William Eyre formerly a joiner and wheelwright took over the lease on Brough Corn Mills in March 1885 and became a corn miller.
Originally providing a service to local farmers for their grain to be threshed, and also damp grain to be dried on a dryer in the north west side of the mill and then later ground into cattle feed. Any spare grain would be bought from the farmers, with oats made into oatmeal, wheat into flour and barley into meal for cattle and pigs.
On Thursday 11th October 1911, Hassop Estate decided to sell Agricultural holdings, licensed premises, cottages and land in the townships of Bradwell, Hope, Thornhill, Aston and Brough extending in all to 636 acres in 45 lots. William Eyre went to the auction at 2 High Street, Sheffield and succeeded in purchasing the Mill for £1000.
In 1922, William Eyre made his two sons Marmaduke Hallam Eyre and William Eyre Jnr partners in the business "Wm Eyre & Sons", so he could spend more time at Within House Farm, Bradwell. Thus relieving Marmaduke of part-time farming activities and giving him more time to expand the business.
It was on January 10th 1924, a wintry morning with snow on the ground that disaster struck. With a loud knock on the front door of The Laurels, Bradwell. Willis Wilson's loud voice shouted "Mill's Afire!" The Mills and warehouses were completely gutted causing several thousands of pounds worth of damage. Re-building of the Mill started straight away with limestone quarried from a small quarry at Outland Head, Bradwell. The Mill was to be fitted out and finished ready for the busy milling season starting in October when cattle were brought inside for the winter and required more feeding stuffs. The building cost £3000 to complete and the milling machinery would be around £1000.
In the summer of 1933, Marmaduke's son William Eyre aged 17 years and 53 days was asked by his father what he wanted to do now he had left school. His reply "I would like to work for Jack Fletcher as a Joiner". "Jack Fletcher be damned" his father replied, " You are going to work for me!
In 1938 we started compounding our own feed known as “Eyrex” for example Free Range Layers Mash. Sold in cwt Hessian bags but after the war we used 56lb paper bags.
By 1954 all but the compensation water had been taken from the River Noe and there was not enough power to drive the thresher. This was due to Derwent Valley Water Board requiring water from Edale, Bradwell and Castleton to be pumped through a pipe under Winhill to the Ladybower Dam. Compensation for loss of water was agreed at £6000 plus £750 towards electrification in May 1960. The installation of electric motors and wiring was completed in a fortnight.
The turning point for the mill was in 1966 when William Eyre faced with death duties, the economic situation in the corn trade and the rising cost of electricity, decided to cut back from delivering corn and supplies to just selling on a cash n carry basis only.
William Eyre’s son Geoff went to work as a sales agent for Crosfields & Calthrop Ltd (Agricultural feed and supplies) on 11th September 1967 and started to call on farmers in the area. With Geoff’s intensive agricultural training courses and experience with C & C he was now fully qualified to help William Eyre in the running of the business and was made a partner on July 1st 1969. With the mill getting busier, Geoff’s help and new ideas were greatly needed.
In 1984 the new Mill extension was completed to house a new houseware section and clothing department on the top floor.
We completed our 100 years trading on March 25th 1985 and invited all our customers to a Centenary Evening on July 12th 1985. Almost 3000 people attended with staff and family kept busy serving Brough Beef Buns and succulent lamb chops, with 3 live bands and a disco and dancing until 4 am.
Wm Eyre & Sons is now a fifth generation family business with Geoff’s two children Rachael and Robert joining the firm.