Webpage created: February 12, 2019
Webpage updated: February 12, 2019
KING'S MILL or LOWER GRIST MILL
This flour mill was located on the north side of the old Pound Street, beneath what is now the new Arts Centre of the Plymouth University. It was also known as the Lower Grist Mill or the Middle Mill. The name of King's Mill is said to date from 1806 presumably as a result of the Board of Admiralty taking the lease of the mill from 1800 until 1831 for providing corn for victualling the Royal Navy.
Like its neighbours upstream on the Plymouth Leat, Drake's Place Mill and Old Town Mill, it was built by Sir Francis Drake under the terms of his 67-year lease of the Leat from Plymouth Corporation. It was apparently built on land known as Griffin's Park, for which the Town paid an annual rent of £2 3s 4d for over a century between 1595 and 1711.
King's Mill had two water-wheels and two pairs of mill-stones.
From Lady Day 1851 it was held for 7 years by Mr John Gent, who also worked the Roborough Mill. His rent at that time was £176 per annum. Mr Gent lived at the Mill, with his wife, Phillippa, who came from Walkhampton, and their two daughters (Amelia, aged 8 years, and Emma,6) and three sons (William, aged 11 years, John, 4, and newly arrived James. The children were all born in the Parish of Bickleigh, just to the north of Plymouth. In 1851 he employed six men. Mr Gent died in 1900 at the age of 83 years.
After renewing the lease on several occasions, Mr Gent finally relinquished the lease of the Lower Grist Mill in 1881, when it was said to be so dilapidated that it could only be rented for £120 per year, which was unacceptable to the Corporation.
According to an article about the Leat in "Doidge's Annual" for 1912, the course of the Leat went under the pavement where the dairy in Saltash Street stood. At the Rowe Street end was a pond and a huge water wheel but these had gone by the time the 1894 Ordnance Survey map was published. The site was then a stone dressing yard.
The next mill towards the centre of Plymouth was the Providence Mill.