The oatmill leat.

Starting from a copy of the brochure issued in 1919 for the sale of The Hall following the death of Mr W. Pears in 1918 and using already published accounts supplemented by documents filed in the Record Office, together with locally found photographs and conversations with old Kenilworth people, it has been possible to put together a full account of the water system that powered the mill that stood by the ford on the Common.

Starting from a weir at Townpool Bridge in the 18thC a feeder channel or leat followed the contour behind the houses in School Lane to a dam constructed along The Close where a head of water was created that was tapped to run down to power the mill just above the ford on the Common.  A control system was incorporated in the form of flood gates at the junction by Washbrook Bridge where the feeder joined the dam and a culvert carried the water under Manor Rd.
The oat mill/cake mill/woodmill (to give its many names) played a more mundane part in the town’s history than the mills at the castle or the priory but was probably more significant to the ordinary villagers.  It was perhaps as old as the others but sat in an ‘out of town’ location, the last in the line of Kenilworth mills before Finham brook lost its identity as it flowed into the River Sowe.
It lasted longer, too, surviving for possibly 400 years until its demolition in 1964 to make way for the houses in Forge Rd.  With the coming of the railway it developed to serve customers from Leicester to Marlborough and all points between.
But one could still buy a bob’s worth of food to feed the back-garden hens.

It has been a pleasant task to detail the system. Very little of any research is new; it mainly involves bringing together widely dispersed material to create a reasonable probability.  Interpretation is a large part of research; finding small facts, pieces of a jigsaw that will never be for certain completed.
With these caveats the paper that has been written offers what seems the most likely story of this venerable piece of Kenilworth industry.  Certainties stuck together with the cement of possibility are all that is promised.

The leat from town pool bridge to Mill End

This video has been generated using 3D modeling software, it is the most up to date interpretation of what the leat may have looked.


Last Modified 18-05-2017