Swim north
drainage pump
River Bure


Runham Swim north wind pump had a 3 storey tarred red brick tower, 30ft high to its curb, containing two doors, one window and a Norfolk boat shaped cap with a petticoat. Power to the internal scoop wheel designed to pump water from the marshes into the River Bure was supplied by patent sails and the cap was turned to wind by an 8 bladed fantail with a Y wheel.

The fan star was found to be inscribed W.T. England, Millwright, Yarmouth 1896.

Runham Swim north wind pump was often called Child's Mill although the name 'Swim' was coined by virtue of cattle being herded down the track to the river where they swam across to graze on the marshes on the opposite side. This was also the site of an old ferry across the River Bure.

In 1973, Arthur Smith noted that the mill was derelict with only the lower boarding of the cap still in place. The stocks remained, along with the windshaft, brakewheel, fan cradle and the striking wheel chain. The gearing inside the mill was also intact.

10th July 1973
10th July 1973


14th July 2013
14th July 2013

Runham Drainage Mill was open to the public for the first time on 14 July and the hot weather brought a good flow of visitors down Swim Road (so named because cattle were brought down the track and swum across the River Bure).
The first mill was a little to the east of the present one and was in use by 1805. In 1846 the mill needed repair and was replaced by a steam engine. In July 1851 the Commissioners for Drainage were advertising for contractors to build a new tower windpump designed by William_Thorold and Thomas_Smithdale took on the work. Part of a casting with his name on has been found. In 1916 a 16hp hot bulb paraffin engine was installed inside the mill which could drive the scoop wheel through a clutch when there was insufficient wind. An internal scoop wheel can also be found at Cadge's Mill on the Reedham Marshes, which was also designed by Thorold and built by Smithdales.
Some teeth came out of the headwheel in about 1939 and the Internal Drainage Board were unwilling to undertake repairs. The sails were removed and cut up for firewood and the vanes were used for a garden fence. Drainage was taken over by an electric pump at Herringby.
The mill is owned by the Watts family, local farmers, and looked after by Norfolk Windmills Trust. Restoration by Richard Seago began in the early 1980s. Some new metal castings were needed (from Thurton Foundry), and wood work, including anew cap, has been renewed. If money can eventually be found, new sails will be made.

Norfolk Industrial Archaelogy Society newsletter - November 2013

O. S. Map 1884
O. S. Map 1884
Runham Swim north above river; Runham Swim south below river
Courtesy of NLS map images

1805: Original mill working just to the east of the present site

July 1851: Commissioners for Drainage advertised for contractors to build new pump to replace earlier pump

c.1852: Thomas_Smithdale built new windpump designed by William_Thorold

1916: 16hp hot bulb paraffin engine installed as an auxiliary drive in times of low wind

c.1939: Mill ceased working after teeth came out of headwheel and repairs were refused by IDB

1940: Mill becoming derelict, cap and machinery in situ

c.1940: Internal scoopwheel sold for scrap

July 1973: Mill lying derelict with only lower boards of cap remaining

1979: Cap gone but stocks, brakewheel and fantail suports still in situ

1983: Mill restoration commenced by Norfolk Windmills Trust

1984: New cap installed

1987: Mill restoration nearing completion, although without sails

2014: Mill owned by local farming family, the Watts and maintained by Norfolk Windmills Trust

14th July 2013: Mill open to the public for the first time

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 47000998
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2014