Holme Mill, south east view

River Skerne and Mills of Great Aycliffe

copyright Vivien Ellis

Ricknall Mill
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Few mills remain today on the Great Aycliffe stretch of the River Skerne, from Preston le Skerne to Coatham Mundeville. Thanks must be given to Mr Armstrong, Mr Brown and Mr Barnfather for allowing me to photograph their mills, and to Mrs Ida Hadrick for her information.

The range of mills covers corn, paper, wood, fulling, bleaching and thread. This is an attempt to trace the history of these mills in Great Aycliffe.


The earliest named inhabitant is in the Boldon Book of 1183: Thomas of Aycley who holds Wyteworth (Whitworth).


Louisa Wilson, in her "Annals of Aycliffe" 1927, p. 304, states that Alexander de Whitworth, heir of Thomas, died in 1333. He had been a tenant of the ancient Hall in Acley, and had the right to grind his own corn in Acley Mill, rendering 20 Vas of corn, and his tenants 13 Vas. On p. 306, she also quotes the terms on which Woodham was held in 1392. The heirs of Thomas de Wodom, Thomas de Whitworth, John de Whitworth, and Alicia de Whitworth, hold free of the Prior of Durham the whole vill of Wodom by knight's service, and fortnightly suit at the Prior's court at Durham, grind their meal at Aycley Mill, and give aids and the service of one man at harvest at the Prior's Manor of Acle and pay rent of 10s per annum.


The earliest millers appear in the Halmota Prioratus Dunelmensis 1296-1393. In 1296 William, the miller (molendarius) paid 2s annuallly for 10 years for the oven of Aycley. In 1358 mention is made of millers:AKLEY: It was presented through the mill leaseholders that being tenants as freely as others they pastured their draught animals in a certain place called the milndam which the leaseholders themselves declare belongs to them and is separate from the Lord. So these same leaseholders were ordered to distrain the free tenants that werepasturing it(there?)And also it was ordered that the other tenants should not pasture under penalty of 13s. 4d.

per firmarios molendini quod tam libere tenentes quam alii depascunt per averia sua quondam locum qui vocatur le milndam. Ideo praeceptum eisdem firmariis quod distr' liberos tenentes illam depascentes. Et eciam injunctum est aliis tenentibus quod non depascant sub poena 13s. 4d.


In 1364 William Warand, heir of Nicholas of Ketton milled at the mill of the Lord of Ayclyf. The following year 3 men, William Usscher, Thomas Perkynson and William Hibbus, took over the mill at Aycley:The discharge of the mill of ACLEY. William Usscher, Thomas Perkynson and William Hibbus (Hibbi) took the mill of Acley from the festival St. Martin A. D. etc 65 (1365) till the end of 3 years.They are to pay annually 8 pounds

Dimmissio molend' Willelmus Usscher, Thomas Perkynson et Willelmus Hibbi ceperunt molend' de Acley a festo S. Mart. A,D. etc. Lxy usque ad terminum trium annorum - - redd. inde annuatim 8 li.


Three years later a different 3 men, Tho. de Preston, Nicholas de Bewyk and Henry Milner of Skolacleff, took over the mill after a concern about the corn and fulling mills:

The jury was ordered to see to how much the corn mill and the fulling mill had deteriorated. There was a discourse between Thomas Wright of Preston, mill leaseholder and the mill leaseholders of the Lord namely Robert Carles, William Ussher and Thomas Perkynson, about whichever of them holds 1 home and mills without payment for grinding such of the Lord when they themselves all ought to mill, with respect to 1 leaseholder used to mill, it was placed in respect until the next. (Tho. de Preston, Nicholas de Bewyk and Henry Milner of Skolacleff take the mill of Acley for three years at pound 9.)

Injunctum est juratoribus quod videant molendinum blad' et molendinum fullaticum in quantum deteriorantur. - Loquela quae est inter Thomam Wryght de Preston firmarium molendini et firmarios dominicorum viz. Robertum CarIes, Willelmum Ussher et Thomam Perkynson, de eo quod quilibet eorum tenet unam domum et molit absque multura tam dominicorum ubi ipsi omnes deberet molere, prout unus firmarius molere solebat, ponitur in respectu usque prox. (Tho. de Preston, Nicholas de Bewyk and Henry Milner of Skolacleff take the mill of Acley for three years at pound9.)


In 1370 there was some concern about a theft at the mill. The miller was Peter Snart, and a William Pouer knew about the opening of the walls of the mill: About Peter Snart [or Suart] the miller for 1 sack and 1 bushel 1 p of corn at the price 2s 4d. In the default of Peter himself theft from the mill as had been ascertained through the jury, from which half will be relaxed by the fact that the walls (portae) of the aforesaid mill had been open, with the knowledge of William Pouer [not before mentioned in this entry] 6d.

De Petro Snart (or Suart) molendinario pro j sacc. et j bz j pt frumenti precii 2s. 4d. in deffectu ipsius Petri furatis de molend. prout compertum est per jur., unde medietas relaxabitur, eo quod parietes (portae) praedicti molendini fuerunt apertae, ipso Willelmo Pouer [not before mentioned in this entry] sciente 6d.


Eight years later, in 1378, it seems this same William Power moved into a cottage next to the mill, whose miller had recently been Gilbert Grubbe: William Power took 1 cottage with a garden next to the mill which Gilbert Grubbe held last.: He was to have and to hold to the end of his own life. To be paid to the exchequer of the Prior 2s. 6d. and he will maintain his homes and will give up in a sufficient state. And about the other homes the land-holder will do at his own will. Premium 12d.

WilIelmus Power cepit j cotagium cum gardino juxta molendinum quod Gilbertus Grubbe cepit j cotagium cum gardino juxta molendinum quod Gilbertus Grubbe ultimo tenuit: habend. et tenend. ad term. vitae suae: redd. scaccario domini Prioris 2s. 6d. et manutenebit suas domos et eas in sufficienti statu dimittet. Et de aliis domibus terrarius faciet voluntatem suam - - Gres'm'a 12d


In 1378 William Warrand is in court again to account for his diversion of a water course which used to run through the middle of the street to the river Skirn (1st mention of the Skerne found so far). This diversion had caused damage to John Fergouson's home - the diversion now went through it, and also seriously damaged the manor below:

ACLEY It was ordered to arrest William Warand to be present at the next free court to reply about the common water course which ought to run through the middle of the street (strati) as far as the Skirn and now it is turned away/diverted by the aforesaid William and now runs through the home of John Fermourson and below the manor at serious loss/damage.

ACLEY. Praeceptum est attach. Will. Warand. ad essendum ad prox. liberam cur ad respondend. de communi cursu aquae quae deberent [sic] currere per medium strati usque, et modo pervertitur per praed. Will., et currit modo per domum Joh. Fermourson et infra manerium ad grave dampnum.


In 1382 William Power comes to court again to take over the water mill at an annual cost of &6 13s 4d paid to the exchequer of the Lord Prior of Durham.

ACLEY. William Pouer came to court and took the water mill of Acley till the end of 3 years. To be paid annually to the exchequer of the Lord Prior of Durham £6 13s 4d. [with usual condition for upholding the mill and leaving in repair

ACLEY. Will. Pouer v. in cur. et c. molend. aquaticum de Acley - - usque ad term. iij an. - - redd. p. a. scac. dom. Prioris Dunelm. vj li. xiij s. iiij d. [with usual condition for upholding the mill and leaving in repair}


Louisa Wilson, in her "Annals of Aycliffe" of 1927, p.46, quotes an entry from the Marescalia, 1370-80, transcribed in the Durham Accounts Rolls, Vol. 99, about William Power:
Court of Marshalsea of the Lord Prior of Durham held at Acley on Wednesday next before the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist.
William Power is a brewer, he has a bushel measure, he is a farmer and miller; his bushel is not sealed, and is therefore forfeited. For this he is amerced (fined). He does not exhibit a gallon, quart, nor pottle measure, for this he is amerced; nor his mill-weights. John Teddi is surety for the fine and amerciament."
Louisa also quotes p.148 from the Feodarium in the Surtees Society Publication Vol. 58, pp59-63
"Item, the heirs of the said Gilbert (Randolf) and Robert (Randolf) and Nicholas (Randolf) hold of the Prior 1 messuage on Northland, between the Almoner's holding to the west, and Acley watermill on the east.......................the heirs of William Wedom (Wodom), William Power and John Power....hold 8 acres of those 40 acres formerly belonging to Robert son of Sabina, by knight's service and suit at Prior's free court at Durham three times a year and mow and make hay, and turn the Mill-stone so as to grind 13 measures, and render service and aids for the same amount of land as that entered in the books of Prior Thomas, and pay 16d in rent"
Louisa has also found a reference, p. 174, to the mill at Aycliffe in Bishop Hatfield's Survey of 1381: "C. Free Tenants.- The Prior of Durham pays rent of 12d per annum for the site of the mill of Acly"

In Volume 18 of The Surtees Society which has the Ecclesiae Dunelmensis, Liber Bursarii for 1530-1 on page 23 there is a reference to the mill pond at Aycliffe which cost 12 d per annum "Domino Episcopo pro fixione stagni molini in Acley per annum 12d."
Later, referring to 1531-2, there is evidence that Aycliffe was producing linen: "et in 9 ulnis hardynge de Johanne Gyels de Aykley ad 2d - 12d.....et de Willielmo Colson de Aykley 10 uln" - ulnis is from ulna - an ell - between 42 and 45 inches. Hardynge was a rough linen cloth.

About 1549 in the Appendix of the Halmota, are two millers: John Brasse, who had a water mill, paying £4,13s 4d per annum.
"pro molendino aquatico ibidem, per annum, 4 li. 13s. 4d"

Louisa Wilson, p. 243, has found a Richard Brasse, who was buried at Aycliffe December 22, 1567, as a tenant holding the Mill.
and Widow Harrison, who had a fulling mill, paying 40s per annum.
"pro molendino fullonico, per annum, 40s."

Of the fulling mill, Louisa Wilson gives the following interesting information on pp 151-2:
"Here (the fulling mill) no doubt the Prior's wool was cleansed before it was woven by the women of the vill, and made up into the habit of the Order. After the Reformation it was turned to purely industrial uses with "Wedow Harrison" as tenant, and continued to function under the name of the Walk Mill; for fuller's earth is known in Germany as "Walker-erde". In the last stage of its existence, Aycliffe Mill was maintained to provide work for the "poor of the parish".

Louisa quotes a section of the Aycliffe Churchwarden's Book, 1747, from which we find that on April 21, 1747, "a Purchase was made with Thomas Richardson of Preston -le-Schearn of a House and Walk-mill lying and being in the Township of Ayckliff, by the Minister, Churchwardens and Twenty-four then assembled for the Sum of Sixty Pounds."

The next mention of the Skerne and the responsibilites to maintain bridge by the communities is found in the Durham Quarter Roll Sessions 1471-1625. On July 8, 1618, there is a memo that Ralph Conyers, Knight, knows for certain about the ruinous state of Ketton Bridge, which is the responsibility of the parishioners of Haughton and Aycliffe. These parishioners would be fined £13 6s 8d at the next court on September 30 unless the bridge was repaired by then:

July 8 MEMO presented by Ralph Conyers, knt, of his certain knowledge that the public bridge over the Skerne called Ketton Bridge was ruinous and the responsibility of the parishioners of Haughton and Aycliffe with lands adjacent.
The fine was assessed at £13 6s 8d, to be levied unless the bridge was repaired before the general sessions to be held 30 Sept.

At the general sessions before George Frevile, Henry Anderson, William Bellasis, John Calverley, George Tonge, Ralph Conyers, knts, Clement Colmore, LL.D., Robert Cooper and William Carrs, esqs.
Durham Quarter Sessions Rolls 1471 - 1625

The next section tries to follow the mills on the River Skerne from the north at Preston le Skerne to the south at Coatham Mundeville.
Preston le Skerne
Ricknall Mill

Ricknall Mill at Preston le Skerne

River Skerne on left, Ricknall Mill race heading towards Ricknall Mill

Ricknall Mill

Ricknall Mill

Ricknall Mill, gable end

1700s gable end of Ricknall Mill

Mill race at Ricknall Mill looking back toards the bridge

Mill Race looking back towards the bridge in the first photograph

Shaft hole for the water wheel shaft

Shaft hole for the water wheel shaft



In 1364 in the Halmota Prioratus Dunelmensis, there is mention of a Hugh of Ricknall, who had custody of William Ibbus until he was 15 years old:

Pledged by Hugo of Riknall and William Ibbus (Ibbi).. And because the aforesaid William was not of full age, by licence of the court it was in the custody of the aforesaid Hugo until he was 15 years of age. Premium 4s.

Pleg. Hugone de Riknall et Willelmo Ibbi ... Et quia praedictus Willelmus non est ad plenam aetatem, ex licencia curiae est in custodia praedicti Hugonis quousque sit xv annorum. Gres'ma 4s.

Louisa Wilson, p. 184, shows the tenancy of Sir William Darcy of Rykenhall and Copelaw as "For three lives held of the Bishop, grounds called Coplaw with a water cornmill belongning. Y.V. B. W. £160"

In the Baptism Register for St. Andrew's Church, Aycliffe, there is the baptism of William Nelson, son of William of Ricknall Mill, on February 27, 1687.

William Taylor is the miller in 1749. He buried his son James February 20, 1749:James Taylor, Rickland Mill, Son of William Taylor,February 20, 1749

George Ware, of Rickland Mill, had his two sons, Thomas and James, baptized May 11, 1794.


The Burial Register provides us with the name of another miller, William Fogg. He died aged 67 and was buried June 6, 1817:

William Fogg, Rickland Mill, June 6, 1817, (born about 1750) buried by John Harrison, Curate of Heighington


The Walker family had along association with Rickland Mill. They were there from at least 1775 when John Walker of Ricknell Mill was buried July 1. Another John Walker's daughter Elizabeth was baptized July 24. His son Abraham was baptized 2 years later on November 11, 1787.
In the Burial Register for 1800 John Walker, Miller of Rickland Mill, died March 20 and was buried at Aycliffe March 22, age 51 years.

Abraham Walker died 1818, aged 36: Abraham Walker, Ricknall Mill, March 11, 1818,( born about 1782) buried byJ. H. Brown, Curate, page 15,
and baptized in 1818 is Ann Walker, daughter of Robert and Mary Walker: Ann Walker, May-25, 1818, daughter of Robert & Mary of Rickland Mill, Miller, buried by J. H. Brown, Curate.


Louisa Wilson, p. 184, also quotes a curious details mentioned by Surtees, writing in 1818: "Rickland House, the mill, (usually, but wrongly, called Bradbury Mill) and the Bat ( a small parcel of ground surrounded by the mill-raceand the Skerne), pay all rates to Heighington, except the Easter dues and the tithe of the Bat, which are paid to the Vicar of Aycliffe; these however also were formerly paid to Heighington. A trial at law was likely to have taken place concerning the tithe of the above, but Heighington gave way... All settlements made by service, occupation. belong to Heighington. The lands adjoining the mill pay all rates, tithes,. to the township of Woodham in the parish of Aycliffe. A new mill and house under one one continued roof were built last year (i.e. 1815), on the South side of the old mill and house, and about 20 yards from them." She also states that the occupants of this reconstructed house have for many years been Mr & Mrs Thomas Searle, a name known to the parish since 1440.

In 1821 William Metcalfe was a miller at Rickland mill: Robinson Metcalfe, Apr 27, 1821, son of William & Margaret of Rickland Mill, Miller, J.H.Brown, Curate.


Cuthbert Willis appears in the Parson and White "History, Directory and Gazetteer of the Counties of Durham and Northumberland" of 1828 as corn miller at Ricknall Mill and in Pigot &; Co.'s Directory of 1834 as miller at Great Aycliffe. In the 1841 census at Ricknall Mill there is still Cuthbert Willis, age 40, born in Co. Durham. His wife, Mary Gibson, age 35, from the parish of Haughton le Skerne in Co. Durham, married Cuthbert by Licence at St. Andrew's Church, Aycliffe April 26, 1827. In the 1841 his children are Mary, 11, Sarah, 9, John, 7, Robert 5 and Gibson 1.

Joseph Willis, March 16, 1828, Cuthbert, Aycliffe
Robert Willis, baptized January 26, 1836, Cuthbert & Mary of Ricknall, Miller, J. D. Eade
Cuthbert Willis, March 11, 1837, Cuthbert & Mary of Ricknall, Miller, J. D. Eade
Elizabeth Margaret Willis, August 3, 1838, Cuthbert & Mary of Ricknall, Miller, J. D. Eade

In the Burial Register for 1830 Mary Willis, age 1 year, was buried on August 29.

In January 1841 Cuthbert had signed a lease for the mill with Thomas Ord, Gentleman, from the Teasdale family of Preston Lodge.

Cuthbert was the churchwarden for Woodham from 1839 till 1855 (Valerie Brown, SALTIRE, pp.32.

In the 1847 Baptism Register Robert Ianson and his wife Sarah had their son Thomas baptized September 22. Robert was a waggoner at Ricknall Mill.


In 1855 the Baptism Register provides the name of a labourer at Ricknall Mill: Thomas Peckitt:

Mary Ann Peckitt, September 8, 1855, daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth, Ricknall Mill, Labourer, Wm. Eade, Curate.

William Bagley is miller by 1858, when he appears in the commercial section of Woodham of Kelly's Post Office Directory. His son Robert, age 20, married Mary Searle, age 18, of Hill House Farm, Aycliffe, February 16, 1859. His daughter Ann, age 19, married Robert Russell, a railway worker, of Aycliffe, July 19, 1864. William was buried at Aycliffe on October 30, 1869, age 54.


unnamed mills

In the Parson and White Diretory of 1828 for Great Aycliffe there are listed Nicholas and William Phillips, Paper manufacuters and Rt. Playfair, corn miller.
Below is a description from this directory, giving the various types of mill at Aycliffe:

Parsons and White Directory, 1828

Source: History. Directory and Gazetteer of the Counties of Durham and Northumberland, Parson and White, 1828


In 1783, at the Mill, is George Wilkinson: George Wilkinson, October 27, 1783, son of George, Mill.


There is a headstone that shows evidence of a fulling mill. It is of Ralph Thompson, who died June 26, 1799 and was late of this place, Bleacher.
Ralph Thompson, died June 26, 1799, headstone

His wife was Alice, named below in the Burial Register: Aycliffe Mill is named as the abode of Alice , who died in 1814, age 69.
Alice Thompson, Aycliffe Mill, April 19, 1814,(born about 1745), Wm. M. I. Preston, Curate.


Thomas Race, who married Mary Hall, May 18, 1807, was a miller of Aycliffe, at the baptism of Barbara, February 10, 1811.


William Earl's daughter, Elizabeth, was baptized later in 1807:Elizabeth Earl, born June, 1807, baptized December 13, 1807, 3rd child of William, of ? and Eleanor Geldart, daughter of John Geldart, Whitesmith, of Bentham, near Lancaster, Miller,.

Joseph Proud was a miller at Aycliffe in 1810 & 1815:
Joseph Proud, born October 4, 1810, baptized November 10, 1810, son of Joseph, of Slaley, Northumberland, and Ann Rain, of Starford, Yorkshire, abode Aycliffe, Miller, 5th son
Ann Proud, May 7, 1815, daughter of Joseph and Ann, Aycliffe, Miller, Wm. M. S. Preston, Curate.


1817 there is reference to a spinning mill at Aycliffe. Abraham Shipton was master of the spinning mill:

Abraham Shipton, Nov-14, 1816, son of Abraham, and Mary Hansom, servant, Aycliffe, Master of the spinning mill, Robert Green, Curate

Mary Shipton, Dec-04, 1817, daughter of Abraham and Mary, Aycliffe, Master of the spinning mill, Robert Green, Officiating Curate.
Nine years later Abraham Shipton died and was buried January 12, 1826. His abode was Cotham Mill.


Working as foreman at the spinning mill in 1816 is William Robinson:
Thomas Robinson, Sep-22, 1816, son of William and Elizabeth of Aycliffe, Foreman in spinning mill, Robert Green, Curate.


Evidence for a fulling mill still in action is the reference to bleachers, Ralph and William Thompson, in 1809, 1810, 1811 & 1816:
Mary Thompson, born October 3, 1810, baptized February 10, 1811, daughter of Ralph, otp and Elizabeth Adamson, of Hartburn Grange, parish of Redmarshal, abode Aycliffe, Bleacher, 6th child
Timothy Thompson, born August 31, 1809, October 9, 1809, son of William, otp and Mary Shields, of this parish, abode Aycliffe, Bleacher, 4th son
Ralph Thompson, born April 12, 1811, baptized November 3, 1811 son of William, otp and Mary Shields, of this parish, abode Aycliffe, Bleacher, 5th son
Margaret Thompson, March 25, 1816, daughter of William and Mary, abode Aycliffe, Bleacher, Wm. M. S. Preston, Curate.
In the Burial Register 19 year old Ann Thompson of Aycliffe Bleaching Mill was buried on November 6, 1823.


William Nelson was a miller in 1817 & 1819 at Aycliffe:
Jane Nelson, Jul-13, 1817, daughter of William and Ann of Aycliffe, Miller, Robert Taylor, Curate of Startforth
William Nelson, Dec-25, 1819, son of William and Ann of Aycliffe, Miller, John Chambers, Officiating Minister.


Yet another miller at Aycliffe in 1819 is William Walker:
Mary Ann Walker, May-14, 1819, daughter of William and Ann of Aycliffe, Miller, J. H. Brown, Curate.


John Marley was also a millwright at Aycliffe, in 1819 and 1822:
John Marley, Aug 4, 1819, son of John and Elizabeth of Aycliffe, Millwright, J. H. Brown, Curate
Jane Marley, Mar 8, 1822, daughter of John and Elizabeth of Aycliffe, Mill Wright, J.H.Brown, Curate.
In the Burial Register for 1828 there is John Marley of Aycliffe, age 47 years, who was buried on July 4. Is this the John above? Also, in 1852, Elizabeth Marley was buried December 25, age 74 years. Is this John's wife?


Thomas Smith, millwright, had an illegitinmate child by Grace baptized in 1821:
William Smith, illegitimate son, Nov 21, 1821, son of Thomas and Grace of Aycliffe, Mill Wright, J.H.Brown, Curate.


Another miller residing at Aycliffe was GeorgeDodds and his wife Elizabeth who had a son baptized in 1822.
William Dodds, Dec 29, 1822, son of George and Elizabeth of Aycliffe, Miller, J.H.Brown, Curate.


In 1823 there is a baptism for the daughter of a millwright , Thomas Smith, of Aycliffe, but there is a different mother to the child of Thomas Smith of 1821:
Dorothy Smith, June 9, 1823, daughter of Thomas and Jane of Aycliffe, Mill Wright, J.H.Brown, Curate.


In 1823 there arealso the baptisms for the children of 2 paper makers, one of whom is listed in the directory above in 1828 (Phillips Nicholas & Wiliam, paper manufacturers):
Nicholas Phillips, May 13, 1823, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth of Aycliffe, Paper Maker, .H.Brown, Curate
Robert Pusey, May 08, 1823, son of James and Margaret of Aycliffe, Paper Maker, Sam Graham, Officiating Minister.


Also named as Worsted Manufacturers in Aycliffe in the directory above are Thomas Gibson and Thomas Sheriff.


Thomas Sheriff is listed in Pigot & Co.'s Directory of 1834 as a stocking worsted manufacturer of Great Aycliffe. Thomas was buried December 12m 1846, age 60. His wife, Lucy Crawford of Heighington, was buried twenty years later on February 1, 1866, age 78 years.

In the same directory of 1834 William Patrick, of Great Aycliffe is listed. This is the same William whose daughter Mary is mentioned below.


In 1837 George Warren Hardy, miller, married Elizabeth Jeminson?, servant, November 27, at St. Andrew's Church, Aycliffe.


In 1838 Mary Pattrick, of Aycliffe, daughter of William Pattrick, miller, married William Graham, wharfinger of Thornaby, Yorkshire, July 10. There is recorderd the death of William Pattrick, age 62, buried September 21, 1845. Though it doesn't state that he was a miller in the Burial Register, he is presumably the miller above.

Living in Low Row, Aycliffe, in 1841 is the miller William Patterson, age 55, not born in Co. Durham, and his wife Hannah, age 50, children Jane 15, Hannah, 10, all born in Co. Durham. Also in Low Row is Johnathon Lidler?, miller, age 20, born in Co. Durham.


Thomas Howd, miller, of Aycliffe, son of William Howd, miller, married Jane Corner November 22, 1845.


Titus Marley, joiner, of Aycliffe, who married Mary Deighton, of Aycliffe, July 25, 1846, was the son of John Marley, mill-wright.


In Hagar and Co.'s Directory of 1851 listed as corn millers are Henry Atkinson and Thomas Blair.

Thomas Blair is in the 1851 census living in Heighington Street. Thomas was 58 years old. His wife Jane, from Yorkshire, was 56, and his son David was 20. David was also a miller.

David Blair married Mary Ann Unthank and their daughter, when she was a year old. Her father David then married Jane Tinsley and by 1861 was living at Temperance Place, Darlington.

Louie married Pennock Pateman, a taxidermist, and had a son, David Blair Pateman. She had left her husband and son and went to London to work as a servant. The she met and married Jacob C Blazer and they had 3 children. Jacob left her and was in New York by 1889 where he remarried.

Louie's son David Jacob Blazer was at Plymouth Naval School by 1901. Louie was with 2 daughters and an adopted daughter.

Louie lived her final years at Alver Bank Salvation Army Home, Clapham.

Roger Blazer has kindly provided the photograph and information.


Mary Jane Blair

Mary Jane Blair, 1854 -1949, courtesy of Roger Blazer, grandson of David Jacob Blazer.


In 1855 Elizabeth Dickson, age 19, of Woodham, daughter of Thomas Dickson, miller, married Thomas Peckitt, age 20, July 22.


In Whellans Diretory of 1856 the millers are J. Gill, Henry Hadrick of John & H Hadrick, and C. Stonehouse. In 1858 Richard Carr Stonehouse is listed as a miller in Kelly's Post Office Directory.


William Simpson, miller at Aycliffe, and his wife Alice had their son, George William, baptized January 29, 1862.


In Slater's Directory of 1864 listed as millers are John Bagley, John and Henry Hadrick of Brafferton and Aycliffe, and Richard Robinson.


named mills
Monk's End Mill

River Skerne Monks End postcard 1906

Monks End postcard, Christmas 1906, courtesy of Mrs Flower

Monks End Saw Mill 2007

Monks End Saw Mill, 2007


Monk's End Mill is named in the 1841 census. The miller is George Chapman, his wife is Margaret, both aged 25 and born in Co. Durham.


In the Post Office Directory for 1879 is Peter Scott, saw mills. In the 1891 census we still find the Scott family at the Saw Mill:

132 on Schedule, Saw Mill House,

Scott Peter, Head, M, 46, Builder, Scotland, born 1845
Scott Margaret, Wife, M, 46, Scotland, born 1845
Scott Thomas, Son, S, 21, Joiner, Lancashire, Salford, born1870
Scott James W., Son, 14, Scholar, Durham, Great Stainton, born 1877
Scott Cecilia C., Daughter, 13, Scholar, Durham, Great Stainton, born 1878
Scott Walter R., Son, 10, Scholar, Durham, Aycliffe born 1881
Scott Margaret L., Daughter, 8, Scholar, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1883
Scott John R., Son, 4, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1887
Byers Mary A., Servant, 22, General Servant Domestic, Durham, Killerby, born 1869
Harrison Earnest, Visitor, 11, Durham, Leasingthorne

Holm Mill - Mill Holme

Holme Mill south east view

Holme Mill, south east view

The mill race used ot exit where the old sink is. See Mr T T Hay's photograph below to see the exit of the mill race.

Mill Holme, Aycliffe

Holme Mill, south view


Holme Mill race

Holme Mill race

Holme Mill inscription

Holme Mill inscription molina

Inscription on stone high on the wall, which could be the end of molina, the Latin for mill.

Holme Mill 1965 from T T Hay

Mr T T Hay visited Holme Mill in 1964 and 1965 and has kindly sent the following photographs

Holme Mill 1965
Holme Mill interior 1965
Holme Mill interior

There is a lot of information about Mill Holme at the southern end of the village. It is marked on a map from the 1640s as Holm Mill. Holm means a flat piece of ground by a river that is submerged in times of flood (O.E.D).

3 rd February 1702 Will of Thomas Gibson

Thomas Gibson late of East Hartburn in the parish of Norton left by his will dated the 3 rd February, 1702 a plot of 1½ acres ground called the Mill Holm in the township of Aycliffe to the poor of said parish to be distributed in White Bread every Sabbath day to poor widows who attend Church.

25 th July 1785 Between John Gibson of Hurworth in the County of Durham & Gentleman of the one Part And James Robson Vicar of Great Ayckliff in the said County Clerk of the other Part......

the said John Gibson Hath transferred assigned and sett over and by these Presents Doth transferr assign and sett over unto the said James Robson his successors and Assigns All that the said Close or parcel of Ground called or known by the Name of the Mill Holme with the rights members and Appurtenances thereunto belonging as the same is now in the Possession of Ralph Thompson as Tenant thereof And all the Estate right Title Interest Trust Possession Property Claim Right and benefit of renewal Claim and demand whatsoever of him the said John Gibson of in or to the said Close or any part thereof To have And to hold the said Close or parcel of Ground called the Mill Holme mentioned or intended to be hereby assigned with the Appurtenances unto the said James Robson his Successors and Assigns from henceforth for and during all the residue and remainder of the said Term of Twenty one Years yet to come and unexpired. GibsonWills(Transcription of lease) It seems that the actual miller who was renting the mill was Ralph Thompson.


In a memo in the Parish Register for 1834 it states that in the early part of this year the mill holm, (left by will abnout 100 years ago to the poor of the township of Aycliffe) was drained at the joint expense of the township and the Vicar. It contains about an acre and a half, and has been divided into 8 yards and let to as many cottagers belonging to the township, at a rent of 10/ each garden. The holm mill 1 acre, 2 roods, seven perches. In 1849 April the mill-holm was drained again, with tiles 2 ft half deeper nearly.

In the 1841 census Holm Mill is not named, but at the same place in the schedule as Holm Mill in the later censuses is Spring Garden Mill. The miller is William Tweddle, age, 20, his wife Jane, also 20, and son John, age 5, all born in Co. Durham. In 1843 William Tweddle, miller, of Aycliffe, married Jane Guy May 6.

In the 1851 census, at Holm Mill, we find below:

Holm Mill
Atkinson Henry, Head, Mar, 30, Miller, Durham, Great Stainton, born 1821
Atkinson Jane, Wife, Mar, 32, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1819, née Tweddle
Atkinson John, Son, 7, Scholar, Durham, Brafferton, born 1844
Atkinson Robert, Son, 4, Scholar, Durham, Brafferton, born 1847
Atkinson Margaret, Daur, 2, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1849
Tweddle Robert, Broth, U.,21, Miller, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1830

Is Jane Atkinson, née Tweddle, the sister of William above?

Henry Atkinson is named in the Hagar & Co. Directory for 1851.




In Whellans Directory of 1856 J. Gill is mentioned. He wasJohnathan Gill, husband of Alice,who died 1859, of Holme Mill as shown in the headstone in St. Andrew's churchyard:

Alice Gill died 1859, wife of Johnathan Gill, Miller
Alice Gill, wife of Johnathan Gill of Holm Mill, died August 8th, 1859.

Johnathan Gill had retired as miller but still lived at Holm Mill in the 1861 census, living with the next miller, George Marriner:

Marriner George, Head, Mar, 45, Corn Miller, Durham, Bishop Auckland, born 1816
Marriner Jane, Wife, Mar, Household work, Durham, Chester le Street, born 1822
Marriner Jane, Daur, Un., Household work, Scotland, born 1847
Marriner Henry, Son, 12, Scholar, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1849
Marriner Robert, Son, 5, Scholar, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1856
Marriner Mary A., Daur, 2, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1859
Marriner Elizabeth, Daur, 5 mo, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1860
Gill Johnathan, Head, Widr, 60, Retired Corn Miller and Local Methodist Preacher, Yorkshire, Bradley, born 1801

By 1871 Jonathan Gill has left, but George Marriner and family are still there:

Marriner George, Head, Mar, 55, Corn Miller, Durham, Hamsterly, born 1816
Marriner Jane, Wife, Mar, 49, Durham, Chester le Street, born 1822
Marriner Henry, Son, 22, Miller, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1849
Marriner Robert, Son, 15, Scholar, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1856
Marriner Mary A., Daur, 12, Scholar, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1859
Marriner Elizabeth, Daur, 10, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1861

George Marriner died21 September, 1879.

Goerge Marriner died 21 September 1879

George Marriner of Holm Mill, Aycliffe, who died September 21, 1879

Jane Marriner, George's widow, is still at Holm Mill in the 1881 census:

Jane Marriner, W, 59, Chester Le St, Durham, EnglandHead, Corn Mill, born 1822
Robert Marriner, U, 25, Shotley Field, Northumberland, England, Son, Corn Mill, born 1856
Mary Ann Marriner, U<, 22, Shotley Field, Northumberland, England, Daur, Domestic Servant, born 1859
Elizabeth Marriner, U<, 20, Holm Mill, Aycliffe, Durham, England, Daur, Domestic Servant, born 1861
Robert Dixon, 10, Killing Hall, York, England, Grandson, Scholar, born 1871

The daughter Jane Marriner had married Robert Dixon, a miller at Killinghall, Ripley, Yorkshire. March 13, 1870 they had their daughter, Jane Elizabeth, baptized.
Christine, whose great grandfather was Joseph Wilson Dobinson of Preston West Farm, has informed me that his brother Richard Dobinson married Mary Ann Marriner above . Richard paid £70.0.11 on November 10 1885 to the Earl of Eldon for the rent of the farm. Sadly Richard died 2 years later, age 37, of phthisis. His wife, Mary Ann, had also died earlier that year, 1887, age 28.

Richard and Mary Ann Dobinson

Richard and Mary Ann Dobinson

In the 1891 census we find a slight change in the mill name and a new miller:
Mill Holme

Robinson William, Head, M, 29, Farmer, Durham, Sunderland, born 1862
Robinson Pollie, Wife, M, 28, Durham, Segefield, born 1863

In 1901 we find Henry Marriner, son of George, has returned to Mill Holme:

Marriner Henry, Head, M, 52, Flour Merchant, Own account, Northumberland, Shotleyfield, born 1849
Marriner Sarah, >Wife, M, 47, Durham, Tow Law, born 1854

George Marriner's great, great, great granddaughter, Fiona, has information about George's son Robert. Robert married and moved to Darlington. January 7, 1896 he buys the Co-Operative Corn Mill from The Darlington Corn Mill, Flour and Provision Company Limited (in liquidation) for £2,250. The porperty was at 49 (formerly no. 5) Parkgate, Darlington. There were 2 cottages, store rooms, a smith's shop, engine and boiler, also the fixed roller milling plan therein. There was also a dwelling house and front shop in Parkgate, now occupied by William John Oliver, and also a right of way over the yard and passage adjoining. So the milling tradition carried on.


Brafferton Mill
This lies to the south of Mill Holme, south of the old bridge that crosses the River Skerne.
Site of Brafferton Mill

Site of Brafferton Mill, on the further bank of the river Skerne.

Mr Brian Kent says that the stones were removed to help build Brafferton Village Hall.


In 1742 the miller was William Ditchburn. Sadly he buried his daughter Ann on Christmas Day.


In 1752 Anthony Vasey was the miller at Brafferton Mill:

Cudbert Vasey, March 17, 1752, son of Anthony and Ann, Brafferton Mill, Page 14.


In 1755 Thomas and Elizabeth Mins were at Brafferton Mill, and had a daughter Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Mins,?25, 1755, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth, Brafferton Mill, Page 17.


William Brown buried his son Thomas July 9, 1763:

Thomas Brown, Brafferton Mill, son of William Brown, July 9, 1763.


The Stampers milled at Brafferton Mill in the 1700s and from the Baptism Register are:

Ann Stamper, November 3, 1780, daughter of John, Brafferton Mill
Richard Stamper, October 4, 1781, son of John, Brafferton Mill
Elizabeth Stamper, December 26, 1788, daughter of John, Brafferton Mill
Mary Stamper, July 18, 1790, Brafferton Mill
John Stamper, May 6, 1792, Brafferton Mill
Sarah Stamper, January 19, 1794, daughter of John, Brafferton Mill
Ralph Stamper, January 1, 1796, son of John, Brafferton Mill
George Stamper, July 12, 1797, son of John, Brafferton Mill
Alice Stamper, born April 7, 1799, baptzed May 22, 1799, daughter of John, of Darlington and Alice Scott, of St. Andrew, Auckland, of Aycliffe, 5th daughter.

From the Burial Register are:
Sarah Stamper, daughter of John Stamper of Brafferton Mill was buried May 22, 1780.
Jane Stamper, 6th daughter of John Stamper, Miller, died July 15, 1802, buriedJuly 17, 1802, age 5 years.

By the 1851 census John Stamper , born 1792, had retired and was living in Newcastle with his wife Mary, both age 59, and his son William, age 25, a traveller for brewery. All were born in Aycliffe. There is a baptism for William, son of John and Mary in October 1823.
William Stamper, October 31, 1823, son of John and Mary, Brafferton Mill, Miller, J.H.Brown, Curate.

They also had older sons, John, George and Richard:
John Stamper, May 24, 1816, son of John and Mary, Brafferton Mill, Miller, Wm. M. S. Preston, Curate
George Stamper, Aug 4, 1818, son of John and Mary, Brafferton Mill, Miller, J. H. Brown, Curate
Richard Stamper, Feb 19, 1821, son of John and Mary, Brafferton Mill, Miller, J.H.Brown, Curate

In the Burial Register for 1841 Alice Stamper, age 80 years, was buried November 25. Presumably she is the Alice Scott who married John Stamper above.


Also at Brafferton in the early 1800s is George Hutchinson. Whether he worked at Brafferton Mill is not known.
George Hutchinson, born June 10, 1811, baptized November 24, 1811, son of George, of Barnard Castle and Jane Stephenson, of South Cowton, abode Brafferton, Miller, 5th child.

John Bentham was a corn miller at Brafferton the the Parson and White Directory of 1828.


In Pigot & Co.'s Directory of 1834 John Hadderick of Aycliffe is listed as miller.

In the 1841 census we still find the Hadrick family as millers, now at Brafferton Mill. Their daughter, Anne, had married George Stephenson May 3, 1834. This family became well known as millers and still milled until WWll.
Brafferton Mill
Hadrick John, 70, Miller, Durham, born 1771
Hadrick Margaret, Durham, born 1781
Hadrick John, 30, Durham, born 1811
Hadrick Henry, 25, Durham, born 1816

There are Banns in 1807 for a John Hadrick:
John Hadrick, otp, Margaret Wilkinson, Haughton, Banns April 26, May 3, 10, 1807, no impediment, Dickens Haslewood, Vicar, Page 24.

John and Margaret had a son in 1810 and a daughter in 1815:
Henry Hadrick, born December 6, 1810, baptized January 1, 1811, son of John, of St. Andrew, Auckland and Margaret Wilkinson, of Dinsdale, abode Aycliffe, Miller, 2nd son
MargaretHadrick, June 25, 1815, daughter of John and Margaret of Aycliffe, Miller, Thomas Vaughan, officiating minister.

John Hadrick, the father above, died age 70 years and was buried July 11, 1841.
Margaret Hadrick married George Chapman in 1838. Sadly their infant son John Hadrick Chapman was buried February 4, 1845.
Henry Hadrick, miller, son of John Hadrick, miller, married Mary Munby, daughter of Daniel Munby, Innkeeper, January 5, 1852. Henry died age 56 and was buried June 22, 1867.

Henry Hadrick headstone, died 1867

Henry Hadrick of Brafferton Mill, died 1867

In Whellans Directory 1856 and Slater's Directory 1864 J &H Hadrick are millers of Brafferton. By Whellans 1865 edition there are entered as millers and farmers.
In the 1881 census John Hadrick is miller and farmer of 150 acres, employing 5 men and 1 boy. He is 28 and his wife Jane, 29, both born in Aycliffe.
By the 1891 census John is also a flour dealer:
Brafferton Mill
Hadrick John, Head, M, 38, Miller & Flour Dealer, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1853
Hadrick Jane, Wife, M, 39, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1852
Hadrick Margaret Eleanor, Daughter, 13, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1878
Hadrick Edith May, Daughter, 12, Scholar, Durham, Aycliffe, born 1879
Hadrick John William, Son, 9, Scholar, Durham, Brafferton, born 1882
Hadrick Jane, Daughter, 7, Scholar, Durham, Brafferton, born 1884
HadrickElizabeth Rosamond, Daughter, 5, Scholar, Durham, Brafferton, born 1886
Hadrick Alfred, Son, 4, Durham, Brafferton, born 1887
Wilkinson William, Father in Law, Widower, 81, Durham, Brafferton, Blind, born 1810.

Coatham Mill

River Skerne north of Coatham Mundeville

River Skerne, north of bridge at Coatham Mundeville

Bridge over river Skerne at Coatham Mundeville

Bridge over river Skerne at Coatham Mundeville

Mill House Coatham Mundeville from bridge

Mill House at Coatham Mundeville, view from the bridge

Coatham Mundeville Mill House

Mill House at Coatham Mundeville, view from the bridge


Mr T T Hay visited Coatham Mundeville Mill in 1964 and has kindly sent the following photographs

Mill  wheel


Coatham Mundeville Mill gears
Coatham Mundeville Mill gears
Coatham Mundeville Mill gears
Coatham Mundeville Mill gears
Coatham Mundeville Mill tools
Coatham Mundeville Mill inside
Coatham Mundevill Mill inside
The mill at Coatham Mundeville was a thread and corn mill.

In the Baptism Register for 1737 is:

Meggison Barbary, Clotham Mill/Coatham Mill?, Daughter of Thomas, 1737St. Andrew's Baptism Register bpt. Aug 7, 1737.


John Booth, of Coatham Mill in Haughton Parish, had his son John baptized September 6, 1774.

In 1782 there is Edward Scarr at Coatham Mill.
William Scarr, September 28, 1782, son of Edward, Coatham Mill.

In 1798 there isJames Graham:

Graham Elizabeth, Born December 27, 1798, Baptized December 30, 1798, daughter of Mary Stonehouse, of Whitby, Yorkshire and James, of Coatham Mill from Whitby, abode Coatham Mill, 6th daughter.

Working with flax at Coatham Mill is James Stanniland in the early 1800s. His wife 2 years before he did. Their entries in the Burial Register are:
Sarah Perkins Staniland, Aycliffe, Wife of James Staniland, Died November 10, 1808, Buried November 12, 1808, Age 21, born 1787.
James Stanniland, Coatham Mill, Flax dresser, died April 29, 1810, buried May 20, 1810, born 1784.

In 1819 we are given the name of the master of the spinning mill at Coatham - Joseph Gibson, whose daughter Margaret was baptized in July:
Margaret Gibson, Jul 13, 1818, daughter of Joseph and Mary of Coatham, Parish of Haughton, Master of the spinning mill, J. H. Brown, Curate

Is Joseph Gibson related to Thomas Gibson, named as Worsted Manufacturer in the 1828 directory?

We are given the name of a labourer, John Clemenston, at Coatham Mill in 1810 & 1819:
John Clementson, born March 20, 1810, baptized April 15, 1810, son of John, and Ann Paterson, otp, abode Coatham, Miller, 1st child
Jane Clementson, Jun 13, 1819, daughter of John and Ann of Coatham Mill, Labourer, Richard Atkinson, Officiating Minister

Found in the Burial Register is Eleanor Marks, dying young:
Eleanor Marks, Coatham Mill, buried July 7, 1822, age 28, born about 1794, J. H. Brown, Curate.

More research has still to be done about Coatham Mill.

Wind Mill
Very little is known about the Wind Mill. The photographs were taken before the recent renovation of the house

Wind mill above Aycliffe Quarry

The windmill above Aycliffe Quarry

Aycliffe Windmill and House

Aycliffe Windmill and house, taken before recent renovation

Windmill at Aycliffe

Roof of windmill taken inside

Roof of the windmill, kind permission by Mr Barnfather