Watermills were first used in and around what is now Iraq and Turkey about 300 BCE and would have come to England with the Romans. In Elizabethan times, there were watermills at each end of London Bridge which made the difficulties caused by rip tides through the remaining arches much worse. I have seen it written that they use the power of water but in fact it is the power of gravity and running water is the transmitter of power rather as an axle is. This is called Stream Power and there is an interesting and complex calculation needed to determine the power in a stream. I did not know this when we went to visit the watermill and museum at Mill Green nor had I thought to write a blog of the visit so did not take a photo of the outside which was an attractive wooden building attached to the brick-built house that was once for the manager but is now the museum.
The water wheel is just fabulous to see with its Elm paddles which would be fastened with nails of Holly Wood. Here is a short video of it:
The water wheel is driven by the flume at six rpm. It is connected to the pit wheel, with 104 apple wood gear teeth by a large horizontal shaft of oak and this meshes with the wallower with 33 teeth taking the revolutions to 19 per minute. The wallower joins with the Spur wheel via a vertical shaft and as this gear wheel has 112 teeth and in turn meshes with the 23 on the stone nut the running stone turns at 92 rpm to grind the flour. Well, I find this fascinating, the gearing up through huge oak shafts driving wheels and gears of apple wood with Holly wood nails used when fixing is required. The whole turns with a certain majesty and quiet rumblings. Here are some photos and another video.
I noticed some graffiti, in 1824 a C. Bonico carved their name amongst old wood worm. I expect that the black squares are the ends of Holly wood nails.
Here is another view of the mechanism:
The miller was a magician in white explaining all to me, children, mums and dads. He showed the sock with grain running though the centre of the runner stone where it floated this turning stone keeping it apart from the fixed bedstone. This prevents the stones wearing away, and the grain is milled to flour and drops down to the floor below where the miller catches it in a sack.
Over the water wheel, there is a glass panel in the floor and I was fascinated by the flashing blades.
All in all, an enjoyable visit that I can recommend. The staff are friendly and joyfully enthusiastic which was wonderful. As well as the mill there is a small museum of 1960s clothes some of which I remember my sister wearing.
The whole experience inspired a poem and here it is!
Watermill – Mill Green
The gentle pace of the watermill its Elmwood paddles turning,
in the flume’s slow-revving flow.
Oaken shafts secured with Holly nails, geared with Applewood teeth,
104 on the pit wheel, 33 the wallower,
then the spur wheel, and stone nut, take this languorous pirouette
from six to ninety-two rpm, 15 feet above the race.
There is a graffito carved amongst long – gone woodworm;
Bonico stayed a while enough to do this
but I move in the soft light, look down through a glass pane,
see the paddles splash and flash by.
Others are here, families with children who too sense the past
carried in timbers heavy with memory.
The sound of the mill is gentle too. A rush of water, rumble of wood on wood.
The miller, magician in white,
shows us grain pouring through a sock, to float the runner on its bedstone,
to be milled to the powder that is flour
as has been done for the thousand years after the Domesday book;
soke demanded by the Lord of the Manor.
© Anthony Fisher April 2019