Weybread Mill
River Waveney


Weybread watermill was originally built of white weatherboard over a brick base with a pantiled roof. Despite its modest appearance it was actually one of the larger mills. Using a 7 foot fall of water, the highest on the Waveney, the mill ran with two waterwheels that before the the installation of the roller plant, drove up to 10 sets of stones, leaving the steam engine to power the cleaning and dressing machinery. In the 1700s one wheel also drove a straw and hay cutter.

The larger wheel had a diameter of 20 feet and was 12 feet wide, while the smaller wheel had a diameter of 16 feet. Both wheels were made of cast iron with wooden floats.

The mill had a 4½ sack roller plant fitted c.1900 by John E. Button.


To be LETT and Entered in upon at Michaelmas next. A WATER MILL at Weybread, near Harlefton now in the Occupation of Mr. John Mathews, with about 10 Acres of Meadow Land, or without. Enquire of Mr. Cotman.
Ipswich Journal - 3rd January 1756

Ipswich Journal - 4th July 1763
Ipswich Journal - 4th July 1763

The Copartnership lately fubfifting under the Firm of Meff. Jacob Stanton and Co. Flour-merchants, Millers and Farmers, of Weybread in the County of Suffolk, has been this Day dissolved by mutual Confent. Dated the 21d of March, 1794.

J. Bond.
J, Stanton.

London Gazette - April 1794

Norfolk Chronicle - 16th August 1794
Norfolk Chronicle - 16th August 1794

Excerpt transcription from above advert

To be Sold by Auction
By Samuel Safford
By Order of the Assignees of Jacob Stanton, a Bankrupt
At the Swan Inn in Harleston in the county of Norfolk, on Wednesday 27 August 1794 at 4 o'c in the afternoon
The following ESTATES of the said Bankrupt. In Three Lots.
Lot I. Water Corn Mill, Weybread ...
Lot II. Post Windmill near the above mill upon Shotford Heath ...
Lot III. A POST_WINDMILL with two pair of stones, situate in Pulham St. Mary the Virgin in the county of Norfolk, late in the use of the said Jacob Stanton and the piece of inclosed Land whereon the Mill is erected. Possession of all the premises may be had immediately.
Apply to Messrs. HAVELL & PEARSON, Ipswich or Mr. Bonhote, Bungay.

Norfolk Chronicle - 16th & 23rd August 1794

Hand coloured photo 1907
Hand coloured photo 1907

Mr. P. Nursey, at present engaged in the study of medicine at Edinburgh, has communicated to Dr. Duncan the following extract of a letter from a friend of his, a surgeon in the county of Suffolk, giving an account of an ingenious contrivance for fractures.
"You may recollect my mentioning to you an ingenious fracture-box. It has now received a full trial. By this superlative effort of genius, a person with a fractured leg is enabled, the day after the accident, to rise from his bed, and fit at table with his family at dinner. His leg is bound up with the greatest expedition and ease ; and those who have suffered pain even to delirium with bad fractures, have found very considerable relief soon after the application of the apparatus.
** When it is properly fixed on the leg, the patient may turn himself in bed, from one side to the other, in any position, without the least inconvenience or disturbance to the diseased part; and he is even able to get out of bed with the assistance of one person. I wish it were in my power to give you an idea of its mechanism; but description lags behind,' even in its utility, much more in its extensive five motion, adapting itself to every possible poiition of the body. It's construction, notwithstanding this, is truly simple. It is made by Jacob Stanton of Weybread in Suffolk. It needs only to be known, to be universally adopted; and what I have said is only from a strong conviction of its utility."

Medical and philosophical commentaries, Volume 20, By Society of physicians in Edingburgh - 1795


Millers. WANTED Active Middle-aged PERSON as STONE MAN, who can be well recommended. Enquire of Mr. Bacon, Weybread Mills, near Harleston.
Norfolk Chronicle - 15th May 1841

Ipswich Journal - 23rd July 1842
Ipswich Journal - 23rd July 1842

c.1918 c.1919
Weed grids for both wheels visible - c.1919

Ipswich Journal - 22nd June 1850
Ipswich Journal - 22nd June 1850


On the following morning, about eleven o'clock, long before the excitement caused by the occurrence of the night had ceased, (house fire) intelligence was received that another fire had broken out in the village. The news proved only too true, and the fire engine was at once despatched on its second errand. The fire was on the premises of Mr. Aldridge, miller, Pulham Market, and was caused it appears by sparks given out by a passing locomotive belonging to Mr. George Chase, miller, Weybread. The sparks caught the thatch of the barn, and the result was the total destruction of the building together with about twenty coombs of corn. A number of pigs, which were in the building at the time, were so severely burnt that it was decided to kill them. Mr. Aldridge is not insured.
Diss Express - 1st February 1878

Evening Star - 3rd January 1887
Evening Star - 3rd January 1887

Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph c.1919
Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph c.1919

Wheel site March 1968 Lower millpool March 1968
Wheel site March 1968
Lower millpool March 1968

Jacob Stanton was made bankrupt in 1794, and the mill sold at auction as a result of this on 27th August that year. However when the mill was again offered for auction on 6th June 1799, interested parties were required to contact one Jacob Stanton on the premises. It is debatable as to whether he had reacquired the mill or whether he was merely an employee.

Excerpt from sale details - 16th January 1841
All that Superior Board and Tile Water Corn Mill at Weybread, in Suffolk, capable of manufacturing 25 lasts of corn per week containing five floors, two Water Wheels, one of which is 20 feet in diameter, and 10 feet wide, with a fall of 6 feet, driving six pairs of French stones, Smith's Patent Flour and other machines. The mill is now in full trade, in the occupation of Messrs. Cocks & Sims whose tenancy expires at Lady Day next, when possession will be given. Apply to Mr. John Sims on the premises.
Norfolk Chronicle - 2nd January 1841

23rd February 1895
23rd February 1895

Details from the sale particulars for the auction to take place on 5th June 1918 on behalf of the executors of Henry Dane at the Magpie Hotel, Harleston, conducted by George Durrant & Sons.

In 1918 the property consisted of the five storey mill
substantially built of brick and timber with a tile and slate roof. It was stated to be in full trade with the capability of producing 400 sacks per week (approx. 50 tons) using two water wheels that were included in the sale. The largest wheel was believed to be the largest on the Waveney and had just been put in thorough repair. The fall of water is upward of six feet and the power and capabilities of this Important Property are almost unequalled by any other of a similar description in the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk. In addition there was a recently erected brick and tile engine and boiler house with a 60ft shaft; brick and tile stabling for six cart horses; three loose boxes; straw house; two riding horse stables; chaise house and a harness room with loft over. There was Miller's Cottage with sheds and gardens; a brick and slated family residence containing entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, office, kitchen, storeroom, pantry, landing six bedrooms, cellar, scullery, and coal house, flower and kitchen gardens; a pair of cottages with gardens in Wells Lane and at the time occupied by the horsemen; rich meadow land, the whole containing four acres or thereabouts.

Sale Particulars Schedule:


Main Roller Shaft 44ft., Roller Shaft 15ft., 1 Barley Cylinder
Two double sets Brake Rolls 24 x 9, two double sets Reduction Rolls 25 x 9, One double set Rolls 18 x 8, One No. 2 Victor Brush, One Oat Crusher (Turner's No. 17), Two pairs 4 foot Wheat Stones, One pair 4 foot Barley Stones, One Chaff Cutter (with necessary shafting)
3. Six Centrifugals, two sheets, Fan Exhaust, Eureka Wheat Cleaner with shaft and pulleys
4. One Double Purifier, One inter Elevator Reel 2½ sheets, One Single Purifier, One Flour Mixer, One Offal Mixer, One Vibrometer
Inter Elevator Reel 3½ sheets, Thirteen Sets Elevators and worm conveyors throughout the mill, One Horizontal 25 Horse-power Engine, One Cornish Boiler 30 Horse-power, Sack Hoist, pulleys

Diss Express - 7th June 1918
Diss Express - 7th June 1918

During the latter years of production the mill was used to produce poultry feed as well as flour and frequently ran 24 hours per day. In the 1980s a local described how the feed was taken down to the marshes by the tumbril load to feed geese and ducks.

The mill's life came to an abrupt end when it was burnt down on the evening of Friday 6th February 1920.

A disastrous fire occurred at Weybread on Friday evening, when the water and steam mills carried on by Mr. J. Button, of Diss, with the valuable contents in machinery, plant, and stocks of wheat and flour were destroyed. The country for miles around was illuminated by the huge tongues of flame, and hundreds of people from far and near gathered to watch the fire.
Mr. Button, his father, and grandfather before him, have carried on an extensive business at the mills for many years. The origin of the fire is unknown.

Eastern Daily Press - February 1920

A disastrous fire occurred at Weybread on Friday evening, when the water and steam mills carried on by Mr. J. Button, of Diss, with the valuable contents in machinery, plant, and stocks of wheat and flour were destroyed. The country for miles around was illuminated by the huge tongues of flame, and hundreds of people from far and near gathered to watch the fire.
Mr. Button, his father, and grandfather before him, have carried on an extensive business at the mills for many years past, and when the property came into the market some two years ago Mr. Button became the purchaser. The loss, taking into account the valuable machinery, etc., and the heavy stocks of wheat and flour, must run into several thousand pounds. The origin of the fire is unknown.

Eastern Daily Press - February 1920

The fire that finally destroyed the mill started at around 5.30 p.m. on Friday 6th February 1920 and by
6.00 p.m. flames were well above the mill and visible for a considerable distance. Miss Mary Daniels who was about 17 at the time, was living in Weybread and walked down the hill with her brother to see what was happening. Shortly after they arrived the front fell out of the mill and wheat cascaded over the bridge and into the river.

Meanwhile, Claude Aldridge who was about 16 and worked at the mill ran all the way to Harleston to a call the fire brigade. They eventually arrived via Wells Lane with their horse drawn, hand pumped appliance but unfortunately they were on the wrong side of the river and were unable to cross the bridge next to the burning mill. In the event there was little that they could have done anyway as the destruction of the mill had long since reached the point of no return.

At the time of the fire, the flour trade was bad and the mill contained a considerable quantity of wheat along with some 300 - 400 10 stone bags of flour that equated to around 18-25 tons and was stacked much higher than usual.

Later the wheat was dredged out of the river, kiln dried and then sold at Harleston Sale Ground for chicken feed. Miss Mary Daniels related that her father bought 3 cwt. and she thought he paid 3s 6d per bag.

11th April 2004 11th April 2004
11th April 2004

Mill pool 21st April 2008 Wheelrace 21st April 2008
Mill pool 21st April 2008
Wheelrace 21st April 2008

My grandfather Robert William Clarke was born in Weybread (1880).  His father Robert Clarke was a millwrigfht as was his father Samuel Clarke. They apparently serviced all the mills in the area.
Isabel Jones, South Africa - 27th December 2009

O. S. Map 1884

O. S. Map 1884
Courtesy of NLS map images

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

1703: William Cook bought the Instead Manor that included the mill

Kirby's map 1836: Mill

1755: John Mathews, tenant miller

1756: John Mathews, tenant miller

January 1756: Mill advertised to be let

July 1763: Mill house advertised to be let

30th June 1779: William Mann (also Syleham mill and then Bungay mill in 1784) insured the mill for £400 and his stock etc for £300

1784: William Mann, also at Bungay, Syleham and Wainford mills

7th May 1785: Jacob Stanton, miller, insured his house and adjoining bakery in Harleston for £200

21st March 1794: Copartnership of Jacob Stanton & Co., flour merchants, millers & farmers, dissolved

21st April 1794: Jacob Stanton was required to surrender at the Three Tuns Inn, Bungay due to bankruptcy

27th August 1794: Mill auctioned at Swan Inn, Harleston by order of the Assignees of Jacob Stanton

Faden's map 1797: Waybred Mill

25th May 1799: The Norwich & Bury Post announced the mill was due to be auctioned on 6th June

28th September 1816: John Cook advertised for a stone dresser and a flour dresser

21st April 1821: Noticed appeared in the press advertising the mill for auction by executors of William Mann

16th June 1821: John Cook advertised for a miller and stone dresser

19th May 1828: Mill advertised for auction by the proprietor - with 7 pairs of stones

23rd August 1828: Mill advertised in the Suffolk Chronicle, to be let

1838: Messrs. Cocks & Sims (tenants)

Pigot's 1839: Cocks & Sims

16th January 1841: Mill offered for sale by auction at Royal Hotel, Norwich

1841: Robert Bacon, tenant miller

London Gazette 29th March 1842: Henry Drane, farmer, miller & brickmaker. Assignee of a Redenhall Stone Mason

July 1842: John Bacon aged 14 years, soon of Mr. Bacon, miller drowned in river near the mill

White's 1844: Henry Drane

1850: Robert Bacon, tenant miller

8th June 1850: 8 year old son of Richard Cooke, mill foreman, drowned in mill pool

1855: Henry Drane

5th August 1857: Mill to be sold at auction by Executors of the late William Cook. Robert Bacon, tenant

Post Office Directory 1858: Henry Drane (possibly owner)

4th June 1859: Mill advertised for let in the Suffolk Chronicle. Capable of manufacturing 250 quarters per week

Kelly's 1865: Henry Prentice

Kelly's 1869: Henry Prentice

1878: George Chase, miller

1879: Chase & Munnings, millers and cattle condiment manufacturers, also at Mendham

Wednesday 29th December 1886:
George Chase thrown out of his dog-cart in Harleston and injured

3rd January 1887: George Chase died

1887: John & William Button, tenants

1892: J. & W. E. Button
, millers also at Diss towermill & Needham watermill

April 1893: William Edmund Chaplyn Button died. William also ran a windmill in Weybread

August 1902: John Button, also at Diss towermill, died aged 72

5th June 1918: Mill sold by auction at the Magpie Hotel, Harleston along with Needham Mill by Messrs. George Durrant & Sons. Weybread was sold on behalf of the Executors of Henry Drane. Mill under Government Control and occupied by John Benjamin Button at a rent of £65 per annum under a 8 year lease commencing 11th October 1914.

5th June 1918: Mill bought at auction by tenant John Button, for £1,250

1920: J. W. & E. Button

Friday 6th February 1920: Mill destroyed by fire

March 1989: Savills offered the mill for sale at a guide price of £325,000. The property included the 5 bedroomed mill house, former coach house and adjacent outbuildings converted to art studios along with approximately ¾ acre of land and river frontage

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 TM 24128190
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004