Mill Street Memories Exhibition

Mill Street Memories Exhibition, Dorchester Town Hall

4 November 2015 from 10 am to 4 pm


At the eastern edge of Dorchester, beside a mill leat that powered an old mill, runs a narrow street called Mill Street. The low lying land around the mill is dominated by St George’s Church, Fordington, perched on a chalk ridge. Mill Street was where the poorest families lived in crumbling cob cottages and tenements with few comforts – no piped water and outside toilets often shared by many different residents. 


In the 1960s the council’s slum clearance works swept away the old street pattern with its alleyways, streets and a square for a different road layout with new houses and flats.  The tenants were moved away.


Alfred Harman Edwards set up the Mill Street Mission in 1905 and it became a centre of community life.  He was also determined to improve the living conditions of the poor and in 1931 he started the Mill Street Housing Society to provide affordable homes with bathrooms.  The Society has a collection of several hundred photographs, dating from the early 1900s, which give a rare glimpse into the people and their lives in Mill Street.


The Mill Street Memories project has collected memories and stories from people who lived in the area, and has unearthed long-forgotten local history.


Former residents of Mill Street remember living there as children before the wholesale demolition of the area:


There were two bedrooms, one for Mum and Dad and ours was two beds in the other room.  Brian and Arthur in one, Bet and Carol in the other, only army coats on the bed.  We didn’t have wardrobes, no posh clothes if we had to put them in”.  Ruby Palmer


“One I sat next to, she said “I don’t want to sit near you because you come from Mill Street”.  Teacher didn’t half tick her off”.   Florence Watts


“....if I had to live my life over again, I would still say that I would like to go through what I went through at Mill Street and it wouldn’t bother me to go through all that again.  I would feel happy with it because I feel that I shall never forget it. I feel that life in Mill Street was good as good as you could have got anywhere.  Having the Mill Street Mission there was a blessing to all of us.”

Brian Cheeseman


The photo collection will be on display together with the stories and local history at an exhibition in the Dorchester Town Hall on Wednesday 4 November, from 10 am to 4 pm. 


For more information contact Judith Dearlove 01305 261 622

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Managing Agent to the Society
Symonds & Sampson

Contact Michelle Powell for housing management, including rents, lettings, repairs and maintenance.

01305 261 008

30 High West Street Dorchester DT1 1UP

Secretary to the Society

Judith Dearlove

Contact for general enquiries, Society management and organisation, committee matters, Mill Street history and complaints.

01305 261622

Fordington Hill House,
High Street Fordington,
Dorchester, DT1 1LZ

Warden to the Society

Rosie Sibley

The warden service is available for residents in sheltered housing: Weekdays 9am-5pm.

01305 264 156

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