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Photograph - Watermill, Halstead, Essex
  • Watermill, Halstead, Essex
    de Mare, Eric, born 1910 - died 2002
  • Enlarge image

Watermill, Halstead, Essex

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Halstead (photographed)

  • Date:

    1960s-1970s (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    de Mare, Eric, born 1910 - died 2002 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 971

Eric de Mare, a trained architect and one of the most acclaimed architectural photographers in Britain, devoted much of his career to recording Britain's neglected industrial heritage. His photographs of bridges, factories, and warehouses demonstrated that functional design was not an invention of the twentieth century, but had a long and honourable tradition in British architecture. This picture of a watermill on the River Colne in Halstead, Essex, is a strong case in point. Built in 1788 as a corn mill, it was bought in 1825 by Samuel Courtauld and converted to silk production. The factory prospered, particularly after Courtaulds patented artificial silk, but was eventually forced by foreign competition to close in 1983. It has been preserved as an historic landmark.

Physical description

A photograph of a clapboard watermill, with two rows of continuous windows, spanning a stream. The mill's reflection in the stream takes up the lower half of the photograph. The only human presence is a worker pushing a load past the mill.

Place of Origin

Halstead (photographed)


1960s-1970s (photographed)


de Mare, Eric, born 1910 - died 2002 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print


Height: 291 mm, Width: 291 mm

Object history note

The watermill depicted in this photograph dates from 1788. Originally built for grinding corn, it was purchased in 1825 by Samuel Courtauld and converted to silk production; the factory was particularly busy following Courtaulds' patenting of artificial silk. The factory closed in 1983 but the mill has been preserved.

Historical context note

Eric de Mare, a trained architect, was one of the most acclaimed British architectural photographers of the 1960s and 1970s. From the late 1940s, he received a series of commissions to document Britain's relatively neglected industrial heritage; much of his oeuvre consists of striking images of bridges, factories, and warehouses. In 1958 he collaborated with J M Richards on the book The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings, which demonstrated that functional design had not been an invention of the 1930s, but had a long tradition in British architecture.

Descriptive line

Photograph, 'Watermill, Halstead, Essex', by Eric de Mare


Black-and-white photography

Subjects depicted

Water mills




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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