This Chapman map of 1740 shows 6 corn & malt mills on the River Maun with Kings Mill at the head, 500 yards from the Duke of Portland's Forest Dam, which was primarily used for agricultural irrigation. By the mid 18th century Mansfield had become a major player in the malt industry with around 40 maltings. However, by 1800 Mansfield had become disadvantaged and subsequently uncompetitive because it had no access to the Cromford canal system to export its products and import alternative sources of raw materials. The horse & cart method to transport goods was the only means of conveyance in 1800 but the developing canal networks provided far greater cost efficiency and connected with national and international markets. In 1813 plans were drawn up by Mansfield's businessmen to connect Mansfield with the Cromford canal system at Pinxton. After years of opposition from the Duke's local colliery leasees, the major investors by 1817 were the Duke of Portland and the Coke family who owned mines at Pinxton. Politically, any objections were discounted for the need to create employment due to the swelling of the labour force after the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815. Fuel for the malt-kilns was coal, supplied locally from deep mines, however coal was cheaper from the shallow mines near Pinxton and so the 8 mile Mansfield & Pinxton Railway was devised, a cost effective horse -drawn railway that connected Mansfield with the Cromford Canal at Pinxton Wharf. By the mid 19th century, consolidation of Mansfield's malt industry and the arrival of steam locomotives and the rail network created Mansfield Brewery and similarly the cottage textile industry provided Mansfield with larger companies that became major employers in the area.


Here we have the Sanderson 1835 map of Kingsmill showing the Forest Dam before the site was excavated and flooded to create the 72 acre reservoir. The dam was owned by the Duke of Portland and used for farmland irrigation. Note the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway running by Kings Mill over the 5 arched stone viaduct that was built in 1817. As discussed above, the railway was primarily developed to bring the shallow mined coal from Pinxton and also to connect Mansfield's trade exports with the Cromford Canal at Pinxton Wharf. From Pinxton the 8 mile line rose approx 240 feet over 5 miles to the Summit area at Kirkby, near to where the River Maun rises, then descended 200 feet to the Portland Terminus at Mansfield.


The area of Kingsmill contains deep clay deposits providing the essential water tight seal. The 72 acre site was cleared of topsoil using man power, carts & horses. The dam was constructed using thousands of tons of limestone and clay in a cut & fill operation. ie the extracted material was used to make the new dam across the river Maun at Kings Mill. The operation took nearly two years to complete providing much needed employment.

Here's the grade II listed railway viaduct, Portland Bridge, built from locally extracted limestone. Josiah Jessop was the contruction engineer whom had assisted his father William Jessop on many famous works including the Cromford Canal. The bridge carried the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway over the River Maun at Kings Mill. The track had a sharp bend at Kings Mill and was not suitable for the later steam powered trains, subsequently the bridge became redundant in 1871 after the bend was smoothed out by the building of a new bridge further down river at the Hermitage.