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The Coppermills




Thames Water

Date or period

1806 (Tower added c.1860)

Current Designation

Listed Grade II

Architectural Merit


The Coppermills

The main two-storey mill building seen today was constructed in 1806 to produce oil from crushed linseed, replacing an earlier mill on or near the site. A stream running beneath the building drove the mill wheels.

By 1808 it was owned by the British Copper Company and used for copper rolling and manufacturing tokens. From c. 1809–10 to 1814, the company issued 1d. and ˝d. copper tokens, which were probably struck at the mint, also housed here.

The business was sold in 1824 to Henry Bath & Co. and in 1832 to Williams, Foster & Co., but the name British Copper Co. was retained. The mill employed 30 hands in 1848, but had ceased rolling copper by 1857.

The building was purchased by the East London Waterworks Company in 1860 as part of a scheme to develop the Walthamstow Reservoirs and to construct an aqueduct from the reservoirs to the newly developed filter beds at Lea Bridge. 

The main elevations have giant segmental arches on pilasters with Portland stone capitals. It is of stock brick with pantiled roof.

The tower with an open arcade to the upper storey was added in 1864 to house a pumping engine commissioned by Chief Engineer Charles Greaves. The tower replicates the architectural style of the Victoria and Prince and Princess Engine Buildings at Lea Bridge (now demolished).

The mill-house was demolished in 1941.

The former mill is now in use as the waterboard stores. 

Earlier mills on this site

A mill existed in Walthamstow manor in 1066 and 1086, and is mentioned again in 1264, 1265, 1355, and 1437.

In 1611 four mills are mentioned in association with the manor. That and later references probably imply that at times the mill-stream powered more than one wheel on the same site.

The mill had been used for a variety of industries, perhaps contemporaneously. The name Powder Mill marsh given to the marsh adjoining the mill in 1699 may be a survival from the years before the Civil War, when a number of gunpowder mills were established on the Lea. 

In 1659 the mill was separated from the manor when Charles Maynard conveyed it to John Samyne of Bromley near Bow. Samyne (also known as or Samine, Semaine, Semeigne, or Seamayne)  a gunpowder manufacturer and major government supplier who also produced powder at Temple Mills, Leyton, and Mosley in Surrey.

It is referred to as a paper mill from 1653 to 1703, when the mill-stream was known as the Paper Mill river. In 1703, Pierre Montier, a skin-dresser, is first named as the miller and leather mills are recorded between 1710 and 1718. Peter Lefevre (Lefebure) in named as the miller in 1711, followed by Daniel Lefevre in 1713, who was still the operator in 1723.

By the early 1740s, when a Mr. Kemp was the operator, linseed was being crushed to produce oil. The mills were rebuilt in 1806 but then put up for sale in the same year.


Walthamstow: Economic history, marshes and forests', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 263-275

EH List entry Number: 1065618

East Molesey Mill Rowland G. M. Baker, 1980 (http://www.moleseyhistory.co.uk/books/molesey/mill/)

© leabridge.org.uk December 2012