Mill and house B&W
Mill and house c1890

Contact from Bob Love – a descendant of some of the people in this photo has studied it closely and cross referenced to other photos and suggests;

Marion Douglas – far left, white dress; Mary Douglas – seated on grass; Hilda Douglas – in arms; James Douglas – standing

Also recorded as 1909 with the following names (Joe Ody):

Nellie (Douglas) Belcher – far left, white dress; Marian Douglas – mid left; Mary Douglas – seated on grass; Hilda Douglas – in arms; James Douglas – standing

Charney Bassett has had a watermill since the 12th century, but apart from a mention in the 16th century, little is known of its past history. For some time the Manor had been part of the Pusey Estates which, on being sold in 1909 to Berkshire County Council, was divided into smallholdings, the Mill with its attached cottage and land being one. The present building on the site near the church dates from the 19th century but the Mill has not been used since about 1915.

Mr Jim Douglas and his father (Charles) before him used to be millers. ‘Young Jim’ was born and brought up at the mill. The waterwheel was also latterly aided by a steam engine.

Mill and house
Mill and house
Inside the mill
Inside the mill
The Waterwheel (from St Helen's - Abingdon)
The Waterwheel (obtained from St Helen’s – Abingdon)
The Grindstones
The Grindstones

The mill, at least latterly, was seen as having a market further afield as the sale by auction documents of 1807 note the proximity of the ‘Wilts and Berks Canal’ for onward transport of the flour (there being wharves at Challow and Grove as well as Wantage and Abingdon). 

The mill passed into the ownership of Berkshire County Council as part of the sale of the Pusey Estate. They placed a ‘Contract for repairs to machinery and fitting of a new water wheel at Charney Mill’ with Messers Phillips & Son of Kings Road, Reading, dated 30 May 1910:

Messrs Phillips & Son with the Berks County Council Contract for repairs to machinery and fitting of a new water wheel at Charney Mill.

Supply and fix one of our special Cast Iron Breast-shot Water Wheels, with wrot. Iron Starts and Elm Float & Back Boards, fitted to present Oak shaft, completed £89 0s 0d

Remove remains of old wheel, taking off Arm Sockets, and re-dressing present Shaft down to sound wood. £3 10s 0d.

Supply and fix one new Gudgeon Brass £2 0s 0d

Re-dress the two pairs of French Millstones £2 0s 0d

Supply and fix 2 new Hackle Plates to Stone Boxes and 1 set of Neck Brasses & re-fix Boxes £2 10s 0d.

Supply and fix 2 new Steel Nipples to Stone Spindles, turn up Neck of one Spindle, fit a new Neck to other £3 0s 0d.

Two new C.I. Maces & fit same to Stone Spindles£1 0s 0d.

Take out Cross Bars, bore to fit Nipples and let in Bars to Stones, lead in and balance Stones £2 0s 0d.

Supply and fix two new Wood Casings to Stones. £7 0s 0d

            Do.      One set new Hopper, Harness &c. £4 0s 0d

            Do.      Two sets of Curbs £3 0s 0d

Turn ends of 2 Damsels, fit new Brasses, repair old Harness £1 0s 0d.

Overhaul Pit Wheel Cogs, ease off shoulders, fit 6 new Cogs 10s 0d

Tighten Cogs in Crown Wheel, fit new Cogs where necessary and ease off shoulders £1 10s 0d

Raise Upright Shaft, supply and fix new Step Brass £1 0s 0d

Supply and fix 1 new pair Brasses to top of Up.Shaft 15s 0d

Take down Lay Shaft, supply and fit 2 new pairs Brasses, if required turn up Necks £1 13s 0d

Supply & fix 1 piece of Pitch Pine Timber 8’ x 9” x 4” £1 10s 0d

Supply new Wood Thruff, repair & grind 10 Mill Bills.15s 0d

Plane and re-surface Stone Staff, supply two new Elm Chocks with Handles complete and one new Jack Stick 15d 0d

Supply & fix new Spindle & Handle to Drawing Gear 15s 0d.

Overhaul present Kibbling Mill£1 0s 0d

Overhaul Cogs to spur wheel 10s 0d

Railway Charges, travelling expenses, supervision &c £7 7s 0d

Total £138 0s 0d

Signed: Phillips & son

The mill is owned by Oxfordshire Parish Council and leased to Charney Bassett Parish Council. The group that restore and maintain the Mill are always looking for new members an support. If you would like to help please contact Bruce Hedge who has also written a history and description of the mill which is available for purchase.

The mill is opened for visits from time to time.

Click here for a PDF of Charney-Bassett-Watermill by Daphne Jones. Part of the Vale and Downland Museum – Local History Series.