Saving City Mill - one beam at a time

The rotten oak joists have been revealed at Winchester City Mill, National Trust, Hampshire

For centuries this ancient mill, the oldest working watermill in Britain, has been an integral part of Winchester’s heritage. From its early Anglo Saxon origins, through the agricultural and industrial revolutions, right up until the present day and its restoration to a working mill, it has stood the test of time. Until the 2013/14 winter flooding.

During this time, the Mill suffered huge damage with much of the building inundated by the main flow of the river; the sheer weight of water posed a real threat of carrying the building’s walls away. When the water eventually receded and we began the repair work, we found, through a number of surveys, many of the ancient beams to be in a bad state of decay. We put temporary measures in place and now, after a year of fundraising, we are embarking on the necessary permanent repairs to the building’s supporting structure.

How the money raised for this project is being used

With the money you helped us raise, we are:

  • Stripping out partition walls added in recent decades. The last time the Mill would have been seen like this was most likely in 1744 when it was restored by James Cooke.
  • Conserving and repairing each oak beam and joist using a number of methods.
  • Tying the walls back into the repaired timber frame.
  • Re-laying the mill room floor, endeavouring to keep its characteristic undulating appearance.
  • Making the building’s structure secure to leave us with a blank canvas, perfect for enhancing future visitor experience.

Latest updates

23 Apr 18

A new discovery

While taking up the uneven concrete floor in the basement we discovered a beautiful brick floor. We think it might have been laid in the 18th Century when the wattle and daub walls were replaced with Flemish red brick. The archaeologists have been called in to make further assessments and we'll keep you posted.

Brick flooring from circa the 18th Century discovered in the basement at Winchester City Mill, Hampshire, National Trust

17 Apr 18

New oak joists sit alongside the old

In order to preserve as much of the original fabric of the building as possible, the new joists are supported on stainless steel hangers, which sit like a saddle over the original oak beams. As a result, all the original timbers can be preserved and the new joists will carry the load of the floor which it is replaced.

Custom fabricated ‘saddle hangers’ are used to support the new joists at Winchester City Mill, Hampshire, National Trust

12 Apr 18

Floorboards that have suffered the ravages of time

In many places the floor consists of three layers of floorboards but it's only now these layers are being lifted that we can see the true extent of the damage. We're trying to save and reuse as much of the historic woodwork as possible but some of the boards and joists are just too far gone!

It's only now the floor is coming up that we can see the true extent of the damage at Winchester City Mill, National Trust