Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill is a museum and one of only two productive tide mills in the entire world. A mill has been on this site since the 12th century; the current building was restored in the late 1970s and is about 235 years old. It may be best to check prior to your visit that milling is taking place as milling is dependent on the tide.

See the history of the Mill at the bottom of the page.
All year (except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun (and Bank Holiday Mondays), 10am - 4pm
Free entry for under 5s
The Tollbridge, Totton, Southampton, SO40 9HF
Tel:023 8086 9575

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Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill
Ten minute walk from Totton railway station.
Junction 2 of the M27.

Car park on the other side of the Tollbridge
There is an excellent café across the road in the Heritage Centre.
Wheelchair accessible (ground floor only)
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There are some excellent walks around the mill; up-river and down-river on the west side.
Nearby Eling Church is also worth a visit.
Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill
The History of Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill is a water mill that harnesses the power of the tide to grind wheat into wholemeal flour.

Situated on the edge of Southampton Water beside the renowned New Forest, there has been a mill on the site for over 900 years, although it has had to be rebuilt several times, with the current building being some 230 years old. Tide mills were once an important part of the economy of many countries, such as Great Britain and the United States of America - the latter having many hundreds of tide mills on the eastern coast from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Tidal power was harnessed in this fashion not only for milling flour, but for everything from sawing lumber and operating the bellows and hammers in ironworks, to manufacturing paper and cotton, to grinding spices, pepper and gunpowder. Before the advent of the steam engine they were the one kind of large-scale mill that was pretty much guaranteed to be able to run 365 days of the year.

Unfortunately they suffered far more than the river and wind mills after they were gradually abandoned in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and very few survive even as derelicts. There are only five tide mills open to the public in the entire United Kingdom, and none at all in the U.S.A.

Eling Tide Mill, although abandoned in the 1940s, had the great good fortune to survive until it was restored between 1975 and 1980, at which time it re-opened as both a working mill, and a museum to this part of our industrial heritage. It is the only fully working and productive tide mill in the United Kingdom, once again producing flour as it had throughout the last Millennium. It is, in fact, one of only two productive tide mills in the entire world (to the best of our knowledge), and the only one producing what it was built to produce.
Key Dates

1086 Domesday Book lists corn mill at Eling
1300 Nicholas le Coupere and others are fined for carrying off timber to the New Forest to Eling Mill
1382 Given to Winchester College by William of Wykeham as part of its endowment. Winchester College leased it to tenants until 1975
1418 Earliest surviving lease, granted to Thomas Mydlington of Southampton. Mill and causeway had to be rebuilt within two years
1518 A lease makes it clear that there was a wheat mill and a malt mill both under one roof
1741-2 Causeway breached and £195 spent on repairs to bridge, mill tumbling bay and gate hatches
1754-5 Causeway repaired with stone from the Isle of Wight
1785 Present building probably erected by John Chandler
1878 Tumbling bay bridge rebuilt as weir
1886 Causeway breached in a storm. (Night of 26th-27th December)
1890 Former grain store on quay converted to steam mill
1898 Most of the machinery replaced by Armfields of Ringwood
1920s The mill concentrates mainly on animal feed
1936 Machinery for animal feeds converted to diesel, one waterwheel still driving two pairs of stones
1941 All milling ceased
1945 Hatches removed to stop Rumbridge flooding, but silting of the creek increased
1975 Purchased by New Forest District Council from Winchester College, for restoration as a Working Museum
1975-1980 Restoration by volunteers and Work Creation Teams
1980 Mill re-opens as a Working Museum
2009 Totton and Eling Town Council take over management of the building
Courtesy of John Hurst
We do not actually know when the Mill was first built, but the earliest surviving reference to it is in the Domesday Book - a survey of all England - in 1086 AD. It is possible that it may even go back to Roman times (c.200-400 AD), but any evidence of this will be underneath the Mill and its dam.

Machinery – facts and figures

Diameter: 3.6 metres (12 feet)
Blades: Length: 1.7 metres (5 feet 6 ins ) Width: 1ft 11 ins

The Waterwheel has 24 Paddles (or Blades)

Gear Wheels
Pit Wheel: 108 Cogs (or teeth) Diameter: 8ft 10 ins
Wallower: 50 Cogs (or teeth) Diameter: 3ft 9 ins
Great Spur Wheel: 107 Cogs (or teeth)
Stone Nut: 23 Cogs (or teeth)
Crown Wheel: 97 Cogs (or teeth)

Theoretical Horse Power 29 HP

The Heyday of the Mill
The Mill was always owned by the Lord of the Manor of Eling, and originally this was the King of England as Eling was a royal manor. In the early 1200s, however, the manor and Mill were sold off by King John. They went through various hands until 1382 AD, when the title - and with it the Mill - was purchased by the Bishop of Winchester and given to a school he was founding (along with many other properties) to be a source of income. This school - Winchester College, the famous public school - owned the Mill from 1382 to 1975 AD, though they did not run it directly, but rather leased it out on long leases.

Although a very small operation by today's standards, in the past it was not just a small local business. While some of the grain for milling was from local farms, more used to be brought several hundred miles round the coast in barges from the Eastern side of England; when the tide was in, the barges could be sailed up Southampton Water, into Eling Creek, and right up to the Mill. Maximum possible output, running both waterwheels and all four sets of stones at full speed for both tides, could have been about 4 tonnes of flour per day.
The Mill has had to be rebuilt many times over the centuries, the last time being in the 1780s when it (and the dam) were completely rebuilt after a bad series of storms and floods. The current building is therefore in excess of 220 years old, although it has been on the same site and always a tidal powered flour mill for at least 940 years.

The milling machinery was last replaced in 1898 AD, when the old wooden undershot wheels and main gearing were replaced by cast iron Poncelet-type wheels (which increased the efficiency) and cast iron axles and gears. Basically, though, it still has the same parts working the same way as it always did.
Bed Stone: The lower, stationary mill stone
Bill: Chisel pointed tool for dressing the millstone
Chart Datum: This is a fixed reference level against which tidal heights are measured
Cogs: Teeth of a gear where timber is used instead of iron
Crown Wheel: Gear wheel at the top of the vertical shaft, used to drive auxiliary machinery
Damsel: Device for shaking grain from the shoe
Eye: Opening in the centre of the runner stone where the grain enters
Flour Dresser: inclined sieve with rotating brushes to separate bran from wholemeal
Furrows: Channels on the face of the mill stone
Great Spur: The driving gear attached to the vertical shaft above the wallower and driving the stone nuts
Grist: Blended mixture of grain fed to rollers or stones
Head: Difference in height between levels of water
Hopper: Box that holds grain above the millstones
Horse: Framework supporting the hopper and shoe above the mill stones
Hurst Floor: The floor where the massive wooden Hurst framework carries the bearing for the stone shaft and supports the heavy millstones
Jockey Pulley: Pulley which tensions the drive belt on the sack hoist
Lands: Area of millstone between furrows
Pit Wheel: Large bevel gear wheel attached to the axle of the water wheel and driving the wallower, changing horizontal power to vertical power
Runner stone: The revolving upper mill stone
Sack Hoist: A system which drives a chain hoist near the top floor to haul grain or meal from the floors below. It can be operated from any floor
Shoe: Chute which directs grain from the hopper to the eye of the stones
Stitching: Fine grooves on the face of the mill stone lands
Stone Crane: Pivoted crane for lifting and turning millstones
Stone Nuts: The gear wheel which is attached to the stone shaft and therefore driving the runner stone
Tun or Vats: Casing around each pair of stones
Wallower: The first gear, attached to the vertical shaft, that takes the drive from the pit and water wheels. Thereby changing the horizontal motion into a vertical drive.
The End of the Mill ... almost
The market for all of the small, millstone-using mills (whether tidal, wind or river powered) was destroyed in this country about a hundred years ago by the large, steam-powered roller mills built at the docks to mill imported grain from Canada, and in England all of these small mills failed and closed in the first half of the century.

Eling struggled on just doing animal feed, as did many other millstone-using flour mills, but by 1936 all of the tidal powered machinery had broken down and there was no money left to fix it. For ten years the last miller carried on with a small diesel engine running the animal feed machinery, all milling ceased in 1941 and the mill was abandoned in 1946 (however Tom Mackerel continued to collect the tolls from the Millers House until he retired in 1970), and just left to rot until 1975.
In 1975 the Mill was bought by New Forest District Council (the local government body) who began work to save it from collapse, and to restore it as a site of some industrial archaeological importance. Eling Tide Mill Trust was then set up to oversee the final phase of the restoration, and to administer the Mill as a working mill/museum after the Mill reopened in 1980.

The mill originally had two waterwheels, each driving two sets of millstones. We have restored one wheel with one set of millstones and left the other side un-restored so that people can see the machinery without modern safety screens around it.
Today we are one of only five tide mills open to the public in the United Kingdom, the others being: The House Mill (Bromley by Bow) in London, Thorrington Mill in Essex, Carew Mill in Pembrokeshire, and Woodbridge Mill in Suffolk.
For proper milling the tide should be complete off the water-wheel; the actual grinding is done by the lands (the flat surfaces) of the stones. You should not run the mill machinery without feeding grain through it, as it will cause the stones to spark. As flour dust is combustible in the air, there is a very real risk of fire or explosion. The mill can produce 1.5 Kg of flour every minute. The working set of millstones are French Burr stones, weighing roughly half a ton each.

The Stones
The stones are French Burr Grit Stones, quarried from the Parisian Basin (roughly 30km South-east of Paris). They have a diameter of approximately four feet (48 inches) and weigh roughly half a tonne each. They are also very expensive; the last time a new set of French Burr Stones were sold, (in 2003) they sold for £20,000.

The stones can mill somewhere between 60 t0 90 KG of wholemeal flour each hour, however as Eling Tide Mill currently only mills and sells eight tonnes a year we produce far less than our potential maximum output.


Average Speed of the Stones

Normal rate of Stones for Milling 60 rpm
Fastest we run the Stones 90 rpm
Fastest we could run the Stones 120 rpm


The Grain
Canute Flour
The grain comes from Doves Farms who are based in Hungerford, Berkshire., a large company who have farms situated all around the country. They grow an organic grain and because England doesn’t have the best climate for growing grain, the idea of having fields in many different regions of the UK ensures that the sporadic English weather will produce a naturally occurring, high protein grain.

Flour of the Forest
The “Flour of the Forest” brand flour is milled with a locally grown grain that we get from the Manor of Cadland Estate in the New Forest. This grain can be grown in the same region each time because artificial nitrates are used to ensure a high protein level regardless (to a degree) of climatic conditions.