Replacing the millstones
With the new waterwheel re-installed in 2005, we then made perhaps the boldest decision so far in commissioning a new pair of millstones from a specialist manufacturer in Holland. These arrived in England in August 2007 and were installed under the careful supervision of Ian Clarke.
The new stones weigh 500kg each and had been made to exactly the same size as the old stones so they could be fitted into the existing machinery relatively easily. They were cast with a composite material containing basalt and quartz and are expected to last as long as the traditional French millstones favoured by millers of old.
With the new mill stones in place by August 2007 the rate of milling flour increased immediately. It also proved easier for the volunteer millers to control the quality of flour produced. Milling demonstrations were increased to every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and the mill started to produce and sell over 10 tonnes of wholemeal flour each year.
In 2009 milling came to an abrupt halt when the main sluice gate failed due to rotting timbers. Repairing the gate proved a major undertaking. Ian Clarke was commissioned to assemble and install a new sturdy gate constructed from lengths of English oak.
In August 2010 significant changes were made to the lower mill floor where a screen of iron bars and wire mesh was removed to give uninterrupted views of the water wheel, gears and mill races for the first time. Simple new iron railings were introduced and we added an audio point to help visitors learn more about the mill.
In 2012 the secondary slip channel gate also failed and, once again, a new gatewas made and carefully installed.
Where we are today
We mill flour every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year and we demonstrate what the mill can do during the week to visiting schools and adult groups.
At busy times extra weekday milling sessions are needed just to keep up with the demand.
The amount of flour produced and sold has increased steadily and in 2013 exceeded 15 tonnes for the first time. Visitors frequently ask what happens to the flour and in fact 66% (two thirds) is sold in the mill shop, 14% is sold in other National Trust shops and 20% (one fifth) is used by local commercial bakers.