A mile east of Rothbury via the
beautiful path known as "Lover's Walk" along the
banks of the River Coquet stands the Thrum Mill:
sometimes known as Rothbury East Mill. .
Just past a few sandstone houses, the mill is on the right. A Grade II listed building. After many years standing derelict and boarded up it was sold and converted into a private house.
A 10 ft external wheel was used to drive the mill stones which are still in place together with some of the original gearing. A few minor items were transferred to Heatherslaw Mill (the last example of a working mill in Northumberland) during the 1970's.
During the 18th century the bed of the river was lowered to facilitate the passage of salmon upstream. Over the years the river took its toll and the wheel largely disappeared. Only the shaft remains: askew and looking a little sorry for itself.
The name "Thrum" most probably derives from the sound of rushing water as it pours through the narrow rocky channel.
Although the dictionary tells us that the 'thrum' is the loose end of a weaver's thread, the former derivation is most probably correct as the sound of the waters certainly suggests a 'thrumming' or 'drumming' sound, and the mill itself was formerly used for grinding corn.
The name was first mentioned in the 17th century when the parish register indicated the burial of
'Ann, wife of Thos. Dixon, Thrum Mill 10th March 1693'.
The Thrum is celebrated in Wilson's 'Tales of the Borders' being the scene of Willie Faa's exploit when the gypsy king leaps across the Thrum with the heir of Clennel Castle in 'The Faa's Revenge'.
The channel is only a few feet across and it is not unknown for the brave or foolhardy to attempt to emulate Willie Faa's exploit.
A few iron studs on either side of the channel are all that remains of a former bridge.
In summer it is not uncommon to see the young and hardy leaping into the current from nearby rocks or to ride the waves through the narrow channel. Many are with families who visit every year as part of reliving their own youth. Look at the names carved on the rocks spanning many years.