The History of Bunbury Mill  

Historically there were a number of water mills along the Gowy Valley, reflecting the rich agricultural heritage of the area. Records show that there has possibly been a mill at Bunbury since the 11th century. The present building dates from 1844, when a previous building, ravaged by fire in the late 1830's, was extensively rebuilt and much of the equipment survives from that date. In the latter years, the main product was animal feed, produced from materials grown on the local farms.


The loading ramp which enters directly on to the top floor of the mill bears witness to the deliveries of grain that were brought by horse and cart. After the opening of the Chester Canal, in the late eighteenth century, much of the grain would arrive by canal, most of it coming via Liverpool. A section of the Act permitting the building of the canal included a clause protecting the water supply to the mill.

This is a picture of the mill taken in 1940 from an up-stairs window of the Mill House. You can clearly see the buildings at the rear of the mill that housed the boiler and steam engine used to drive the mill when the water levels were low. Behind the chimney is the roof of the sables lean-to. 

An early picture-postcard shows a lean-to outbuilding with a sloped roof and the boiler's smoke chimney. The extension was stabling with a loft for feed but is no longer there. However, its 'shadow' of white-wash paint can still be seen on the outside mill wall, as can that of the engine and boiler house at the rear. The Mill House can be seen to the left behind the mill.


Note the swans, no longer to be seen at the mill pond - but we do have plenty of ducks! 

This is another early photograph of the mill, probably also taken in about 1940. The mill pond was obviously much larger than it is now and used to cover the whole area between where the visitor centre and car park now stand.

Mill Timeline


1087 - First possible ‘reference’ to a mill at Bunbury (William I).


1290 - Oldest ‘definite reference’ to a mill on the site (Edward I).  Almost certainly a timber building.


1605 - Elizabeth Rawlinson “was slayne with a piece of mil-stone as she was grinding at the mill” - Parish burial record (James I).


1775 - Mill shown on map (George III).


1782 - Mill let by Sir Roger Mostyn and Joseph Delves for three lifetimes at rental of £1-18s-6d.

1837 - 1839 - Mill ravaged by fire and abandoned. Charred remains were found during the 1976-77 restoration.

1839 - ‘Records’ show rent of 7s 6d for mill house, pond and meadow - but no mill.


1840 - Tithe map shows mill pool and house - but no mill.


1844 - Mill rebuilt, and working by November,  using foundations of old building.


1857 - ‘Commercial records' indicate presence of mill.


1890 - Mill owned by Peckforton Estate.


1900’s - Mill used increasingly for animal feed.


1947 - (July) - Sketch by W Lovekin shows additional buildings and chimney adjacent to the wheel chamber.


1960 - (August) - summer storm flood breached the dam - mill seriously affected and abandoned.


1966 - Site bought by Nantwich RDC to build sewage treatment works in adjoining field and then passed to NWWA.

1976-77 - North West Water Authority restored Mill under a job creation scheme - see plaque on middle floor.


1977 - Mill reopened to public on 10th September by NWWA (later United Utilities) - Article in Bunbury Journal.


1999 - Education centre opened 3rd June by United Utilities Chairman.


2010 - United Utilities terminated educational work due to regulatory changes - mill offered for sale.


2012 (March) - Mill acquired by newly formed Bunbury Watermill Trust and re-opened to public.



Some of the many Owners & Millers at Bunbury


1605 - Bunbury Parish burial record - Elizabeth Rawlinson

1874 - Morris & Co's Directory - John Lovekin, miller & farmer.


1881 - census - John Lovekin.


1891 - census - John Lovekin - Moved to family farm, granddaughter Mary Large still in Bunbury


1892 - Kelly’s Directory - No miller listed but “Thomas Parker builder”. Lovekin not listed.


1901 - census [Mill House] - Thomas Parker (aged 65) and son William Parker (40)


1911 - census - William Parker (50).  Also listed son Thomas "Tom" Parker (4)


1914 - Kelly’s Directory - No miller listed, but “Thomas Parker builder”[and John Lovekin farmer]


1939 - Kelly’s Directory - Thomas Parker & Sons, millers (water).


1920s/30s - "Tom" Parker ran the mill up to its post-storm abandonment in 1960.


1977-2010 - Dennis Buchanan managed mill for NWWA and later UU.


2012 - to the present. - Bunbury Watermill Trust.