by Joe Earp
“Blest Bobbers Mill!! How Graceful didst though stand. Ere thy fair landscape knew the spoilers hand. Blest vale! Manufacturers cruel power by greed impelled, sought first thy peaceful bower”.
This is a poem wrote about Bobbers Mill by Alfred R. Cooke in 1851. The poem is said to pity the poor who lived and worked along the River Leen around Bobbers Mill.
Many people today think Bobbers Mill as a busy suburb of Nottingham with traffic booming over it’s bridge. However the area has a rich industrial heritage which is hidden from peoples minds. The Mill has given its name to the area and has since absorbed into the urban spread of the city.
Bobbers Mill can be referred back as early as 1154. In the reign of Henry the second, a marc of silver was directed to be paid to a certain mill upon the River Leen, refereed to as Boboursmilne.
In the Borough Records of 1438 the Mill is listed as a Corn Mill. The Leen in which the Mill was located on was once a great important flowing river. Thomis (1968) suggested that no other river the size of the Leen has attracted so much attention. The river once formed the Western boundary of the King’s great forest in Nottingham, or Shirewood. It supplied both medieval Nottingham Castle and two important monasteries. On its banks stood a great succession of Mills, at one time it was said to have numbered nearly twenty.
The landscape of the area fall into a gentle valley around Bobbers Mill, this was ideal for the volume of the flow to turn a ‘breast wheel’ or an ‘undershot mill wheel’. Initially these Mills were used for grinding of corn. By the 18th century the linen trade was flourishing in this district, many of the old corn mills where converted into Cotton Mills.
By the 1700’s steam power was on its way, this brought great changes to Mills like Bobbers Mill. In 1785, James Watt set up the first steam engine at Papplewick. This was the first steam powered engine in the world to power a cotton mill.
The area however continued to be significant for industries. Robert Mellor’s in 1914 commented that “Bobbers Mill became quite a place for manufacturers. Factories for lace, leather, hosiery, colour printing, timber, mineral waters, bleaching, dyeing, and dressing, all telling of industrial activity”.
The original Mill is sadly no longer there, it’s now just a small industrial estate. Many of the original features of the area are still there. The bridge crossing the Leen, the old Wheatsheaf pub still stands.
The area is still associated with industries, factories such as Collins Cash and Carry. Collins has been established in the area for over sixty years and is still ran by the Collins family. So when your passing the area next just pause and think of the once thriving industries that were situated around Bobbers Mill.