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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
The River Lea Coppermill
The old copper mill dating back hundreds of years
Location: Copper Mill Lane, Walthamstow
Description: There has been a mill on the site of the old River Lea Copper Mill for a very long time. In the 14th century, the mill ground corn and was powered by a mill stream diverted from the River Lea known today as the Coppermill Stream.
Then in the 1670's gunpowder, in 1690 it was used for rolling paper and the stream was named Papermill River. In 1712 it was a Leather Mill. It's next use was in the manufacture of linseed oil.
In 1808 it was purchased by the Welsh British Copper Company. The copper was smelted in Landore near Swansea in South Wales and brought by barge around the south coast up the Thames and the Lea, then up the Coppermill Stream to the mill.
Production eventually ceased in 1857, the machinery was dismantled and taken back to Swansea. Soon afterwards, the mill was purchased by The East London Water Company who started building reservoirs on the marshes.
One of the water wheels of the mill was altered to drive a water pump for building their reservoirs. There was no tower at the mill until 1864 when it is thought to have been added maybe to house a steam engine. The mill house was demolished in 1941.
Today there is now a large water treatment works surrounding the old coppermill building, run by Thames Water. It is not open to the public.