1896; Tragedy at Upwey mill, Weymouth.

One of the prettiest little villages on the outskirts of Weymouth is Upwey.

As you drive into the meandering village, the houses and buildings nestle themselves down into a  wooded valley, and in the middle of this is where the tall building of the Upwey mill sits, fed by the river Wey which springs out of the ground a little further up the valley at the famous Upwey Wishing Well.


The stone mill was originally constructed in 1802, replacing an earlier building that was listed in the  records. It is also claimed that this mill is the one that famous local author, Thomas Hardy wrote about in his novel The Trumpet Major.

The little valley personifies peace and tranquility, not much to break the silence apart from nature, the babbling river and the birds singing in the woods above.

But in 1896 that peace was shattered with heart rending howls of despair.

The mill was a busy place then. Owned by local man Alfred Loveless, and in his employ was 40 year old Robert Scutt, a  miller who had been born in Sutton Poyntz, a village on the other side of Weymouth. Robert and his wife Hannah moved to Upwey when Robert obtained a job working for Alfred, they lived with their family in one of the cottages in Elwell Street.

One Wednesday in August Robert’s son, 13 year-old George was out playing happily with his best friend Harry Symonds near the mill.


The two lads, becoming bored with playing outside, entered the mill, and went to explore. Now, they had already been shooed out of the mill a couple of weeks previous by the owner, this was no place for children! But, boys, being, well… I guess, boys, the sense of adventure overruled the fear of being caught and punished.

The two lads climbed the rickety wooden stairs up to the third floor, noise and dust echoed around the room, they could hear the  huge water wheel turning the giant cogs and machinery, water splashing and churning below. Curiosity getting the better of little George he stood on tiptoe and peered over the boards to the rapidly revolving wheel below. Pulling himself up on the boards to get a better view, he teetered for a moment on the edge, then loosing his balance, his body pitched head first down towards the wheel pit. His friend Harry just stood in shocked silence at first…then in fear for his friends life he ran down the stairs as fast as he could to get help.

George’s father, Robert was stood down below in the yard at the time, when the wheel suddenly ceased to work…all very odd. He hastily raced into the mill, and headed for the stairs, worried which piece of the machinery had failed to stop the wheel working like that.

Here he met a hysterical Harry, who managed to tell him of the horrific disaster had happened to his son. Robert raced up those stairs and peered frantically over the boards, what met his eyes was a parents worst nightmare, below was the mangled remains of his son jammed in the giant wheel.

Shouting in desperation to the other men out in the yard to ‘stop the water…stop the water’!

But it was to no avail, the shocking damage had been done!

One of his fellow workmates appeared by his side, and the two men clambered down to retrieve what remained of George’s broken body.

By the time that the local doctor arrived on the scene,  Dr Pridham, there was obviously nothing he could do to help.

He describes how George’s body was laid on the mill floor, his intestines spread out across the area. He only had one arm still attached to his torso, the other dismembered limbs lay scattered around.

How does a human being cope with something like that, let alone a parent?

At the inquest held at The Mill house, a verdict of “Death my misadventure ” was given.

Robert and Hannah buried the remains of their son George in the little church yard in Upwey on the 23rd August.


Their lives would never be the same again…how could they?

It must have had a traumatic impact on the mill owners life too, by the time of the next census he has changed businesses altogether, he working in the lime and stone industry, no mention of mills at all.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


http://www.weymouth-dorset.co.uk/upwey.html (Upwey Local History)

http://www.thedorsetpage.com/locations/Place/U050.htm (The Dorset Page)

http://www.opcdorset.org/Broadwey-Upwey.Files/Broadwey-Upwey.htm (Dorset OPC. Broadway and Upwey)


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