There were three old mills on the Warburtons' estates at Warburton, Arley and Sutton.
This was on the Bollin about a mile from its junction with the Mersey on the border between Warburton and Lymm townships. It therefore had a good continuous supply of water. Sir Peter Warburton repaired and renovated the mill in 1750-1 at a cost of approximately £300. He then let it to Theophilus Bent in 1751 at £80 per year (Capital and Innovation, p 284). It evidently did not meet his expectations because it was let to Richard Burgess two years later. In the later 1750s it came to be managed by the Estate and Peter Harper has left detailed accounts. The accounts for 1763 are reproduced below as a sample.
Corn milling was an up and down kind of business as the sales, costs and profits of most years from 1761 to 1774 set out below indicate. The reasons were probably the weather and the size of the crops. Many water mills were partly closed in the summer months due to inadequate water supply. The good supply of water at the Warburton Mill helped it in these years.
|Warburton Mill-Sales, Costs and Profits 1761-74|
|Year ending December||Sales||Costs||Profit|
|£ s d||£ s d||£ s d|
|1761||169 19 6||82 18 8||87 0 10|
|1762||153 9 4||86 9 6||86 19 10||1763||157 6 3||78 3 3||79 3 0|
|1765||191 13 10||87 2 11||104 10 11|
|1767||95 7 7||58 12 4||36 16 3|
|1768||95 8 3||68 16 2||26 12 10|
|1770||80 10 0||76 18 4||3 11 8|
|1771||143 2 2||82 11 1||60 11 1|
|1772||69 18 2||54 0 4||15 17 10|
|1773||110 17 6||69 1 3||41 16 3||1774||133 4 6||65 0 11||68 3 7|
In the period 1759 to 1774 for which detailed records survive, the prices that the Mill charged rose substantially but this does not seem to have affected the overall business. The prices seemed to have moved at frequent intervals in line with the local market. (Compare prices in the Manchester Mercury). A ‘measure’ meant a bushel and a ‘load’ was 240lbs.
|Prices of grain sold at the mill|
|Month||Year||Wheat per bushel||Barley per bushel||Oatmeal per load||*Ringings per bushel|
|s d||s d||s d||s d|
|August||1759||5 0||3 0||12 6||10|
|July||1763||6 8||4 2||20 0||10||April||1767||8 8||5 0||27 0||1 0|
|January||1775||8 4||5 4||24 0||1 0|
|* products of sieving|
The Abstract of accounts for 1763 show the main sources of sales and costs. The main income was from a ‘toll’ of the flour they ground. A toll scoop was taken from each bushel and this was sold by the peck – 4 pecks in a bushel.
The original monthly lists show what was bought each day and make it clear that mills were a ‘flour’ shop for locals. Horses had to eat dry oats so the large farmers supported that department. A summary of the buyers over the year 1763 reveals who were the large customers of the mill. Finally the invoices for the wages and all the other expenses illustrate how the mill worked.
The following documents relating to Warburton Mill include two abstract of accounts 1763, 12 monthly lists of toll sold 1763, 4 quarterly lists of malt rolled, 4 quarterly lists of oats dried, a summary of principal users and 31 invoices for expenses.
Total scans 54
This mill was renovated around 1756-7 at a cost of around £300. As the Table of Sales, Costs and Profits show it was a smaller business than the mill at Warburton.
|Arley Mill-Sales, Costs and Profits 1758-1772|
|£ s d||£ s d||£ s d|
|1758||70 1 3||32 19 6||37 1 9|
|1759||58 11 11||25 0 0||33 11 11||1760||41 14 3||26 7 0||15 1 1|
|1761||57 6 11||45 2 11||12 4 0|
|1762||59 9 6||30 1 10||29 8 5|
|1763||63 1 11||57 18 2||5 3 9|
|1764||67 12 5||35 10 0||32 2 5|
|1765||66 5 10||43 18 6||22 7 4|
|1766||85 2 4||31 0 6||54 1 10|
|1767||96 17 6||39 3 6||57 1 3||1768||110 13 5||64 0 0||46 13 5||1770||100 11 9||41 0 1||29 11 8||1771||112 12 3||39 15 9||72 16 6||1772||125 13 9||55 5 3||70 8 6|
The Abstract of accounts for 1761 shows us why this was. The mill evidently ran out of water in July and didn't work properly again until October. Compared to the Warburton Mill it dried much less oats. Perhaps Warburton Mill's customers supplied oats to the many carriers working in the Manchester area who would have used large numbers of horses.
The original weekly sheets show who the customers were. Another difference from the Warburton mill was that the toll on corn sent down to the mill from Arley Hall and Aston Park, where the family were living, was not sold but was returned to the big houses. Business increased after 1766 with sales of toll in 1772 approximately double the figures for 1761 while the figures for oats dried nearly trebled. We do not know why this happened. Perhaps the improvements to the roads and to the canals brought more customers to these country mills. Perhaps the Estate sold a little more surplus grain each year – see notes on Farming 1745 – 90.
a) abstract of accounts 1761 – 2 scans
b) 43 weekly lists of toll sold
This mill was originally a small one on the demesne lands which from the 1750s onwards were rented as the large Sutton Hall Farm. In the early 1780s the Estate decided to convert the old cheese warehouse into a new mill. This was probably because by then much of the cheese going to the south of England was transported on the canals. They used a cut from the river Weaver which had been made in the 1730s and then improved it so as to create a large high-power new corn mill on the Weaver beside the Mersey estuary (see extract of map of 1753 under Cheese Warehouse). In 1784 the mill was let to John Pickering for 20 years at a rent of £300p.a. He also rented a house for a further £40.
By the 1780s the water-ways of north west England had been greatly increased and improved. The Frodsham end of the Mersey estuary gave access to
- The Weaver Navigation to Northwich and Winsford
- The Trent & Mersey canal to the Potteries and further south
- The Bridgewater canal to Manchester
- The old Mersey and Irwell Navigation to Manchester
- The Sankey Navigation to St Helens
Ships carrying grain from the south of England, the Baltic or America could deliver it cheaply into the new Sutton mill so that flour and oatmeal could be economically carried to the rapidly growing industrial populations.
Access to many detailed invoices from the businesses that built the new mill is given by using the search term ‘Sutton Mill’ in the location field of the Receipted Invoices database.
Below are the scans of the timesheets and summary account of Peter Burgess, the millwright whose men did the major ‘millwright’ work.