Sarehole Mill

Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed water mill dating back to the 18th century (there was a mill on the same site since the 16th century) and restored from dereliction in 1969. As a child, J.R.R. Tolkien lived close to it in what was then countryside; he said in an interview in The Guardian it was the inspiration for the mill at Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings.

'It was a kind of lost paradise,' he said. 'There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill. I always knew it would go - and it did.'

Equally importantly, it played a role in the Industrial Revolution. Matthew Boulton (James Watts' partner in developing steam power) rented it from 1756-1761. It is believed he did experiments there and may have adapted parts of it for metal rolling, before he went on to set up the first proper factory (the Soho Manufactory) in Handsworth.

Image © John M and used under this Creative Commons Licence

Sarehole Mill

The field next to Sarehole Mill was the site of an annual summer fete (always round about my birthday). All the traditional summer fete activities: tombola and various other simple stalls, including a home made cake stall that Mum always refused to frequent. Supposedly she could make the same things cheaper at home, even though she rarely did. And there was paddling (did I spend my entire childhood up to my knees in water? Sometimes it seems like it.)

Of course the summer fete never looked anything like this. Except when it was windy. Or wet. Or cold. But at least there was never any snow!

Image © Elliot Brown and used under this Creative Commons Licence. (Location is approximate).