Historic mill wheel measuring 14ft discovered at Hadleigh sinkhole

The sinkhole opened up in Hadleigh and a number of interesting discoveries relating to the old Toppesfield Mill

The sinkhole opened up off Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh and a number of interesting discoveries relating to the old Toppesfield Mill have been unearthed. - Credit: Babergh District Council

A bridge and an old mill wheel have been unearthed after a sinkhole was discovered in Hadleigh near the site of the former Toppesfield Mill, which burned down in the 1950s. 

The 11ft hole was discovered near a footpath last month in Tinkers Lane, when a contractor from Babergh District Council (BDC) found a deep depression in the ground and another collapse beneath the surface.

EADT FEATURE - STEVE RUSSELLHadleigh film maker and photographer Peter BoultonEADT 3.10.09

Hadleigh film maker and photographer Peter Boulton captured the fire at Toppesfield Mill in February, 1954. In the foreground is Frederick Spraggons, landlord of The Ram pub in Market Place. He and his wife kept firemen supplied with food and drink as they fought a tough battle with the flames. - Credit: Peter Boulton

The hole was found to be an 11ft-deep void, with the lower 7ft full of water. It was fenced off to the public. 

Council teams have since been investigating the site and have come across a number of interesting discoveries, uncovering a large cogs wheel, a bridge and an old mill wheel along the line of the old mill race.

A mill race, also known as a millrun, is the current of water that turns a water wheel, or the channel (sluice) conducting water to or from a water wheel.

Teams from Babergh District Council have been excavating the site off Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh, along the old mill race.

Teams from Babergh District Council have been excavating the site off Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh, along the old mill race. - Credit: Babergh District Council

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: “We are continuing to investigate and excavate the site at Tinkers Lane and have made a number of interesting discoveries, including a bridge and an old mill wheel, measuring 14ft long and 10ft in diameter, from Toppesfield Mill, which burned down in 1954.


You may also want to watch:


"A large cogs wheel has also been uncovered.

The discovery off Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh, where parts of the old mill race have been unearthed

The discovery off Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh, where parts of the old mill race have been unearthed following the opening of a sinkhole. - Credit: Babergh District Council

“We are considering how we can safely display the artefacts to the public and expect to have more information on our plans soon.  

Most Read

"In the meantime, the safety of the public and protection of the historic site remain of paramount importance."

Toppesfield Mill in Hadleigh from David Kindred’s archive

Toppesfield Mill in Hadleigh in the early years of the last century. If it is of help please credit: Photograph from David Kindred’s archive. - Credit: David Kindred’s archive

A closure order is in place in Tinkers Lane between Benton Street and the football ground end of the bridge until July 1.

Fencing has been erected around the site to prevent access.

The council said it hopes to reopen the footpath as soon as possible and is working with the Environment Agency to also get the land back in use.  

Residents of the market town have called for some of the finds to be put on display in a heritage centre or museum.

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to subsidance

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to the sinkhole appearing. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Works are continuing at the sinkhole in Tinkers Lane while the final solution for the site is discussed.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter