Richard Gower Hodson (17) and James Jefferies Hodson (15), sailed from London aboard the “Nile”, in 1850. The brothers secured three plots (60 acres), one of which was on the Mpofana River. They named it “Caversham”.
James and Richard built the mill between 1852 and 1853 cutting the wheel buckets out of yellowwood and sneezewood sourced from the local bush. It was the first water driven mill to be erected in Natal. In 1888 James bought the iron machinery for the mill workings since the original mill was “about worn out”. The wheel and cogs were of metal while the millstones were made of Scottish granite. The heavy metal wheel, with its slow, ponderous turning and the quality of the millstones, resulted in Caversham ground meal being much sought after.
In 1887, a huge veld fire raged down the Balgowan Valley, jumped the Lions River, destroying the settlement at Caversham. Only the church (now Caversham Press) was left standing. The Hodson brothers lost everything except the clothes they were wearing. Richard, son of James, continued to operate the mill until it was closed down in 1935 by the Mealie Control Act.
For many years the mill stood abandoned until potter David Walters bought it in 1978. He restored much of the old mill to its former glory and used it as a studio. Potters David Walters and Ian Glenny conceived the idea of the Midlands Meander at Caversham Mill. In 1987 the flooding Lions River destroyed the mill. Heartbroken at the mill being washed away, David sold the property to Dr John Buckle. The mill changed hands again in 1994. Two years later, the owners Peter and Faye Cooper started Caversham Mill Restaurant. In 2001, Mark and Marian Macaskill bought it. Finally in 2004, Terry and Diana Acres, already owners of the neighbouring property, purchased Caversham Mill.
A stroll around the gardens near the Caversham Mill Restaurant will bring you to the ruins of the old Mill.