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Carew Tidal Mill (French Mill)
Carew, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
Carew Tidal Mill (French Mill)
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1801
era  Georgian  |  category  Watermill  |  reference  SN040038
ICE reference number  HEW 803
photo  Jane Joyce
Carew Tidal Mill, east of Milford Haven, sits at the south end of a causeway across the Carew River. It replaced a much earlier mill at the same location and gets its alternative name, French Mill, from the French burr millstones it used for grinding, though there is also a tradition that it was built by French millwrights. It is the only intact tidal mill in Wales, complete with all its machinery, and currently is disused.
The date of the first mill at Carew is not known. Carew Castle (SN044037, constructed 1270) is only 300m to the east, so it might be plausible to suggest medieval origins. Records show a mill certainly existed here as early as 1541, possibly powered by a leat running from the Carew River. In 1558, John Bartlett leased it for a yearly sum of 10 sovereigns.
The 150m long causeway, used as a wharf at high tide, predates the present mill building and impounds a large millpond of some 11 hectares surface area. It was reported that the floodgates and causeway walls had been restored in about 1615, and the old mill was rebuilt in 1792, following a fire.
The tidal mill we see today was probably built in the early 19th century — one of the mill’s two waterwheels is dated 1801. It is a large three-storey stone building, two bays wide and five bays long, with attic space and a slate roof. The ground floor holds machinery for the running stones and lifting the sluice gates. Six pairs of millstones, three pairs driven by each waterwheel, are on the first floor with the grain cleaning machine, the flow dresser and the out roller. The second floor is for grain hoppers, fed from the loft above.
The dam has stone facing, a clay core, central floodgates and a spillway at the north end. It is about 4.5m wide here and widens to around 13m at the south end. Water falling 3.3m down sluices under the mill operates the two 4.8m diameter undershot waterwheels. The wheels have 225mm square iron shafts and timber bucket paddles — one is 1.65m wide and the other 2.1m.
The mill ground mainly corn and, in later years, some bone. In the 1870s, it was described as 'dilapidated' and milling ceased in 1937. Tie bars on the south side were installed later to prevent the building splitting apart.
However, by the start of the 1970s, the building had become derelict and was in danger of collapse. It was Grade II* listed in September 1971 and, in 1972, restoration work was completed with funding from the Historic Buildings Council of Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembroke Rural District Council.
In 1983, the mill was leased to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. Further renovation and improvement work was undertaken 1983-5, including the creation of a reception area and milling museum inside the building. The machinery and south waterwheel were fully restored by 1998, and when in use the waterwheel generates about 15kW.
RCAHMW_NPRN 40230
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Pembrokeshire: Pevsner architectural guides: The buildings of Wales" by Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, Yale University Press, 2004
www.coflein.gov.uk
www.ice.org.uk
www.welshmills.org.uk
reference sources   CEH W&WCEH Wales
Location

Carew Tidal Mill (French Mill)