According to the Domesday Book there were two
[water] mills in
the parish of Felmersham - one at Radwell and the other at
Felmersham. The Radwell mill was most likely located near the
railway bridge which crosses the River Ouse between Milton
Ernest and Radwell (O.S. TL009570), and the Felmersham Mill
was probably located at Perch Islands (O.S. SP987578). In Sharnbrook the Doomsday Book lists two
mills and it is possible that one of these mills was located at
Pinch mill (or Pinch mills) spanned a branch of the
river, which was also the parish boundary, however the mill is
generally considered to be in the
One of the sluices of Pinch
Mills - 1895
The first documentary evidence of a mill at Pinchmill Islands is
in the Hundred Rolls Of the hundred of Wilye in 1278-79. A deed dated 1286 states that the Prior of Newnham held
fishing rights over the river from the Mill of Pinch to the
Mill of Stoke.
In the Court
Rolls of 1608 under the heading of a Perambulation of the
bounds of the parish, the Rev Nicholas Craven refers to
Pynche Mylne in his account of a Felmersham parish boundary walk.
The earlier documents refer to the mill as the molendinium de Pynches
however there are no surviving early records of a family
with that name. This suggests that the mill may have
belonged to a small manor or farm named Pynche lying
within the parish of Sharnbrook or Felmersham.
The mill was situated in a natural
narrowing of the river which could be described as a
pinch so this could be an alternative, but less likely,
explanation for the name.
Having been unused for many years,
the old mill was demolished in 1880. Frank Hipwell, in an
article for the “Sharnbrook Review” 1949 describes
the old mill as follows:
"The original layout of the ancient
mill with its house and premises is not easily traced, but
the main structure spanned the river and its wheel house
was furnished with three gates.
discharged into the now silted-up and rusty mill-pit, one
delivering direct to an undershot wheel, while others,
less frequently raised, were there to give passage to the
rush of water in time of flood, which also was provided
against by slip-ways still in evidence.
A cut to allow pleasure boats to
pass from Sharnbrook water to the Felmersham reaches was
made shortly after the demolition, for the main waterway
was left too blocked to admit of such use, and several
field dykes flow into it. The effect of these numerous
channels is to create a miniature archipelago, its islands
smothered in a dense jungle of undergrowth among thriving
trees and old fallen trunks."
All that remains of the mill is
a small section of a wall, visible when the river is low,
and a few stones on the river bed.