The Mill Story – Part 13

New Lord of the Manor

During much of the 18th century, Sir John Bright’s descendants continued as Lords of the Manor. In 1752, Mary Bright, daughter of Thomas Bright of Badsworth and Margaret, heiress of the Brights, married the Marquis of Rockingham, Charles Watson-Wentworth (1730–1782). After her mother’s death in 1775, she was Lord of the Manor of Ecclesall and owner of extensive estates. On the decease of her husband the Marquis, this manor formed a very small part of the estates which became merged in the Wentworth estate, descending to his nephew Earl William Wentworth Fitzwilliam in 1782. (This can be followed in the other half of the Bright genealogy from two months ago, which is shown below). The 18th century Bright family was quite large and other prominent members in Ecclesall Bierlow were the Brights of Whirlow Hall, of Banner Cross Ecclesall and of Greystones; they are more fully treated in Joseph Hunter’s ‘Hallamshire’ pages 205 to 208 and Mary Walton’s ‘History of the Parish of Sharrow’

The Clarke family had rented the mill for over a century, so, when they finally retired in 1823, the Duke’s agent would have been faced with problems. The mill had probably had little but routine maintenance since John Bright’s works in 1680, worse, however, was that corn was being increasingly imported from Eastern Europe and America, changing the way corn and flour was marketed. To stay in the market, he reacted strongly making alterations to the mill and its equipment by installing millstones made from French burr stone, which produced a finer flour and installing a steam engine to make the mill independent of what would have been a variable water supply.

It is interesting to note that our two nearest surviving corn mills also underwent change at about this time. In 1852, Stainsby Mill near Hardwick Hall, being small and with only two stones and a good flow of water powering a large 15 foot diameter wheel, , was purely refurbished. By contrast, Cordwell, Mill in Rowsley was rebuilt in 1874; being able, at that date, to avail itself of the latest technology, converting from stone grinding to roller milling powered by a water turbine, while Millhouse’s innovations of fifty years before were confined to a steam engine and the imported stones, keeping the wheel just in case.

What, then, were our mill’s alterations and how had the market changed?


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