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Lea Bridge mills

Lea Bridge mills

Lea Bridge Mills c.1830. Watercolour by C Bigot. (Hackney Archives)



Lea Valley Regional Park Authority

Date or period

c. 1381

Current Designation


Architectural Merit


Archaeological Significance

High, but significant disruption of remains likely.

Group Value



The ground has been substantially remodelledand the path of watercourses

Future Conservation

Watching brief

This page is under development

Historical Association

A mill, from which North Mill field in 1381 and South Mill field in 1443 were named, was presumably the forerunner of corn mills at Lea Bridge.

The Tyssen family held land and mills at Lea Bridge from the late seventeenth century and founded theLea Bridge or Hackney Waterworks, in 1707, operating them from 1707-1723.The mills were also developed for grinding corn and for the manufacture of pins and needles. The mills were probably also used to drive the machinery to bore the wooden pipes used to carry drinking water.

The works were reported to have become dilapidated or derelict by 1724 but repaired in 1724 by John Ward and George Osmond.

The mills were rebuilt from 1760 by the "Hackney Waterworks Company' to supply water to Clapton.

In 1794, the corn mill was grinding and supplying very high quality and highly dried flour for government service.The millstones and hot houses were on the ground floor with the corn store on the second floor, connected by trunks or spouts. Between these floors was the needle manufactory, through which the trunks passed.

On the 14th January 1796 the mills caught fire and were destroyed.Within two years, in April 1798, the Waterworks were back in operation.

A description of the mills at the beginning of the nineteenth century

'A large building chiefly of wood on a brick foundation with a slate roof containing the waterworks and a corn mill with ware and stor rooms…2 water wheels one of which is used for the purpose of the Mill and the other supplies the Waterworks as well as turns the Mill and also moves an Engine for boring pipes for Waterworks.’

The water tower (or chimney) depicted in 1762 had been removed by 1829.

Various plans to either extend the Lea Bridge mills or to acquire and integrate them with other waterworks were prepared in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. TheEast London Waterworks Company eventually purchased the mills andincorporated them into their supply infrastructure after 1829.

Thomas Wicksteed supervised the reconstruction of the Lea Bridge Mills with machinery for raising water in order to adapt them for pumping water to the East London Waterworks Company’s district from 1832.

By 1837, Wicksteed installed a new undershot waterwheel at Lea Bridge. The wheel was 18ft. diameter by 14.5 ft. wide. At the same time he installed another wheel of the same diameter, but 7.5 ft. wide. The contractors were Hunter and English Of Bow.

The mill and the characteristic islands of the old waterworks were remodeled and joined into to the East London Waterworks Company’s land to the south between 1853 and 1865, supervised by Charles Greaves.


leabridge.org.uk December 2012