Black mill

drainage pump
River Bure


Upton Black mill was so called because it was a black tarred Norfolk red brick tower drainage mill. The tower, which had less batter in the upper section was encircled with 5 iron bands. The Norfolk boat shaped cap with a petticoat had a gallery and held a fan stage. A date stone inscribed 1800 was set under a window facing the river.

A Ruston & Hornsby diesel engine was installed to replace a steam engine that had been used in time of low wind. The diesel engine remains in the engine shed..
The mill stood near a farmhouse and barns and by 1985 a modern drainage pump was working nearby.

Mill keeper's house c.1972 Mill keeper's house & mill c.1972
Mill keeper's house c.1972
Mill keeper's house & mill c.1972

I am originally from Bishops Stortford, and as a child we used to holiday in a cottage next to a windmill called Palmers Mill just outside a small village called Upton, near Acle. Back in those days it was a dirt road and we had no electricity or plumbing, so we had gas lamps and an old chemical toilet, the road was so bad in winter times that we had to get out and push the car out of the mud! I am enclosing two pictures of the mill and the mill keepers cottage that we used to stay in as children.
Barrie M. Plumb - 22nd November 2006


I have been doing a bit of research on the mill as we used to go there as a family in the late 1950s. It was a magical place for us with the accommodation at the mill and the river frontage for the motor boat which came with the holiday let. In those days we did not use the road access but brought everything by boat from Upton. The mill keepers house was still occupied and we obtained milk from the farmer there. I attach a photo taken in 1959 showing my mother, sister and two brothers (one only a few moths old at the time). You can also see the Silver Cross pram which came up river in the motor boat!
David Parker - 2nd May 2018

Between 1959 and 1963 I lived in Upton at the old schoolhouse, I used to spend all my time out on the marshes with the Marshman and his Wife. The Marshman taught me a lot about the Marshes and how to use a scythe, which I then used the skill cutting thistles on Upton Marshes, which I got paid 2/6pence for an acre of thistles cut.
He and his Wife tried to adopt me several times, but my Grand mother would not allow it to happen.
I was shown how to start the diesel engine for the water pump using an air compressor powered with a small petrol engine. My problem is, I can’t remember the names of the Marshman and his wife.

Bob ? - 1st May 2022

c.1972 May 1973
May 1973


14th July 1987
14th July 1987

O. S. Map 1884
O. S. Map 1884
Courtesy of NLS map images

1800: Mill built

c.1972: Cap and windshaft with canister still in situ. Fanstage also intact but without the fan

c.1972: Mill house used for holiday accommodation

c.1982: New fanstage installed

July 1985: Recorded that the mill had been converted into accommodation

1987: Cap and windshaft with canister still in situ. Fanstage also intact but without the fan

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

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006