For the best part of 4 decades, the Lovekin family (John senior and John junior) managed the Water Mill at Bunbury on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge. The current Mill dating from the 1840s is now restored, is a working museum, is a Grade II listed building and is sited on Mill Lane.
It is a story typical of Victorian Millers of Corn.
Throughout the 1860s and 1870s, John Lovekin (senior) is listed as the Corn Miller at Higher Town, Bunbury, where he employed at least 2 men at the Water Mill. By the 1881 Census, however, John Lovekin (senior) had retired to a farming life at Kelsall.
Keeping the business in the family, his son John Lovekin (junior) who was born in 1854 and who had married Harriet Wilson in 1874 at the Parish Church of St Boniface, Bunbury, had taken over the management of the Water Mill.
Their growing family are thought to be shown in the image that supports this article (click on image to enlarge). Indeed, on the 1891 Census, John and Harriett were at home on Census night with at least 8 of their daughters.
At the turn of the 20th century, however, and with Water Mills in decline, John Lovekin (junior), like his father before him had moved into farming, taking up residence at Bowes Gate Farm, Bunbury. Some of the Lovekin daughters became noted cheesemakers in rural Cheshire. They won several prizes, not least at the London Dairy Show championship.
The Bunbury Water Mill once supplied Chester with flour and delivered to bakeries in the city by horse and cart.
Like other Water Mills in rural areas, however, it is likely that Bunbury was no longer grinding flour for human consumption by the end of the 19th century, but was instead producing animal feedstuff; a process which continued until 1960.
Only during the Second World War when roller millers at ports like Liverpool were suffering from bombing and when grain supplies from Canada and the United States were blockaded in the Atlantic, did rural mills such as that at Bunbury see some respite, rising to the challenge of supplying the nation and working around the clock to meet demand.
The Lovekin family (John senior and John junior), left their footprints on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge and it is testimony to individuals such as these that the Mill's heritage has been saved, representing a valuable reference point which contributes to the diverse memory of the Ridge.
Our thanks to Bunbury Water Mill in the preparation of this article.