Book traces history of Read mill owners

Life Beyond The Mills by Sheila Sturrock, of Read (s)
Life Beyond The Mills by Sheila Sturrock, of Read (s)

A READ woman who has just retired as parish council clerk after 35 years has penned a book about one of the village’s most iconic families.

Mrs Sheila Sturrock, of Turner Fold, wrote “Life Beyond The Mills” to tell the story of the Kemp family, who ran Read Mill and Friendship Mill at either ends of the village.

She developed an interest in the family while researching history for a book of minutes to celebrate the parish council’s centenary year in 1994.

“That’s when I found out about the Kemps being the benefactors of the village,” she said.

“The parish council found out from doing the minutes that Joseph Kemp gave all sorts to the village, such as the recreation ground, and allowed the lodges to be used by the fire brigade.

“As a result of that they asked if I would look into it. They thought it was important that the Kemps were recognised in the village.

“They took part in everything and really entered into the spirit of the village.

“The book is written as the story of the family rather than as a local history project.”

During the course of her research for the book, Mrs Sturrock became friends with the great-granddaughter of Joseph Kemp’s brother, James, who helped with some of the historical details, but Mrs Sturrock said there were some questions left unanswered.

“There’s a lot of ends that couldn’t be tied up.”

Mrs Sturrock has written books for the Guild of Mastercraftsmen, but “Life Beyond the Mills” is her first foray into local history writing.

“It’s a very, very sad story, extremely depressing. It’s so sad it doesn’t bear thinking about,” she added.