Tide Mills - Racehorse hospital and the Station

The man most associated with Tide Mills is William Catt who began his career at the Mill aged 26 in 1801. He had previously trained as a miller at Lamberhurst in Kent. William extended the Mill from having just five millstones in 1791 to 14 pairs in 1826. He built the village for the millworkers, constructed banks and retaining walls, workshops and the like. By the mid 1800s there was a thriving settlement with offices, a forge, carpentry shops, houses and communal washing facilities. The improvements to the mill ponds meant that the mill could operate for 16 hours per day and produce 240 tons of flour a week. 

Catt was, apparently a fair boss, with a long serving work force. However he was a known to enforce a strict curfew (so that workers did not stay too long in the Buckle Inn). William Catt died in 1853 succeeded by his son George. George Catt had other business interests including the Terminus Hotel in Seaford (built in 1864), a brewery, and it is reputed that he had subscribed to the building of the railway to Seaford. The Newhaven Harbour Company extended the harbour jetties and as a result the beach between Tide Mills and Seaford suffered loss of shingle, requiring sea defences to be built to protect the Mill.

George Catt’s widow Emily sold the tide mill to the Newhaven Harbour Company in 1879 who in turn leased it to other members of the Catt family, but by 1883 the mill closed. The mill house and cottages continued to be occupied by the families of the former mill workers, harbour employees, farmhands and holiday makers. The Mill Building was used as a bonded warehouse until it was demolished in 1901. However this was not the end of the industrial use of the site.

In 1904 the Marconi Radio Company set up a wireless station on the beach. The station was used to report on the arrivals and departures of the cross channel shipping and by 1912 ship to shore communications facilities had been established. In May 1894, Tide Mills was visited by the 1st Sussex (Royal Artillery) Voluntary Reserve with an experimental 40lb Armstrong breech loaded gun mounted on a train nicknamed the Flying Martello Tower.

The Flying Martello

After the end of the first world war, Tide Mills began to grow as a holiday village using converted railway carriages left over from the seaplane station.

In 1922 some of the upper parts of the old mill were taken over by ex-jockey David Dale  to become a convalescent home for injured race horses. The horses were bathed in salt water and galloped along the foreshore. The facility continued to operate until the start of the WWII in 1939.

Continue up towards the railway crossing to the ruined cottage on the left before it.

Racehorses in the sea - from the Tide Mills Project website