Monument record MCC9003 - Cannock Mill


Mid C19 weatherboarded mill building, with mill pond to west.


Grid reference Centred TM 0109 2379 (132m by 91m) (FCE)
Map sheet TM02SW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Water mill, weatherboarded, three storeys with brick ground floor, slate roof. Hoist loft. To the east is an old tiled outbuilding. No machinery. Restored. <1>-<4> Picturesque, weatherboarded, rebuilt in 1835. <5>

A Cannock mill is recorded in the will of Sir Thomas Lucas dated 1611 and in a later estate surveyors report of 1797-8 which along with its sister mill, Bourne mill, records: ‘The mill is for the sole purpose of fulling baize, flannel etc, the demand for which is at present very small…..if trade should continue bad, it may be of advantage to the Estate to put a pair of low millstones to grind corn’. The same observation was made about Cannock Mill, which presumably also fulled baize from the C17. A valuation of the De Grey Estate in 1809 included both Bourne and Cannock Mills. It records that Cannock mill had a good dwelling house with a fulling mill, a small flour mill adjoining and a bank ideal for drying baize (woollen cloth). It also reports that part of the original fulling mill had been converted for corn milling and both were fully employed serving the garrison. The fulling mill was bankrupt under Henry Dunnage and Sons by 1819 although was back in business milling corn five years later as survey of 1824 notes that Cannock mill is ‘now entirely a flour mill, the fulling trade having ceased’. The present mill dates to 1845 and according to Whites Trade Directory was run Henry Digby, corn miller by 1848. Built with a timber frame and clad using traditional weatherboarding the mill had an external overshot wheel fed by three pipes from an embanked mill pond to the rear. Cannock and Bourne mills were worked by Arthur Pulford (water and steam, corn merchant) from 1880 and continued under Ernest Pulford until just after the end of the second World War. Latterly the mill became a store for Cramphorns but by the early 1960s, was so dilapidated that the wheel was removed. At this point all of the internal machinery fixtures and fittings were removed and the mill was re-used to house Dolphin Aquatics in c.1988.

In 2015, planning consent was given (by Colchester Borough Council planning application 150492) for residential development on the site, including residential conversion of the mill house. An archaeological desk-based assessment was compiled for the site in 2015.<6> This was followed by a trial-trenched evaluation in 2016.<7>

Cannock Mill is sited downstream from Bourne Mill (EHER 31074) to the west of the Hythe and along Old Heath Road. It was once situated along a quiet tributary of the River Colne, but due to urban expansion in the area of Old Heath the mill has now been absorbed into a modern suburb. The mill is built parallel to and on the southern side Old Heath Road and is aligned NW-SE across the SW end of the mill pond, that adjoins to the rear. The mill pond was banked up to a height sufficient to feed an external overshot wheel formerly situated on the SE end wall. The mill tail is culverted below Old Heath Road to the east and drains into another mill pond (distillery pond) downstream to the east. A by pass channel skirts around the mill and the mill pond to the north before rejoining the watercourse toward its junction with Old Heath Road. Due to the insufficient volumes of water passing along this tributary of the Colne, all three of its mills, Bourne, Cannock and Distillery or Hulls mill were provided with large mill ponds to store up adequate levels of head water. The final mill, Distillery Mill on Distillery Pond was demolished in 1896, but the sluice gate and wheel pit remain intact to control water levels in its mill pond and the drainage of the mill ponds upstream. Water from Distillery Pond was and still is culverted for a significant distance, passing below Haven Road (and now the Industrial estate), before its eventual outfall on King Edward Quay.

Cannock Mill is a mid C19, narrow five bay 3½ storey timber-framed, weatherboarded mill with a brick built ground floor storey. It has a slate covered gabled ended roof with gables to the NW and SE and a central gabled lucam on straight braces to the roadside front. A two storey timber-framed lean to extension abuts its NW end elevation. The window and door apertures are symmetrically arranged with a central front door, taking in door and lucam above, each flanked by a single window either side. The window openings in the brickwork of the ground floor have segmental arches while those of the timber framed upper floors are flat headed. Apart from the smaller windows in the lucam and gable ends, the windows comprise 4x4 light top hung sashes, replicating original fenestration. Original halved vertically boarded doors remain in the ground floor opening and the first floor loading door. A simple loading gantry projects out from the door threshold of first floor loading door. Internally no technology, fixtures or fittings associated with its former milling use remains, although the softwood timber frame remains exposed and intact. Former C19 single storey outbuildings to the mill, now in use as a day nursery, lie immediately to the north of and enclosing the northern corner of the mill site while a later C19 mill house, Cannock Mill House, is situated to the south.

Present Use: Commercial
Condition: Good
Former fulling and later corn mill that has historic associations with the Lucas family and group value with its sister mill, the Grade I Bourne Mill sited further upstream. The mill has been extensively altered internally and now lacks significant technologies, fixtures and fittings. It has, however, not been adversely affected by unsympathetic accretions and continues to make a positive contribution toward the historic/architectural character of the area and the homogenous value of the mills, earthworks and mill ponds along this tributary of the Colne.<8>

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Couchman, C. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> Map: Tithe. 1837. Tithe map. St Botolphs.
  • <3> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Booker, John. 1969-1974. Record card for Industrial sites. Record cards on Industrial Archaeology.
  • <4> Photograph: unknown. 1974. TM02-139. 2 frames.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: Department of the Environment. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Colchester Borough. p109.
  • <6> Desk-based Assessment: Slater, Mary-Anne. 2015. Cannock Mill, Old Heath Road, Essex CO2 8AA: An Historic Environment Desk-Based Assessment.
  • <7> Evaluation Report: Pooley, L.. 2016. Archaeological evaluation at Cannock Mill, Old Heath Road, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8AA. CAT Report 917.
  • <8> DESC TEXT: Garwood, Adam. 2008. Water and Steam Mills in Essex- Comparative Survey of Modern and Industrial Sites and Monuments No.18.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Apr 7 2016 11:40AM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.