The Oulton Village website has been contacted by Mr Bob Gibbens who has sent us the above photos of some of the mills in the Moddershall Valley along with some reminiscences of his time in the area. Being a newcomer to the village I found them fascinating, and hope you will too.
Sadly we have not lived in the area since 1966. I lived at Walton from 1943 till 1956, my father being employed at the ROF at Swynerton. When the factory closed my father was transfered to Burghfield Common near Reading I had started my Apprenticeship at WG Bagnall in Stafford so I moved into digs with Patty Riley formally of Old Road who lived in Little Stoke just up above the level crossing .
I went to Christ Church school in Stone from 1945 to 1951 and then Granville Secondary Modern where I met my future wife Mavis Hissey. I used to walk home with her after school as far as the stile at the bottom of Jacky Nichols lane, but we were eventually reprimanded by the then head master of Granville a Mr Shaw, so our courting had to go under ground so to speak .We got married in Oulton Church on the 25th March 1961 The bride was traditionally late having to wait for the 2 o'clock bus to go through the village. on completion of my Apprenticeship I went to work on the railway at the steam locomotive sheds in Stoke. The electrifation of the railway through Stone and Stoke was carried out in 1966 and I was made redundant. I was offered a post in Derby were I carried on my railway career attaining 40 years service. I guess these days we would not have had to move, I would have just commuted. But in those days, only having a Frances Barnett 250cc bike, it was extremely difficult to travel between Oulton and Derby and be there for 6 am
I have attached pictures of the three mills closest to Oulton. My late parents-in-law, Harry and May Hissey were associated with them for over 40 years. Harry and May moved into Wetmore mill from Consall Mill around 1926 with their then 2 children Betty who is now 87 and lives in Manchester and Joyce who is sadly no longer with us. The next Daughter Doreen was born at Wetmore mill in 1928 and brother Bill in 1930. Doreen still lives in Stone aged 82. Bill died two years ago. For some reason, which appears to be lost in time, Harry and May moved into a cottage in Convent lane near to the shop were Peter was born in 1932. Peter died just a few weeks old. Then came Elsie in 1934 . Harry and May then moved in to Ivy mill in 1935 were Clarice 1936 and Mavis 1939 were born. Elsie lives in Weston on Trent and Clarice at Lightwood, and Mavis in Derby. Harry continued to work Ivy and Hayes mills until he retired in 1968 bringing to an end a way of life that had pre-dated the industrial revolution. As many of the older villagers will remember Harry was a popular figure walking around the Rockwood bend with his white overhauls flat cap and pipe, he walked between the mills practically every day for 30 years. May passed away in 1975 and Harry in 1981 and are both buried in St Johns church
A few details of the pictures I have. Wetmore Mill was also known as Kibblestone mill and worked till about 1958. It had 2 pans and an high breast Iron wheel 21 ft Dia, 7 ft wide. In its life it ground stone flint and bone. I think the scouts sold the pans for scrap in the 1960s
Ivy mill was built about 1740 and formally known as Oil mill in 1860, Goodwin's mill 1867, Oulton mill 1888 and finally Ivy mill. It also had 2 pans, High Breast wheel 19 ft diameter 6ft wide constructed of wood with iron shrouds. It ground linseed flint and finally bone.
Hayes Mill, formally known as lower mill, Brooke Bank Mill and finally Hayes Mill. It had one pan driven by water, but a second pan was built in the calcining kilns driven by a 30 hp electric motor. The wheel was overshot 20ft diameter 6.5 ft wide made of wood with an iron shroud.
In the Ivy Mill picture, you can see Harry Hissey talking to, I think, two students from Stafford Tech who were doing a project on the mill. And in the picture of Hayes mill you can see Joyce Goodhall nee Hissey. Joyce and George lived for many years till their deaths in no 1 Mill Bank cottages.
I hope this is the sort of thing you want for your web site. If it is, I have photos of inside Hayes Mill after closure, before it was converted to a house, my wife at the May Queen on the vicarage lawn, our wedding at st john, our reception at the village hall etc. If you would like more picture or my wife's reminiscences of her childhood in the fifties come back to me. Cheers, Bob Gibbens