Sarehole Mill is one of only two working watermills left in Birmingham. The structure standing today was built in 1750, although a mill was documented at this site from the Tudor period.
Notably, in 1755, Matthew Boulton, a key figure in the Industrial Revolution taking place in Birmingham, leased the mill and made some alterations, including the introduction of metal machinery.
The building was a working mill until 1919, when it became unused and derelict for many years. Upon suggestions of demolition, a local community campaign saved the mill and it was restored in 1969.
Now, Sarehole Mill is run by Birmingham City Council and is open to the public from April to November. In the winter of 2012-2013, the mill underwent a large restoration project, including draining and repairing the millpond, renovating the mill itself, and restoring a Victorian bakery on the property which houses an original oven from the 1890s.
JRR Tolkein, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, spent part of his childhood in Sarehole. The mill is associated with Tolkein as it is believed he drew inspiration from the building and its surroundings in his creation of ‘The Shire’.
Sarehole Mill now offers a permanent exhibition, ‘Signposts to Middle-Earth’, which explores JRR Tolkein’s time spent in Sarehole.
Location: River Cole, Hall Green
Style: Water mill
Status: Grade II