Worcester Blade Mill and Waterworks

  • 17 Jan 2012
  • Archaeology
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At Worcester there was for centuries a small channel from the Severn, about 100 yards long, formed by an island or ait, just below the old bridge. The channel was known as the 'Little Severn', and it served the purpose of a leat to an ancient mill which stood on the east bank, or town side, of the channel. The Severn itself is a powerful river, greatly violent at flood time, and no mill would have survived directly on the Severn, but in the channel the qater could be controlled and cushioned by means of a dam or gates. The island and the mill, which was also the City waterworks, was removed at the building of the new bridge by John Gwynn in 1781.

By the mid-17th century, a waterwheel on the site supplied water to the city cistern. Thomas Baskerville, who visited Worcester in 1673, was greatly taken with it and wrote: 'that which is most remarkable as touching ingenuity on the shore of the town side is a waterworks which the stream of the river, without the help of horses, having a wheel which gives motion to suckers and forcers, it pumps the water so high into a leaden cistern, that it serves any part of the city'.

In 1689, the works were up for sale, and well described:

'Worcester Mill and Waterworks. the waterworks of the City of Worcester are to be Lett or Sold on moderate Terms. Holden under the Corporation of the said City, for the Remainder of a term of Five Hundred Years, commencing on the 28th February 1689, at a chief rent of Forty Shillings a Year, and a Couple of Capons. With a good Dwelling House, Garden and a large Out-building adjoining thereto, containing three Lofts and a good new Room  backward, wherein a Snuff-mill lately stood. Together with a good Corn-mill and a Blade-mill all entirely new, and may be converted to various other beneficial and advantageous Uses required in a Water-wheel. The works are conveniently situated on the River Severn for any Branch of Business that requires Land or Water Carriage'.

An 18th century sale bill reprinted in Berrow's Worcester Journal 2 November, 1926, gave further details: 'Two good streams of water and wheels which have for many years supplied the City with water. The wheel is 56 feeyt high and 16 feet wide'.