Story of a Grist Mill

A thousand years of milling ended in 1987 when the grist mill closed its doors. The last of the millers of Flitwick had passed away and the mill fell into neglect.

Our story with the mill begins when we took ownership in 2012. The ravages of nature had taken hold and the building was in dire need of some tender loving care. Planning permission to make it into a house was eventually obtained in 2009. 

The north-west side of Flitwick Mill

We bought the derelict watermill with planning permission to turn it into a dwelling. Our challenge as new owners is to do that in a sensitive and creative way, preserving as much as possible the overall feel and character of a grist mill.

Flitwick mill is a great story and we have done our utmost to discover the evolution of the building and the history of the people who ran it. We have fallen in love with the building and this is our story of the journey to put it into good order for the next thousand years.

High Water

The waterwheel during the high waters of April 2012

Waterwheel Restoration

Potted History

The story of Flitwick Mill with a focus on factors affecting the success of watermills

Read the Potted History

Flitwick Mill Stories

September 13, 2012
Barley Meal Tickets

These 'tickets' were found tucked in the recess above one of the curved timbers on the first floor.

April 19, 2012
SPAB offer a free report

In this letter of 21st December 1987, SPAB offer to provide Mid-Bedfordshire District Council a free report on Flitwick Mill. The letter goes on to ask about Park Mill in Woburn "as we have heard nothing recently and are concerned about its future"

April 19, 2012
Mrs Dance's reply to Mr Goodman

This letter, dated 9th January 1963, is a reply to Mr Goodman's plea for help repairing the waterwheel. Mrs Dance suggests getting in touch with Mr Edwin Hole of Messrs Hole & Son who are based in Burgess Hill, Sussex. However, Mrs Dance warns that they are very busy and may not be able to undertake the repairs before April.

April 19, 2012
Mr Goodman's plea to save the waterwheel

This is a letter held by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). Dated 1st November 1962, it is from Richard Goodman to Mr P V Guy of Ampthill Preservation Society. 

The letter reads...

"Dear Sir, 

The Water Wheel here requires re-lining and several buckets replacing. 

After repeated attempts we can find no-one who will take this type of work on, and as this Mill is a building of Special Architectural or Historic interest I shall be glad to know if you know of any Millwrights. 

Yours faithfully, 

R. Goodman."

April 19, 2012
Enquiry from the District Planning Officer

This letter dates from 11th December 1987 and is from David Stuart, the District Planning Officer for Mid Bedfordshire District Council. He writes to Philip Venning to follow up an approach by the Goodmans for a possible grant for repair works to both the mill and the mill house. He is asking for useful background information about the worth of the mill and its machinery.

August 1, 2009
Amazed by decision to resubmit Mill plan

An article from Stephen Mitchell who vigorously opposed the conversion of the mill into a private house. Mr Mitchell says "I was most surprised when Central Bedfordshire Council invited the applicant to resubmit his plans to the new authority.

[The date is approximate]

January 22, 2009
A petition to halt the conversion

This article  reports that "Mid Beds District Council rejected plans to turn the building into a private residence on the grounds that the alterations would not be in accordance with regulations governing appearance, preservation and historic use of a listed building."

The petition was organised by Friends of Flitwick Mill who propose to turn it into a heritage centre and to restore the mill to working order so that they can run demonstrations much like Bromham or Stotfold Mills do today.

October 1, 2008
Rescue plan sought

This is another newspaper article reporting on the deferred plans to convert the mill. The decision is deferred for three months to see if funding can be raised to keep the mill in working order.

The article reports on both sides of the discussion, with one councillor saying "This suggestion by English Heritage to turn it back into a working mill is completely naive. It's not just the cost of restoration but the upkeep in the future."

Another councillor points out that it took 13 years and the best part of £1 million to restore Stotfold Mill.

Early photograph of the mill and mill house

This is one of the earliest photographs of the south-west faces of the mill and mill house that we have seen. The subject is the two children in a canoe in the foreground. 

The chimney of the lean-to between the mill and greenhouse is sensibly much further away from the mill than it is today and the chimney for the steam-engine is still standing next to the mill. 

A noticeable absence is that of the Sequoia or Wellingtonia tree that was rather inappropriately planted near to the sluice gates at a later date.

Many thanks to Jon Goodman for sharing this photograph.

Mill worker with sack-barrow

A photograph from outside the front door of the mill. 

Thanks to Anne Slack for providing the photograph. 

We are also very grateful to David Sedgley for retuning the sack-barrow in this picture to the mill after he had bought it at auction!

An earlier generation of the Goodman family

This is the Goodman family in the garden of Flitwick Mill House. These people are the grandparents and great-grandparents of the current generation of Goodmans.

In the background, you can see the chimney still standing by the mill.

Thanks to Jon Goodman and his brother for this photograph

See more photographs