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OVER 150 YEARS OF HISTORY -
THE JORDANS FAMILY HISTORY STARTS HERE >>>


At Holme with the Jordans

This is the fascinating story about the people and the events behind the last working flour mill in Bedfordshire; a story of innovation and survival as Holme Mills continues to keep our food heritage alive to this day.

Our family has had a connection with the Mill at Holme. a hamlet in Bedfordshire tucked away on the River lvel, for over 150 years. As the Sixth William Jordan to have had a hand in its running. We thought it was about time that our family history and the mill story were captured.

The Williams below me did an excellent job of being enterprising and adapting with the times. keeping the mill operational through good times and bad. My generation moved the family firm away from milling flour to create our own range of breakfast cereals and cereal bars. However, it seemed a fitting tribute to keep one of the last working roller mills in the country. A fine example of Victorian technology preserved for future generations to see.

The Jordans family celebrate 150 years (Christmas 2005)

In April 2013, The Jordans Trust, a charitable trust founded to renovate the mill, opened Jordans Mill, a brand new visitor centre and cafe on the banks of the River lvel. Alongside the original Mill building. The mill can now be seen again in all its working glory through special guided tours. Later in the year the Mill Garden was opened to the public to demonstrate Biggieswade‘s rich heritage of market gardening as well as seed and cereal production.

Many thanks to our visitors for their valuable contribution that make this all possible. All profits are reinvested in the Site.

1855 The start of milling for the Jordan Family - William (2nd) buys Eaton Ford Mill
1855
1861 William (2nd) purchases both the Golden Ball Inn and Tythe Farm (over 300 Acres in St Neots

1865 William (1st) dies in a carting accident on Wilden Hill in Bedford
1865
1874 A fatal Accident leads to the closure of the canal, after a bridge collapses near Holme Mills sending a heavy steam engine over the edge and into pike pond, killing the driver. The Ivel Navigation is sued and the canal is closed in 1876
1874
1883 William (3rd) moves to Holme Mills with his young family to take over the lease of Holme Mills, and went on to purchase it in 1893 with his brother Alfred


1883
1899 Holme Mills encounters a second fire. The waterwheel is replaced by a state of the art turbine, and a new Carter Roller System was designed and installed by Turners of Ipswich


1899


1914-1918 (WW1) William (4th) already a member of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, goes to fight the war in France with many of his friends

1914

1938 The Allen Deisel Engine’ is installed. This started the mill more safely and was more reliable than its predecessor, the Tangye Gas Engine - which was flammable and dangerous

1938



1942 William (5th) joins the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) delivering new planes to the RAF during WWII

1942
1955




1950 The first Jordans branding appears in the form of adverts and shelf talkers
1950
1955 Celebrating the Centenary of Jordans Flour in style... A lawn party and a day on the River Thames





1960 The first automated flour packing machine is installed

1960
1970 Bill (W6) and brother David join forces to start a new company. They start producing puffed wheat, then toasted oat cereals, which are sold initially in heath food stores
1970




1980 Original Crunchy breakfast cereal is selling 80 tons per week

1980
1991 Introducing a lighter, easier-to-eat granola, with additional benefits of real freeze-dried fruit

1991
1997 Jordans are distributing to over 40 countries (awarded two Queens Awards for Export Acheivement by 2004)


2000 A new state-of-the-art factory is opened to manufacture breakfast cereals - producing nearly one million packs of cereal per week!

2000
2013 Jordans Mill opens to visitors in April. In October the Mill Gardens open, designed by Chelsea Flower Show winners Ian Kitson and Julie Toll.

2013
1851 Canals and railways are rapidly changing the face of transportation, allowing goods to travel further and faster than ever before. Biggleswade is the first town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station which provided a new means of transport for grain and people
1851
1852 Dan Albone is born in Biggleswade, inventor of the first 'safety' cycle. He also invented, designed and manufactured the first successful light farm tractor in 1902. In the same year he formed Ivel Agricultural Motors

1852
1869 George Powers becomes miller at Holme Mills
1871 William (3rd) takes his apprenticeship at Albion Mill, Kings Cross. This was owned by the Powers family who also owned Holme Mills
1886

1886 Dan Albone forms the Ivel Cycle Company in Biggleswade
1894

1894 Holme Mills suffers fire damage. The mill is rebuilt and some of the traditional millstones are replaced with a roller system
1909

1909 William (4th) buys Sandy Mill, which he turns into a feed mill. He makes rations for pigs, poultry and horses as well as selling hay, straw and chaff
1914

1914-1918 Women run the Mill during the first world war. Known as the 'flour girls' they had to lift 240lb bags of flour
1920

1920 With the war over, the 20's is a time to enjoy the simpler things in life... like a cool dip in the River Ivel
1938

1938 84 year old William (3rd) is fined £1 for 'nipping' round the wrong side of a 'keep left' sign in his hurry to catch a train. He Drove his first car at two to three miles per hour with one of his employees walking in front with a red flag
1949 William (5th) buys the assets of the business from his grandfather's estate

1949 A Notice letter is sent to all employees informing them of change of ownership of W. Jordan & Son
1959

1959 William (5th) changes the roof line at Holme Mills to a flat roof in order to install augers. This meant that grain could be transported to the top floor by machine. (Watercolour painted Noller in the 1960's)
1960

1960 Flour bags designed by William (5th) and William (6th)(right).
1973

1973 The original 'Crunchy G' is born-and so is the ‘Wholefood Revelution’
1985 Conservation Grade is conceived, helping farmers to support the environment and its wild inhabitants
1994

1994 A successor to the Crunchy Bar, the Frusili Bar is a lower calorie, softer textured alternative
2005

2005 The Mill is closed for production and in 2009 Bill and David set up the Jordan Trust in order to preserve the old mill and its surroundings

 

THE JORDAN FAMILY

 

  • 1784-1865
    WILLIAM JORDAN (1ST)


    William (lst) was born in Tiverton, Devon. We don't know the actual reason. but he moved to Colesdon, Bedfordshire with his family having bought Bell Farm which had a windmill. For this reason alone, we can only assume that William (lst) had a farming and milling background. and that he must have been financially secure in order to have afforded it.

    On windy days William (5th) was often heard saying "I'm glad I don’t have a windmill” ...Unfortunately for William (lst) the windmill at Bell Farm burned down when the sails rotated too fast with the wind, and the resulting friction created a spark that ignited the wooden structure.

    William (lst) died in 1865 in a cart accident on Wilden Hill. Bedford.

  • 1814-1883
    WILLIAM JORDAN (2ND)


    William (2nd) was born in Colesdon at Bell Farm. Like many farms, Bell Farm needed ‘heavy horses' due to the heavy clay soil. When the horses weren't working on the farm they were utilised for haulage, moving grain and flour for local millers and farmers.

    The family business came to include milling when William (2nd) went on to purchase Eaton Ford Mill in 1855 after the miller ran into financial difficulties (at which point he established Jordan and Co).

    In the census of 1861 William (2nd) is also seen to have purchased the Golden Ball Inn in St Neots. and Tythe Farm — seemingly working very hard to support his huge family. He and wife Mary (nee Simpson). had nine children to take care of — six daughters and three sons.

  • 1854-1947
    WILLIAM JORDAN (3RD)


    William (3rd) was born in St Neots. He did his milling apprenticeship at Albion Mill, King’s Cross. which belonged to the Powers family.

    Whilst living in Hatfield he met and married Marion (nee Howitt) with whom he had four children: William (4th), Percy, Frank and George. Sadly Marion and George (twin to Frank) died during childbirth. William's sister Jenny helped him look after his remaining three children when he first leased Holme Mills from the Powers family in 1883. Edmund Powers, suffering financial difficulties. eventually sold Holme Mills to William (3rd) and his brother Alfred in 1893.

    William (3rd) went on to marry Alice (nee Crouch) in 1898 and they had two daughters, Marion and Katherine

  • 1879-1958
    WILLIAM JORDAN (4TH)


    William (4th) was born in Hatfield. He served his milling apprenticeship in Dorset, before working at City Flour Mills in Coventry for Robbins and Powers.

    Being quite a ‘sporty' individual William played football for Coventry. He was hugely influenced by cyclist and inventor, Dan Albone, becoming a keen cyclist and taking part in many bike races on the Great North Road. William had a further passion for horses, which had been partially influenced by his Uncle Alfred who rode in the Cambridgeshire hunt.

    William (4th) bought Sandy Mill in 1909 after having a difficult working relationship with his father. In 1914 and at the start of WWI. his love of horses led him to join the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, only returning to Sandy Mill after becoming injured in 1917.

    William married Nellie (nee Bonfleld) with whom he had three children, Marion, Joan and William (5th). They lived next door to Sandy mill in a house called ‘Holme'.

  • 1920-2006
    WILLIAM (JOHN)JORDAN (5TH)


    William (5th). always known as 'John’, did his milling apprenticeship in Norwich, before joining the RAF at the start of WWII.

    Although a quiet man, John was known to be quite mischievous... His 'no fear' attitude. often got him into trouble. He’d been thrown out of school for building a car during school hours, and he was thrown out of the RAF for flying friends to the pub when they had been confined to barracks. With his RAF career cut short, he went on to join the ATA delivering planes and by the end of the war he'd flown over 80 different types of aeroplane.

    Being an ‘adrenaline junkie' of his day. John started on motocross bikes and went on to race F5000 cars, winning the Sports GT Series in 1973-74. He held the top lap speed record at Silverstone and Snetterton for 20 years. John never tired of flying his Boeing Stearman Biplane. delivering daredevil aerobatics.

    Passions aside, John followed in his family's footsteps, buying Holme Mills from his grandfather in 1949. By then he'd met and married Pamela (nee Logsdon) in 1946. They had three children — Bill. David and Lindsay.

  • 1949-PRESENT DAY
    WILLIAM JORDAN (6TH)


    The most recent business at Holme Mills was run by ‘Bill' (William 6th) and brother David. Bill served his milling apprenticeship at Henry Simon Ltd, whilst David trained as an engineer.

    Both Bill and David spent time travelling before settling into the family business. Bill went to France to play drums in a rock band before travelling around America. whilst David went on 'mechanical adventures' and drove diggers in Alaska and Canada. In Alaska he had to hide under a digger to escape from a bear!

    Their respective career paths have served them well as a team, and Jordans is the success that it is today as a result of their partnership.

    Both brothers are keen sportsmen. David followed his father with a love of speed and flying. whereas Bill's love of running. cycling and swimming, has led to many a (Jordans sponsored) marathon and triathlon.

    Both married; Bill to Deb, they have 2 children. Jed William (7th) and Inca. David is married to Annie. He has 3 children. Dan, Tessa and Sam.

  • 1950-PRESENT DAY
    DAVID JORDAN (2ND)


    The most recent business at Holme Mills was run by ‘Bill' (William 6th) and brother David. Bill served his milling apprenticeship at Henry Simon Ltd, whilst David trained as an engineer.

    Both Bill and David spent time travelling before settling into the family business. Bill went to France to play drums in a rock band before travelling around America. whilst David went on 'mechanical adventures' and drove diggers in Alaska and Canada. In Alaska he had to hide under a digger to escape from a bear!

    Their respective career paths have served them well as a team, and Jordans is the success that it is today as a result of their partnership.

    Both brothers are keen sportsmen. David followed his father with a love of speed and flying. whereas Bill's love of running. cycling and swimming, has led to many a (Jordans sponsored) marathon and triathlon.

    Both married; Bill to Deb, they have 2 children. Jed William (7th) and Inca. David is married to Annie. He has 3 children. Dan, Tessa and Sam.

Jordans Guide

FOLLOW THE STORY OF THE FAMILY, THE SITE AND THE HISTORIC MILL.

 

PICK UP YOUR FULL SOUVENIER GUIDE WHEN YOU VISIT JORDANS MILL available from the Mill shop.

Anyone who goes on a guided tour can purchase the souvenier brochure for half price.

 

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