Tide Mills - the Mill and the hamlet
The area between the shingle bank and the ruins used to have two bridges over culverts, one between the tidal creek and the head pond and the other between a further pond that provided water to keep the mill running as long as possible. There are few if any traces of them now but there are signs if you look.
The large building to the left was the granary, with the mill itself beyond. Further, on the same side, was the Mill House, home to the Catt family. On the right were some of the cottages, with “the house called Kale” beyond it. Kale served as the mill offices and the Foreman’s accommodation.
The Mill operated until 1883 despite having been severely damaged by the “great flood” of 1875 which had partly filled in the sluice channels at the south end of the mill. The introduction of steam power and of the railways rendered the Mill uneconomic. However the area found a number of alternative uses as described elsewhere. In 1939, though, at the outbreak of WWII the inhabitants were forced to move out. The remaining buildings were demolished, partly to allow a clear field of fire to protect the harbour, for military training, and to deny their use to any invaders.
The area has seen many innovative uses including the Mill building as a bonded warehouse, a sea plane base, an early “Marconi” radio station, a convalescant home for sick race horses, the Chailey Heritage Marine Hospital, a rather tatty holiday village (made up of old railway carriages) and in more modern times a construction site for the Royal Sovereign Lighthouse buiult here and towed to its current position off the coast at Eastbourne.
As you walk up through the hamlet’s remains, keep an eye out for interpretation boards. As you reach one of the the last high remaining walls on your left, turn and compare its curve with the curved wall in the centre of the second image. It’s the same wall.