Since my days of practical tide mill research within the
states of Maryland and Virginia, back in the early 1980’s, I have known and
fostered an interest in the eastern seaboard tide mills of the USA.
I have made good friends with a number of like-minded people from
Virginia up to the northern state of Maine.
I was therefore most pleased to hear a few years ago of the formation of
the Tide Mill Institute fostered, in part, by the Dorchester Historical Society
based in the south of the City of Boston.
I had been invited to attend the two years previously, but always had to
decline. November 2007 was to change
I had arrived in Boston from London on Hallowe’en Night
and had been warned to stay clear of Salem that night due to the monster
festivities which increase the city population by 60,000. So, having collected
the necessary hire car, I booked into a local hotel in north Boston for an
uneventful night. The next day started
late with a tourist perambulation on minor inland roads north to Rockport and
its old fishing village and port.
Following a light lunch I took in all the scenic views of this rocky coastline
and its architectural history, before heading south via Manchester on Sea and
Gloucester (both supporting tide mills years ago).
I arrived in Salem at sunset, to stay with my good friend and
conservation architect, John Goff.
The next day we drove down through the Boston Road
Tunnels to the Souther Tide Mills at Quincy.
In our usual mode (as we had been here before) we made our way around the
insecure fencing and investigated the mill remains and foreshore, taking regular
photographs enabled by the low tide. We uncovered a small piece of dressed
millstone in the wharf retaining wall and took it into care, after measurements
and photographs. While in Quincy area, I
was shown the minor remains of the Black River tide mill site.
So, on to Dorchester Historical Society on Boston Street where I met
chairman, Earl Taylor and discussed the Conference the following day before
heading to my local hotel.
Saturday 3rd November. I shared a breakfast table with Claudia
Silveira, one of my fellow speakers at the Conference, whom I had last met in
conjunction with the Tide Mills of Western Europe Exhibition.
We were collected and taken to the Third Historic Tide Mill Conference
venue on Boston Street - advertised as “Two Continents - One Technology.
Tide Mills on both sides of the Atlantic”.
The programme started at 9.00am with
introductions by Earl Taylor and John Goff, leading into the first speaker
‘Searching for the
Origins of the Tide Mill’.
from the oldest known tide mill (Nendrum in Northern Ireland) and reaching back
in time into the Phoenician trading ports and central Mediterranean Sea.
It was a Powerpoint presentation which I had prepared and researched over
the past ten years and had last presented it at the TIMS Symposium in Portugal.
The following presentations were:
Claudia Silveira from the Seixal Ecomuseu in Portugal
with a Powerpoint presentation on the
‘Tide Mills within the Estuaries of the
Rivers Sado and Tagus, South of Lisbon‘.
An area once containing an immense number of horizontal
wheeled tidal mills. I feel this area
will reveal more historical facts on tide mills in the future.
My second presentation:
‘Anglesey Tide Mills - A 2006 Assessment of
Bill Drew of New Castle in the sate of New Hampshire,
speaking with colour slides about the
‘1650 Walton Mill:
The Mill in my Front Yard’.
Bob Goodwin from Maine next spoke about
Sedgunkedunk’ a newly found tide mill in Brewer, Maine.
There were shorter presentations on
Boat Mills and an update from Carolyn Marks on the
‘Friends of the
Souther Tide Mill at Quincy’,
followed with news and developments by Bud Warren and
John Goff as a taster for the mid afternoon site visit to the converted tide
mill at Revere Beach Parkway, about 40 minutes drive away to the north of
Boston. This was the
Slade Spice Mill on Chelsea Creek;
now an imposing, fine restoration into apartments and flats with the
ground floor retaining much of its mill history, museological display and
equipment. We talked in depth with the
owner and one of the tenants, who all seemed satisfied with the outcome of this
major restoration to a large timber-framed and clad, three storey tide mill with
later brick additions incorporating a full sprinkler fire-fighting system.
Returning to the hotel in Dorchester,
Claudia and I had a farewell meal in a fine, busy, local family restaurant
whilst the rain hammered down for hours and we begged a free taxi ride back!
So ended the 3rd Tide