Mill Wheels Grinding – The Crumpled Mill, Mansfield

{aka Yenta searching for mills- like any good Jewish Donna Quixote would do}

[Of the 384 mills built in the Eastern Cape, a collective of grist, big wooden wheel- wind, paddles, and horse mills,  wooden wheel on top of the mill, only 90 have been identified to date. Of the 1000 mills built in South Africa, all genres, approximately only a further 20 have been recognized.]

This settler mill, has a very sad tale of great expectations, mayhap no business plan in place, and ended up as a crumbling, neglected, ruin of a mill. {Circa 1840}, Mansfield, the land, itself, is a vast old ‘settler, landmarked farm’, holding copious amounts of fresh water from the strong stream, to the left of the photograph; {the water provided is so endless, that it supplies the village of Port Alfred with fresh water} circa 2018.  Perfect for this large ‘grist-mill’  {the one with the large wooden wheel} .

Main picture: Mansfield Mill in 1987

The position of the mill, safely, above the high watermark on the Kowie River, in planning, would service both Port Alfred and Bathurst some 15 kilometres over the hill, with flour and milled wheat; the wholegrain transported there, either by wagon from Bathurst, a bone-shaking journey by wagon, or on one of the barges, that were able to reach Mansfield safely. That is where the project fell apart. The transportation, to and from the mill to the harbour in Port Alfred, depended solely on the small barges, they transported all manner of provisions for the village, the Victoria, worked over weekends carrying passengers across the river, and the Buffalo, mostly just goods.

Manfield Mill – West Side

Mansfield Mill – with boat in foreground

Mansfield Mill – with some roof intact

Picnic beyond the Mansfield MIll

The Buffalo was deliberately smashed in the mouth of the Kowie River, they say by the captain, who had an altercation with the owner, and the Victoria, aged and untended, eventually sank in the river. She worked a double-shift, as a passenger carrier, as well as a goods transporter.  Once the cartage became unavailable, the mill closed down. There was simply no cost effective way of transporting the flour and wheat.

The mill itself, after starting off as a fairly modern concept, with cottages for the families of the crew, almost a very small village, ended up as seen here as a lonely portion, and even today, there is barely a corner of the building left for identification.

Victoria tug off-loading passengers at pont


  1. Hi Bev. Just received news of Val’s passing. Will remember her with affection and admiration. What a character!!! Regards, Johnnie Gluckman (now living in Cape Town)

  2. Hello Bev. I belong to Historical Bathurst and am doing some research on places called Mansfield in the area. You seem to have some background on Mansfield Farm, as you describe it a “vast old ‘Settler, landmarked’farm ” circa 1840. Please could you contact me at Many thanks Nick


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