Ash Mill





It  appears on the Hovenden Map of  Wycombe in 1596 when it was owned by All Souls College Oxford on about 2.7 acres

George Lanes parents were possibly Israel Lane and Elizabeth Harding who married at Hughendon though I havnt yet found a link .

Its not known when George started papermaking at Ash Mill but Israel did take  a lease on a paper mill in High Wycombe 

By the will  of George Lane of 1761 and proved in 1776 Ash mill was to operated  by his father in law John  Hayley (Healey) and his son John Hayley  for the benefit of Georges’ children. Elizabeth his wife was to remain living at the mill until her death and be paid £20 a year from his estate in two equal instalments at Christmas and mid summer

 John and George when they came of age (21) were to be given the option buying the mill and the money split equally between the 7 children at the time the will was written The valuation of which to carried out by 3 independent persons At Georges’death John Healey the younger became sole executor




John (married Ruth Wooster ) his son operated as a papermaker there possibly with George his brother It was this George or his son George who died a bankrupt

By this time it had become known as Lanes Mill  In the 1820s Zachary Allnutt  had interests in Ash , Bassetsbury, and Marsh Green Mill where he installed a Foudrinier machine in 1826​.The Allnutt family crop up over several centuries taking various leases and buying land in the Wycombe area 


Johns’ sons John and Joseph were then papermaking  in 1833 when they were victims of the Swing riots which swept the country from Dorset affecting many businesses which operated new labour saving machines such as steam engines on farms used for grain thrashing




​On November 27 1830 a meeting at Rye 3 miles from Wycombe of the papermakers (unemployed) took place  to try persuade the mill owners to remove their machinery .

On Monday 29 November 1830  some magistrates the town mayor Rev Dr Scobee  and Lord Carrington  assembled in the town hall. Dr Scobell took the chair trying to reason and preserve the machinery .A large multitude had assembled.
Carrington tried to address the mob but had shouts of ‘pay your electoral bills’ The chairman was thrown from his chair and the furniture in the building was destroyed then the rabble moved  out of the hall  vowing to cause damage that night The mob met at Flaxwell Heath 4 miles from Wycombe to the sound of a horn at about 5am and soon moved in the direction of Ash Mill arriving at about 9am
The   armed group of machine breakers, destroyed the machine at Ash Mill, It took the rioters 30 minutes to break into Ash Mill A shot was fired at the rioters from within  , an elderly man William Bryant a paper maker( presumably unemployed) from Flackwell Heath , receiving the shot in his shoulder  and several gallons of Sulphuric Acid was thrown at the rioters severely burning many of them

Moving onto Allnuts mill they destroyed Allnuts machine and then they went to the farm of Mr Lansdale whose thrashing machine was destroyed and similarly threatened to do the same to machine of Mr Collins but they adjourned to the Red Lion public House They then moved onto Mr Paistows mill at Loudwater and destroyed his machine after he had pleaded with them saying he would dismantle it

The High Sherriff  Colonel Vyse  arrived by this time with a number of ‘gentlemen’ to oppose the rioter but had stones thrown at them severely cutting Vyes’ face

Mr Spicers Hedge Mill came next  but His Majestys stag hounds arrived several shots were fired at least 2 men were hit in the chest  were carried away lifeless 6 Grenadier guards arrived and took six prisoners away


The rioters then moved on to destroy the machines at Wycombe Marsh and Kings Mills before a number of them were eventually rounded up and taken to Aylesbury Gaol to await trial. In all they had caused £12,000 worth of damage.45 rioters  were captured (and 9) taken in Lord Carringtons break and a stage coach  to Aylesbury gaol but were turned away as the gaol was overflowing due to the riots and so returned to Wycombe W Bowrey,S Atkins ,R Carey,M.Holt,J Sims,R Dofter,J Bryant S Waldeck and the 2 Moody brothers

At least 48 were tried  by Jan 12 1831 but the number were being added to daily  The court was convened and adjorned until Tuesday when John Lane was examined by Sergeant Storkes.He said the machinery destroyed had cost £300 .On Jan 20th  23 prisoners were sentenced to death for the destruction of machinery at Aylesbury court but no names available  in the Worcester Journal .The judge said he would show leneancy for some

January 21  1831 Thomas Blizzard 30, and  John Sarney believed to be the ring leaders in the Wycombe riots were sentenced to death without mercy  19 more sentenced to death by Justice Parks

Some  were transported to Australia. The two ringleaders were sentenced to death but their sentences were subsequently commuted and they too were transported.


At Winchester a ring leader of riots was discharged after it was proved that ‘God save the King’ was omitted from the reading of the Riot Act

In the Wycombe area there were at least 300 unemployed papermakers at this time and Lord Carrington and all the Paper mill owners received threats in writing if they didn’t stop using their thrashing and papermaking machines.


Although the Council levied a special rate to compensate the paper makers, this came too late for Zachary Allnutt who was declared bankrupt on 20 June 1837. appearing in the London Gazette February 1837

The riots were reported in newspapers across the country where local riots were aimed a farmers as well .In Cambridgeshire rioters destroyed several large stacks of corn at Coton in Cambs. Along with the thrashing machine

 In October 1837 Alfred Lane (recorded in the 1841 census as a papermaker) and Joseph Edmonds leased the mill but it is uncertain whether papermaking ever resumed there. In the mid–1840s, it was occupied by Thomas Quarterman who converted it back to a corn mill.

In 1844 Joseph is described as a retired tradesman

The Lanes ceased papermaking and the machinery auctioned on  Thursday November 25th 1847 by a Mr Vernon Lots included 80 ‘valuable lots of paper’ 3 steam cylinders,4 presses ,cast iron rollers 2 engines ,a large rag boiler ,steam boiler .60 lots in total

The mill was then run as a corn mill
They then  marched through the town to, Marsh Green Mill. Zachary Allnutt begged them to spare the machine, promising not to use it, but the rioters took no notice of him They proceeded to Mr Hayes’mill where the machine suffered the same fate
Rev. Vincent Price JP who came to read the Riot Act, calling on all people unlawfully assembled to disperse peaceably to their homes

In 1858 Edmonds’ widow sold Marsh Green to George Darvill for £1,625, and in May 1866, George’s son Benjamin sold the “water corn mill, dwelling house, hereditaments and premises situate at Upper Marsh” for £2,500 to Lord Carrington but on the same day signed a tenancy agreement for the whole property now including watercress beds. In 1899 Ben Darvill & Son were still running Marsh Green, by then water and steam.​


In 1851John is retired and  was living at 25 Lane Mill Row ; James  Edmunds and wife Eleanor are living at the mill, milling corn and selling animal feed (mealman)
In the 1870s , Reuben Pierce who married Anne Marie Lane ,Johns daughter and was corn milling  He died from drink by 1876 by which time the Pierces had gone to Temple Mill




  Ash Mill at the auction date c.1930



At some point it was taken over by James Cox  and used as a furniture store  His grandson George who  fell down the stairs and died in 1938  married Anne Marie , Reuben Pierces daughter so Ash mill remained with a branch of the Lanes until then. 

Cox Employed 150 in 1870. Exhibited at a Furniture Exhibition at London Agricultural Hall, 1881. ‘No firm of higher reputation or greater importance’ in 1890s. Est 1850 as Cox & Hussey, dissolved 1865 and carried on by Jas Cox until 1880 when it becomes Cox & Son. Showrooms at 24 Finsbury Pavement. Exports to Australia & New Zealand. ‘Art Chair Makers & upholsterers’. Old saw mills in Bridge Street converted to a separate company and used for cabinet work. Reported in 1891 BFP as est. as Cox, Hussey & Barrett about 1850 in Three Tuns Yard, then to West End as Cox & Hussey, the 1862 Hussey moved to Hughenden Road. Cox bn Amersham, Died 1891 at 77

High Wycombe had become a well known furniture manufacturing town in 1800s with several of the Lanes being involved for example  later  J C Lane Ltd (James Christopher) 1907-1958 and Lane and Head


IN 1939 Ash mill was demolished



The site today (2010) is a car park at a point where the River Wye is culverted under the modern town of High Wycombe.It is hard to believe so many mills existed on this stretch of water as the flow is so poor presumably because of abstraction  for drinking water (?) and hence the introduction of steam engines in the 1830s to Ash Mill

From records though there were many mill ponds which allowed a head of water to build .Some mills were operated 24  hrs in 1800s ,making paper in the daytime  and corn milling at night and the water flow carefully managed


Ash  Mill  was on the corner of Westbourne Street 


Only 1 working mill survives on the Wye at Wycombe . Pann mill is open to the public on certain days and it was the site of a mill in the Doomesday Book