Alexander Raby, Ironmaster:
Proceedings of a Conference held at Cobham on 28 Nov 1998
Editor Glenys Crocker 2000 (ISBN 0 9523918 9 9) £7.50 Surrey Industrial History Group
A mill is known to have existed on the site Downside Mills, Cobham, River Mole, from as early as 1331 and in the eighteenth century it operated both as a corn and a paper mill prior to becoming an iron Mill.
Alexander Raby, born in 1747, was the son of a Southwark ironmonger. He acquired the lease on Downe Mills (Downside) in 1770 in conjunction with a Mr Mereton. At first Raby lived in the house adjoining the mill and converted the mill for iron fabrication.
By 1781, the site also included two workshops, a stable, the iron mill and two forges.By about 1798 the site also included a copper mill. Raby also had several other successful entrepreneurial activities during the 1790s.
A map dated 1807 shows the iron mill still in Raby's possession, but by then he had moved from the district to assist in pioneering the South Wales iron industries*. He died in Somerset in 1835.
After Raby's departure, Downside mill was converted to a flock mill for processing rags. A number of his original buildings are still present on the site although the copper mill is only represented by its sluice. An unusual cottage on the site preserves a drying flue from the period of flock production. Iron forge slag is abundant on the site and pieces of possible tap-slag have been found.
*Llanelli Community Heritage historian Lyn John attended the above conference contributing to this publication. He spoke of Raby's life and work in the industrialisation of Llanelli. A copy of the book is available at the Llanelli Reference Library.