Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Fincham post windmill stood just to the west of Black Drove in Fincham. No record has so far been found that actually confirms this mill as being a postmill, however this is the most likely option. A bakehouse was run along with the mill.

Jacob Bird was born in 1789 and ran the mill for at least 20 years. His son, Jacob Mason Bird, was running Hilborough_watermill in the 1840s before moving to Downham Market and in 1848 he in turn had a son, Frederick Augustus Bird, who went on to run Bird's_mill at Downham Market.

Emanuel Bowen's map of 1749 showed a total of 8 corn mills:
Briningham postmill,
East Wretham postmill
Fincham postmill
Poringland tower ? mill
South Creake Common postmill
St. Benet's Abbey towermill
Strumpshaw smockmill
Tacolneston postmill

Wishes to thank his numerous friends & customers for their kind patronage during the past 16 years & to inform him that he has now given up the business to his two sons Thomas & John Sporne, we hope by strict personal attention to secure the same confidence their father has enjoyed.

Lynn Advertiser - 12th October 1878

I, George Sporne of Fincham do hereby give notice that I will not be answerable for any debts my wife Martha Sporne may contract after this date.
George Sporne
Witness William Hames Harris
Lynn Advertiser - 8th February 1879

Partnership Thomas William Sporne & John George Sporne, Millers & Bakers, dissolved 27 February 1891.
Lynn Advertiser - 7th March 1891

O.S. Map 1891
O.S. Map 1891
Image produced from the service with permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd. and Ordnance Survey

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

My name is Peter Bird and I am the son of the late Algy Bird who was the last of the Birds to mill flour in Norfolk. I have been endebted to your website for some early history of my forbears and where they lived, and I would like to express my gratitude for the efforts you have made.
My father's father was Frederick Augustus Bird (the F.A. Bird of the Downham_Mill) and he was born in 1848 in the Hilborough Mill which was run by his father, Jacob Mason Bird.
Jacob Mason's father was another Jacob and he ran the Fincham Post Mill. I had no idea of this until I looked at your website. This Jacob was born in 1789 and I have not managed to go any further back.
What I do not know, at time of writing, is whether Jacob Bird senior had any more sons that Jacob Mason, and if so, were they flour millers too?

Peter Bird, Cambridge - 16th May 2007

George Sporne married Ann Bywater on 23rd February 1854; he was 22 and she was 19. George was born Sept-Oct 1831 at Burnham Westgate, the son of John Sporne (b.1802) and Susan Sporne (née Payne) of Kings Lynn.
Ann Sporne
(b. early March 1834) was the daughter of Mary Addison who married William Bywater when Ann was about 18 months old and Ann grew up as Ann Bywater. Ann Sporne died 24th March 1871 aged 37.

My G-grandfather was George Sporne. The 1861 census shows he lived at Shouldham_Thorpe_Mill with wife Ann and young children Thomas, John, Edward and daughter Harriet.
It looks like he moved to Fincham Corn Mill with his family in 1863 and his sons Thomas and John went on to run the mill and the bakery.

The 1871 census shows George Sporne living at Mill Cottage, Downham Road, Fincham as Miller & Baker with his children (Thomas now 17 and working with his father.) Dear Ann died a week or so after her 37th birthday and days before the 1871 Census. Her gravestone stands in the graveyard of St Martin's Church, Fincham.  
George Sporne then married Martha Sporne in August 1872 and my grandfather George F. Sporne was born on 6th July 1873, in Fincham and his brother Alfred C. Sporne was born in 1876, also in Fincham. By the 1881 Census, George had left Martha to bring up the two boys by herself. I believe George emigrated to New Zealand, possibly in 1879-80 but I have no evidence of this.

John R. G. Sporne - 27th December 2007

On my visit to Fincham in August 2006 (My only other visit was with my Grandfather in the summer of possibly 1947 when I was 8) I went into the churchyard and a lady with her elderly mother in a wheelchair was looking for the gravestone of James Bywater (b. 1841). James Bywater was the grandfather of the lady in the wheelchair whose maiden name was Dorothy Bywater (b. 1919). We got to talking and found out we were connected as Ann Sporne née Bywater (b. 1834) was half sister to James, although James would have possible grown up thinking Ann was his sister. James Bywater grew up to own and run the Bakery in Fincham opposite St Martin's church. George & Ann Sporne would have run a bakery at the Fincham Post Mill at the other end of the village. The bakery that James Bywater owned is now a large dwelling home.
Dorothy, her daughter Marie and a friend had travelled down from Lincoln that day. It was their first visit to Fincham.

We enjoyed lunch together in The Swan, Fincham. Edward H. Sporne (son of George & Ann) with his wife Pricilla were the proprietors of the The Swan from 1896. Edward died in 1926 but Pricilla continued to run The Swan until her death in April 1945 aged 82. My grandfather spoke of her fondly as Aunt Pricy.
John R. G. Sporne - 25th May 2008

A George Sporne married Hannah Burton in New Zealand (probably Auckland) in 1900. He died on 18th August 1903 at the age of 72 and was buried in the Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand. At the time of his death he was listed as a miller, so this is quite probably the same George Sporne as the one who reired from the mill in 1878.

Emanuel Bowen's map 1749: Windmill (along with 7 other mills)

O.S. map 1824: Windmill

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

Greenwood's map 1834: Windmill

White's 1836: Jacob Bird, corn miller

White's 1845: Jacob Bird, miller & baker

Craven's 1856: Jacob Bird, miller

White's 1854: Thomas Neale Raven, miller & farmer

1858: Thomas Neale Raven, miller

1863: George Sporne, miller

White's 1864: George Sporne, miller & baker

1871: Ann Sporne, wife of George Sporne died aged 37 and was buried in the graveyard of Fincham church

Census 1871: George Sporne (39) b.Burnham Market, miller & baker employing 1 man (deaf)
Thomas W. Sporne (17) b.Fincham, miller
John G. Sporne (15) b.Fincham, scholar
Edward H. Sporne (13) b.Fincham, scholar
Harriet E. Sporne (11) b.Fincham, scholar
Address: Mill Cottage, Downham Road, Fincham

1878: George Sporne, miller, retired and handed business over to sons Thomas and John Sporne

Kelly's 1879: Thomas & John Sporne, millers

White's 1883: T. & J. Sporne, millers & bakers

27th February 1891: Partnership of Thomas William Sporne and John George Sporne dissolved

Kelly's 1892: Thomas William Sporne, miller (steam) & baker

Kelly's 1896: Thomas William Sporne, miller (steam) & baker

Kelly's 1900: Thomas William Sporne, miller (steam) & baker

Kelly's 1904: Thomas William Sporne, miller (steam) & baker

Kelly's 1908: Thomas William Sporne, miller (steam) & baker

Kelly's 1912: H. Lambert & Son, millers (steam) & bakers

Kelly's 1916: H. Lambert & Son, millers (steam) & bakers

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 TF67450550
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007