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old dee bridge and mills, Chester
Old Dee Bridge and Dee Mills, Chester

Our thanks go to reader Don Mason of British Columbia, Canada for sending us this fine photograph.

He writes, "My father and his parents were born in Chester. While going through some of the things that my grandparents saved from their days in Chester we found the attached picture of the Old Dee Bridge. I thought you might be interested in seeing it. I don't have any details on the date it was taken but it is an actual photograph. I assume that the building is part of the old mill. Would you have any idea of the approximate date that the picture was taken?"

In April 1895, the Dee Mills, seen in their final form in Don's photograph, were purchased by Chester Corporation, only to sustain serious damage a month later in the last of a long series of fires, after which they were closed.
There was a brief revival in 1902, when Messrs. Rigby of Frodsham Mill temporarily resumed production in the workable remaining portion of the mill. As an experiment in the commercial use of the river, they carried a cargo of wheat in a Swedish ship, which was piloted to the Mill Wharf and successfully discharged. The experiment was not repeated, however, as the berth against the mill did not give sufficient depth of water for the vessel, which had to be moved to mid-channel for several hours, resulting in a loss of valuable time between the tidal high waters.

Soon after, the Dee Mills closed for good and were demolished after more than eight centuries of continuous service. The photo shows the mills looking scruffy but definitely not gutted by fire so it must date from before 1895.

Visit the Bridgegate chapters of the Chester Virtual Stroll to learn much more about the Old Dee Bridge and Mills.

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