The Victorian millers behind the success of Houghton Mill

Potto Brown

Potto Brown and Joseph Goodman built up a thriving milling business that produced high quality flour using French Burr millstones and the latest machinery. Potto Brown was also a local philanthropist and his presence can still be felt in the villages of Houghton & Wyton today.

Potto Brown’s father, William Brown, was a baker and miller in Earith before he moved to run Houghton Mill. Joseph Goodman and Potto Brown met when they were at school together at Slepe Hall in St Ives. Together they became business partners and took over running of the mill in 1821 after Potto's father retired. 


Following Goodman's death in 1844, Brown continued to expand the business by embracing new technology and building steam powered mills at St Ives and Godmanchester with the help of Goodman's sons. However, the competition from steam mills in the area ultimately contributed to the demise of Houghton Mill.


‘The village philanthropist’


Once Potto Brown had established his wealth and success he focused on his religious and charity work. He founded the chapel in Houghton and schools in Houghton and St Ives. After his death in 1871, a bronze bust was erected in the village square which still stands today.