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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

25 Views of Tide Mills

Tide Mills is a collection of archaeological remains situated in the Newhaven Port area between Newhaven and Seaford.

The main feature is the ruined building (mill buildings, houses and tidal pools) of the eponymous Tide Mills; mills which were powered by tidal water flow

"The construction of Tide Mills began in 1761 and was completed 1788/ In 1851, there were 60 men working at the mill, and most of them lived in cottages which around the site. There was also a school to educate the children. A railway line from Newhaven to Seaford was opened in the mid-ninetieth century with a halt at Tide Mills originally named Bishopston Station (after the village of Bishopstone to the north of Tide Mills, a siding was constructed, which ran between the cottages, enabling large flour to be transported to Newhaven, from where much of it was shipped to London by sea.

The Mill closed in 1883 and was used as warehouses until it was pulled down in 1901. The village was condemned as unfit for habitation in 1936, with the last residents forcibly removed in 1939.

The Sussex Archaeological Society started a long-term project in April 2006 to record the entire East Beach site: Mills, Railway Station, Nurses Home, Hospital, RNAS {Royal Naval Air Service] Station and the later holiday homes and the Marconi Radio station (1904)." adapted from Wikipedia Tide Mills, East Sussex - Wikipedia

There was also an outdoor "Maine" school for physically disabled boys, the ruins of which can be seen. "The founder of the Hospital was Grace Kimmins, born in Lewes in 1870. She founded Chailey Heritage residential school in 1903 and the Tide Mills hospital was the school’s second residential site. It offered medical care, schooling and lots of fresh sea air to boys aged 5-16 with physical disabilities. They would be sent to the hospital as it was believed the sea air and water was a great healer – especially for anyone recovering from an operation". Explore Chailey Heritage Marine Hospital - The Tide Mills Project

The site, with its history as the deserted location of the now derelict tidal mills, workers' houses, railways station, marine hospital, Royal Naval Air Service station, holiday homes, and Marconi radio station, is ripe for psychogeographical exploration

"How do different places make us feel and behave? The term psychogeography was invented by the Marxist theorist Guy Debord in 1955 in order to explore this. Inspired by the French nineteenth century poet and writer Charles Baudelaire’s concept of the flâneur – an urban wanderer – Debord suggested playful and inventive ways of navigating the urban environment in order to examine its architecture and spaces.

As a founding member of the avant-garde movement Situationist International, an international movement of artists, writers and poets who aimed to break down the barriers between culture and everyday life, Debord wanted a revolutionary approach to architecture that was less functional and more open to exploration.

The reimagining of the city proposed by psychogeography has its roots in dadaism and surrealism, art movements which explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination. Tristam Hillier’s paintings such as La Route des Alpes 1937 could be described as an early example of the concept.

Psychogeography gained popularity in the 1990s when artists, writers and filmmakers such as Iain Sinclair and Patrick Keiller began using the idea to create works based on exploring locations by walking." Psychogeography – Art Term | Tate

These 25 photos do not attempt to record every archaeological aspect of the site or explore its psychogeographical aspects; they just record the sights that interested me when I walked around Tide Mills on Wednesday 07.04.21; 12.30-13.30. I am particularly interested in how nature has reclaimed the built environment of Tide Mills. I have walked around Tide Mills many, many times, as it is one of my favourite sites in Sussex. My experience of the location, in terns of my emotional response, is very affected by the weather. On Wednesday 07.04,32 from 12.30 to 13.30 it was cold and overcast; and in the context of covid experience in which we live, it felt particularly gloomy. One aspect of its history resonated with me strongly on Wednesday; the value of being outdoors in the fresh air (a prime motivation for Chailey Heritage, in choosing this site its Marine School), has been firmly re-established by the experience covid-19.


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