The Hamlet of ZOUCH

Zouch Mill and the Island Hamlet of Zouch in Leicestershire

The Plaster Mill at Zouch c.June 1900 - (Nottingham Photographic Society)

History of the Mill

 

 An Ordnance Survey map of 1884

ZOUCH MILL

The Doomsday Book of 1086 records that a mill used for grinding corn was situated at Zouch which was probably where most of the local farmers took their grain to be ground into flour.

In 1776 an act was passed that enabled the canalisation of the River Soar from the River Trent as far as Loughborough and very quickly (work began in 1777 and was completed in 1778) the Zouch Cut was formed with its one solitary lock, the consequence of which was that the waterways became very busy with many arguments between Millers and Canal Authorities/Boatmen because too much water was being diverted into the mill stream to turn the mill wheel – often leaving the boats ‘Dried Out’ in shallow water. This all changed in 1800 when the Loughborough Navigation Company bought the mill for £1000 which also helped the water levels to be more controlled.

Sometime in the 1830’s the mill was rented by Paget and White, Worsted Spinners who also controlled the grinding of corn - Newspaper reports say there was 4 pairs of stones in use, two dressing machines and a smutter (machine used to remove impurities) their workforce coming mainly from the Hamlet as the census shows, but whilst the grinding of corn went on till 1863 when a fire stopped production[1] the equipment for Worsted Spinning was all put up for sale between 17th to 19th July 1855.[2] One wonders if the fortunes of the mill would have changed if the proposed Railway Branch Line had been constructed in 1835 connecting Zouch with Loughborough and the main railway network.[3] Nearby Hathern Station was not built untill 1868 (opened 19th February 1868) although the line from Leicester to Nottingham (LMS) was opened in 1839 by the Midland Counties Railway

As mentioned, on the 10th July 1863 a fire destroyed much of the mill.[4] Ironically the horse drawn fire engines that were called out from nearby Loughborough took so long to get to Zouch that they were to late to prevent serious damage. Repairs which were estimated to be between £1200 and £1500 were quickly carried out but by 1864 Mr Paget had quit the mill and the lease was taken over by Mr Samuel Goodacre from Shepshed who became the new miller and greatly extended and converted the buildings into a ‘Plaster Mill’ by 1870 - the plaster coming in raw form from Gotham firstly by Horse Drawn Wagons then Steam Traction Engines or Lorries. After hammering the huge lumps of Gypsum on the wharf down to more manageable sizes, they were fed into the mill and eventually three different heaps of Gypsum were produced, Brown Coarse, Ordinary and Fine White which were then transported by Horse drawn Barges (Horses stabled at the mill) to Birmingham for use in the Paper & Plaster Industry.

In the early 1920’s a PETTERS petrol engine was installed to augment the power of the mill wheel and in 1925 Edgar Taylor purchased the Mill and once again it reverted to the grinding of corn until production was stopped by World War Two and the buildings were turned into flats.

1] Leicester Chronicle Saturday Feb 14th 1863

[2] Leicester Chronicle July 14th 1855 (Newspaper Advert)

[3] Leicester Chronicle Saturday 14th Feb 1835 (see Newspaper Cutting)

[4] Nottingham Guardian Friday 13th Feb 1863 (Newspaper report)

Zouch - The Mill Race