Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: October 13, 2021
Webpage updated: October 13, 2021




Pomphlett Corn Mills, a tide-mill at Pomphlett Creek, Plymstock, had one of the longest histories in the Plymouth area.

Pomphlett Mill, Plymstock, circa 1968.

Pomphlett Corn Mills at Plymstock
City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery.

It was first recorded as Abbott's Mill in 1392, when it belonged to the Abbott of Tavistock.  At the dissolution of the monasteries on July 4th 1539, it passed from the Abbott into the hands of the Russell family.

It appears on the Siege of Plymouth map of 1643.

The earliest mention is in a document dated June 20th 1683, in the Bedford Estate papers, when the 'lately modified and rebuilt' mill was leased to Mr Ellis Lang, a ropemaker of Oreston.  A long list of items mentioned within the document includes the 'mill wheels', which supports the fact that there were two wheel-pits at the mill even though only one wheel is mentioned in Mr Rex Wailes' Tidemill Survey of 1938.

In 1708 the lease was surrendered in favour of Mr Bertie Hopkins, who in turn surrendered his lease on March 23rd 1744 when a new one was granted to Mr George Herbert.  In about 1750 he drew a map of the mill, which then occupied only the area of the main block and south-east wing as the buildings stood at the time of later demolition.  At that time there was also a bakehouse and granary in the south where more modern buildings were later erected.  A photograph of this map is held by the Plymouth Local Studies Library [at P621.7 POM] and the original is in the Devon Records Office.

Pomphlett Mill was sold in 1892 to Mr William Mitchell, who built several houses nearby and extended the Mill on the seaward side.   As previously stated, Mr Rex Wailes recorded only one undershot wheel, which had been removed by the time of the survey in 1938, but he apparently missed the fact that the one channel which disappeared under the mill split into two when hidden and there were, in fact, two wheels.  Mitchell had removed one of the wheels and replaced it with a water turbine.  This was in operation until 1924, when the new owners, the Plymouth Co-operative Society Limited, installed electrical grinding gear.  The inlet sluice was at the northern end of the Mill.

The Mill ceased to be used for grinding corn circa 1939 and was thereafter used as a store.

A detailed survey of the Mill was carried out by the City of Plymouth Museum in 1968 and revealed two bedstones and one runner stone, all composite and manufactured by Messrs William Garner and Sons, Monk Lane, London; broken flour chutes and a nearly complete complex of storage bins on the Third Floor.  All gearing had been removed.  Beneath the Ground Floor a 16th-century window confirmed the original extent of the building at that time.  Looking out into the mill pool, it was blocked off in the late 19th-century extension work.  There were also traces of an early stone circular staircase.  As the Billacombe Brook still entered at its head, the rate of silting was still quite slow.

Pomphlett Mill had been demolished as far as ground level by January 1969.