Ancient Monuments

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The Forge Mill

A Scheduled Monument in Abbey, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.315 / 52°18'54"N

Longitude: -1.9342 / 1°56'3"W

OS Eastings: 404581.639007

OS Northings: 268549.468894

OS Grid: SP045685

Mapcode National: GBR 3HM.XF7

Mapcode Global: VH9ZV.F2BM

Entry Name: The Forge Mill

Scheduled Date: 25 June 1964

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005270

English Heritage Legacy ID: WT 326

County: Worcestershire

Electoral Ward/Division: Abbey

Built-Up Area: Redditch

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Redditch Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


A forging mill with C16 origins, now the Forge Mill Museum.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 19 May 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a forging mill situated between Batchley Brook and two large mill ponds south west of the confluence of Batchley Brook and the River Arrow. The monument survives as iron mill workshops, a water wheel and engine house that were constructed from 1570 and extensively remodelled and extended in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Forge Mill is denoted by two buildings separated by a waterwheel building. The largest building is situated on the south west and was constructed in about 1700 of brick with a double pitch tile roof. It is two stories high and contains workshops and offices and retains segmental windows and a crank shaft driven by the water wheel. On its south-western wall is an outshut building with a catslide tiled roof. The waterwheel building is roofed and contains an iron Belgian overshot waterwheel of 1912. The north-eastern block was constructed of brick during 1820 and is three stories high with segmental headed windows and an iron external stair way protruding from its north eastern side. Beneath the stair way are the low walls and base of an ancillary Donkey steam engine house and its boiler and flue.

The buildings were converted into a needle scouring mill in 1729 that operated until 1958. In 1983 the mill was opened as the National Needle Museum.

Earthwork banks, a dam and mill ponds survive to the south of the monument, but are not currently protected because they have not been formally assessed.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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. The waterwheel can be set directly into a stream, with a simple 'shut' to control water flow, or may be spring fed or use tidal waters. More usually, however, an artificial channel, or leat, is diverted from the main watercourse and its flow to the wheel regulated by sluices. Depending on the height at which water is supplied, the wheel is described as overshot, breastshot, or undershot. The spent water returns to the main stream via a tailrace which may be straightened to increase efficiency. 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 7th century 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 18th century, waterpower 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. Many of those retaining significant original features or of particularly early date will merit protection.

Despite the conversion of the buildings into a museum, joinery workshop and fly fishing factory, The Forge Mill Museum survives very well and retains important architectural and industrial features. Elements of the original structure will remain concealed behind later repairs and alterations and will provide important information on its construction.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007)
PastScape Monument No:- 328707

Source: Historic England

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