Benson Industry

Ewelme Road, Benson

Quarrying & Brickmaking
Small-scale Mineral Extraction began early. ‘Chalk-pit way‘ (mentioned in 996) lay possibly North-east of Berrick Salome, while the name Mogpits (for an area near Oakley Wood) was recorded in the 13thC.   Manorial Gravel Pits North of Benson Village were recalled in the Field-name Gravel Pit Furlong and in 1624 a Lease of Preston Crowmarsh reserved Gravel Rights there to the Lord.  Piecemeal Extraction continued throughout the 19th & 20thCs, much of it around the Village and near Oakley Wood,  while in 1800 the Churchwardens bought 11 Loads of ‘Roke Stones’ for repairs.

A Benson Brickmaker was mentioned in 1704, and a small Brickworks at Beggarsbush Hill by the London Road, established by 1788, continued under the King & Clark Families during the 1840s–70s.  The Bricks produced seem to have been relatively Low-Quality, and were probably used Locally.  By 1877 the Site was a Lime-works, which continued in the 1930s but had apparently closed by 1941.

Benson Weir & Preston Crowmarsh Mill c.1880; the 60ft Chimney was built for an Auxiliary Engine

Benson Manor included 2 Corn Mills in 1086,  both of them possibly within the modern Parish. A Benson Mill attached to Chalgrove Manor was given to Abingdon Abbey by Peter Boterel in the 1150s–60s, but though the Grant was confirmed in 1232 no Abbey Mill was mentioned later. 

From the mid-13thC a Mill called Quatie was let with Benson’s Demesne to Groups of Tenants, but was abandoned before 1438, leaving a Fishery which (by the 1530s) owed 33s-4d Quitrent.  A 2nd 13thC Mill, held for 5s a year, was possibly that called Withgenemulle, which descended with Fifield Manor from the 14thC and was sold to the Waterers in 1618. Probably those 2 Mills occupied the Sites of the 17th and 18thC Mills at Preston Crowmarsh & Mill Lane, which in the 1780s owed those same Ancient Quitrents.  One or both could have been in Warborough or Shillingford, however, where a Weir called Wythegeyt was mentioned in the 14thC.  Both Corn Mills continued into the late 19thC Century,  when the Mill Lane Mill was demolished after a Fire.  Crowmarsh Mill (where William Littleboy employed 10 men & 2 boys in 1881) became a Flock and Hair-manufacturing Mill from c.1903 to 1906, owned by John Wigglesworth, and from c.1925–32 the Wallingford & District Electrical Supply Co generated Electricity there for Parishes in Crowmarsh Rural District.  It became a Private House c.1932, and by 2013 the Wheel had gone. The 18thC Mill Lane Millers House remained.

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