West Acre Mill
River Nar


West Acre Mill was a four storey mill; and built of weatherboard over a brick ground floor under a Norfolk pantiled roof. The mill house adjoined the mill but the roof line was slightly lower. The ground floor walls of the mill dated from the 1400s and their bricks and shaped flints suggested that the materials probably came from the nearby old West Acre abbey.

Norfolk Chronicle - 12th February 1791
Norfolk Chronicle - 12th February 1791


c.1935 c.1935


At one time the mill was running 4 pairs of stones but these were later reduced to 2 pairs, one of which was right handed and the other pair left handed. On pair also consisted of a Derby Peak runner on a French burr bed stone.

One beam was dated in the 1760s.

Rear of the mill 1953 1953
Rear of the mill 1953

Letter from Edward Hammond Fryer to Ada B. Fryer - 23rd February 1918 Letter from Edward Hammond Fryer to Ada B. Fryer - 23rd February 1918

Letter from Edward Hammond Fryer to Ada B. Fryer - 23rd February 1918

Transcript of above letter from Edward Hammond Fryer to Ada B. Fryer from his brother Thomas' home in England where Edward was employed as a munitions worker and following the death at Passchendaele of their son, Donald Robert Fryer.

Mill House
West Acre

Feb 23 -1918

Dear Ada,
Have got quite a lot of letters this week. Tell Joyce and Dora I am very pleased to hear from them. I had one from Fred Gibbins a week or two ago, answered it , and got another one from him today. He hopes to soon get leave when he will look me up. Had a nice letter from Allan. Am sorry to hear that your head is giving you so much trouble and hope that the trip to Sydney will do you good. If you could get to Inverell for a week or more I think it would be well. I know you would like to see Jane and the rest. How is Ella? I think with you that we must let Fred go too. If I had been in his place I should have wanted to do the same. I am glad we are of the same mind, to give and do all we can for honour and right. I believe in our side, we are fighting to keep our country and freedom for our children and theirs, and win or lose, we shall have done what we could and in the years to come, our boys and girls will recall how Don and his cousins Jack and Tony and many more they knew fought in the Great War. No need to feel ashamed when it is talked of for 50 years to come. I do not think it will go on much longer, and the end will not be what we hoped for - the complete defeat of S...!!! But we must keep on hoping for the best.

I think Fred will be too young to se anything of it, though if he gets as far as Salisbury Plain (main camp in England) it will be a good trip for him, but there it is, no one can say how soon and how long the war will go on. We had 2 Air Raids last week on Sunday and Monday nights- a lot of ..but the people get very nervous now, all of them in this house sit up all night waiting to see if a bomb will fall in the backyard. I go to bed and sleep as well as I can with the noise of the guns. As I am deaf on one side, I lay over, so do not hear much. Good thing to be deaf some times. I tell them that 150,000 killed and hurt is not many, but if 5 million, 5,000,000 of people I wonder how much we must bear. We're the people..so stick together. I suppose everyone thinks they will be the next. All the same, it is very trying to those with family. I am so glad you are all out of it. I do not see the war but I see the shadow of it and it is black indeed. And now goodbye with love to you dear wife - all be of good courage, all will be well.

E. H. Fryer

(PS) I got 3 copies of a photo of Don taken about July last year. He sent one to Gertie Fryer and I borrowed it. I send you one. He looks such a fine big man.

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 Recoird Office dated 1st - 2nd July 1784

Outing July 1908
Lynn Advertiser - 17th July 1908

MILLERS OUTING.      The employees of Mr. A. Lewis's Gayton and Westacre mills had their annual outing on Thursday 5th inst., to Yarmouth.  The company went to East Winch by road, and completed their journey by rail in special saloons.  The varied attractions of the seaside were heartily enjoyed, and home was reached about 10.30 p.m.
Lynn Advertiser - 13th August 1909

OUTING. On Friday 12th inst., the work people at Gayton and Westacre mills had their annual outing through the kindness of their employer Mr. A. Lewis. They went by road to East Winch station, and from there to Yarmouth by rail, two carriages being reserved for their use. They were accompainied by their wives and friends, and all spend an enjoyable day at the seaside. The homeward journey was made without a hitch, and Gayton was reached by 10 p.m.
Lynn Advertiser - 19th August 1910

Mill and mill house 1953
Mill and mill house 1953

In the 1950s the mill was surveyed by Mr. P.C. Dewhurst of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He later commented that the waterwheel and the four level stone-driving frame that allowed for the simultaneous driving of all four pairs of stones, were two outstanding examples of the wheelwright art of the last century.


The mill was pulled down single handedly by its owner William Wright in 1959 as it had been unused for some 20 years and was becoming dangerous.

William Wright was one of five tenant shareholders in Gayton Mills Co.

The Mill house remains.

24th April 1977 June 1968
24th April 1977
June 1968

May 1968 June 1968
May 1968
June 1968

Mill dam October 1982 Left hand arch half bricked in October 1982
Mill dam October 1982
Left hand arch half bricked in October 1982

October 1982
October 1982

Curiously, the 10 foot waterwheel was also left in situ and although seriously decayed, remained for several years.
It was had slotted iron rims, with 8 wooden arms, pegs and paddle boards.

The pit wheel was 10 - 12 feet in diameter, 8 armed and iron morticed.

September 1998
September 1998

The waterwheel c.1970
The waterwheel c.1970

Joseph Everett was the son of Robert Everett snr, a gentleman from Wymondham who had married Sarah Frith in Derbyshire (she mentions her brother Philip Frith). They had 4 children, including brothers Joseph and Robert jnr.

Joseph Everett 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. When Joseph Everett died, his brother Robert Everett who was running the nearby Narborough_watermill took over the running of West Acre as well.

I remember many times in the late 50s and early 60s entering the mill despite being forbidden to do so. It was very unsafe and my younger brother and I had to proceed very carefully.
The person living in the Mill House from sometime shortly after the second world war to the early 60's was a Major Hitchins.  He was very eccentric and used to pursue us small boys through the very overgrown grounds of the mill. He used to keep bees in hives in the house and leave the windows open year round so they had access.
Eventually The Westacre Estate served with him an eviction order as the house was in such a poor state of repair. 
The house was taken on in 1965 by Michael Buxton.
Chris Boone - 27th April 2011


O. S. Map 1883

O. S. Map 1883
Courtesy of NLS map images

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

1741: Richard Ransome, miller

1791: John Ransome

Feb 1791: 38 years of a 63 year lease advertised for sale

1824: Joseph Everett, miller

c.1826: Joseph Everett died

c.1826: Robert Everett, miller, also at Narborough

Census 1841:

Robert Everitt (50) miller & farmer
Harriet Everitt (40)
Harriet Everitt jnr (18)
Frith Everitt (17)
Janet Everitt (15)
Fanny Everitt (14)
Ellen Everitt (12)
Robert Everitt jnr (19)
Edward Everitt (5)
Jane Everitt (4)
Frederick Everitt (1)
Maria Knights (21) servant
Ann Parsons (23) servant
Charlotte Alcock (24) servant
Eliza Garnett (23) servant

Francis Chapman (40) journeyman miller
Robert Chapman (8)
Sarah Chapman (7)
Ellen Chapman (5)
Martha Miles (30) housekeeper

Richard Roper (36) journeyman mller
Sarah Roper (36)
John Roper (9)
George Roper (3)
James Scarf (45)

White's 1845: Robert Everett, corn miller

1851: William Butler, journeyman miller employed by Robert Everett and living in Mill Cottage

Census 1851:

William Butler (35) b.Shouldham, journeyman miller
Elizabeth Butler (32) b.Shouldham
Ann Elizabeth Butler (7) b.Matishall, scholar
Stephen England Butler (0) b.West Acre
Mary Richardson (54) b.Boughton, nurse woman
Eliza Williams (13) b.West Acre, servant & scholar
Address: Mill Cottage, West Acre

White's 1864: Richard Curtis, miller & farmer

March 1872: Edward Lewis takes over the mill

Census 1881:

George Gates (41) b.Terrington, journeyman miller
Mary Gates (41) b.Shouldham
Address: Mill Cottage, West Acre

White's 1883: Edward Lewis - also Gayton towermill

Census 1891:

John Williamson (49) b.West Acre, millers labourer
Rosetta Williamson (52) b.Gayton
Address: Mill Cottages, West Acre

William Wright (34) b.Tharston, journeyman miller
Elizabeth M Wright (34) b. E Walton
Percy W Wright (7) b.Castle Acre, scholar
Sydney W Wright (5) b.West Acre, scholar
Bertram S Wright (4) b.West Acre
Ethel S Wright (2) b.West Acre
Arthur R Wright (0) b.West Acre
Address: Mill Cottages

Kelly's 1892: Edward Lewis - also Gayton towermill

Kelly's 1896: Henry Lewis - also William Wright, manager; also Gayton towermill

Kelly's 1900: Henry Lewis - also William Wright, manager, owner Henry Birkbeck - High House, West Acre
Kelly's 1900: Thomas Fryer, estate agent, Mill house

Census 1901:

William Wright (44) b.Tharston, Fourman Miller (Flour)
Elizabeth M Wright (44) b. E Walton
Sydney W Wright (15) b.West Acre, assistant miller (Flour)
Ethel S Wright (12) b.West Acre
Randall Wright (10) b.West Acre
George Wright (9) b.West Acre
Edwin Wright (7) b.West Acre
William Wright (5) b.West Acre
Address: Mill Cottages

Kelly's 1904: Henry Lewis - also William Wright, manager, owner Henry Birkbeck - High House, West Acre

Kelly's 1908: Alfred Lewis - also Gayton & Heacham

1909: Alfred Lewis, miller - also Gayton

Census 1901:

William Wright (55) b.Tharston, Miller
Maria Wright (54) b. E Walton
George Wright (18) b.West Acre, Gardener Domestic
Edwin Wright (16) b.West Acre, Kennel-Man
Willie Wright (14) b.West Acre, Stable Boy Domestic
Address: Mill Cottages

Kelly's 1912: Gayton Mills Co.

Kelly's 1922: Gayton Mills Co.

Kelly's 1912: Gayton Mills Co Ltd. - also Gayton

Kelly's 1912: Gayton Mills Co Ltd. - also Gayton

Kelly's 1912: Gayton Mills Co Ltd. - also Gayton & Narborough watermill

c.1947-1962: Major Hitchens, Mill House

1959: Mill pulled down by Wiliam Wright

1960: William Wright

1965-1990: Michael Buxton

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 TF7891 1498
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003