Tide Mill Institute

2007 Tidemill Conference - Two Continents, One Technology: Tide Mills on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Summary of the The Third Annual Historic Tide Mill Conference of the Tide Mill Institute
Saturday, November 3, 2007

Speakers included David Plunkett who has been studying tide mills since his involvement from an early stage in the restoration at Eling Tide Mill near Southampton. He spoke on two topics: Searching for the Origins of the Tidal Mill and The Tide Mills of Anglesey, Wales. In the first session he informed the audience that there is evidence from ancient times of the use of tidal power, and in his second presentation he enumerated a huge number of sites on the Island of Anglesey.

Claudia Silveira of Portugal spoke about The Tide Mills of the Sado Estuary. The Atlantic coast of Portugal experienced the construction of many tidal mills from at least as early as the thirteenth century. Ms. Silveira presented the Sado Estuary with the nearby city of Setubal as one of the areas of intense tidal mill activity, establishing a chronology and possible connection with salt production areas.

Bill Drew of New Castle, New Hampshire, spoke about the Tide Mill in My Front Yard: the 1650 Walton Mill and his search for information about milling in New England.

Bob Goodwin presented Excitement on Sedgunkedunk: A Newly-Found Tide Mill in Brewer, Maine.

Shorter presentations included a mention of Boat Mills and an update on the Souther Tide Mill in Quincy, Massachusetts. General discussion about the future of tide mills and the direction of the Tide Mill Institute completed the agenda before the group departed to view the Slade Spice Mill building in Revere, Massachusetts.

The general discussion included suggestions for:

  • More tours of mills and mill sites.

  • The study of power generation from the tides

  • Possibly using Pleasure Bay in South Boston for the installation of a model

  • Establish relations with governmental departments and supportive politicians

  • Make it easier to find the existing history of tide mills and their sites

  • Increased surveying of sites

When the discussion turned to the Tide Mill Institute, the following more specific suggestions emerged:

  • The need to involve school children should inspire us to form a sub-committee to explore educational activities.
  • The audience was definitely in favor of holding future annual conferences.
  • There was a request for the Institute to develop a history of tide mills, but this suggestion was tempered with a reference to the earlier discussion about pulling together the existing history of tide mills.
  • We need to use diplomatic resources to bring the exhibition Tide Mills of Western Europe to the United States.
  • We should establish alliances with other groups interested in mills such as SPOOM, TIMS, and the SIA in the hopes of reaching a wider audience and sponsoring cooperative projects.
  • We should build links to those in other disciplines: engineers, archaeologists, social scientists, commercial historians, environmentalists, etc.


Saturday, November 8th, registration 8:30 am, programs begin at 9:00 am and end at 3:00 pm

Speakers and subjects

Tom McErlean -- Nendrum, Ireland: The world’s oldest tide mill is Irish! Thomas McErlean shares his tales of archaeology at an 8th-century medieval tide mill
Stephan Claesson -- the discovery of a mid-17th century Penobscot River tide mill site in Brewer, Maine
Phil Crossman – Lumber, grain, granite and summer people: Phil Crossman shares what he's doing at his tide mill site, now a motel at Carver's Harbor on Vinalhaven Island, ME
Brian James-Strong – The history of gin distilling at the House Mill, London, England – the world’s largest surviving tidal mill

--Break for self-service lunch supplied by Dorchester Historical Society--

John Haggerty – Current happenings at the House Mill, London -- a mixture of politics, the 2012 Olympics, fundraising and plans for hydrogenation
John Goff/Carolyn Marks – The Souther shall rise again! Update on the preservation and restoration plans for the Souther Tide Mill (grist mill) in Quincy, MA
Chuck Parrott – Informal description of a computer model of an eighteenth-century tide mill found in Boston’s Big Dig (highway construction project)

Location is Dorchester Historical Society, 195 Boston Street, Dorchester, MA 02125
Contact: Earl Taylor, 781 272-6700 or ERMMWWT@aol.com
Suggested donation $25. It will be helpful if you let Earl know you will attend.