East Ruston towermill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

5th September 1909
5th September 1909

East Ruston towermill was built for John Rudd Turner in 1868 by millwright Thomas_Smithdale of St Anne's Foundry, King Street, Norwich and it was said that it was originally fitted with cloth sails before later being converted to double shuttered sails. If this is true it means that the mill was the last known newly built mill in the county to have started life with common sails. The mill was known locally as New Mill.

The six storey towermill was 64ft to the tip of the upper sail and built of red brick and by the late 1800s was powered by 4 double shuttered sails, each with 9 bays of 3 shutters that were struck by rack and pinion. The boat shaped cap had a petticoat and supported an 8 bladed fan and gallery. A stage was set around just above the second floor but dropped level at the loading door. The second floor was the stone floor that held three pairs of stones, two of which were later worked by steam power via an external pulley wheel.

Rex Wailes reported that the shot curb had an independent ring of rollers between the cap and the curb. The stone nuts were lifted out of gear by a rigger (2 chains). The bell alarm was operated by a striker.

Tithe Award 1841
Map by J. Wright, Landsurveyor, Aylsham, 1841
(no mill shown)
Owner: John Pilgrim
Occupier: Robert Atkinson

No. 234



2a. 1r. 28p.

£1. 6. 11D.

The glass plate photograph at the top of the page was taken by Frank Horner son of James Francis Horner, who sketched the nearby East_Ruston_postmill. James Francis Horner married Elizabeth Turner, eldest daughter of John Rudd Turner.

Turners 1909
Horace Turner probably 4th from left
with family and staff in 1909

Turner family c.1887
Turner family c.1887

Horace Turner is sitting on the right in the above photo with his wife Jemima next to him.
The gentleman on the left in the photo is probably his father, John Rudd Turner.

John Rudd Turner was the son of Rudd Turner of East_Ruston_postmill. His sons, George Robert and Horace, went on to run the mill, having taken it over from their father in a Conveyance of Sale dated 6th April 1873.


c.1930 c.1932

11th September 1934 Mill working - 3rd September 1936
11th September 1934
Mill working - 3rd September 1936


John R. Turner also owned East_Ruston_postmill, sometimes known as the High Mill as it stood on higher ground some 1,150 yards to the north east of the towermill. Later the postmill would become known as the Old Mill whereas the towermill became known as the New Mill.

24th May 1979
24th May 1979

The towermill remained in the Turner family throughout its working life. Robert and Horace Turner eventually took over from their father John and traded as Turner Brothers from 1875-1900 and they had installed a steam engine for auxiliary power by 1883.

The mill house was apparently extended when the Turner brothers ran the mill due to the fact that they did not get on very well and the house has two sets of stairs for that reason.

Horace Turner later went into partnership with his sons from 1904-1908.

The mill was advertised for sale by auction on 25th November 1919 and the reproduction of the original poster below was kindly supplied by Geoff Ford in 2005. It would appear that one of Horace Turner's sons, Herbert Walter Turner bought the towermill that he had been running since c.1912, while one of (George) Robert Turner's sons, John Rudd Turner, took on the steam mill in an adjacent building on the same site. Herbert Walter Turner was the last miller to run the towermill.
Robert George Turner & Sone were also running Martham towermill in the early 1900s.


Near Stalham, Norfolk.



Railway  Hotel in Stalham,

On Tuesday, Nov.25th, 1919

At 3 o'clock in the Afternoon,

The Valuable FREEHOLD


Brick Tower Windmill


Situate in East Ruston in Norfolk, whereupon a lucrative business has been carried on for many years.


The Windmill which was erected in the year 1868 contains six floors and therein is a Flour Mill, three pairs of Stones, Oat Rolls, Hopper Attachments and Bins.  Adjoining the Mill is an Engine House, in which is a 8-h.p. Engine by Riches & Watts, Norwich, & an old Vertical Steam Engine, also a Pump leading to a Well of Water.

         Opposite the Mill is a two-floor Granary, adjoining which is a two-bay Board and Tiled Cart Lodge.  The other Outbuildings consist of a Carpenter's Shop, Gig House, Stables, Shed and Cart Lodges, all board and tiled or thatched.

         There are 2 Brick and Tiled Dwelling-houses, one of which is occupied by Mrs. R.G. Turner, and contains Entrance Hall, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Sitting Rooms, Kitchen, Storeroom, Scullery and Cellar, with outside Coal House and Store.  The other, which adjoins, contains 3 Bedrooms, 2 Sitting Rooms and Kitchen, with outside Scullery, Cellar and Coal Store.     There are also 2 E.C's.     Water supply from a Pump and deep Well at the back of the Houses.  To each of the Houses there is attached a large Garden and Orchard well stocked with Fruit Bushes and Trees.

         The Vendors, however, reserve the right to remove all Fruit Trees and Bushes planted since 1908, from the portions now occupied by them respectively, at any time before the 6th April, 1920.   The property contains 2a.1r.28p., and is numbered 154 (part) and 155 (part) on the Ordnance Map.

         The Purchaser will have to take by Valuation in the usual way, the following Articles (namely) 2 pairs of Scales and Weights in Mill, 3 Bins, 5 Sack Barrows and Scoop, 2 pulley Blocks, 2 Sieves, Hop Scales and Weights, and Gangway Board in the Granary, and the Vice, Bench and Grindstone in the Carpenter's Shop.  The amount of such Valuation shall be paid by the Purchaser in addition to his Purchase-money,

         VACANT POSSESSION ON COMPLETION OF PURCHASE.   A Plan of the property will be produced in the Sale Room, and can in the meantime be inspected at the Office of the Auctioneer.


ANNUAL OUTGOINGS:---Tithe Rent-Charge (as apportioned)   £1  6s  11d

Land tax (if any)  



         The Property will be sold subject to the conditions following and to the conditions known as “The National Conditions of Sale.” 4th edition (which will be produced in the Sale Room and of which each purchaser shall be deemed to have notice) so far as such conditions are not inconsistent with the particulars and conditions following:---


1.        The purchase shall be completed on the 6th day of April, 1920.

2.         The deposit shall be £20 per centum of the purchase-money.

3.        The expression “the office of the Vendor's Solicitor” in the National Conditions of Sale shall mean the Office of Mr. Herbert Goodchild, 27, Castle Meadow, Norwich.

4.        The title to the property shall commence with a Conveyance on Sale, dated the 6th day of April 1873.

Further Particulars & Conditions of Sale may be obtained of the AUCTIONEER, Tudor House, North Walsham, Messrs. WILKINSON & DAVIES, North Walsham, or

Mr. HERBERT GOODCHILD, Castle Meadow, Norwich, Vendors' Solicitor.



c.1947 1990

Originally auxiliary power was provided by a vertical steam engine but this was later replaced by an 8 h.p. engine made by Riches & Watts of Norwich. The engines were supplied with water via a pump connected to a nearby well.

28th August 2006 28th August 2006
28th August 2006
28th August 2006

In 1926 the mill was still wind powered but by 1936 only one pair of sails remained, the mill having been struck by lightning. Production finally ceased in 1946 and the mill was derelict by 1949, although the machinery was not removed until about 1962.

28th August 2006
28th August 2006

Red brick tower
Shell and five floors
No cap, sails or fantail
Built for Turners by
Smithdale of Acle (Smithdales were still at Norwich - JJN)
Stone over 2nd floor dated 1868
Had common sails and a 4 bladed fantail
(replaced by 4 patent sails and left handed, 8 bladed fan - JJN)
Boat shaped cap with gallery

Struck by lightning losing one pair of sails
Stage at second floor
Iron windshaft
Iron wallowewer
Wooden upright shaft

Iron great spur wheel with wooden cogs
Worked 2 pairs of stones from steam engine till end of WWII
Machinery removed c.1962
Last miller Herbert Turner

Millstones let into walls by entrance gate came from the steam mill
Philip Unwin - 1972

26th April 2009
26th April 2009

The Turners were my great grandparents.  I met my great cousins at one of the mills about 45 years ago. Two old ladies in their nineties who then must have sold the house they lived in next to the mill when they passed away.
Paul Fennemore - 5th August 2009

O. S. Map 1905
O. S. Map 1905
Courtesy of NLS map images

Kelly's 1879: Ash Rudd, farmer & landowner

White's 1883: George Bristow, farmer
White's 1883:
Ash Rudd Esq. J.P. farner & owner, The Hall
White's 1883:
Mrs Harriet Rudd, The Hall

White's 1890:
Ash Rudd Esq. J.P. farner & owner, The Hall

Kelly's 1896: Ash Rudd, J.P. East Ruston hall
Kelly's 1896: Mrs. H. Rudd, East Ruston hall

Kelly's 1900: Ash Rudd, J.P. East Ruston hall

Kelly's 1904: Ash Rudd, J.P. East Ruston hall

Kelly's 1904: Horace Turner, farmer, Grove & Old MIll farms

Kelly's 1908: Horace Turner, farmer, Grove & Old MIll farms

Kelly's 1912:
Horace Turner, farmer, Grove & Old Mill farms

Kelly's 1916: Horace Turner, farmer, Grove & Old Mill farms

Kelly's 1922: Horace Turner, farmer, Grove farm
Kelly's 1922: Horace John Rudd Turner, builder & carpenter, Beech cottage

Kelly's 1925: Horace John Rudd Turner, farmer, New Barn farm
Kelly's 1925: Robert Larter Turner, farmer, Grove farm

Kelly's 1929: Horace John Rudd Turner, farmer, New Barn farm
Kelly's 1929: Robert Larter Turner, farmer, Grove farm

Kelly's 1937: Horace John Rudd Turner, farmer, New Barn farm
Kelly's 1937: Robert Larter Turner, farmer, The Grove

1868: Mill built for John Rudd Turner by Smithdale's of Norwich

1872: John Rudd Turner, miller

6th April 1873: (George) Robert and Horace Turner bought the mill from their father John Rudd Turner

1875: R. G. & H. Turner (Turner Bros.) millers

Kelly's 1879: R. & H. Turner Brothers, millers

Census 1881: (George) Robert and Horace Turner

White's 1890: Robert George & Horace Turner, corn millers

O.S. map 1885: Windmill

White's 1890: Robert George & Horace Turner, corn millers

Kelly's 1892: R. G. & H. Turner Bothers, millers (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1896: R. G. & H. Turner Bothers, millers (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1900: R. G. & H. Turner Bothers, millers (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1904: Horace Turner & Sons, millers (wind & steam), farmer, Grove & Old Mill farms

Kelly's 1908: Horace Turner & Sons, millers (wind & steam)
Kelly's 1908: Horace Turner, farmer miller (wind & steam), Grove & Old Mill farms
Kelly's 1908: Robert George Turner, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1912: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind & steam)
Kelly's 1912: Robert George Turner, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1916: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind & steam)
Kelly's 1916: Robert George Turner, miller (wind & steam)

Tuesday 25th November 1919: Mill sold by auction at the Railway Hotel in Stalham
Tuesday 25th November 1919: Mill bought by Herbert Walter Turner

1919: John Rudd Turner, son of (George) Robert Turner took over the adjacent steam mill

Kelly's 1922: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1925: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind)

1926: Herbert Walter Turner, using wind and auxiliary power

Kelly's 1929: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind)

22nd August 1932: Mill still workable with 2 double shuttered sails and an 8 bladed fan

1936: Mill working with single pair of sails, 8 bladed left handed fan and pulley for auxiliary drive

Kelly's 1937: Herbert Walter Turner, miller (wind)

Karl Wood painting 1937: Capped tower with one pair of sails, fantail and chainpole

1946: Mill ceased production

1949: Mill derelict

c.1962: Machinery removed

1976: Dennis George Rayner, owner & occupier

1984: Mill reduced to 5 storey shell

c.2000: Mill converted to holiday let

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 36082922
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005