The earliest record of a mill at Stretton is from 1351, unfortunately little is known of its early story, though the mill pond is the same location today as in the medieval period.
The current mill building was started in 1630 on the footings of an earlier mill building, the cobbles of which can be seen inside the mill today and you can feel how they are smoothed flat after many centuries of millers’ feet. By this point, Stretton Watermill had become the estate mill for nearby Carden Hall owned by the Leche family.
The 1630 mill was a timber box-frame construction with a thatched roof. The timber frame can still be seen inside the mill today, complete with holes for the wattle uprights and the oak mullions of a long blocked up window. At this point the mill had a single overshot wheel at the east end of the building, probably supplying power to two sets of stones.
In 1770, the roof was raised and the thatch replaced with slates. The timber framing was covered by weatherboarding and the lower parts cased in sandstone from the Carden estate. More significantly, a second waterwheel was added at the west end of the mill and another two sets of stones to cope with the increased demand created by improvements in agriculture.
There was now so much machinery in the mill that in 1819 the upper floor of the mill was extended out over the east waterwheel, enclosing it and giving more space to store grain upstairs. The east waterwheel was replaced in 1852 with a cast iron breastshot wheel produced at the WH Smith foundry at Whitchurch.
By the end of the 19th century, Stretton was no longer grinding flour for human consumption and was just producing animal feeds. During the Second World War the roller mills at ports like Liverpool were suffering from bombing and the grain supply from Canada and the United States was blockaded in the Atlantic. As a result hundreds of small rural mills including Stretton had to rise to the occasion to supply the nation’s needs, working 24 hours a day all week to meet demands. After the war, Stretton returned to animal feeds.
In 1959, Stretton’s last miller, Albert Victor Gregory, retired. The mill lay derelict for over a decade but was bought by Cheshire County Council and restored as a museum, which opened to the public in 1977. Today, Stretton Watermill opens from Spring to Autumn each year and welcomes thousands of visitors and school pupils.