A water-powered woollen mill was established at the ancient mill site north east of the village in the early 19th century. An earlier fulling mill, mentioned in 1622, may have lain on the opposite side of the Routing Burn in Newtown township (cf. Dixon 1903, 468). The woollen mill developed using local wools and played a significant role in the local economy until the mid 20th century, making ‘Simonside plaids’ (Dixon 1903, 329, 469-70; NCH XV (1940), 396-7). A number of the local farms also installed water mills to power threshing machinery and the like during 18th or 19th centuries.
(Information supplied by the North East Mills Group)
Site Name : Ryehill Farm
- Grid Reference: NU022014
- First recorded
- Last recorded 1860?
A mill pond and race are clearly shown on the 1860s Ordnance Survey. It is assumed that this was a small farm mill.
Site Name : Tosson Corn Mill
- Grid Reference: NU035010
- First recorded 1766
- Last recorded 1855
This corn mill is adjacent to the woollen mill and both mills were supplied by water from the same race. Millers are listed from 1827 to 1855 in the directories. It is thought that some of the milling machinery was retained in the subsequent house conversion (Griffith 1974).
Site Name : Tosson Woollen Mill
- Grid Reference: NU036010
- First recorded 1622?
- Last recorded pre1940
Surveys of the area indicate a fulling mill at Newtown in 1622. As fulling was the earliest mechanised process in woollen manufacturing it seems reasonable to suppose that the woollen mill was borne out of these more humble beginnings. The mill was supposedly started by William Thompson, whose family came into possession of the then existing and adjacent corn mill, at the beginning of the nineteenth century (NCH XV (1940), 397, cf. Dixon 1903, 329). In 1840 the tenants were Thomas Elder and John Ashton. The mill was offered for sale in 1852 and bought by Ashton. This family continued to work the mill for many years but, when volume XV of the Northumberland County History was issued in 1940, it is reported, ‘the mill was carried on for the manufacture of woollen goods by a company but it is now closed’ (NCH XV (1940), 397; cf. Griffith 1974).
Site Name : East Newtown Farm
- Grid Reference: NU036007
- First recorded
- Last recorded 1860
This farm mill is unlikely to have used an earlier site as there is a corn mill only a few hundred yards away. The building forms part of a farm complex and internally there is little trace of its former use, again confirming its farm rather than corn milling use. The dam wall, launder and part of the waterwheel survive. Planning permission has recently been granted to convert the old mill building for holiday accommodation, but to repair the waterwheel in the process.
Picture: Old Millstones at Tosson