14 February 2014

Hobbit Mill

Birmingham was once home to innumerable watermills. Grade II-listed Sarehole Mill, on the River Cole in Hall Green, is one of only two left. The mill was founded in 1542, and has gone by various names, including Bedell's Mill and High Wheel Mill. Its true fame lies in it having been leased by the industrialist Matthew Boulton, who used it for rolling iron and drawing wire.

The current building, of 1771, post-dates Boulton's use of the site, and was operated until 1919. The period after WWI saw the ending of very many ways of life that had previously seemed resistant to major change. JRR Tolkein lived immediately nearby as a child, and the mill is cited as inspiration for that in The Lord of the Rings' Hobbiton. Tolkein would be appalled by all the litter in and along the Cole.

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