This drawing by Miss Norah Arber shows a smock windmill that stood on a plot of land called Millfield on West Street, Prittlewell, and as it existed in the period between 1832 and 1865. St Mary's church can be seen to east in the background and the building behind the mill to its right was Millfield House. West Street is out of view, to right of Millfield House and off the right edge of the drawing. Today the site of this mill would be the M&S petrol station on the west side of Roots Hall Drive. There have been several windmills in the Southend area. The oldest that is implied in the records was Hamlet Mill which stood on the south side of what is now the junction of Avenue Road and Park Road in Westcliff. This served the Milton Hall Estate and a mention of 'Mildentuna' in the Domesday Book of 1086 would mean 'Hamlet by a mill' in old English although some modern sources give the origins of the name 'Milton' as 'middle town'. There is a record of a new mill being built on the site in 1299 which implies an older mill existed there. The earliest recorded mill in Prittlewell was built by Richard De Southchurch in 1294. This stood on the north side of the junction of East Street and Sutton Road, behind the workhouse cottages which were also known as 'Mill Hill Cottages'. The cottages were demolished in 1960 and are now a block of flats. Another windmill was built in East Street in 1779 but demolished in 1870. The 1777 'Map of the County of Essex' by John Chapman & Peter André was the earliest map of the area that can be considered as accurate in terms of both distance measurements and the buildings depicted. The map shows two mills, firstly the Hamlet Mill which served the Milton Hall Estate and secondly a mill in Prittlewell, serving the Priory Estate. Both estates were owned by the Scratton family in this period. The map shows the importance of North Road in connecting Milton Hall and the Priory together with their respective mills. The Prittlewell mill shown on the 1777 map was situated between Prittle Brook and West Street, where the Roots Hall football ground is today. It was a post mill (where the whole building could be turned to face the wind) and there is a record of a post mill in this area from 1758. This mill is thought to have been moved to a new site, by West Street, in 1794 and a mill at the Millfield site is shown on an 1825 map. This was demolished in 1832, to be replaced by a smock mill (where only the top of the mill was turned to face the wind). This smock mill is the one that is depicted in Miss Arber's drawing. In addition to grinding corn, the mill is said to have pumped water to a nursery with greenhouses at the rear of Millfield House. The arrival of the railway in Southend in 1856 triggered two events. Firstly, Daniel Robert Scratton decided to sell much of his land and retire to an estate in Devon. Secondly, the railways provided a fast means of transporting grain inland and the barge owners were no longer needed to transport grain along the Thames, with some switching to coal transportation instead. Combined with the fact that wind power had largely been superseded by the Industrial Revolution, the small, local windmills were giving way to larger, industrial mills. The Hamlet Mill was amongst the properties sold by Scratton in a grand sale of 1869. This land was also called Millfield (or Mill Fields) It was the only decision by Scratton that proved unpopular as the iconic, if out-dated, structure was demolished shortly after the sale when the land was developed by Thomas Dowsett as the residential Park Estate. But Scratton had other plans for Prittlewell where he retained the land around the Priory together with the land granted to St Mary's Church and its school at Glynds, to protect these from development. In 1865, Scratton built a new vicarage for St Mary's Church on the west side of Millfield House in West Street. Some sources give the demolition of the Millfield Mill as c.1869 but given the little space that existed between Millfield House and the new rectory, the mill was probably demolished in the 1865 works. The new rectory replaced the old vicarage that stood by the church on East Street. The older building was then rebuilt and extended whereupon the school at Glynds (the foot of the hill at the junction with Priory Crescent today) moved into the new building as St Mary's School in 1868. Scratton then sold the old Glynds building as cottages. The 1897 map shows the vicarage standing next to Millfield House (then called simply 'Millfield') on West Street. Another legacy of the mill can be seen in the name of Mill Farm (bottom left on the map). It is also interesting that water pumping stations were built close to the sites of both Hamlet and Millfield windmills given that the latter was thought to have also pumped water. The town's first water supply had resulted from a collaboration between Daniel Robert Scratton and the railway company, also in 1865. Following Scratton's death in 1902, his family began to sell more of his land. Millfield House was sold in 1906 and at some stage was acquired by the Salvation Army to accommodate the court welfare work with children and families that had been started by Mrs Colonel Minnie Clinton Lamb in Southend, where she served as a Poor Law guardian and probation officer as well as being a JP. Mrs Lamb's husband, Colonel David Lamb, had been the governor of the Hadleigh Farm Colony. Minnie Lamb turned Millfield House into a children's home to provide an alternative to the Rochford Union workhouse. As such it replaced a home that she had been running since 1903. The Millfield House home was officially opened on 14th April 1917 by famous author Sir Henry Rider Haggard. As H. Rider Haggard, he was a prolific writer with many novels about South Africa where he had lived and worked (including "King Solomon's Mines", its sequel "Allan Quatermain" and "She"). But he also wrote many letters to the Times along with non-fiction works about social issues including Dr. Barnardo's homes and the children's legislation of the day. In particular, he had served on a government commission to examine the Salvation Army Colonies and had written about the Hadleigh Colony. Two photos of the 1917 opening were printed in the Southend Gazette. One shows H. Rider Haggard with David and Minnie Lamb together with a missionary from China (in the tasselled robe). The other shows a group of the home's children who sang at the opening. The Millfield House home (also called simply Millfields) was extended in 1922 and again in 1938 whereupon the newly altered building was re-opened by General Evangeline Booth on 23 July 1938. Minnie Lamb died in the same year. During World War 2 the residents were evacuated to Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Following David Lamb's death in 1951, Millfield House became an Eventide home for women. Its new residents had previously been living at Buzzacott Hall in Wokingham, Berkshire. It continued to be run by the Salvation Army and an inscription above the door read "The Minnie Lamb Memorial Home". By 1991, the accommodation at Millfield House was considered unsatisfactory and it was then rebuilt as the Salvation Army administered care home, "Bradbury Home", that stands there today. The building takes its name from the financial support provided by the Bradbury Trust. Bradbury Home was officially opened by Sir Teddy Taylor MP, 15th May 1992. David and Minnie Lamb were both buried in a family plot at Leigh Cemetery.

Southend Timeline Southend-on-Sea © 2009 - 2022. All Rights Reserved

by Warwick Conway
1897 Map
Millfield (long ago) Norah Arber. Picture from the Terry Herbert Collection
1777 'Map of the County of Essex' by John Chapman & Peter André
Millfield Home Opening 1917 Southend Gazette
Millfield The Homes Children 1917 Southend Gazette
Southend-on-Sea’s No 1 History Website! Documenting The Town & The Townspeople
Now Incorporating The Sea Of Change Website
Website Info:
Chalkwell ▪ Eastwood ▪ Leigh-on-Sea ▪ Prittlewell ▪ Shoeburyness ▪ Southchurch ▪ Thorpe Bay ▪ Westcliff-on-Sea