Carew Tidal Mill

Link to French translationCarew Tidal Mill

This is the best-preserved example in Wales of a tidal mill. The incoming water was impounded in the Millpond west of Carew Castle. When the tide ebbed, water was channelled beneath the building to turn the pair of undershot wheels inside.

Local customers collected flour from the building’s eastern side. On the western side, sacks could be loaded directly into small ships moored alongside the Mill.

The Mill no longer works but the machinery is intact. Inside you can see how the waterwheels turned the millstones, made of French stone. One of the millstones is inscribed 1801, which may also denote when the mill was constructed. The building was known as the French Mill, and there was a local tradition that French millwrights built a mill in Carew.

Records from 1542 refer to a mill at Carew but don’t specify how it was powered. A leat may have carried water to that mill from the river Carew. The Tidal Mill depended on the substantial causeway, c.150 metres long, to hold back the water. A record from 1630 refers to Sir John Carew restoring the causeway some 15 years earlier, which indicates that the causeway was built earlier still.

In 1891 the miller at Carew, Thomas Ford, received a sample of “Improving Meal” from a Gloucester company, which claimed that the substance improved the “colour and appearance” of flour and offered an introductory price of £5 per ton. A London laboratory analysed the powder and declared it was “merely finely ground sulphate of lime (gypsum)", and warned that the price asked “is an absurd one”. Today we’re familiar with gypsum as the main component of builders’ plasterboard!

The Mill closed in 1937 and became derelict. It was restored to working order in the early 1970s and opened to the public in 1985. Today it is managed by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Postcode: SA70 8SL    View Location Map

Carew Tidal Mill website