9) THREE MILLS
Three Mills Island as a site has nearly a thousand years’ milling history, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.
One of the mills at Three Mills produced gunpowder in the 1580s under the ownership of James Mounsey, a London grocer, and this is believed to be the first gunpowder mill in Essex.
The current House Mill building (which remains today) was built by Daniel Bisson in 1776. This building produced gin throughout its life and was bought by Nicholson’s Gin in 1872. The large scale of gin production sustained a chain of secondary industries: the distilling grain mash was fed to pigs, the pigs in turn were used to make soap and cosmetics (from their fat) and fine bone china (from their burned bones). Barrels were also made here, to carry pickled pork downriver to the Navy (gin-infused pickled pork did not taste good, but sailors had no choice in their diet!)
Nicholson’s chairman, William Nicholson (a keen cricketer) advanced money to the MCC in 1864 to enable them to purchase the land which became Lord's Cricket Ground, with a further loan in 1889 for the Lord's Pavilion. It is believed that the change of corporate colours from sky-blue to the red and yellow of Nicholson at that time was no coincidence.
Although the company no longer distilled after the site was bombed in 1941, its former gin palaces are still popular pubs across London. The Nicholson’s gin brand relaunched in 2018.
Click here for map