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Building record MDR10248 - Sowter's Mills, Sowter Road, Derby

Type and Period (7)

  • (Former Type) (Edwardian to Early 20th Century - 1910 AD? to 1932 AD?)
  • (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1990 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • (Former Type) (Tudor to Victorian - 1540 AD? to 1875 AD?)
  • (Former Type) (Victorian to Edwardian - 1881 AD? to 1910 AD)
  • (Former Type) (Victorian to Edwardian - 1896 AD to 1910 AD)
  • (Former Type) (Tudor to Victorian - 1540 AD? to 1885 AD?)
  • (Former Type) (Victorian to Mid 20th Century - 1885 AD? to 1950 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • World Heritage Site

Full Description

Sowter's Mill, Sowter Road. Two to five storey brick mill building with slate roofs and square chimney on the river side, first built on the site of Cochett's silk mill by Unwin Sowter after the former was burnt down in 1896. It was in turn wrecked in the fire that destroyed the ancient old silk mill in 1910, when it was rebuilt in its present form. It continued in use until c.1950 when it became the property of the Electricity Board before becoming part of the adjoining Derby Industrial Museum. (1) An early malt mill was partially demolished in about 1875 and a new five-storey mill building had been erected on the site by 1881-2, adjacent to the river. This was fitted initially with a large water wheel but a steam engine was added shortly afterwards. The miller was Mr Unwin Sowter who was Mayor of Derby 1879-80. In 1896 there was a serious fire in the remains of the old mill, which was then being used as a store and warehouse. The fire spread rapidly to the adjacent Brown's mill. Both were badly damaged. A newspaper report of March 20 1896 included the following: 'The scene of the disaster was the flour and corn mill of Alderman Sowter, on Sowter Road, Derby, and the result was the almost total destruction of an adjunct of the mill. .. At the upper end of the island, and adjoining the silk mill, is the old portion of Sowter's mill, the portion which has been totally destroyed by fire, whilst at right angles to the river and facing a mill dam is the new premises, erected some 14-15 years ago. Another mill dam, with a powerful water wheel, separates the ground floor of Alderman Sowter's mill from Messrs. Brown's flour mill, which faces Sowter Road .. '. The fire was controlled before it could spread to either Sowter's new mill or Brown's mill. In 1910 another major fire started in Sowter's mill, destroying both it and the adjacent silk mill. Rebuilding of the corn mill must have occurred since Unwin Sowter Ltd. of Sowter Road continued to operate as millers until 1932, when the plant was said to be driven by electricity. The shell of the building is now incorporated into the Silk Mill Museum and some of the millstones can still be seen on the site. (2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 2003. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part VII. City of Derby.. p 1.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Gifford, A. 1999. Derbyshire Watermills: Corn Mills..



Grid reference Centred SK 35320 36649 (45m by 27m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Dec 21 2018 9:27AM

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