Redbournbury Lane, Redbourn Road, St Albans AL3 6RS, England
Redbournbury Watermill, more usually known as just Redbournbury Mill, is a Grade II listed flour mill just north of St Albans, which is thought to have existed in one form or another since the 11th Century. Having run for many years as a watermill powered by the River Ver, Redbournbury is now serviced by a diesel engine.
The Ver, which gave its name to Verulamium (the Roman name of St Albans), is a small stream and river which runs from Kensworth in Bedfordshire and eventually joins with the larger River Colne near the hamlet of Colney Street.
Although its exact date of construction is unknown, a mill on the same site has been mentioned as far back as the Domesday Book of 1086, and whilst not definite, it is possible that the current mill was built on the foundations of the earlier settlement.
In 1841, the mill’s tenant was a man called Edward Hawkins. Redbournbury would then remain with the Hawkins family for most of the next 144 years. Edward’s great-granddaughter Ivy would be the last descendent to mill at Redbournbury. She started milling there when she was just 19 and lived there until 1985. In 1959 she received national attention for being named as “Britain’s only lady miller” by The Times newspaper.
When the present owners bought the mill, it had not been used for its true purpose since the late 1950’s. Although well-preserved, it did need considerable repairs, being a unique historical record of an early Victorian watermill.
A bakery was built in front of the mill in 2005, filling one of the disused barns, and has been open to the public on Saturday mornings since 2006. In the small onsite shop you can purchase a range of breads and cakes which have all been made using flour straight from the mill. Redbournbury volunteers also host stalls at local farmers markets, including those at Harpenden and Kings Langley as well as neighbouring St Albans.
Most of the machinery now in use at the mill dates from the Victorian era. The heavy wooden framework supporting the gears (“hurst frame”) was built in the mid-nineteenth century, although there is evidence of earlier machinery at Redbournbury including a wooden water-wheel and gears.