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Lemsford Mill

Lemsford Mill is recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and is known to have milled flour since the 12th century. _ To view Lemsford Mill Gallery Click Here

The Mill – Lemsford Mill is probably one of four mills on the River Lea at Hatfield recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and is known to have milled flour since the 12th century. By the 19th century the miller was a tenant of the Brocket Hall Estate when the Lords Melbourne and Palmerston, two of Queen Victoria’s Prime Ministers, were landlords. . CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Handwritten notes prepared for an article in the Lemsford News

Owned in the 12th Century by the Fitzsimon family of Simonshyde. From then until the 19th century its history is obscure, though the village was referred as Lemsford Mills from the 17th century. For many years it remained in the ownership of the Brocket Estate and amongst its 18th century and 19th century lessees were George Garrett (who also worked Welwyn and Codicote Mills), Thomas Crane and the Hill family (farmers), of which Alfred Hill was the last and died in 1925.

Albert Hill (1858-1940)

Born in Aylesbury in 1858, Albert Hill came to live at Lemsford Mill at the age of eighteen, combining the pursuits of miller and farmer for many years. He was a founder member of the Herts. Agricultural Society, upon its reconstitution in 1880, and held the office of Hon Secretary for its first two years. During this time he accomplished "a considerable amount of useful work" for the embryo Society and he was then elected as a member of the Society Committee in 1882. While resident in Lemsford, Albert Hill participated in most of the activities of the village and was a churchwarden for some years. He retired when the Mill was taken over by the Sheriff family in 1907 and took up residence in Hatfield Road, St Albans, where he had a close association with the Abbey. Albert Hill married Emma Mary White, a farmer's daughter, in 1885. He died in London on 8 May 1940, aged eighty two, following an operation and is buried in St Alban's Cemetery.

The ancient wooden clad mill collapsed in the mid-1800s

The ancient wooden clad mill collapsed in the mid-1800s but was quickly rebuilt in 1863. Its reconstruction is commemorated by a plaque depicting a lion holding a star set in the yellow brickwork on the back of the mill. It is reputed that upon seeing a beautiful young maiden on the village bridge, J.P. Skelly wrote the music hall song ‘Nellie Dean’ whilst visiting The Mill. Milling continued over eight centuries right up until 1913 when Lemsford Mill became a private residence and later on an engineering works. In 2004 it was purchased by Ramblers Holidays Ltd and converted to offices.

The present Mill was built in 1863

The present Mill was built in 1863 according to its stone plaque above the river at the rear. From 'The History of Lemsford paper by W.C. Horn it reads - " ...and lastly the old mill, which could not stand the strain that was being put on it by its young and energetic occupier and collapsed into the river, with the result one man had his leg and another his arm broken. The present mill was soon erected and did a big business for forty years, until the steel roller mills put the stone ones out of action."

The mill business was a major one in the mid 1800s, so I would not expect there would be any major delay in rebuilding the mill. So 4 years before the building of the new mill, I think we can safely say that in 1859 the mill would have looked like the old timber one painted by Robert Laurie. We know this was damaged in the flood of 1795 but I expect any repairs to it would have not changed its appearance drastically.

The Waterwheel

Tradition has it that in the early 1900s the waterwheel was adapted to generate electricity for The Mill House, making it one of the earliest houses in the area to have electric power. If so, this was a precursor to an innovative development in 2005 when, as part of the refurbishment of The Mill, Ramblers Holidays installed a new waterwheel to generate electricity by hydropower. The breast-shot wheel is the first of its kind to generate electricity in Britain. On average over half of their daily office usage is generated and any excess in the evenings and at weekends goes into the National Grid.

The Brestshot Water Wheel

As part of the major refurbishment and co!tversion of their new headquarters at Lemsford Mill, Ramblers Holidays have installed a new waterwheel to generate electricity. Historically the Mill would have had a wheel as it previously operated as a corn mill. Flour was milled up to 1911 and apparently the wheel was then adapted to generate some electricity, making the Mill House one of the earliest houses in the area to have electricity. The old wooden wheel was subsequently removed and the building stood with an empty wheel-pit for many years.

Investigations commenced in 2004 and after much research it was established that a metal wheel with shaped wooden paddles would be the best option to make the project economically viable and provide a visible showpiece for the Mill interior. Such wheels are not manufactured in Britain so a German company, HydroWatt, was commissioned to build the wheel and supply the necessary gearing and electrical equipment. An energy generator, even a small-scale one, is able to sell what renewable energy it generates to electricity supply companies, so the plan is to provide sufficient electricity for Ramblers Holidays' needs with the remainder going into the Grid. This particular breastshot wheel design is the first of its kind to generate electricity in Britain. After much preparation by the builders, the wheel arrived on 12th August 2005 and after two weeks of meticulous assembly it turned and was successfully tested for the first time on 25th August 2005.

From Tony Lock & Kathy Cook re Ramblers Holidays move to the Mill - 2006 was a special year for Ramblers Holidays in two ways. , Read More

Firstly, we're very proud of an organisation which has been in existence for 60 years and which, through the operation of our walking holidays, has given so much pleasure to countless thousands of holidaymakers over the years. We're working hard to maintain standards of excellence so we can celebrate many more years of providing such holiday experiences. Secondly, our anniversary year has seen us move offices into the wonderful location of Lemsford Mill and the village in which it stands.

Our holidays started in the early post-war years when travel was still something of an adventure and many of our friends from those early years can recall hair-raising experiences! The travel business has endured many ups and downs since those days but we're delighted that our company has been growing successfully for many years now. During our 60 years the company has had several homes. Based originally in London, we moved to Welwyn Garden City in the early 1970s and now to Lemsford where we hope to reside for many a long year in such a strong and welcoming community. We would like to thank so many people who have contributed so much to the success of our organisation over the years and our recent move to Lemsford. They are too numerous to mention here but our gratitude is heartfelt. We're delighted that you've been able to join with us and participate in our celebrations today and trust that you've had a memorable experience. We would like to thank you for your interest Read More