Three Mills Island in Bromley-by-Bow was named after three mills that once stood there.
The red-roofed House Mill (built in 1776) still stands, and is currently in the process of being renovated for historical interest (more about this mill later – far too much of photographic interest for one post!). Clock Mill (with its clock tower and two drying kilns) was built in the early 1800s and is now a school premises. The third mill referred to was a windmill, but this has since long gone although the name remains. The building immediately behind Clock Mill (through the blue gates) is now a TV Studio, aptly named ‘3 Mills Studios’.
It seems there have been mills of some sort or another recorded in this area of East London at least since the 11th Century, as they have even been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086!
House Mill is currently open on Sundays between 11am-4pm for guided tours only – it’s little more than a shell of a mill at the moment, but at least it still exists, and is well worth seeing round. It closed in 1941, with much of the original interior being sold off as salvage, and the building itself then sat derelict for almost 50 years before it was bought in the late 1980s in order to be saved for posterity rather than pulled down for redevelopment.
The guided tours of House Mill are run by volunteers, who also run the adjoining cafe and little gift shop and are very knowledgeable about the history of the mill. To be honest I’d never even heard of a tidal mill until discovering House Mill – apparently it got the water necessary to turn the water wheels from careful management of the ebb and flow of the tidal river over which it sits, the water wheels in turn powering the mill-stones to grind the maize 🙂