Plea to protect a bit of Droitwich's history

By Carl Jackson Friday 12 October 2012 Updated: 19/10 15:08

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Buy photos » The wreckage during the aftermath of the 1947 fire - another dramatic chapter in the history of the mill and the town itself.(s)

A DROITWICH historian has launched a last-ditch attempt to preserve the old town mill.

The works on Hanbury Road are under threat as part of the redevelopment of the former Land Rover garage site, which will see 84 homes, including 61 for retirement accommodation.

Work is due to start next year after McCarthy and Stone received planning permission from Wychavon District Council in February.

But Paul Jones, of Cockshute Hill, who has recorded the history of the mill and believes it was built around 200 years ago, wants to see the historic building, or some part of it, preserved.

He said: “It is most probable this development will sweep away the remains of the town mill, but it is just possible some part of it could be saved as a stabilised ruin.

“Realistically I would just like to see a portion of it saved, but, in fantasy, I would love to see it fully-restored with a mock turning wheel.”

He added the mill deserved to be recognised for the important role it played it played in the town’s history.

Mr Jones’ research revealed that, over the years, the mill had survived heavy floods and two fires, before being converted for light industry use in 1947.

In 1875 it fell victim to flooding which spread across the West Midlands and saw the River Salwarpe rise up to 8ft.

According to reports at the time, it caused the Hortons, who owned it, to close two of the building’s three floors.

The Hortons were still the occupiers for next major incident when fire broke out in the early of hours of a Sunday morning in 1909.

The blaze lasted for more than five hours and gutted most of the machinery in the oldest part of the mill, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Within two years, ownership passed hands to the Everton family who ran it up until 1947 when the second fire ended its function as a mill.

According to Mr Jones, more than 300 people lined the streets to witness flames of up to 50ft.

Again it broke it out in the early hours of the morning and the fire was still threatening to spread 24 hours later.

The damage topped £35,000, and brought around 150 years of milling on the site to an end.

A McCarthy and Stone spokesperson said archaeological surveys were being carried out to determine the location of any remains.

The company added it intended to recognise the historical provenance in the landscaping of the garden as well as provide a ‘heritage panel’.

“McCarthy and Stone is fully aware of the historical and archaeological importance of the site and is keen to ensure that their development reflects and enhances this.”

The article ‘A Short History of Droitwich Town Mill in Worcestershire, England’ by Paul Jones is available on Kindle for 77p.

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Buy photos» Then and now. Despite its ruined condition, historian Paul Jones believes the mill’s rich history should be preserved for the future. The site is threatened by a development bringing new homes to the area.s.

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Buy photos» The mill as it is today.s.

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