Heatherslaw Corn Mill
Building Ford And Etal Northumberland

Heatherslaw Corn Mill

Building In Ford And Etal, Northumberland

An ancient corn mill, nestled in the bend of the River Till, sitting between Ford and Etal.

Snuggled in a bend of the River Till, with water channelling at a pace from the Cheviots to its confluence with the river Tweed, Heatherslaw Corn Mill has been flour powered since 1291 when it was the property of Mary Graham! Come on....everyone knows Mary!

We visited on a heritage open day and felt like we'd arrived in to a bygone time as the train driver victoriously whooped his cap in the air for several minutes upon pulling out of the Heatherslaw Light Railway station.

In 1376 The Heatherslaw Corn Mill was owned by the proprietor of Ford Castle, William Heron. The next 400 years were a blip in history with records absent until the 18th century. Imagine all the corn ground during this inter-country conflict, that's a lot of bread and battles!

In 1768 the stones started turning again, owned by the then-current owner of the Ford Estate, Sir John Hussey Delaval, general all round landowner at Seaton Delaval Hall and MP for Berwick upon Tweed. As well as having his hopes in flour, he had his hand in coal and minerals at Seaton Delaval. The top whack of cash of £8,400 in 1768 then would have maybe been small change for the 1st Baron Delaval, who bought 750 acres of land at Heatherslaw and then splashed out a further £600 on his grand design, a double mill under the same roof.

In addition, the Baron built a forge mill on the opposite side of the Till to manufacture agricultural tools. There's a great display of shovels and forks with a plethora of uses in the mill display, that will put your own shed to shame!

Times were prosperous into the 1800's when the Waterford family (Sir John's Granddaughter who married the Second Marquess of Waterford) inherited the mill and subsequent land, and further 'refurbs' took place adding an additional floor, new pitched roofs, new wheels and modern machinery. It was managed by the miller John Black whose diaries are still in existence and give a good insight into the day-to-day life of being a miller for a Marquess. Labourers on the local land received a proportion of their wage as ground corn!

The agricultural depression of the 1880's saw a significant decline in the prosperity of the mill. No loaves for Tesco and Sainsbury, or homes for workers, or life much at all as the essence of Heatherslaw shrank, with the mill ceasing production in 1949.

For nearly thirty years, the fortunes of the mill dwindled as it stood dilapidated and derelict. However in 1975 the mill wheel whirred back into action after The Heatherslaw Mill Charitable Trust was established as a working group whose intentions were to breathe new life into the rafters and flour sacks, and develop the mill into a working museum and coffee shop. The emissions created from mill to scone...gone!

When we visited the mill was a hubbub of industry with the lower floor set out highlighting its heritage, showing the workings as they used to be; a kind of behind-the-scenes peep at the world of grinding and flour-making. This was a great visual prompt of the comparison with the upper floor that has been fully restored and gives you the opportunity to grind flour, try on period costumes, have a go at baking and look at all sorts of associated memorabilia.

The middle floor is the main artery of the building. Known as 'the stone floor' so called for it it's two massive mill stones made of French Burr Stone, employed in the grinding of wheat. The third pair of millstones are for grinding oats and are fashioned from Derbyshire Peak Grit Stone. The whole floor was awash with cogs and wheels and sets and screws but the name of my favourite piece of equipment had to be 'the wallower', the first gear in the upright shaft of the mill.

We saw shocking tide marks on the low kiln which showed that water levels rose to 1.35 meters in 1948 when the mill workers managed to scrabble about in time to save the grain, moving 50 tonnes of barley to the upper floors. The upright timbers evidenced makings dated in recent years and showed horrific flooding within the mill, a clear sign of climate change right on our doorstep.

Heatherslaw Corn Mill is the only place in Northumberland where you can see, smell, hear and have a go at grinding corn into flour as it is still a working flour mill, harnessing the power of the River Till to shift the machinery. Using locally sourced wheat, the staff in the café based in the Old Maltings House next door magic up all sorts of pies, pasties, cakes, bakes and scones, so a worthwhile way to reward yourself, and test the fruits of your labour, if you've had a punt at being a miller for the day!

After you're done milling around here, why not head over for a wander around the nearby Ford Castle or for a 10 minute drive you can visit the marvellous Duddo Five Stones.

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How To Find Heatherslaw Corn Mill

Where Is Heatherslaw Corn Mill?

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55.638893, -2.107535

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Where To Park For Heatherslaw Corn Mill?

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55.639675, 55.639675

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Parking is available at The Heatherslaw Light Railway on the opposite river bank to the Corn Mill. and is a short walk across the bridge.

The first records mention Heatherslaw Corn Mill bein built in 1291 when it was the property of Mary Graham

Snuggled in a bend of the river Till, with water channelling at a pace from the Cheviots to its confluence with the river Tweed, The Heatherslaw Corn Mill is situated on B6354

The address is Heatherslaw, Cornhill on Tweed TD12 4TJ

Heatherslaw Corn Mill is the only place in Northumberland where you can see, smell, hear and have a go at grinding corn into flour as it is still a working flour mill, harnessing the power of the River Till to shift the machinery.

Contributed by Jos Forester-Melville

Highland loving human. Thalassophile. I love a good smile. Happiest heading for the hills with my pickup filled with kids and dogs! Working four days, we enjoy a Fridate, and usually spend it scouting out new scenery. I love a gated track, a bit of off roading and if it involves a full ford, well, that gets extra points! I go nowhere without a flask and binoculars, and love the small things in life that make it big…Goldcrests, dry stone walls, Deadman’s fingers, blackberries and quality clouds.

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Jos Forester-Melville

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Heatherslaw Corn Mill was listed in Building // Northumberland // Ford And Etal