To investigate possible paranormal phenomenon at Crabble Corn Mill.
Owned, operated and maintained by Crabble Corn Mill Trust, the mill was
rescued from demolition and opened to the public in 1990. It can now boast
to be one of the most complete and working examples of a Georgian watermill
A mill has stood on this site for 750 years - the first mill was built
by the monks of St. Radigund's Abbey in the 13th century. The ruins of
the Abbey can still be seen up on the hills to the west of the Mill.
In 1812, John Pilcher owned a small country mill at Crabble. He built
a huge new mill beside it, so he could get profitable government contracts
to mill flour for the troops guarding Dover against Napoleon's threat
This sketch shows the new 6-storey mill
behind the old one, which was kept working for about 30 years. The new
mill had "state-of-the-art" technology, based on ideas from
millwrights in the U.S.A. There they had developed the "automatic
mill" - where once the grain was unloaded into the grain bins, it
was untouched by human hand until it was bagged up into flour at the other
The material was carried from one machine to the next by means of conveyors,
elevators and chutes.
Many of the machines could adjust themselves automatically to changing
conditions - a remarkable degree of automation for the early 19th century!
This was necessary because there were so many mills on the river.
In its Victorian hey-day, Crabble was one of over a dozen watermills along
the short River Dour - which is only 5 km long from its source to where
it flows out into the Harbour.
Seven of these were flour mills like Crabble; processing the wheat grain
from local farms all over the North Downs. Of the others, five made paper,
and one crushed oilseed.
There were 4 mills upstream of Crabble, which meant that the flow of water
in the river was greatly affected by what the other millers were doing
- each mill passed its water down to the next one downstream.
When the wars against Napoleon finished in 1815, the Pilcher family took
advantage of the slump in trade to buy up several other mills in Dover.
There is documentary evidence that they bought a steam engine from Boulton
& Watt, and opened
Dover's first steam-powered mills down
by the harbour.
But by the 1840's they ran into difficulties: their bankers were pressing
for loans to be repaid, and all their mills were sold.
Crabble Mill was bought by Willsher Mannering, a young miller who already
had two other watermills in Dover. He made major improvements, demolishing
the old mill and adding 2 extra pairs of millstones to the new one, making
five in total.
He built up good trade shipping flour
by sea up to London, which was then growing fast. Dover too was growing
more prosperous - after major harbour improvements in the 1850s, the town's
cross-Channel trade was booming. This was helped by the opening of the
London to Dover railway in 1844.
In the last quarter of the 19th century several changes combined to drive
the old watermills like Crabble out of business:
New methods of milling by rollers were
perfected in Austria. Roller milling produced the finer, whiter flour
that customers wanted.
Coal was cheaper, making steam power an economic alternative to water-power.
The British government dropped the "Corn Laws", which put heavy
taxes on imported grain.
Big new steamships imported foreign grain from eastern Europe and across
the Atlantic at cheaper prices than locally-grown wheat. Many English
farmers stopped ploughing their fields and kept dairy cattle instead.
Big new roller mills powered by tireless steam-engines began to open up
in the ports like London, Hull, and Liverpool.
By 1893 the Mannerings decided to close Crabble Corn Mill, and concentrate
all their flour production in another mill downstream - which they had
recently re-equipped with rollers and a steam engine. Crabble's millstones
and waterwheel had become out-dated.
Fortunately, the Mill was not dismantled
- none of its machinery was sold for scrap. In fact, the Mannerings kept
it well-maintained until their flour business went bankrupt in 1957.
After that, ruin set in. Twenty years ago, Crabble was on the verge of
collapse. Local enthusiasts set up a charitable trust to save this unique
mill, which is possibly the last of its kind in Europe.
It was a minor miracle that the mill survived intact. After restoration
costing over £500,000, we can again see the millers at work.
The collection of unique automatic flour making machines give an insight
into the ingenuity required to feed our great-great grandparents in the
days of the industrial revolution.2
Reported paranormal activity
Over the years there have been several
sightings at the Mill. On our site visit several of these were recounted
Edward and William Cruft
Edward and William Cruft were brothers
and apprentice millers at Crabble Mill in the 1800's. Edward was 4 years
old when he met his demise at the mill on level 5, where he fell into
the hopper and drowned in the flour, 1814.
William, met his death 4 years later on
level 2 when he fell into the gear workings, 1822.
Both the boys are buried in the local
churchyard St.Peter & St.Pauls.
There have been several reported sightings
of children in the mill over the years, visitors to the mill have commented
on occasions as to the “Victorian children running around, a nice
George Daynes was married to Phoebe and
they bore 18 children. George and Phoebe resided in one of the millers
cottages sited next to the mill.
George, born in 1851 became a miller at
Crabble in 1883 until 1892. George contracted millers lung and died in
Several people have reported respiratory
difficulties whilst in the Mill.
Miller's lung: A type of allergic inflammation
of the lungs (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) in people who are hypersensitive
to the granary weevil (the wheat weevil or Sitophilus granarius). People
who work with grains or flours contaminated with this weevil are at especially
high risk for this disease. Hence, the name miller's lung.
Persons who have developed a hypersensitive to the granary weevil typically
have an acute reaction including fever, cough, chills, and shortness of
breath within hours of reexposure to the weevil. Given no further contact
with the evil weevil, the person's symptoms typically improve over a day
or two, but weeks may be need for full recovery.
In the subacute form of miller's lung, a cough and shortness of breath
develop over days or weeks and may be so severe as to require hospitalization.
With chronic miller's lung from contact with the weevil over months to
years, there may be scarring (fibrosis) of the lung with increasing shortness
of breath and a cough productive of sputum, progressing over months or
years to respiratory failure.
Previous investigation has taken place at this site by Kent
Paranormal Group and we will be taking this into account when undertaking
Camera) Nikon Coolpix 3100
Fuji Finepix S9500
Kodak Easyshare cx7310
Olympus Camedia C160
Fuji Finepix S550
Camcorder) Sony DCR- H30E
EVP) Olympus DM-20 (x3)
Sony VOR tape
Sony Digital Recorder
Tomy Walkabout Digital Monitors
Whisper 2000 Super Sensitive Sound Modulator
EMF) Spectral Electronics EMF Meter
Gauss EMF Meter
Spectral Electronics 2G EMF Meter
ElectroSensor EMF Detector
Cellsensor EMF Meter
Trifield Natural EMF Meter
CCTV) IR Nightvision Wireless CCTV Cameras (x2)
Monitor / Receiver (x2)
Mini CCTV Colour Cameras + Receivers (x2)
Thermometer) Laser Thermometer Maplin 610C
IR Laser Thermometer Model 110CE (x2)
Digital Probe Thermometer
Inside / Outside Digital Air temp. Thermometer
Other) Data Logger EL-USB2 (x3)
IR Emitter Sony HVL-IRM (x2)
Binatone MR200 2-Way Radios (x4)
Binatone MR610 2-Way Radios (x2)
Metek Laser Measure
Timeguard Passive IR Motion Sensors (x3)
Active IR Beam Doorway Sensors
At no time during this investigation were the team privy to prior reports
or information given to Dean, Kim and Ian on their site visit.
Investigation Times 2100hrs-0600hrs
Areas to be investigated
Crabble Corn Mill
Cottage number 2
Cottage number 4
There were three teams for the evening.
Dean and Kim joined each group in turn
throughout the night, as well as monitoring equipment and taking measurements.
All group members offloaded their equipment
into the designated base camp area, (Main Reception)
A member of staff or one of the team then gave a brief on the building.
Toilets and smoking areas etc, this was followed by a guided tour of the
building and the two cottages so everyone was familiar of the layout.
There were a few danger points to watch out for at this location, and
2130hr Back to base where the
selected equipment was set up around the building:
Datalogger (Kim) Level 5
Datalogger (Paddy) Level 6
Datalogger(Dean) Level 4
CCTV Cottage 4
CCTV Level 2
Camcorder/ Dvd Recorder Level 3
Camcorder Level 6
Voice Recorder (Dean) Level 4
Voice Recorder (Rick) Cottage 2
Trigger Objects Level 6
Dean and Kim also recorded the whole evenings investigation on their digital
Investigation readings were taken throughout
the night by all core team members, Dean and Kim recording the majority
Team 1 ( Ian ) First location was Level 5
Team 2 (Rick ) First location Level 2
Team 3 (Paddy) First locations will be Cottage number 2 and 4
This was team quiet time, taking photos,
and asking for communication for 1 hour.
2300hrs Break twenty Minutes
All groups switched locations Team 1 to
the cottage, Team 2 to Level 5, Team 3 to Level 2 again the same as before
45 minutes to an hour.
All teams swaped for the last time Team
one to Level 2,Team 2 to the Cottage, Team 3 to Level 5, again up to an
0140hrs Break 10 mins
The groups then merged and split into
Team leader Ian (Team 1 ) Ian Sarah Rachel
and Sharon Paddy (Dean)
Team leader Paddy ( Team 2 )Rick Richard
Tracy and Sharon (Kim)
The first séance of the night took
place, no glass or Ouija boards were used on this investigation; one team
was in the cottage and one in the mill.
The first of the night’s lone vigils began
Team de- briefing of this investigation which closed around 0515
Time variance allowed and noted due to
team change round and placing of equipment.
23.00pm: Dean and Kim enter Cottage 4 to install equipment: Temperature
recorded 0ºc inside cottage, outside temperature 2ºc. The coldness
in the cottage was noted by them both. Dean also comments that as leaving
the mill to install equipment in the cottage that he heard whistling behind
him in the basement.
23.20pm: Team 2 on Level 2, Sharon saw the alarm sensor light
flash blue twice. Also on this vigil Sarah saw a shadow of what she describes
as a small child possibly 4 or 5 years old.
23.35pm: Team 1 on Level 5, Tracy has a sense of “playfulness”
23.35pm: Team 3 in Cottage, Paddy calls to teams in Mill as several
flashes were noted in the courtyard in front of the cottage. Possible
camera flashes from the Mill were discounted and light was investigated.
00.20am: Dean and Kim enter Cottage 2, the atmosphere is noted
as very still and oppressive, temperature drop noted from 5ºc to
2ºc in 20 minutes.
00.20am: Team 1, Cottage 4, repeated bumps heard, Tracy had a
feeling of “irritation”.
00.20am: Team 3, Level 2, Whistling
heard by team on several occasions, heard again at 00.54am
00.20am: Team 2, Level 5, Sarah and Sharon felt uneasy. Sarah feels
as though someone has died on this level.
01.10am: Team 2, Cottage 4, each
team member undertook a loan walk through the cottage. An uneasy feeling
was noted by them all in the upstairs rooms. Rick had the impression of
children being there.
01.35am: Above team still at Cottage 4, Sarah notes a shadow
on the door, either a child or small adult. At 01.40am Sarah feels a breath
on her face several times.
02.40am: Teams merge, Level 2, Whistling heard by team during
02.40am: Other team venture back to Cottage 4, the rest of the
evening was spent between the two locations and no other phenomena was
recorded on our investigation logs.
The rest of the evenings vigils passed
without any futher points of interest.
CCTV, Cottage 4 Nothing detected on
CCTV, Level 2 Nothing detected on tape
Camcorder/ Dvd Recorder, Nothing detected on tape
Camcorder, Level 6 Nothing detected on tapes
Voice Recorder (Dean) Nothing detected on tape
Voice Recorder (Rick) Nothing detected
Camcorder (Ian, Mobile) Various sounds detected, inconclusive
Personal voice recorder Dean Nothing detected on tape
Personal voice recorder Kim Nothing detected
Datalogger Level 5 No unusual temperature readings noted
DataloggerLevel 6 = Error on data
Datalogger Level 4 No unusual temperature