Mill Road c1920. Hardingham Mill in the background, with The Mill House in the foreground
Hardingham Watermill was situated to the far north of the village, at the point where Mill Road crosses the Yare. The mill comprised two buildings, both of which had Norfolk pantile roofs. The walls of the larger building were of red brick with weatherboarding above. The smaller building was entirely weatherboarded.
There had been a mill on this site for many years before it was rebuilt c1820. Until the early part of the 20th century, a windmill stood some yards further to the north, and was part of Hardingham Mill’s productivity. The Hardingham Mill was a large concern in the area with its location in fine corn country, and close proximity to Norwich, Dereham and Wymondham, each with large and established corn markets. Indeed, Bramble House, opposite the southern end of Mill Road, was once a hotel used by reps and traders with business at the mill.
The watermill itself ceased to be a working mill in 1935, after which it slowly fell into a state of disrepair.
In the mid-1960s, the then owner of the mill, Claude Banham, was approached by a film company who were looking for a disused watermill to burn down at the climax of their movie The Shuttered Room, a low budget horror film starring US actors Gig Young and Carol Lynley plus Dame Flora Robson and Oliver Reed. Mr Banham gave the go-ahead (presumably on the grounds that the mill was becoming less safe year by year) in 1966. Representations in the national press from conservationists, as well as the local MP (at that time Ian Gilmour) and indeed from the comedian Spike Milligan, fell on largely deaf ears as the watermill was not included in the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.
The burning of the mill went ahead on the 29th May 1966, much to the interest and excitement of many local people. The film The Shuttered Room was duly released as a double-bill feature, and in later years acquired something of a cult status.
For further infomraiton about Hardingham Mill please click HERE.
Oliver Reed in a still from the film, with the Mill behind him.