The land between Hargon Lane and Thoroughfare Lane (School Lane) was undoubtedly part of the first cultivated land in the village. The mill was on this site and the earliest reference to one was in Dugdale's Monasticon, which recorded a gift made by Walter de Amundeville, of the Church of Winthorpe and also included "four mills on the Trent, three outside the town of Winthorpe and one within it." This was in the early twelfth century, when land was farmed in strips (Each strip was approximately twenty two yards wide and two hundred and twenty yards long - a furrow long or furlong). This being the amount a man could plough in one day using a wooden plough and oxen. The strip system continued until the Enclosures and the arable fields at Winthorpe were probably enclosed as early as 1678. The pastures were definitely enclosed a century later.
The earliest map, dated 1732, shows the present Southfield area divided into fifteen fields and the divisions were little altered up to the time building of the new estate began. The first house on the site was the mill house. Then after 1778 Hargon House was built on the corner, two cottages were erected on the main road on the brow of the hill and two similar cottages were enlarged this century to make "Hillcrest."
All other buildings on the main road were erected in this century.
A pile of rubble and part of a wall mark the mill site today. The original approach was from the old School Lane but at some later date access was from the Gainsborough Road. In the inventory of the cottage of William Vason 1732 (now Jotora Cottage) "All materials belonging to the mill" were valued at £1 10s 0d, but there was nothing to indicate that Vason owned the mill. In 1846 the miller was George Gamble, who lived in the older part of the "Old Rectory." He attached a steam engine of seven horsepower and some years later when testing the boiler, a man had to sit on the safety valve until the right pressure was obtained. Unfortunately, on one occasion the boiler blew up with fatal results to the man, who was blown through the roof.
After Gamble's death, Mr. J. A. Wolley, who owned a flourmill at Radford, had the mill. When he died the property was put up for sale on 9 June 1883, and the surveyors described it as follows:-
"Property consisting of a well built flour mill seven stories high with excellent machinery to drive six pairs of stones at 12 horse power. Engine to work the machinery by steam power. Likewise four sails to the mill to work by wind power - a dwelling house and stables, sheds and other houses and about two acres of good garden ground beside the road which leads from the main road."
The marketable value was £1,000. Woolley's son offered £400 on 13 June 1890 and wanted to pay by installments but the final purchaser was Thomas Henry Watkin, baker of Winthorpe, who paid £330 on 30 July 1890 and borrowed money from the Newark Building Society.
The mill was demolished in the early years of this century, but the dwelling house was occupied until a few years ago generally by a farm worker on the Gilstrap estate. The last occupant was a retired farm worker and Boer War veteran, Mr. Bellamy, who lived there with his wife, son and daughter, the latter leaving the village in 1970 after the deaths of her parents and brother. The mill house was demolished soon afterwards and then came the Southfield Estate. The remaining farmland is still in the ownership of Gilstrap Estates and Brewers Charity.
Extract from Focal Point.
Further readings can be found in
Mill Explosion - June 15th 1860 in Volume 4.
Winthorpe - The Village Baker in Volume 4.
Winthorpe Millers in Volume 4.