Bobbers Mill

"Blest Bobbers Mill"

By Joseph Earp

Blest Bobbers Mill! How Graceful didst thou stand. Ere thy fair landscape knew the spoilers hand.

Blest vale! Manufacturers cruel power by greed impelled, sought first thy peaceful bower.

This is a poem written about Bobbers Mill by Alfred R. Cooke in 1851. The poem is said to pity the poor who lived and worked along the River Leen around Bobbers Mill.

Many people today think of Bobbers Mill as a busy suburb of Nottingham with traffic booming over its bridge. However the area has a rich industrial heritage which is hidden from people's minds. The Mill has given its name to the area and has since been absorbed into the urban spread of the city.

Bobbers Mill can be traced back as early as 1154. In the reign of Henry II, a marc of silver was directed to be paid to a certain mill upon the River Leen, referred to as Boboursmilne.

In the Borough Records of 1438 it is listed as a corn mill. The Leen in which the Mill was located on was once a great important flowing river. Thomis (1968) suggested that no other river the size of the Leen has attracted so much attention. The river once formed the Western boundary of the King’s great forest in Nottingham, or Shirewood. It supplied both medieval Nottingham Castle and two important monasteries. On its banks stood a great succession of mills, at one time said to have numbered nearly twenty.

The landscape of the area falls into a gentle valley around Bobbers Mill, this was ideal for the volume of flow to turn a ‘breast wheel’ or an ‘undershot mill wheel’. Initially these mills were used for grinding corn. By the 18th century the linen trade was flourishing in this district, many of the old corn mills where converted into cotton mills.

By the 1700’s steam power was on its way which brought great changes to mills like Bobbers Mill. In 1785, James Watt set up the first steam engine at Papplewick. This was the first steam powered engine in the world to power a cotton mill.

The area however continued to be significant for industries. Robert Mellors in 1914 commented that “Bobbers Mill became quite a place for manufacturers. Factories for lace, leather, hosiery, colour printing, timber, mineral waters, bleaching, dyeing, and dressing, all telling of industrial activity”.

The original Mill is sadly no longer there, it’s now just a small industrial estate. Many of the original features of the area are still there. The bridge crossing the Leen and the old Wheatsheaf pub still stand.

The area is still associated with industries, factories such a Collins' Cash and Carry being established in the area for over sixty years, and still run by the Collins family. So when you are passing the area next just pause and think of the thriving industries that were once situated around Bobbers Mill.

Article by Joe Earp and Iris Tansley

The New Nottingham Hidden History Team

Photo:Bobbers Mill

Bobbers Mill

The Paul Nix Collection

This page was added by Joseph Earp on 05/09/2012.

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