Tide Mills - the millponds and the Marine Hospital
A combination of the South Downs National Park and Newhaven Ports and Properties land extends from here. Surroundings become wilder amd we enter the eastern end of the Tide Mills area.
The old village is some way ahead, more later, but the low lying land to your right is the remains of the old river bed. The Ouse at what is now Newhaven, then Meeching, was forced to run eastward by the effects of longshore drift building up a shingle spit which once extended almost as far as Splash Point (where you started the Exercise Path). Later in the late 1700s when it had become just a tidal creek it was improved to become the eastern mill pond for the Tide Mill.
The idea for a tide mill here was initially conceived by Thomas Pelhan-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, who owned much of the land in this area. While Prime Minister, he got a bill through Parliament authorising the work. There are two millponds, one here and one to the west of the mill and hamlet, which filled with water on the rising tide through the mill creek, now meeting the River Ouse just by the ferry link span below Newhaven Harbour railway station. A system of sluices and gates held the water back, allowing release through five waterwheels as the tide went out. Nothing remains of many of the channels and sluices nowadays, though the millraces can still be seen.
Not much of the Mill’s history is documented until its sale in 1791. In 1795 it came into the ownership of a Mr Barton and Edmund Catt. The Catt family went on to have a long association with the mill, and more about Tide Mills and the Catt family can be read in the Seaford Museum’s Booklet No 5 “Tide Mills – a village ahead of its time” available from the Martello Tower.
As you pass the remnants of the mill’s head pond, you’ll notice the remains of foundations to your right and then to your left. These are the remains of the Chailey Heritage Marine Hospital, the smaller building on the right being the nurses’ quarters and on the left the long hospital building itself.
The hospital, which was built to provide aftercare and recovery for disabled boys who had undergone surgery, opened in 1924. The hospital formed part of the Chailey Heritage School founded by Dame Grace Kimmins to provide education for disabled boys. Muriel Powell was matron of the hospital from its opening until her resignation in 1933.
Continue, with the millpond on your right, to the obvious path heading away from the sea. If you want to explore the site of the Seaplane base which operated from May 1917 – May 1919 head another 300m towards Newhaven. Please return here to rejoin the Exercise Path and learn morea about Tide Mills.