Seaford Tide Mill

I went walking along the seashore at Seaford a few miles away from my home in Lewes, East Sussex, England the other day. It was a bank holiday weekend but a walk along the East Beach to Bishopstone was hardly a crowded holiday scene.  If you are lucky enough to live in Lewes then Seaford is your nearest beach, easily accessible and atmospherically as remote as it is possible to be from its brassy neighbour, Brighton.
This is a peaceful place that speaks of man’s relationship with the sea without the necessities of enforced entertainment.

A few silent fishermen and some dog walkers were the only people around when I explored the conservation area at this end of town with its maritime plants that give a distinct desert-like feel to the shingle beach.

I was heading towards some old ruins that lie just off the seafront where tall grasses and ripening blackberries meet the sea.

These are the remains of the old Tide Mill, built in 1761 but disused after 1900. When it was in full action, the river Ouse came here from Lewes in the days before it silted up and ended Lewes’ time as a port. The tide mill, as you might guess, made practical use of the power the incoming sea tides which filled mill ponds around the river’s estuary and through the Nineteenth Century, the site was prosperous enough to support a small village of 100 people working for the mill’s owner.

the last inhabitants left, unwillingly I am told, in the late 1930s, and now the final standing walls offer a poignant and melancholy reminder of a vanished era.

I am afraid that, sad though it is that the mill and its inhabitants have long gone, I succumb all to easily to the Romantic allure of ruins with their ghosts and echoes of vanished lives.  You too can savour the moment, if you wish, with a few photographs I took that day.

I went home to Lewes for tea and wondered if bread tasted better in the days when its flour was ground at the seaside and shipped up the river in hessian sacks.

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