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At The House Mill

May 29, 2015
by the gentle author

The House Mill of 1776 at Bromley by Bow is the largest tidal mill in the world and the only remaining mill at Three Mill Island on the River Lea, an artificial island created in ancient times – like Venice – by driving thousands of wooden stakes into the mud, for the purpose of harnessing the powerful tidal surge of the Thames. Daniel Bisson, a Huguenot, built the House Mill for grinding grain to bake bread and the manufacture of gin to supply London, and it functioned here until the end of World War II, before falling into disrepair.

Twenty-five years ago, William Hill saw the derelict mill from the train and came to explore. He became one of a group of committed volunteers who have been responsible for overseeing the magnificent restoration programme of recent years, and it was he who showed me round this week. We spent a couple of hours, climbing up and down ladders, and exploring every corner of the huge old mill, including those parts not open to visitors – enabling me to create this photographic record.

Initials of Daniel Bisson, builder of the mill, and his wife Sarah

View down the River Lea

Some of the beams at House Mill are one hundred foot long and may be recycled ships’ timbers

Nineteenth century wooden patterns for casting the machinery of the mill

Stretcher frames from World War I

Hopper where the grain was channelled down to the mill stones

The oasthouses and the clock mill

The Miller’s staircase

Millstones

Pegs where the millers hung their coats

Mill worker in the nineteen thirties

The same spot today

Iron frames for the nineteenth century mill wheels

The Clockmill

Visit The House Mill, Three Mill Lane, Bromley by Bow, London E3 3DU

Volunteers are always required to act as stewards, guides and to run the cafe at the House Mill. If you would like to help, please contact info@housemill.org.uk

26 Responses leave one →
  1. May 29, 2015

    Lovely building.

  2. John Montague permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Wonderful and amazing survivor!!
    Great work by those who saved it from ruin.
    John

  3. Edie permalink
    May 29, 2015

    thank you so much GA. I discovered these wonderful buildings 2 years ago, but couldnt get inside and so these pictures are fabulous.

  4. Robert Green permalink
    May 29, 2015

    As a young Idiot I once fell down a flight of stairs whilst exploring this building when it was still derelict over 40 years ago, fortunately I never did any real damage to myself as I was lucky enough to land on my HEAD ! ! I think I’m right in saying that Tesco made a considerable contribution to the restoration of this area, I used to like walking around this building and along the toe path but unfortunately a lot of parts particularly the path that leads along the river have been rendered off limits to the public in recent years for some reason ? as the three mills name suggests this general area was well known for flour mills right up until the 1960s when the nearby huge Sun flour mill exploded one day and killed a number of people, my sister had a friend who was working there on the day of the explosion, as one would expect given its previous state of decay it took a long time to restore this building to its current condition I remember for many years nothing seemed to be happening but It was well worth the effort by all those concerned with its restoration as it has now once again become the focal point for what is now a very pleasant location.

  5. May 29, 2015

    I remember this place when it as very dilapidated, and am really happy to see it so beautifully restored. Well done to all who saved it and are keeping it alive! Valerie

  6. Alison permalink
    May 29, 2015

    We visited this interesting Mill in 2013 – my 6th and 5th great-grandfathers, both named William Jellico, were distillers here in the 1700s.

    Alison :) Sydney Australia 29 May 2015

  7. joan permalink
    May 29, 2015

    An extra reason for visiting the House Mill at the moment is the Bill Viola ‘Transfigurations’ video installation that is on there as part of The Line sculpture project. We went at the weekend (while walking the line) and, not knowing his work, were genuinely surprised at just how stunning it was.

    Three years ago my eldest son took part in a project called Orchitecture at the Mill with the New London Orchestra. Young musicians from Newham and the NLO played Beethoven’s Eroica symphony in the mill with musicians placed around the building and conducted via a video feed. It was wonderfully atmospheric.

    Best wishes,

    Joan

  8. Annie permalink
    May 29, 2015

    What a brilliant place. I never knew it existed.

  9. Liz Philipson permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Visited the mill from our narrowboat when St Pancras Cruising Club has visited on masse. It is really worth a visit. It is a fabulous building.

  10. May 29, 2015

    For years I commuted within 500m of it on my way to Plaistow and never knew it was there! A bit far away for me now.

  11. Carol permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Wonderful! So pleased that it was saved.

  12. Ros permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Superb photographic records of a beautifully restored early industrial building. Should be used to show what can be achieved – authorities please take note. It’s pride that can be restored as well as fabric.

  13. May 29, 2015

    Writing from the House Mill itself, and absolutely delighted to see this article, and to read all your positive comments. Thank you!! We are a small registered charity; River Lea Tidal Mill Trust, and we own and run the buildings, entirely by volunteers. We open for public guided tours on Sundays and at any other time by pre-booking. So if you are in the area, do please visit. Also please visit our Facebook page where all special Events will be listed.
    Huge thank you to Gentle Author!

  14. May 29, 2015

    Truly amazing!

  15. May 29, 2015

    That’s an amazing building with lots of fantastic details. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Jill permalink
    May 29, 2015

    W hat a wonderful set of behind the scenes photos. I’m impressed by the wooden patterns for the machine casting…to think that they have survived!

  17. Peter Holford permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Great building – another one on the list of ‘must visits’.

  18. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Congratulations to all those involved in saving and restoring this lovely building, it just shows what can be done. No doubt my great grandfather and his sons would have known the mill well as they lived right beside the river Lea, and I am sure that they would be very impressed with the photos, I certainly am. Thank you.

    Pauline.

  19. Rod permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Another brilliant find , keep it up and thank you

  20. Schwartz permalink
    May 29, 2015

    Magnifique! Thank you Gentle Author for this great discovery.
    A Beautiful building, nice feeling of English ancient times… Caroline

  21. Greg Tingey permalink
    May 30, 2015

    I remember this from it’s semi-derelict days.
    Magnificent to see it restored.
    It is, of course, right next to the film studios that have now been established next door.

  22. Nina Archer permalink
    May 30, 2015

    …… wonderful photographs – thank you for showing me / us all these interesting places every day …..

  23. Susan Hoyle permalink
    June 1, 2015

    We used to walk and cycle around here years ago: how good to see it restored so well! The photographs are, as usual, very fine. Thank you.

  24. June 16, 2015

    House Mill is next to the film studios, but quite separate from them, and run by an independent charitable trust. The cluster of heritage buildings (House Mill, Clock Mill, Custom House) form a large part of the Conservation area, and each is a building listed with English Heritage. Even the cobbles and setts making up Three Mill Lane are listed. Very lucky to have so much remaining here, and we have been delighted to see so many of Gentle Author’s readers here over the last few weeks. Please keep coming! Thank you again for featuring House Mill in such a special way

  25. Ann Rayner permalink
    September 25, 2016

    I lived in Newmill House Bromley -By-Bow right on the Norghern Approach Road to the Blackwell Tunnel. In August 1965 the Sun Mill exploded blowing out the glass windows in the flat showering my cot with glass, my mother will never forget that day she thought the Germans were bombing London again, I have no recollection of this event as I was only 8 months old , would be nice to visit a refurbished Mill. Seems like it’s been a worthwhile project.

  26. Rev Molly Langridge permalink
    October 15, 2017

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures>I can imagine my great Grandfathers William Jellico working there.

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