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Rather than use a mill-pond to store water to drive a water-wheel, a tide mill
has a pond and lets the tide fill it with water for you.
Here's a plain image and the annotations below make it all a little clearer.
The mill at the left was driven by a shaft from the top of the sluice gate.
So, the routine was
- open the sluice gate at low tide
- wait for the tide to come in and fill the pond
- close the gate and as the tide falls use the water in the pond to drive the mill
- at low tide, open the sluice and start the process all over again.
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