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Brindley’s Bank and Colton Mill

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2020

Tom Foxon

Tom Foxon discovers a long-lost river transport route between the River Trent and the Trent & Mersey Canal

Colton Mill on the River Trent at Rugeley, adjacent to the Trent Valley railway station, dates back to the Domesday Book. Originally a corn mill, it was later used for grinding flints and china stone and was leased from the Earl of Lichfield in 1834 by Edward Johns, owner of a pottery at nearby Armitage. It was one of many water mills on the Trent, its tributaries, and on the River Dane, converted to grind flints to feed a fast expanding pottery industry. The Scotch Brook alone, a tributary joining the Trent at Stone, boasted no less than eight flint mills. For most of these water mills the raw materials and ground flints had to be transported to and from the canal by road. The 1834 records of the Weston Salt Company, which was also a merchant of potters’ materials, include a quotation for the supply of china stone to Colton Mill to be delivered at Brindley’s Bank. Why Brindley’s Bank? There was no road access to the site and Rugeley canal wharf was only 550 yards b…

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