A Medieval mill

I’m back again…. Now I know the Scholars and the other Fellows will be sharing their experiences and their opinions of the places we have visited with you very soon but to keep you all informed of our travels here’s a quick entry detailing part two of when the Fellows were let loose in the Peak District.

The second visit of the week was to Nether Alderly Mill, Cheshire, a 12th Century Flour Mill now in the possession of the National Trust who, along with Architect and Scholar Lucy Stewart, Lambert Walker Conservation and Restoration and The Norfolk Millwright Alliance, are bringing it back to life as an operating Flour Mill and visitor centre.

To enable this, major structural timber work and millwrighting is taking place and it is with the millwrights that the ‘controversial dilemma’, which many in the heritage sector face daily, lies.

Does one repair, in this case a machine, to its original working state keeping the past alive or maintain it in its current condition leaving it as a museum piece and an item of yester year?

This dilemma then poses further questions such as ‘’If you do agree to repair then what point in time are you trying to achieve as after all it is a machine, and if you do change the gears and cogs, is it still the same historic Mill or a 21st Century contraption??’’ But on the other hand if repairs aren’t made then it no longer serves its original purpose as a working mill!

The argument of conservation vs restoration has been resolved to an extent at Nether Alderly, as the aim is to now produce its own brand of flour using just one of the grinding stones whilst the other is to be maintained in its current state. This decision was not by any means an easy one to reach, but seems to be one that will protect and conserve the mill for future generations. If you’re interested in mills and mill conservation, visit our SPAB Mills Section site.

Back on the road… all the best, Emily.

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One thought on “A Medieval mill

  1. Two considerations to be taken into account with the above comments:
    First; do we need any more working mills
    Second: how much will we loose by getting a mill back to work

    We now have a lot of working mills in the country, and some of these are the best examples of their type. Consideration should be given at the first instance of inspection. How much will we loose if this mill is to work again. At the cost of loosing historic fabric, ie by having to replace original timbers and cogs is it worth it? I think not, and especially if the mill is only going to be working a few times a year. We do not have enough skilled millers and millwrights to look after the mills we have now !

    Just a personal opinion,

    Mildred

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