ludham archive

     The Mystery Mill

Old photographs turn up all the time, but are they always what they claim to be? This first photograph certainly caused a lot of debate at Archive Group meetings and even had us out on a boat trip in search of the truth.

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not goodwin's mill

The person who gave us the above photograph claimed that it was a picture of Goodwin's Mill which used to stand on the bank of the River Thurne in Ludham. the mill used to drain the nearby Horsefen Marshes and so was really a drainage pump. It was still in use within living memory, but it has long since been demolished and replaced with a much more mundane electric pump. However, is this really Goodwin's Mill and is the picture of Ludham at all? That was the question.

Now, one of our members remembers Goodwin's Mill from when he was a boy and it did look quite like that mill in the picture. So, that's a eyewitness account that suggests the story might be true. However, memory plays tricks and that mill is quite hidden by trees.

There are written records that say Goodwin's Mill is a clockwise mill, and you can clearly see from the photograph that the mill in the picture is an anticlockwise mill, but then, photographs can be reversed. Even so, this suggests the story is false.

Now it so happens that the Ludham archive contains another photograph which claims to be Goodwin's Mill, take a look at this one:

Goodwin's Mill?

This clearly is a clockwise mill and that could easily be the River Thurne. The two buildings to the right of the mill are not now there, but the ridged roof behind might be part of building which is still there. One thing is for certain, these two photographs do not show the same mill.

So, there was only one thing to do. Get out in a boat and try to take a photograph from the same viewpoint as the one above. Like this one:

Goodwin's Mill today
The red roofed building in the foreground is modern and houses the current electric pump. There are also a lot more trees, but that is not unusual as trees were kept low in the past to allow the wind to blow the mills and sailing boats. The older building is partly hidden by the big tree.

So what do you think?  After much debate, we are inclined to the view that the first picture is not Goodwin's Mill and may not even be of Ludham. The second picture probably is Goodwin's Mill, but we can't prove it.

If you have any information, please let us know.


No sooner had we written this web page when we were given another picture of Goodwin's Mill. Again, this is a clockwise mill and we have it on good authority that this is indeed the mill in question.

Or is it? What do you think?

Goodwin's mill


We have now been given some further photographs and there is no doubt that these do show Goodwin's Mill. We know where they were taken and by whom so we can be confident that these are right. This leads us to conclude that the first photograph on this page is not Goodwin's Mill, but the second one with the two sailing boats is.
Here are the new pictures:

from bungalows
View of Goodwin's Mill from bungalow on the Thurne

from boat
Goodwin's Mill from boat on the Thurne (reverse direction from the one above)


We have just had an e-mail from Peter Allard who has identified the mill in the first picture (and indeed the boat as well). Here is his update:

I recognised the mystery mill photograph immediately as Powell's Mill on the Haddiscoe Cut. To be sure, I found some other photographs of this mill and it matches up perfectly. The steam pinnace (or launch) alongside is almost certainly one of Hobrough's vessels, probably the Terrible.

Thank you Peter for this update which completes the puzzle. Or does it? Maybe someone out there knows even more about these mills!

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