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 been a mill at Bunbury since the 11th century. It is believed that the present building dates from circa 1850 when Thomas Parker began milling flour.


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.


The mill was extensively rebuilt in the mid nineteenth century 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.

This is a picture of the mill taken in 1940, probably from the Mill House. You can clearly see the buildings at the rear of the mill that probably housed the stables and the steam engine used to drive the mill when the water levels were low.

An early picture shows an outbuilding with a sloped roof and very large chimney. This may have been the grain drying area. The extension is no longer there and may have been the victim of a fire, the fate of many historic mills.

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 area where the visitor centre and car park now stand.

Mill Timeline


1087 - First ‘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 Rowlinson “slayne with a piece of millstone whilst milling” (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.


1839 - ‘Records’ show rent of 7s 6d for mill house pond and meadow (mill??)


1840 - Tithe map shows mill pool, but no mill.


1840s?  Fire destroyed mill.  Charred remains were found during the 1975-77 restoration.


1850 - Mill in production - present building.


1857 - ‘Commercial records’ show 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, said by Carpenter to have        been stables and an engine shed.


1960 (December) - Flood breached the dam, mill seriously damaged and abandoned.


1966 - Site bought by Nantwich RDC then passed to NWWA.


1967-68 - Foot & Mouth outbreak - 6 cattle slaughtered.


1975-77 - Mill restored under a job creation scheme - see plaque on middle floor.


1977 - Mill reopened to public by NW Water (later United Utilities). Article in Bunbury Journal.


1999 - Education centre opened.


2010 - United Utilities terminated educational work, mill offered for sale.


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



Millers at Bunbury


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 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 - Thomas Parker, ran the mill up to its closure in c1960.


1977-2010 - Dennis Buchanan managed mill for NWWA/UU.


2012 - to the present. Bunbury Watermill Trust.