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Leicester 2002 Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Old mill's battle scars
Wickham Mill, PA
Damage from the battle is still evident
An old water mill in southern England holds an extraordinary secret.

The building in Wickham was constructed using timbers from the last United States battleship to engage a British Royal Navy vessel.

The USS Chesapeake was captured by HMS Shannon in the confrontation off Boston in 1813 - but not before 93 sailors had been killed and 156 wounded.

Six years later the ship was broken up and its timbers used to make the mill.

The massive gun-deck beams from the USS Chesapeake support the upper floors of the mill, and they still bear the signs of cracks and splinter damage caused by cannon fire.

Wickham Mill, PA
The mill no longer operates comercially
Marine archaeologists have pieced together the story of the mill, its timbers and the ship and presented their findings on Tuesday to the British Association's festival of science in Leicester.

"When you go into the mill you can easily be fooled into thinking you are on board a ship," said Dr Robert Prescott from St Andrews University.

"All the beams over your head which hold up the floor above you are gun-deck and quarter-deck beams from the ship, and all the lintels that span the openings of doors and windows are from the ship."

Dr Prescott told the festival that Wickham Mill had stopped operating commercially in the 1970s, and was bought by Hampshire County Council in 1998.

"We're hoping to find an appropriate and sensitive use for it," he said.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Christine McGourty
"The timbers are in good condition"
BA science festival at Leicester University.

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