A water powered hammer forge mill with associated mill pond and leats, situated on Ganlow Brook, north-east of Churchill village.
The scheduled area includes the mill pond and earthwork dam, the brick retaining walls of the overflow leat, the forge area and the tailrace which extends to the west.
Reasons for Designation
Churchill Forge, a water powered hammer forge and mill with associated pond and leats, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: the site survives well as water powered hammer forge site with an intact water management system;
* Potential: the site retains archaeological deposits which have considerable potential for furthering our understanding of milling in the area. In particular evidence for earlier dam structures are believed to survive within the current millpond;
* Historic interest: the water powered forge is a good example of its type and, together with the listed buildings on the site which retain historic machinery, allow an understanding of the industry and its development;
* Rarity: intact forges with associated water management systems are relatively rare nationally adding to their historic interest.
A watermill uses the gravitational force of water to turn a paddled wheel, the energy thus generated in the axle of the wheel enabling the operation of varying kinds of machinery. Usually, an artificial channel, or leat, is diverted from the main watercourse and its flow to the wheel regulated by sluices. The spent water returns to the main stream via a tailrace. Where the natural flow of water is inadequate, a millpond may be constructed to increase the body of water (and thus the flow) behind the wheel.
Simple vertical waterwheels used for irrigation had been in use in the Roman period, although the earliest mill so far identified was dated from its timbers to the late C7 AD. Early medieval mills could have wheels set horizontally or vertically. By the time of the Domesday Book an estimated 6000 mills were in existence, and the number increased steadily over the next three centuries. During the medieval period, mills, usually used for corn grinding, were a sign of status, and an important source of income to the lord of the manor who usually leased the mill and its land to the miller. With technological improvements, an increasing range of equipment including fulling stocks, tilt hammers, bellows and textile machinery could be powered by watermills, and they became increasingly important to urban and rural life and industry. With the advent of steam power and the introduction of iron gears in the C18, water power eventually became obsolete for major industry, although many smaller rural mills continued in use. As a common feature of the rural and urban landscape, watermills played an important role in the development of technology and economy.
A mill is first mentioned at Churchill in 1268, again in 1368, and at the end of the C16 a blade mill and mill pool are described. By the later C18, this site was in use as a water powered forge, and it came into the ownership of the Bache family. The forge produced spades, shovels, forks, ladles and other implements and was operational until 1969. A charitable trust was established in 1981 to assist with maintaining the site.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: The monument includes a water management system with mill pond and leats. It is situated on Ganlow Brook, north-east of Churchill village.
DESCRIPTION: The forge at Churchill consists of three brick buildings, probably dating from the early C19, with two water wheels providing power. These buildings sit in a small courtyard, with a large mill pond to the east behind a retaining dam and leats to the north and west. The pond is fed from the east, with further ponds up stream which historic mapping shows were also associated with mill and forge sites (not part of the monument). It is understood that the pond was drained during the 1970s, at which time an earlier, smaller dam was observed to the east of the present dam. At the north-west extent of the pond, there is a timber sluice gate which controls the overflow leat, with a retaining structure mostly of brick, with some concrete repairs. Sections of the leat have retaining walls of most likely C19 engineering brick laid in English bond with stone cappings. The leat flows west and south-west, before joining the tailrace leat. A representative sample of the overflow leat with brick retaining walls is included within the scheduling to preserve its relationship to the other water management features. The sluice gate and mechanism and the remainder of the leat are excluded from the scheduling.
A further sluice to the south, positioned approximately centrally on the dam, also has a timber sluice gate with brick retaining structure; this sluice gate and mechanism are also excluded from the scheduling. The sluice controls the flow of water to the two water wheels, with header tanks over. The northern wheel powers the machinery in the northern building, including the drop hammers, and the southern wheel powers the blower in the south building which feeds the furnace. Below the wheels are brick tailraces which continue underground and feed the leat beyond, which flows south-west.
Between the forge buildings is a working yard which is partly covered by an open, roofed structure on thin metal columns, probably of C20 construction. This structure is excluded from the scheduling.
EXCLUSIONS: The C19 mill buildings (Listed Grade II) and the freestanding structure in the yard between them are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. In addition all modern fences, fence post, gates, gate posts, signage, steps and road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. Both sluice gates and sluice mechanisms are also excluded.