William Bartholomew and the Tidemill at East Blatchington
William Bartholomew was born in 1787 in Bishopstone, East Sussex and in 1841 was living with his family at East Blatchington. East Blatchington is nowadays a suburb of Seaford, but was originally a village in its own right. The name is derived from the Saxon 'Blaeca's ton' the farm of Blaeca. It lies just off the coast road near to Seaford and Bishopstone. The area was settled by the Romansprobably as a port to transport goods from the inland farms to Europe, the area was taken over by the Saxons after the Romans left . The village originally ran from the church down the hill to the duck pond. Building of the Tidemill started in 1761, it is thought that the creek and millponds are one of the old courses of the River Ouse. A tidemill operates by water from the rising tide turning water wheels and filling the pond behind, as the tide later drops the water in the pond flows out and turns the wheels the other way. In this way around 20 hours of operation out of 24 hours were obtained. At its peak and when run by William Catt from 1801onwards it had 16 pairs of stones grinding and was thought to be the largest in the world. Catt became an authority on the system and built and advised on building several in France. Originally grain and flour came and went via the creek and its entrance into Newhaven harbour, but the closure of the creek to improve the quays stopped this traffic although the railway put a spur line in from Bishopstone Station (now derelict) right down to the mill. This raised costs and started the decline and eventual closure in 1883. The mill itself straddled the creek by the existing bridge. It became a bonded warehouse for the Café Royale and was finally demolished in 1900. In 1841 William Bartholomew is noted as being a miller and would have been employed at the Tidemill by William Catt. The village continued and was declared unfit for habitation in 1934, the last family was forcibly moved in 1940 when the site was partially cleared to give open fields of fire and also used as a street fighting training area by the Canadians.