Tidemills – sustainable technology more than two hundred years ago

We have a new graphic display on the history of the Tidemills, plus a very detailed scale model of the village buildings and a new Museum booklet on the rise and fall of Tidemills.

The use of tidal power to drive a flour mill was originally planned and established by the Duke of Newcastle (who owned most of the Parish of Bishopstone).

As prime Minister in 1761 Newcastle managed to pass a Bill through Parliament to authorise the work and Tidemills began.

It seemed to be a moderate success and in 1791, the mill was put up for sale and bought by a Mr Barton and a Mr Catt. They were the owners during the Blatchington militia riots when mutineers from the Blatchington Barracks attacked the mill, hijacked the sloop Lucy, stole flour and sold or distributed it amongst themselves and the people of Newhaven. Two of the rioters were executed by firing squad at Goldstone Bottom, Hove.

In 1801, Edmund Catt’s cousin William joined the enterprise and soon became the driving force behind the venture. From five pairs of milling stones in 1801, William had increased the capacity to 16 pairs and he bought out his cousin’s interest in 1826. Under William Catt’s management, the Tidemills became a village in its own right with a forge, laundry, stables, carpentry workshops and a population of over 100 people.

William Catt’s other passion was growing fruit, and he imported several tons of soil onto the shingle in order to grow pears, nectarines, peaches and plums. In his extensive glass house it is thought that he tried to grow pineapples.

The great storm of 1875 turned fortune against Tidemills and in 1941, the very last of the village buildings was torn down to avoid their potential capture by enemy forces.

Visit the Museum to see the detailed model and learn the full story of Tidemills.