Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

©The Mill at Bures




The Mill is situated on the Nayland Road opposite the entrance to Claypits Avenue. The "Stour Valley" public footpath runs through the site from the main road towards Wormingford.

mill frontage

Mill (front) now private residence, 2003

Rear View with pond. Footbridge would be to the left of picture
Acknowledgment to Matthew Beales

Postcard dated April 1939

In 1938 a major flood protection scheme was carried out at Bures with an automatic lock built on the original lock site. This picture taken in 2002 shows it to be of similar size to the old lock.

Brief history of Mill:-
The first recorded mill on or near this site at Bures has been dated at 1190.
The owner of the Bures Mill was recorded in the Domesday Book as a Saxon landowner by the name of Witgar. It is remarkable that the last miller at Bures Mill, Witgar Hitchcock, should have been named after Witgar the Saxon mill owner.

A century after the Conquest in 1066, in the middle of the 12th century, the Norman Sylvester family were responsible for building a new mill at Bures
They began a large scale diversion of the river to the north, leaving the old Anglo Saxon course of the river to the south. The course of the river was shortened and taken more directly to the site of the new Mill.

In 1640 the timber framed Mill House was erected and extended in 1820. Part of this structure can still be seen today.

The river was opened to navigation in 1715 which enabled barges to transport material to the mill for grinding. Foreign wheat was used mainly for grinding into flour which arrived by barge from Mistley.
Water in the early years was the only and obvious source of power to turn the massive 16ft stone grinding wheels.

Suffolk and Essex Free Press May 31st 1866

Essex Herald May 31st 1866

Essex and Suffolk Free Press, June 20th 1867

The Mill was still being advertised "For Sale",
more than 12 months later in June 1867


Cornelius Hitchcock purchased the mill in 1875 and a further mill at Wormingford during 1879. His greatest achievement was in 1893 when he changed over from stones to roller flour milling at Bures. Instead of producing wholemeal flour on stones, the new Hungarian system of roller flour milling produced the white flour so eagerly demanded by the public.
Hitcocks had other mills at Rattlesdon and Fingringhoe.

Essex County Standard, West Suffolk Gazette and Eastern Counties Advertiser, August 5th 1893



A rare photograph of the mill, early 1900`s. At that time, power was supplied by a steam engine, the chimney clearly seen on the right.
The mill house is to the left. The loading ramp is above the mill outfall


This photo clearly shows the loading bay access.
Side elevation of the colour print above. (courtesy of John Ineson)


The Mill circa 1961
The works to the left of the photo were demolished when the Mill closed down

The Mill circa 1910

The river navigation was closed in 1912 - the last barge to the Mill was during 1911.


Map of Mill and Lock dated approx 1920
(courtesy of SCC)

Flour production ended in 1929.
In 1932 the mill wheel was removed and replaced by a 220hp diesel engine. However within a year all flour grinding was transferred to Fingringhoe Mill to take advantage of the waterside transport. Soon Bures Mill was devoid of all machinery and became a producer of animal feeds.

In 1935 three feet of water was lost from the river following the breakdown of the floodgates at Wormingford Mill. The gates were never re-installed and the river has never regained this full height since.
In 1948 mains electricity came to the Mill and this allowed larger machinery to be installed.

Mill Staff circa late 1950s

Left to right:-

Cecil Webber, Ted Parkinson, Dick Jarvis,
Cyril Wisby, George Baxter, Lez Chapman and Bill Brown

Derek Balls joined the Mill staff in 1948 and eventually completed 37 years driving their lorries. At that time there were three lorries based at Bures and a further four at the Fingrinhoe Mill.
Regular journeys were made as far north as Wolverhampton, Birmingham to deliver Animal Feed, necessitating three nights away from home each week.

Wheat flakes were taken to Driffield in Yorkshire with additional journeys to Doncaster and Carlisle to collect Peat Moss in 100 bale loads.
The Peat Moss was incorporated into animal feed when it returned to Bures. On some occasions it was later transported back up North as part of a sale order. Derek retired in 1985.

As production increased the buildings were extended on three occasions, 1957, 1963 and 1980. During the last extension a second production line was installed.
In 1989, 64 different types of feed were produced - all was going well.

However, with the great changes in agriculture culminating in the almost total demise of mixed farming saw the collapse of its market. Production fell sharply between 1984 and 1989 with the result the business was sold to Clark & Butcher of Soham.

1990 was the last year of animal feed production at the Mill and the end of three generations of milling by the Hichcock family over a period of 115 years.
The buyers only purchased the stock and business of the Mill, so consequently the site was soon put up for sale. The new owners soon obtained permission to demolish all buildings attached to the Grade 2 timber Mill. This just leaves the 18 century and 1820 buildings.

At one time on the Stour and its tributaries there were 30 mills producing flour. Only three changed to roller milling, which extended their life span considerably. The three were Dedham (flour milling, closed 1982), Bures (animal feed,closed 1990) and Cornard (pet food) which is still in existence although production has been moving to their site on the Industrial Est.

The row of cottages along Nayland Road were owned by the Hitchcock family and rented out to their workmen. These are now in private ownership.

Mary Anderson was in the Office until the 1980`s when she retired and was replaced by Janet Mead who stayed on until the Mill closed in 1990.


(Information supplied by Mr Witgar Hitchcock, previous mill owner)

Witgar Hitchcock, great-great-great nephew of Matthew Flinders,

Ref:- Captain Matthew Flinders RN (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was a distinguished English navigator and cartographer, who was the first to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent.(Wikepedia)

Ref2:-Matthew Flinders, who was one of Captain Cook's Lieutenants (together with Bligh and Vancouver on his first voyage of discovery in HMS Endeavour.
Flinders surveyed much of the coast of Australia in 1803 and is a national hero in Australia. On his return voyage, he had the misfortune to be captured by the French and imprisoned for five years in Mauritius

Additional information by Derek Balls Lorry Driver, Claypits Ave
updated 25/02/2017 with 1867 Press Cutting