The Tidemills at Bishopstone

Between Newhaven And Seaford on the south coast of England, Tidemills and its History.

the village

 The mill about 1880, the smock mill on top of the granary was to provide power to lift sacks of grain & flour not to power the millstones


Building started in 1761, it is thought that the creek and millponds are one of the old courses of the River Ouse. A tidemill operates by water from the rising tide turning water wheels and filling the pond behind, as the tide later drops the water in the pond flows out and turns the wheels the other way. In this way around 20 hours of operation out of 24 hours were obtained. At its peak and when run by William Catt from 1801 onwards it had 16 pairs of stones grinding and was thought to be the largest in the world. Catt became an authority on the system and built and advised on building several in France . Originally grain and flour came and went via the creek and its entrance into Newhaven harbour, but the closure of the creek to improve the quays stopped this traffic although the railway put a spur line in from Bishopstone Station (now derelict) right down to the mill. This raised costs and started the decline and eventual closure in 1883. The mill itself straddled the creek by the existing bridge. It became a bonded warehouse for the Café Royale and was finally demolished in 1900.The village continued and was declared unfit for habitation in 1934, the last family was forcibly moved in 1940 and  the site was partially cleared to give open fields of fire and also used as a street fighting training area by the Canadians although RAF aerial photographs show a number of buildings standing intact as late as 1947. The Railway station was replaced in 1939 by the current Bishopstone station (note the gun emplacments on the roof) , the old one renamed Bishopstone Beach Halt and finally closed to service in 1942. The railway was single track until 1904 then double until 1975 when one track was closed and lifted.There was a signal box at the crossing which was demolished in 1922. Whilst Catt was a noted grower of fruit and in particular pears, contrary to local myths the Williams pear is not named  after him and in fact predates him.

Below, excavations in 2006 of the creek wall, built by Catt about 1805 to give deeper water for the barges to berth. The original wall was about 10ft to the right of the bucket





Below- looking West, from the south bank of the pond, the bridge and to it's right remains of the coal yard wall




 Below- Bishopstone Railway Station aka Tidemills Halt, aka Bishopstone Beach Halt c1920



Below- the grids which prevented debris being washed into the wheel pits which also mark the western end of the mill wall




Below, 2006, the arches allowed water to flow over the water wheels, the mill stood on the bridge and extended out over the creek