the Napoleonic War, the price of flour and bread
rose dramatically, and the Dockyard employees formed
a co-operative society on May 10th 1796, known as
the ‘United Society’,
“for the purpose of
purchasing land, erecting a mill, bakehouse and
other necessary buildings, intended for the cheaper
supplying with bread and flour.”
this Society consist of the people belonging to the
Dock Yard, and them only, and that from them a
committee shall be chosen, consisting of 2
Quartermen Shipwrights, 2 Shipwrights, 2 Caulkers, 2
Smiths, 2 Joiners, 2 House Carpenters, 1 Bricklayer,
2 Sail makers, 2 Sawyers, 2 Ropemakers, 2 Scavelmen
and 3 Labourers.”
money for purchasing the land, erecting the mill and
bakehouse was raised by subscription
Mechanic to pay 6 shillings per quarter and
Labourers 4 shillings”
the Mill and Bakehouse were complete.
letting of contract to build a mill 36 ft in
diameter with a gallery 22ft above ground level was
advertised in Hants Chronicle on 4th June 1796.
The foundation stone was laid on Midsummer Day the
mill, later to be known as the Old Dock Mill, also
as the Shipwright’s Mill, was built in 1796-7 in
Pesthouse fields, Portsea (196-SU-640 013) and was
working by 1799.
a towermill with a domed cap, originally with
humanoid statue as finial, chain drive and common
sails with outrigger.
built it was insured with the Sun Fire Insurance
Policy 696876 dated 31 Dec 1799 by the Trustees of
the Dock Mill Society for £3,300
corn mill with storehouse communicating in Pesthouse
& timber, no kiln £900
Standing & going gears & other machinery
Stock & moveable utensils £1100
Bakehouse, 3 ovens (no sea biscuits baked
therein) £ 200
Stock & Utensils therein £
Stable & carthouse, timber & tiled £
Stock & Utensils therein £ 30
United Society, later known as the Dockyard Mill
Society, was wound up in 1815 when the mill was
compulsorily taken over by the Board of Ordnance.
noted in the Hampshire Courier in November 1815:
- All persons having demands on the estate of the
Dockyard Mill Society, Portsea, will please to send
in their claims immediately & all Persons indebted
to the Society will also [please to discharge the
same on or before 9 Dec.]
order of the Committee, Society Mill 24 Nov
December an auction was held at the Mill when the
valuable stock and utensils of the mill and
bakehouse adjoining were offered for sale including
three horses with harness and three carts.
then leased by the Board of Ordnance to various
millers including Edward & Peter Houghton, William
Alfield, and to J & G Curtis from 1834 until 29th
when it was let to James Dennison.
was still standing in 1866 and finally demolished in
1868 when the Dockyard was extended over the site.
most mills it had its problems, one of which is
mentioned in the Hampshire Chronicle in November
morning about 11 a.m. fire broke out at the
windmill at Pesthouse, Portsea, a property of the
Board of Ordnance, occupied by the Dock Society,
occasioned by the mill getting loose during a heavy
squall of wind, but was put out by 12 without any
Latterly it is said to have had patent sails, ball
finial and fantail, possibly after the fire.
problem was reported in the Hampshire Courier in
“Portsmouth 13 March Some of the bakers in the
town have forwarded a petition to the Admiralty
against the Dock Yard Mill, which has been referred
to Sir George Bray, Bart, to report upon. It may
be recollected that a Society in the Dockyard have
for many years ground their own corn in a mill at
the Flathouses, Portsea; which being included in the
purchase made by the Government of lands without the
fortifications, the said Society has it in
contemplation to purchase ground & erect another
mill at Southsea.”
Society was reputed to have undercut the other
bakers by 2d a quartern loaf.
the story of the Old Dock Mill.
having their mill compulsorily taken over the
Shipwrights Co-operative, the Union Society, went
into voluntary liquidation in 1815 and reformed
immediately as the Dock Mill Society, which
purchased a site on Southsea Common and built the
new mill in 1816. . This was the last windmill
to be built on Portsea Island and was the one
illustrated on the front of MILL NEWS, often
referred to as New Dock Mill.
was a seven storey brick tower, 100ft high, 40ft
diameter at the base, tarred, with a domed cap,
patent sails and fantail and a gallery around the
second floor. The Army Board of Ordnance supplied
a million bricks and all were used in the building
of the mill.
Hampshire Chronicle reported in March 1816:
Dock Mill Society has been formed by the mechanics
employed in the Dockyard, from which their families
will be constantly supplied with bread & flour.”
following year a contract was offered for building a
bakehouse, store, engine house, dwelling houses,
stable, carthouse, etc. A large bakery was built
and they opened shops on the co-op principle in the
town, but it was not a success.
mill was situated in Napier Road, off Albert Road,
in a position about six furlongs south of Fratton
Junction, on what was then open ground well away
from habitation at 196-SZ-649989.
Hampshire Chronicle of 16th December 1816 reported
the gale of wind which blew with such violence on
the night of Thursday, the upper part of the new
Mill belonging to the Dockyard Society was blown
is a record of a tragedy and in 1825 the Hants
“At Southsea, inquest on John Richards a
boy who, without the knowledge of the miller
employed in the windmill belonging to the Dock
Society at Southsea, got out on to the stage at the
time the mill was at work, when he was struck on the
head by one of the sweeps so violently as to force
him off the stage, and he fell a considerable
distance to the ground below; he was picked up
dead, having his skull fractured, his leg broken &
otherwise bruised. Verdict accidental death.”
same paper in 1821 reported that:
Dock Mill Committee threatened to prosecute Edward
Baigent, labourer, for falsely accusing them of
adulterating flour with rice -- he apologised
Depression in 1834 caused the voluntary liquidation
of the Dock Mill Society and closure of the mill,
but the tithe map of 1842 gives the building as No
902a, the owners as the Dock Mill Society and the
tenants Charles Seaford and others while the
directory of 1852 lists Charles Barnes as miller at
the Dock Society's mill.
changing hands several times, it was bought in 1868
by Maurice Welch, who had been the miller at the
Admiralty’s Kings Tide Mill, which had burnt down
that year. He installed a steam engine and used the
sails for auxiliary power.
directory of 1898 gives Moses Welch and Son at Dock
Mill. In 1900 the stones were replaced by rollers
and in 1905 a gas engine was installed.
the mill was put up for auction and, not being sold,
was demolished the following year.
Ellis’s publication on Hampshire mills in 1978
stated that there is now no trace of the mill and
the block of flats occupying the mill site is named
associated mill cottages were renovated in 1971 and
a plaque on these cottages gives details of the
Tony Yoward 11/98