Webpage created: February 12, 2019
Webpage updated: February 12, 2019
The Providence Flour Mill was situated outside the Town Wall, in Mill Lane, later Mill Street, in the parish of Saint Andrew's, Plymouth.
At first there was a malt mill on this site, which dated from circa 1654. During the period from 1655 to 1660 it was being rented by Messrs John Maddocks and George Gaire for £50 per annum. There were two malt houses, each with a waterwheel. In about 1750 a fulling mill was erected on the northern side but was run as a separate enterprise.
But business at the malt mill was declining. Indeed, in 1776 Mr John Colley received £21 in compensation for losses he had incurred in running the mill. When Mr Richard King took over the mill in 1804 he complained that the local brewers were not using the mill. In fact, business had apparently been so slack that the adjoining fulling miller, a Mr Symons, had acquired the sole right to use the water from the leat. In response the Corporation issued a notice to all its tenants that they must use the mill. So much for the puritan free spirit.
Things still did not improve and after Mr King's request for the Corporation to repair the mill house had failed it seems to have fallen into major disrepair. In 1818 Mr Francis Drake and Mr John Hill proposed to remove the ruins and erect a grist mill. This they did and leased it for a rental of £60 in peacetime and £120 in wartime.
There was no entry for Providence Mill in the 1851 census but there was a miller living in Mill Street at the time. He was East Stonehouse-born Mr Edward Walke, aged 49, and he employed three men. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had two sons and two daughters at that time -- James, Lewis, Elizabeth and Mary -- and a 23-years-old servant by the name of Elizabeth Ryder.
At one time the Providence Mill was operated by a Mr Parsons and sometime around 1854 was demised to Messrs Farwell & Hambling for a period of 99 years.
The last miller was a Mr John Adams, who left in 1873. The Mill was not recorded in 1890 and had evidently been demolished because the site of the Mill was suggested as the location for a possible electricity generating station, making use of the waters of the Leat for power. However, the suggestion was not adopted.