The 200-year-old mill at Sarehole is one of only two surviving watermills in Birmingham. The cobbled courtyard and mill pool are a tranquil haven from 21st-century life outside, while the buildings and their impressive machinery give a unique insight into the lives of the millers who once inhabited this rural retreat.
More than 70 watermills once occupied the riverbanks around Birmingham and there has been one at Sarehole for at least 460 years. Sarehole was first built as a corn-grinding mill but has also been used for rolling sheet metal, grinding blades and wire rolling.
The Mill was once rented to Matthew Boulton before he moved to Handsworth to build his famous Soho Manufactory. The local landscape also provided inspiration for the stories of J. R. R. Tolkien who spent his childhood here.
Highlights at Sarehole Mill include: the northwheel, mill gears and grinding stones on the first floor. These can be seen working on milling days; the bakehouse with the original bread-oven from the 1850s, large enough to hold 60 loaves of bread; signpost to Middle-Earth – this exhibition explores the connections of J. R. R. Tolkien with Sarehole Mill and the surrounding area. The Mill is part of the Tolkien Trail, which follows the childhood footsteps of the author and the places that influenced his writing; the mill pool – occupied by all kinds of wildlife including moorhens, mallard and herons. Kingfishers are regular visitors.