Park Mill was very much loved by Kipling and he incorporated it into his 'Puck of Pook's Hill' stories, ‘below the mill dam’ and ‘Sussex', which were written at Bateman's. It is believed that there has been a mill on this site since the late 1200s.
The restoration of the mill
The mill was subject to a major restoration programme between 1969 and 1975 as it had fallen into a sad state of repair. The generator was still there but the turbine casing was split due to it being allowed to freeze-up in the late 1920s. At that time an oil-engine driven generator was installed near the battery house to give house lighting until the mains supply came in the early 1930s.
The Royal Engineers rebuilt the turbine-generator and a team of volunteers tended to repairs on the fabric of the mill and her machinery, including replacing the water wheel.The ground floor had disappeared and the roof was broken and leaking. Some of the brickwork was rotten and the weatherboarding of the outside walls needed replacement. Woodworm and beetle had attacked the machinery and the framework. The site was overgrown and the waterways choked.
Ground to a halt
The mill continued to grind quite happily until 2015 when the the axle tree started to emit some unfamiliar and worrying noises, so it was decided that after 40 years of service a new one was needed. Fund raising for £150,000 was started for this major project which included improvements to the mill's water supply.
In August 2016 the old axle tree was removed and a new one was been created by Ian Clark Restorations. This new axle was installed in early 2017. When you step inside the mill you can see the wonderful craftsmanship that has gone into creating this crucial part of the working machinery of the mill.
The next step
The next step was to start the preparation work around the mill pond and this began in the spring of 2017, shortly after the installation of the axle. The narrow access around the pond was quite difficult for the contractors to negotiate and unfortunately during this work damage was caused to the mill pond wall, putting a delay into the restoration programme.
The pond wall was surveyed and the necessary permissions sought to enable the restoration to be completed.
The Bateman's estate is home to a network of footpaths which will guide you through the tranquil Dudwell valley; a landscape that inspired some of Rudyard Kipling's later works such as Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies.