Brothers William and Thomas Stoate started the family off down the path of flour milling in
1832 taking on the lease of a mill at Watchet in Somerset.
Their father John Stoate had been a maltster and a tanner and there was a background of
farming in the family all based around this part of the West Country so milling was not
too far detached. The business prospered both with local trade and also in satisfying the
growing demand for flour in South Wales. Sailing ketches would transport the flour
across the Severn (and return with coal!) while horse and cart took care of the local
deliveries. By 1877 Thomas had left the business to become a successful grain merchant
and William was joined by two sons, William and John and later a third son James.
In 1912 the business had outgrown the Watchet site and a new mill was built at Temple Back in Bristol. By this time the huge demand for white flour meant that the ‘roller milling’
system had taken over from the traditional method of grinding the corn between stones.
My grandfather Leonard Stoate (son of James Stoate) was the technical director of this
new mill and saw the enterprise grow through much transformation and expansion of market area.
The business amalgated with Spillers in 1933 but the family were still actively involved in
operations. Brothers David and Norman (sons of Leonard Stoate) carried the family into its
fourth generation of milling. My father, Norman Stoate, started out on his own at Cann
Mills (the present site) in 1947 taking on what was a country mill supplying animal feed
to the many local farmers. Cann Mills was recorded in the Domesday Book and one of five mills within a mile on The Sturkel, a tributary to the River Stour.
In 1970 the business returned to its roots producing stoneground flour using French Burr
millstones primarily driven by a late 19th Century iron waterwheel powered by the river
Over 170 years later, now in its fifth generation, Stoate & Sons is still producing quality
stoneground flour supplying both the domestic and bakery trade throughout the West Country and beyond. The growth in popularity for traditionally produced artisan breads and the increased desire towards home baking has helped this authentic flour milling legacy to continue along its path.