the Secretary of the Group and by the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society (to which the Group is connected).

The account was written by Tony Beaumont with additional notes and drawings by Bob Trett.

For further information on the work of the Group, contact King's Lynn Museum or the Secretary, M.W. Skerritt, 29 Winfarthing Avenue, King's Lynn.

The Group would like to thank Mr. B. Ash, the owner, for his help and for permission to inspect the mill. Mr. Ash also lent the old photographs of the mill and his deeds to assist the Survey. The modern photographs were provided by Messrs. Beaumont and Tuck.

Narborough Water Mill, TF 7472 1320 - King's Lynn and District Archaeology Society Study, Sept - Nov 1976.

The water mill is situated on the left hand side of the Lynn-Norwich main road at the village of Narborough, 12.5 miles from Lynn town centre. The mill stands about 100 ft. from the road and faces approximately south west. The building is set across the River Nar (rises at West Lexham and has its outfall at King's Lynn). The road bridge over the Nar is parallel to the Mill.

Surroundings; waterways
The Nar is about 40 ft. wide behind the mill and narrows for at least 100 yards towards Narford. This semi mill pool does not appear to be very deep at the rear of the mill - say 5-6 ft. in dry weather.

The long lake at Narford Hall appears to provide the main steady water supply to the mill and the Nar has an entry and exit in this lake. There is also a 'by-pass' to the mill water and this overflow runs round the north side of the mill, joining the river near the main millwheel outfall through a culvert. (It should be noted that another arm or branch of the Nar passes under the main road about 200 yards north of the mill.)

Building (1780?)
The main dimensions are shown on the drawings. The south-west front-facing elevation is red brick, mainly Flemish bond and solid brick. There are vertical recesses across the length of the elevation and an imposing design of round-topped wood-sashed windows. The left-hand part of the main building has a later residence added and partly in front of the north end. This residence (marked 'engine house' on 1897 plan) is of no architectural merit and has a slated roof. The adjacent north part of the front elevation of the mill is considered to be a later addition to the main brick front, but is in the same design but less well-preserved. The whole mill roof is pantiles. The rear of the mill has a derelict cottage attached to the main wall and the majority of the remainder of the rear mill wall is horizontal weather boarding (probably the original design is not the original woodwork). This weather boarding was probably also on the front of the mill when built. At the south end of the mill a curiously ecclesiastically designed 'summer house' is attached and originally formed the master-miller's private entrance from his nearby large house (see 1897, map).

State of repair
The fabric is variable in its weatherproofing. There is some leakage through the roof at the rear and the cottage interior is entirely derelict with an amount of wall collapse at the juncture of cottage and mill wall. The three floors and all main wood beams of the mill are in fair condition and at present safe to negotiate. Without some roof repairs very soon, probably the main fabric will deteriorate with increasing rapidity in a few years.

Machinery - general
The mill is rare in having all its machinery in situ, although not in perfect working order.

Originally the cast iron water wheel drove four sets of stones through spur and bevel gears using cast iron/wood teeth. At an unknown date, the horizontal mainshaft was extended to take two more sets of stones and the same gearing. The extension coupling between the mainshaft and the extension is completely fractured. (Many wood teeth are missing from the extension shaft bevel wheels.)

The governor gear is inoperative and the governor bevels are worn and do not mesh. Attached to the main drive spur ring is a later cast iron bevel gear ring (cast in eight sections). This drives a vertical shaft carrying further wooden toothed bevels at the first floor level. These gears were re-toothed by Savages Ltd. in 1950/1(?) for the purpose of driving a 1905 high-speed 'multi-mill' on the first floor. This work appears to have been of very short duration and since then the mill has never worked. The multi-mill and its drive shafts and belting are all complete.

There is considerable amount of derelict light seed dressing and grading machinery on the first floor. It is thought that only this light machinery was driven by a steam engine at one time, situated in the present residence marked 'engine house' on the 1897 plan. There is now no evidence of a steam drive apart from an old concrete-filled firebox lying in front of the mill. A large pulley-like wheel is on the front of the mill wall. It is considered now that this was not an engine drive pulley but a dust extraction fan in a casing, probably driven from inside the mill from a convenient shaft. N.B. The 1910 photograph at the head of the main page would appear to dispute this theory as it clearly shows the drive belt from the engine house attached to the pulley.
(Jonathan Neville)

The sack hoists inside the mill are certainly the original design and material. The drive to the chain sack hoists is effected by a crude but still working lever and rope system whereby the drive pulley for the belt is raised and lowered. All this mechanism is complete and almost certainly dates from the building of the mill in 1780(?).

The sets (two each) of the six stones are in place and covered with wood-slat casings. Several spare stones are also on the first floor, one being freshly cut. An original stone dresser's brush of reeds exists. The external built-out sack hoist platform is in fairly good condition.

Water slackers
The worn wheel hand drive on the outside sluice frame is in working order and the sill over which the water flow passes can (apparently) be raised and lowered. The sill for working the water wheel is not now operative.

Water wheel
The main dimensions are shown in the detailed report in the Society records and the built-up 14 ft. diameter cast iron wheel is in good order, covered with lime deposit about 1/16 in. thick. The mainshaft bearings are likewise in good order and still greased.

It would seem that the basic mechanism of the mill would operate with the bevel pinions driving the stones which were screw operated out of mesh.

The mill is now owned by Mr. B. Ash, resident in Narborough, who owns a trout farm higher up the River Nar.

The 'engine house' residence was until recently occupied and part of the ground floor of the mill is maintained in a reasonably clean condition and used for the resident's storage, etc.

The Society's appended drawings well show that this mill is of the greatest interest because its mechanisms are largely complete and now quite rare. It would seem a practicable proposition, given some financial aid, possibly through a national grant, that the mill could attract visitors to see some of its machinery working from time to time.

Narborough Water Mill - list of inscriptions noted
Cast iron sluice gates and raising gear "Whitmore & Binyon Wickham Market" Outside rear of building
Adjustable crushing rollers "Henry Bamford" "Hamfords patent No. 46 Uttoxeter England" 1st floor
Corn balance "Frith Everett"* "Carcoran, London" 1st floor
Aspirator "Child's patent No. 1062 1st floor
Emerson's Patent Purifier "John Stannion & Co. Sole Licensees" 1st floor
Millstone balance "Clarke & Dunham 1859" 1st floor
Shaft to drive roller crushers "Smith's Screw Boss" 1st floor

Excerpt from Listed Buildings sheet:

Former watermill. Late C18 with late C20 repairs. Brick, carstone and weatherboarding with pantile and corrugated iron roofs. 3 storeys with attic. 5 bays to which a sixth was added to north side in late C20 after the demolition of C19 additions. 4 bays recessed within giant enclosing arches. The arches are semicircular headed with raised ashlar keystones and imposts. Ground and first floor windows with glazing bars beneath skewback arches. Southernmost bay with ground and first floor doorways. Second floor has 4 pivot windows with glazing bars beneath semicircular arches. The central window is rectangular beneath a skewback arch. Dentil cornice. Central weatherboarded lucum with corrugated iron roof. Carstone rubble south gable-end. Rear wall weatherboarded with a continuous outshut housing machinery. Sluice gates beneath a 3-centred arch. 5 C20 sash windows with glazing bars in outshut. Bridge to front with 2 3-centred arches and a swept parapet.
Interior. 4.3 m wheel driving pit-wheel and wallower. Horizontal mainshaft with provision for 6 pairs of stones of which 5 survive.

Auxiliary drive pulleys 9th July 2007 Centre shaft 9th July 2007
Auxiliary drive pulleys 9th July 2007
Centre shaft 9th July 2007

Watermill attracts torrent of interest
One of Norfolk's historic watermills is on the market - and the owners have been taken aback by the interest.
The Georgian mill at Narborough, near Swaffham, last ground flour in 1950 and is one of the few in the country to keep its waterwheel and a complete set of machinery.

After it stopped working, it became near-derelict but was restored by Rex Carter Farms. Chairman Nicholas Carter admitted there was a sadness in letting go of a building where their restoration won a Norfolk Society Award from the Council for the Protection of Rural England in 1982 and which is Grade II listed.
It was used in connection with the Narborough Trout Fishery, now owned by David Baker, and inside still has the waterwheel and five huge millstones in the milling room.
Mr Carter said there had been tremendous interest since the building was put on the market on August Bank Holiday
. People had looked at it withy ideas of using it as a home, as a restaurant - and one milling enthusiast wanted to bring the mill back to some kind of working life so it could be shown to the public.
The building is being sold by Bidwells of Norwich and Cambridge with an asking price of over £75,000.

Eastern Daily Press - 1993

Frith Everett was my great-grandfather.  His father, Robert Everett, acquired the Narborough property after the death of Robert's uncle, Phillip Frith, who left Robert the Narborough property around 1846, I think.  Before that time Robert and his brother, Joseph, apparently ran the mill at West Acre.  They were born in Wymondham, where their father was a grocer.  Robert, his wife, Harriet, Joseph and his wife, Martha, are all buried at West Acre.  Robert may also have owned a mill at Gaywood.  Robert had a son called Frederick, who lived in Swaffham and was in business with Robert's son-in-law, Richard Vynne.  They may well have owned the maltings, which one stood across the road from the mill.  Frith never returned to Norfolk.  He died at the home of his son, my grandfather, Robert Bradfield Everett, in Kerrville, Texas and was buried there. 
My father's name is Ned Everett - he is 93 years old, the last of the Everetts and lives in Hollister, California.  His father, Robert Bradfield Everett, had six boys and they are all gone except for him.  None of Robert's siblings had children. 
Louise Graham, Lexington, Kentucky, USA - 21st April 2005

Eastern Daily Press article - 19th August 2009
Eastern Daily Press article - 19th August 2009

Penn Sluice from Ship Bridge c.1920 Penn Sluice from Ship Bridge c.1924
Penn Sluice from Ship Bridge c.1920
Penn Sluice from Ship Bridge c.1924

Penn Sluice was built opposite the Ship Inn in Narborough. The Ship Bridge was built so barges could carry on up river to West acre. The bridge was high enough for barges to pass under.

O. S. Map 1884

O. S. Map 1884
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 2005
O.S. Map 2005
Image produced under licence from Ordnance Survey

1514: Sir John Spelman was left the manor of Narborough ... including the water mill

1593: George Jagges, miller

1741: Joseph Loombe, miller

1776: James Loomb, miller

1776: Mill insured with Royal Exchange Fire Insurance for £400

1824: Robert Everett, miller

1824: Frith Everett born

White's 1836: Robert Everett - previously at West Acre watermill

White's 1845: Robert Everett, miller. This was when Charles Tyssen enlarged the mill

Census 1851: James Anderson, miller's waggoner

White's 1854: Frith Everett, corn miller and merchant, Narborough water mill and wharf, where much business is transacted in coal, timber, corn, malt etc.

White's 1864: Robert Everett

1865: Robert & son Frith Everett in partnership running Narborough watermill and Gaywood towermill

28th May 1870: Robert Everett died

Census 1881:

James Anderson (56)  b.Kings Lynn, miller's carter
Kezia Anderson (55) b.Shernbourne, wife
Robert Andereson (19) b.Nar
borough, coal porter  
Joshua Anderson (13) b.Narborough, errand boy
Sarah Anderson (10) b.Narborough, scholar 
Mary A. Bird (24) b.Gayton, cook (niece)
Address: Everett's Mill Cottages, Lynn Road

Kelly's 1883: Frith Everett

31st July 1883: Mill auctioned at Globe hotel, Kings Lynn along with Gaywood towermill (possibly not sold)

Kelly's 1896: Frith Everett

27th October 1897: Frith Everett made a deed of Assignment for the benefit of his creditors

31st August 1897: Mill sold by auction at Globe hotel, Kings Lynn and bought by William Herring for £150

Kelly's 1900: F. & A. Bird

Kelly's 1912: F. & A. Bird

Kelly's 1922: Charles William Nelson

Kelly's 1925: Charles William Nelson, miller. Mrs. Herring of Narborough House, owner

Kelly's 1937: Arthur E. Ash of Narborough Hall, and Gayton Mills Co. Ltd. Millers (water)

1950: Mill ceased working

1977: Brian Ash, owner, contemplated turning the mill into rural museum and tourist attraction.


Nicholas Carter of Rex Carter (Farms) Ltd bought the mill, which he then renovated. His efforts were such that he was later presented with an award by the Norfolk Society from CPRE. Nicholas Carter lived in Narborough Hall from 1977-1993

1993: Mill advertised for sale by Bidwells for in excess of £75,000

July 2007: Mill advertised for sale and sold by by Bedfords Estate Agents for c. £350,000. Sale brochure

September 2023: Mill advertised for sale by Fine & Country for offers in excess of £1,000,000 Sale brochure

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 TF7471 1319
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003