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Coppermill, Walthamstow Marsh
Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow, London, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1800
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ349883
ICE reference number  HEW 2218
There has been a mill on this site for centuries, harnessing water power to produce a variety of commodities. The present building is around 200 years old and was a copper mill until the mid 19th century, when the East London Waterworks Company converted it into a pumping station. It is now a storage facility.
Walthamstow manor had a mill in 1066 and in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. In the 14th century the mill race was diverted from the River Lea (or Lee) as the power source and flows beneath the buildings. At that time it was a corn mill. In 1611 the manor had four mills, which became independent of the manor in 1659.
Gunpowder was made on this site in the 17th century a powder mill was recorded in 1647 and a map of 1699 describes the area as Powdermill Marsh. From 1653 to 1703 there was also a paper mill and the mill stream was known as Papermill River. By 1710 it was a leather mill, and remained so into the 1720s. From 1742 until 1806 it was used as an oil mill crushing flax seeds to extract linseed oil. The oil mill buildings were rebuilt circa 1800 before being offered for sale in 1806.
The British Copper Company was formed in 1807 and purchased the mill in 1808. The company smelted copper at Landore near Swansea, south Wales, and the ingots were shipped on barges around the south coast of Britain, up the River Thames and along the Lea Navigation to the mill. Here they were rolled into sheets for general use and for covering ships' hulls.
The rolling mill machinery was installed in 1809. From then until 1814 the mill also produced copper coinage tokens (penny and halfpenny), at the on site mint. At that time the undershot waterwheel was 5.5m diameter and 6.1m wide, ran at 5.7 revolutions per minute and drove a pair of 400mm diameter rollers through bevel gearing. The mill race was renamed Coppermill Stream.
Coppermill was bought by Henry Bath & Co. in 1824 and Williams, Foster & Co. in 1832, though the British Copper Company name was retained. The rolling mill ceased working in 1857 and the machinery was transferred to Swansea.
The East London Waterworks Company bought the mill in 1860. The company used the waterwheel to pump water into the five reservoirs they were building nearby. The square pump house building is brick with Portland stone dressings a double roof of hipped pantiles. It has an adjoining brick wing to the rear north east corner with a slate gabled roof. On the south side of the building is a triangular peninsula on which a hand crane with a wooden jib survives. This was used to unload the copper ingots.
In 1864 the East London Waterworks Company added the Romanesque rectangular tower to accommodate a Cornish Bull engine. It is attached to the north west of the main block and has an open arcade upper storey with a hipped pantile roof.
The mill house was demolished in 1941. The surviving buildings were Grade II listed in 1951 and are not open to the public. The mill passed into the hands of the Metropolitan Water Board in 1904 and is now owned by Thames Water who maintain it in good condition for use as a store. Opposite is the modern Coppermill Advanced Water Treatment Works (TQ354882).
Rolling mill machinery: Lloyd & Ostell
Cornish steam engine: Edward Bull
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH Lond

Coppermill, Walthamstow Marsh