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At The House Mill

April 16, 2018
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. 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


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

8 Responses leave one →
  1. April 16, 2018

    Fascinating! Thank you for the look inside – especially as I would never climb the ladders!

  2. The old lamplighter (from the North East of England ) permalink
    April 16, 2018

    What a fascinating building. Let’s hope it is never pulled down and over the years to come looked after and kept open to the public. Once again Gentle Author a blog that’s is top class.

  3. April 16, 2018

    What a place to explore! So glad to have these wonderful photographs as evidence of the former
    life of this magnificent structure. The inscribed beams made my heart do a somersault.
    Many thanks, GA.

  4. Helen Breen permalink
    April 16, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, intriguing piece of restoration by William Hill to Daniel Bisson’s House Mill. Interesting about the “recycled ship’s timbers” with the clearly marked Roman numerals. How old could this wood be?

    Kudos to all who undertook this historic work.

  5. April Wood Ashton permalink
    April 16, 2018

    How wonderful that through your website we are made aware of the history of this fascinating site – thank you

  6. Bill Martin permalink
    April 16, 2018

    This was one of the high points of our annual visit to London last year from home in NYC.

  7. April 16, 2018

    This remains one of THE BEST blogs in the blogging world. I save every one of them. How I regret not being able to come and take the two days offering on writing a blog. I write two of them and have learned a great deal following this one. Congratulations once again on the presentation of your material, the photography and the clarity of reading the information.

  8. April 18, 2018

    Thank you for this. Three Mill Island has held a strange fascination for me, although I’ve never visited. Your photos capture both that spirit and the underlying grit of this old working place.

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