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Snippets

A collection of interesting items to browse over.  If you have something for this page, please send it to us.

Contact us

The International Molinology Society or TIMS assembles information about wind and water mills across the world.  HMG member George Roussopoulos has analysed their extensive database of mills and his results are shown here.

TIMS


Henri de Portal : extracts from “Highways and byways in Hampshire”  1908  about the man who founded a bank note paper making company that supplies the Bank of England to this day

Henri de Portal

Keeping the Millers honest : a notice from Sussex in 1796 about the requirement to keep accurate weights and measures

Honest Miller


Macabre Tale
: A macabre tale of a murder and its consequences which took place in 1804 at Fratton Mill near Portsmouth.  To see the full story click here.

 

Macabre tale

Superb cutaway diagrams of a Water Mill showing all the important parts.
 

Mill diagrams

The Miller - an extract from THE MILLER magazine 1867 

The Miller

A Brief History of Bread by Tony Yoward

Bread

A Potted History of Hovis : This undated article is a short history of the firm at Mill Street, Stone, Staffordshire to 1918.

Hovis history

New Dock Mill at Portsmouth  A short extract from HMG archives by Tony Yoward

Dock Mill was built by the Dockyard Co-operative Mill Society in 1816, and the following year contracts were offered for building Bakehouse, store, engine house, dwelling houses, stable, carthouse, etc.    It was the last windmill to be built on Portsea Island.

Dock Society’s Mill, Brick tower, 100ft high, 40ft diameter at the base, tarred, with a domed cap, patent sails and fantail.    The Army Board of Ordnance supplied a million bricks and all were used in the building.   The cap had a statue as the finial.  A seven storey mill with a gallery around the second floor, it was built to provide cheaper flour at a time when flour and bread was very expensive

It was put up for auction in 1922 and, not being sold, was demolished the following year.

Monica Ellis’s publication on Hampshire mills in 1978 stated that there is now no trace of the mill and the block of flats occupying the mill site is named “Moulin Court”.   The associated mill cottages were renovated in 1971 and a plaque on these cottages gives details of the mill.

 

An article from the River Wey Trust Newsletter, October 2009, of which HMG is a member

A VERY CONCISE HISTORY OF WATERMEADOWS

 

A water meadow is an area of pasture within a river valley that is purposely flooded to encourage the growth of grass. A continual flow of water is brought from the river across a meadow through a series of channels known as carriers. These are allowed to overspill. Water eventually flows into other channels (drains) and is carried away and back into the river or into another system of carriers in another meadow downstream. The flow of water is controlled by sluices and hatches.

The water deposits nutrients which encourage better grass growth. The running water insulates the ground keeping it warmer so that there is very early grass growth in the spring. This means that cattle can graze earlier and two crops of hay can be harvested each year.

The first documentary evidence of a water meadow when land was deliberately flooded dates from 1311 and is found in papers from Bolton Priory in Yorkshire.

There is further documentary evidence of water meadows in Herefordshire at a later date and in 1669 John Worlidge of Petersfield wrote about water meadows describing them as "One of the most universal and advantageous improvements in England" The water meadow system became more elaborate in the next few centuries. The Wey water meadow system was probably constructed in the 16th century or earlier. By the 18th century sheep were grazed on the meadows by day and were driven at night to the arable fields where the manure helped to improve the fertility of the soils. The operation of these water meadows was labour intensive and there were dedicated "drowners" who worked to keep the Channels of the water meadows in good order. By the 19th and early 20th century the meadows were used for grazing cattle.  Eventually costly labour and cheap fertilizers meant that the water meadows were no longer economically viable and they stopped being used.

 

An Article from a newspaper dated 24 Jan 1974.  If this is your's we would be glad to hear from you!

THE WATER MILLS OF HAMPSHIRE

 I was interested to read an article on Alton’s Old Mills, which recalled to my memory my somewhat brief experience with the small millwright and engineering firm of G. W. Cooper in Romsey.

 I joined the firm in 1921 in answer to an advertisement for a “fitter and millwright”.   To refer more specifically to my work as a millwright, I first went with Mr Cooper’s son to the picturesque mill at Fittleworth, Sussex.   I was only there for three weeks when I was instructed to go to Fareham Flour Mills.   Then on another occasion I was employed to make and install a water wheel and pump at Quidhampton near Overton for the making of “Treasury Notes”  so they could have the “R.Test” watermark.

 I lodged in the home of one of the “hand papermakers” at Overton.   We moved on to Kingsclere where we installed a “penstock” and water turbine to supply electric power to Kingsclere House the home of one of the Portal family.

 I have worked on dressing the stones at Whitchurch, Itchen Abbas, a mill in Salisbury connected with a cornstore business, Sutton’s Mill Romsey and others.   I fitted new teeth to the main driving wheel at Wherwell; these teeth were made of apple-wood.   Then I worked at what must have been the last water mill to be built; at Bower or Broadchalk near Salisbury.

 I was sent to Eversley on the Hampshire – Berkshire border; the address given me was the New Mill, Eversley; when I found it I learned that it was 300 years old.

 Incidentally, there are three kinds of mill-stones; the Derbyshire Peak for general grist purposes, the French Burr (cemented together n segments) for grinding wheat and a carburundum type for bruising oats.  Incidentally, I helped to make a pair of the carburundum stones.

 Edward C Dorey, Hiltingbury Road, Chandler’s Ford.


TIMBER TOUGHER THAN ENGLISH OAK

extract from the Times March 1966 

Hornbeam, was known as the engineer's timber, and has been used in mills for over 200 years for cogs and pulleys.

In 1966, 300 hornbeam cogs were specified for the gear wheels in the restoration of Chesterton Windmill in Warwickshire.

Most hornbeam was imported from the continent, to be used in piano action.  

The timber is very strong and tough, being superior in practically all strength grades to English oak.   The bending strength, stiffness, hardness, and shear strength of hornbeam are 20 to 30 % higher than those of English oak and its resistance to splitting 40 to 60 % higher.  

It is a very heavy wood but has been largely displaced by iron and sometimes lignum vitae.

Hornbeam is slow growing, and now mainly used for garden hedges.    However records show that Englands tallest hornbeam was in Surrey, 105 foot high while the stoutest, with a girth of over 17 foot, was  in Essex.


Mills can be dangerous places
as shown by these two examples from the past by Tony Yoward:
 

EAST MEON    SOUTH MILL    Hants

A distressing occurrence is reported from East Meon, Nr Petersfield.   Mildred, the eight year old daughter of Mr George Atkinson was in the mill there with her brothers when one of them, not realising that his sister was near the shaft, started the machinery.   The child’s hair was caught in the shaft and she was killed.    (The Miller 6 Jan 1913)

 

BISHOPS WALTHAM   ABBEY MILL   Hants

1877   Fatal accident in a flour mill.  An inquest was held on Saturday 3rd March on the body of GEORGE SPARSHOT aged 72, employed at Abbey Flour Mills, Bishops Waltham.  He was found dead in the wheel pit.  GEORGE SOAL, the miller, said he found the deceased entangled in the wheel and near him were the oil mill and candle, he evidently tried to oil the wheel, from which he had taken the chain. (The Miller 5 March 1877)

___________________________________________________________________

A DYING FRENCH CUSTOM  - La Minoterie

Along a small river near our house in France there used to be three watermills.   Many of us are familiar with the French name for a miller - meunier, but not all millers are known as meuniers.  The millers along the river had that title, but one of the three was the local minotier.

 I tried to obtain explanations for the different names and the fact that one watermill processed animal feed, the second processed woad, but the third made the fine white flour used for bread and cakes.

 The coarse flour of the traditional country bread was used to make `pain complet’, but to obtain a `pain blanc’, the process came from white flour from the minoterie.   In local parlance, the word minot is taken to mean fine white flour.

 I believe the original word `minot’ is and ancient French measure for three bushels (a bumpkin).

 The tradition in farming areas was for a client of the minotier to take sack of wheat weighing 81 kilos to the minoterie.  That is eighty kilos of wheat plus one for the sack - in patois, a pocket of wheat.

 The minotur gave the client a book of tickets ( a carnet) which gave the cllient the right to exchange tickets to the value of 125 livres of white bread when the minotier amde his delivery round in the area.   The client also received a bag of son weighing 25 livres - a livre being the equivalent of half a kilo.   `Son’ is the coarse part of the wheat which includes the bran de son.   The son was fed to the farm rabbits and pigs.

 The mathematicians among uswill have concluded that 5 kilos of wheat are not accouted for.   They were the fee charged by the minotier to be turned into bread for sale to the non-farming members of the community.

 The farming community never used money to pay for their bread.   The 85 year old grandmother still complains that the minotier used a heavy hand to bang the bread on the scales swiftly, followed by his knife to take off a chunk of the loaf, saying `too heavy’.

                                                                                    Jim and Ann Knights
 


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