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What Is the House Mill?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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The House Mill is a British museum in London’s East End that dates to 1776, when it began grinding flour in a tidal mill for nearby bakers who sold their wares to customers in the heart of London. Located on Three Mills Island, it is the oldest mill in the area. Some historians believe it is the largest extant tidal mill in the world. The mill used the high tides of river and sea water to set its water wheels in motion.

In the beginning, the House Mill operated four wheels that were employed to turn 24 millstones, which operated in pairs. All four wheels survived, but only 12 millstones remain today along with some other period machinery. Commercial operations halted following the bombing of London during World War II.

The House Mill operated on the flow of the tide on Bow Creek and an estuary of the Thames River. A sluice helped to control the flowing water and operate the mill, permitting a workday of about eight hours. Grain housed on the third floor traveled by chutes to either the first or second floors. The second floor was used to prepare the grain. On the lower level stood doors through which the ground product could be sent off in carts.

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Daniel Bisson was the first miller who built and operated the House Mill, erecting it where another mill once stood. The House Mill gets its name from the fact it is framed on either side by a house where the miller and his family members resided. It sat across the road from a similar structure, the Clock Mill, which was renovated in 1817 but ceased operations in 1952. A windmill also once stood near the House Mill.

Visitors can tour the House Mill only, or they can take a walking tour of the Three Mills Loop on Sundays. The circular route takes tourists along the Hertford Union Canal and the River Lea Navigation, with stops at Victoria Park and Kingsley Hall, past the Roman Road. The House Mill offers only guided tours, and children are admitted free.

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