Through the mill

The Coventry Standard 9 Aug 1867 carried notice of the sale by auction of Brandon Silk Throwing Mills on that very day.

The property comprised the mills, residence, meadow and water power on the River Avon.

The mill buildings are long gone, but the paper provides a description that enables an impression of its appearance. “The Mill is three stories (sic), 76 feet by 22 feet, with warehouses, winding room, 90 feet long; stove, washhouse, and other offices underneath, engine house, chimney stack, &c”. There was also a 16-foot [5 metre] overshot water wheel. So the mill, at approximately 25 x 7 metres, had about three times the footprint of a typical 1960s semi, though it would be taller. Something like this.

Whitchurch Silk Mill, Hampshire, from Geograph, copyright Chris Talbot.

The residence had been enlarged and improved, but the number of rooms is not given. There were good servants’ quarters, garden, new 3-stall stable, coach houses, piggeries and other outbuildings. From the Ordnance Survey map it was clearly substantial. I think this is the Brandon House named in the 1871 census, when the household consisted of George Hacket, landowner, his wife and one-year old son, and seven servants. Next record was Hockley House, occupied by three more servants.

Ordnance Survey 1886 revision. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

At Brandon Mill House were Mr Iliffe, with his brother, housekeeper and housemaid.

There were also six cottages. On the OS map, these are shown just north of the house (they are named on the 1903 survey). There was a pump for a shared water supply. The cottages were occupied by five households, totalling 30 people, all dependent upon the silk mill.

On the OS 1903 revision the mill is shown as disused and on the 1938 revision only the house and boat house are shown, the mill and cottages had gone.

Ordnance Survey 1938 revision. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

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