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Tower mill and whiting works 100m south east of the Country Park Inn

A Scheduled Monument in Hessle, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.7149 / 53°42'53"N

Longitude: -0.4529 / 0°27'10"W

OS Eastings: 502199.579914

OS Northings: 425391.252827

OS Grid: TA021253

Mapcode National: GBR TT8H.R1

Mapcode Global: WHGFQ.0WMF

Entry Name: Tower mill and whiting works 100m south east of the Country Park Inn

Scheduled Date: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021074

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35485

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hessle

Built-Up Area: Hessle

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hessle All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a standing windmill tower and immediately adjacent
below ground remains of a whiting works. It is located on the north bank
of the River Humber 130m to the west of the Humber Bridge, and lies within
the Humber Bridge Country Park. The windmill tower is a Listed Building
Grade II.

Natural outcrops of chalk and gravel have been exploited at Hessle from
the medieval period onwards. By the 19th century chalk was being crushed
to form whiting which was used primarily as a filler in putty and later
for use in the burgeoning rubber, paint and plastics industries. Initially
this was a small scale operation and then in the early 19th century a
number of the independent quarry operators combined to build a wind
powered whiting works. This was built between 1810 and 1815 and included a
windmill to crush the chalk and power the adjacent whiting works where
further refinement took place.

By the 1850s whiting production at Hessle was on an industrial scale as
shown by the existence of a second, steam driven whiting works located
100m to the north west of the windmill. This second whiting works has been
demolished and the site now lies beneath the A63 dual carriageway. Both
whiting works were supplied from extensive quarries located to the north
and maps from the early 20th century show a network of tramways leading
from the quarries to the Humber foreshore. There was no direct tramway
link from the quarries to the windmill and chalk was initially transported
there by horse and cart and then by steam powered and later diesel powered
lorries. Contemporary maps also show a series of jetties and wharves along
the river bank from where both chalk stone and processed whiting was
shipped away by water. No significant remains of these features now
survive. The windmill continued to power the whiting works until 1925 when
the sails and head gear were removed. The mill tower continued to be used
for crushing chalk initially powered by gas and then in the 1930s by an
electric motor. The works are thought to have ceased production in the
1950s when whiting substitutes were introduced into Britain from the
United States. In the 1980s the area of the Humber foreshore was
redeveloped and with the exception of the windmill tower the remaining
buildings associated with the whiting works were demolished. Contemporary
photographs show that the original ground level of the whiting works was
lower than that of today which indicates that although demolished, remains
of the works will survive below ground. In 1983 some preservation work was
carried out on the tower, which included the installation of new doors,
windows and roof cap.

Maps from the 19th century show that the whiting works comprised four
ranges of buildings surrounding a central courtyard with the windmill
forming the north eastern corner of the whole complex. The windmill tower
still survives to its full height. It is a circular seven storey
structure, tapering towards the top. It has a diameter at current ground
level of 10m. The mill was fitted with five, single-sided roller sails as
opposed to the traditional four. This arrangement was pioneered by the
18th century engineer John Smeaton and although unpopular with traditional
millers was to be used on all of the industrial mills in the area. A
further advancement was the presence of an airbrake to control the speed
of sail rotation. Although the sails, fantail and cap have been removed
sufficient of the cap frame survives to understand its operating
mechanism. Originally there was a balcony encircling the tower at the
third floor level and the holes for the beams to support this are still
visible. Internally there were six timber built floors connected by wooden
stairs. The uppermost three floors are no longer in place. There are two
opposing windows on each floor and two doors on the third floor at the
level of the balcony.

The main drive shaft through the centre of the tower was originally in two
sections and the lower portion still survives in situ extending from the
first floor to the third floor. It is a single piece of pitch pine 8.1m in
length and attached to the base of which there is a horizontal metal cog.
This originally meshed with a wooden toothed cog offset to the south,
which in turn rotated a shorter drive shaft connected to a pair of stone
wheels known as edge runners which were housed in a wooden crushing tub
located on the ground floor. The crushing tub, drive shaft and stone
rollers are still in situ. The rollers crushed pieces of chalk in the tub
into a fine powder which was then mixed with water to produce a slurry
which was fed through wooden channels into the adjacent works for further
processing. To the north of the crushing tub there is a large concrete
bowl which was inserted in the 1930s to crush chalk when the mill was
powered by an electric motor.

From the mill the chalk slurry was pumped through a series of 12 settling
tanks, which were located in the eastern range of the works. Further,
reserve, settling tanks were also located in the northern range. After it
had passed through the final, finest, settling tank the resultant material
was laid out in drying rooms in the southern and northern ranges. The
northern range had a heating system which combined with louvred sides to
the buildings enabled close control over the rate of drying. Contemporary
photographs show that the northern side of the whiting works was two
storeys high whilst the other three sides were single storey. The water
used in the whiting process was pumped, using the windmill power, from a
well beneath the north range. In total the works measured 44m east to west
by 32m north to south.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are the
public toilets, the picnic benches, waste bins, all signs and fence posts
and all made up surfaces; however the ground beneath these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Whiting has been produced in England since the medieval period, when
its major use was for colouring internal walls and whitening
doorsteps, window ledges and hearths. By the 14th century it was
being mixed with size to produce a more durable whitewash or
distemper. Since the 18th century whiting has been a major component
in the production of linseed oil putty. Production operated as a
small scale domestic industry until the 19th century, when increased
and varied demand led to large scale production and technological
refinements. By the 20th century it was used as general purpose
filler in paint, rubber, plastics, floor coverings, paper and white
The whiting industry is defined as the process of preparing and
producing whiting from natural chalk (or in limestone areas from
slaked lime), a separate process to the 20th century whiting from
crushed marble or limestone, or created by chemical precipitation.
Traditional chalk whiting production was a wet process known as water
levigation, carried out seasonally to avoid freezing conditions.
Pieces of chalk were dried, broken up manually and then crushed with
water to produce a milky liquid to feed through settling pits or
tanks to remove impurities. The resultant slurry was dried and cut
into blocks for transport to market.
Large scale 19th century production employed the same principles, but
permanent covered buildings and heavy machinery capable of dealing
with larger volumes allowed all-year production. In the 20th century
the time consuming practice of using settling pits was replaced by
the use of hydro-separators which removed impurities by centrifugal
action. A dry process was also developed to eliminate the use of
water, relying on force and air drying to produce whiting powder.
Following a national survey of the industry's buildings and sites,
examples where significant remains illustrating the history and
diversity of the industry survive have been identified as being of
national importance. Together these represent the industry's
chronological depth, technological range and regional diversity. All
will be considered for protection.

The standing remains of the tower mill at Hessle survive well and are a
unique survival of an early 19th century tower mill for a whiting works.
Evidence of the technological processes involved in whiting production can
be clearly seen and understood. In addition the below ground remains of
the adjacent whiting works preserve important evidence of the full range
of processes involved. Taken as a whole the monument makes a significant
contribution to the study of the whiting industry both locally and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gregory, R, Hessle Whiting Mill, (1984)
Gregory, R , East Yorkshire Windmills, (1985), 108-112
Gregory, R, East Riding Windmills, (1985), 108-112

Source: Historic England

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