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Bowman's Water Mill

A Grade II Listed Building in Hitchin, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.031 / 52°1'51"N

Longitude: -0.2277 / 0°13'39"W

OS Eastings: 521679

OS Northings: 238436

OS Grid: TL216384

Mapcode National: GBR J69.P7Z

Mapcode Global: VHGNF.06GW

Plus Code: 9C4X2QJC+9W

Entry Name: Bowman's Water Mill

Listing Date: 7 January 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393880

English Heritage Legacy ID: 492461

Location: Astwick, Central Bedfordshire, SG5

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Astwick

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Astwick

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

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Bowman's water mill


Water powered corn mill, dated 1847. Mill and despatch building. Local gault brick, slate roofs. Mill. Three storeys on upstream side, four storeys on downstream side, plus upper floor lit from gable ends. Five bay east and west elevations, three bay south elevation. East and west fronts articulated by two full height, round-headed recessed panels, gable ends with a single broad recessed panel. Metal framed fixed lights with small panes, under segmental arched heads. East front has inserted doors and windows under concrete lintels. Loading door at first floor. South elevation symmetrical with metal framed windows or blind openings, two per floor except for single upper floor window. Cast iron overshot water wheel in wheel pit. West front. Large rectangular entrance in altered opening under steel joist, at basement level, flanked by metal framed light. Upper floor largely metal framed lights, some blind openings, one irregular upper floor light. North front. Recessed panel with single upper floor light, the arch part blocked by two storey block.

INTERIOR. Mill floors of broad elm boards, connected by ladder stairs. Floor hatches at each floor. Lower, ground and first floors supported on cast iron columns, upper floors on timber shafts. Broad internal doorway, with vertically boarded door, on north wall at ground level, leading to despatch building. Queen strut roof, braced to the lower purlin.

Machinery. Basement. Intact octagonal cast iron hurst frame and machinery, with classical detailing to the piers, linked to water wheel. Drive shaft to upper level with crown wheel at first floor.
All stone floor stones, hoists, bins etc from upper floors are removed.

Attached two storey, three bay building with external stack to north. Symmetrical east front with wide central entrance under segmental brick arch. First floor loading door. Windows small paned metal lights with opening central element, except for ground floor right window, which is a timber sash. North doorway. West front extended and altered.

There were four hundred mills in Bedforshire making flour in 1855 (Howes). Bowman's mill is one of a few surviving from the mid C19 corn milling industry on the River Ivel in Mid Bedfordshire. By 1983 only Jordan's mill operated commercially. The river apparently provided a good reliable source of energy although some such as Bowman's used auxiliary steam power. It is still recognisable as a workable mill. It has lost its steam powered element but the site is undeveloped and the archaeology of both water and steam powered systems survives. The contemporary mill house is adjacent to it. The river, enlarged to form a mill pond, and blocked penstock, are in the grounds of the house.

Taylor's mill in the same parish, is an earlier building, of combined mill and mill house, listed but converted to residential use. Stotfold Mill also listed, was rebuilt after severe fire damage in the 1990s and restored as a working mill. It too has a large octagonal cast iron hurst frame, a local feature. Langford Mill and Biggleswade Mill, the latter listed are similar to Bowman's mill but both converted to residential use and have lost their milling context. Jordan's (Holme) Mill operates commercially, is extended and has later C19 machinery. The mid C19 context has gone.
The site is an important survival of the mid C19 corn milling industry, and the building is one of the best preserved mills of this period in the county. It is a dated building, architecturally intact, and with sufficient machinery and surrounding archaeological evidence to read as a working mill. It is well documented and photographed.
Both mill and mill house are prominent, the scale and appearance of both critical to the landscape.

Bedforshire Mills, Hugh Howes, 1983
The Windmills and Watermills of Bedfordshire, Kenneth Major, 1967
Hurst Frame, Bowman's Mill, Astwick, Beds. Drawing by Wilfred Foreman, 1986

Reasons for Listing

Dated 1847, this well preserved example of the Bedfordshire water powered corn milling industry should be listed.

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