Mills and Furnaces

After the dreadful Cholera epidemic life eventually got back to normal, and Edward Nayler's choice of local newspaper cuttings reflect this.

It is well known that Ruiton once had two windmills both using the elevation that the ridgeway provided. After the building of the last one (still standing) they became the Old and the New Mills. "Trouble at mill" was certainly a description of the state of the Sedgley windmills of the 18th & early 19th Century. Records suggest that Ruiton millers, through the centuries, seemed to have been very liable to bankruptcy as corn mills frequently changed hands. The mill that stood at the junction of Mill Bank and the field path in Sedgley is less well documented. On March 30th 1833 an owner of one of these mills seems to have been seeking a tenant for one of our local mills. The following advert appeared in the newspapers.

"To be let - A substantial, well built windmill, with two pairs of French stoves and full-sized cylinder; together with house, stable, garden and piggeries; also a field of turf land adjoining. The above premises are situate at Sedgley, three miles from the market towns of Wolverhampton, Dudley and Bilston. Apply Mr. Samuel Perry on the premises."

Conjecture of which mill is being referred to, based on the advert, is difficult as both sites would appear to posses the surrounding space required to accommodate the facilities. The description Sedgley does not necessarily exclude Ruiton New mill at this stage of our history. However, if the distances from the towns are accurate then Mill Bank becomes the strongest contender. Interestingly the mill on Mill Bank would itself have soon been threatened by Abel Fletcher's Steam Mill on the east side of the High Street, (stone walls and bricked-in features are still visible from Bilston Street) and most likely to have been built before1850. (French Stoves were decorated room heaters, usually with ornate legs, and possibly less popular following the defeat of the French!)

 Illustrating well the mixture of industry and agriculture of our fascinating area is another advertisement, of July 24th 1833.

"Dibdale Iron Furnace, in the parish of Sedgley - To be sold by auction by Mr. Jesse Wright, on Thursday and Friday, August 1st and 2nd the above valuable property, with large stocks of iron, tools and other effects belonging to Edward Crockitt a bankrupt. Catalogues will be ready for delivery on Thursday.”

Iron works too went in and out of "blast" as the trade was noted for its fluctuations, particularly in times of peace. Wellington having beaten Napoleon at Waterloo in June 1815, bringing the Napoleonic Wars to an end, would in itself have hit the iron trade!

Not that the newspapers were full of sale items. The sad and glad passages of everyday life were faithfully recorded too.

In 1834 we learn that "after an illness of six months Jane Turton, daughter of Mr. T. Fereday (Turton-Fereday) of The Quarries, Gornal had died, aged 18."

(Older members will recall "The Quarries" as the home of the Howl family who featured in my last book, ‘Sedgley, Coseley & The Gornals’ - pages 51 & 56, as providers of their gardens for the Kent Street Methodist Sunday School treat. TG)

On May 7th of the same year we learn of a local marriage in London, of "Thomas Shaw Hellier, Esq. of Woodhouse, Staffordshire to Alice only child of W. Bradney Pursehouse Esq., of Penn Hall, Wolverhampton." (Woodhouse is not an error, but the correct way to say the name and what better way to describe the house in the wood? Although just a little of the ‘Wodehouse’ land is in Sedgley, the Shaw Hellier's became custodians of many of Sedgley's archives. TG)

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