Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The mill

There is a mill at the edge of our village, a water mill, powered by the river Erve.  It was in commercial use up until the 1960s, and on a casual basis thereafter until the 80s.  It changed hands some time later.  It has fallen into disrepair over recent years, and a bunch of local people have decided to see if it can be fixed.  The owner has been found, and his agreement obtained to clear the weeds out of the grounds, and put the mechanism back into working order.  The idea is that it will be available from time to time for people to visit, as a village amenity.   The owner himself has plans to put a small flat in one end of the building.

We went to visit it as part of the 15 August village fête; here are some pictures.

The water runs approximately N-S, more or less under the middle of the building.  This picture of a southern aspect of the building shows its disused state - not derelict, but in need of some attention.   This part is where the owner wants to build his flat, with a terrace over the watercourse. 

The water coming into the mill is controlled by a water gate, the height of which is adjusted by adding and removing planks of wood in metal guides.  The water then flows to drive the water wheel, that has its own separate, more precise control.  These vanes that you can see on the wheel are good, but the ones that have been in the water for the last few decades have rotted away.

The power is transmitted to the grindstone via this giant cog set.   The large cog is mounted onto the same tree-trunk that carries the water wheel.  It is currently disengaged from the smaller cog, and will be moved into place by hitting it with sledgehammers to slide it along until it engages, then centered and fixed using wooden wedges sledgehammered into place.  The teeth on the large cog are of wood, but the smaller cog is entirely of metal.

The power is transmitted upstairs where it turns the millstone that is still inside this case.   There is a plan to use this to grind flour for our organic baker - perhaps not on a commercial basis, but maybe for making bread for special occasions, like the 15th August fête.


Opus T. Penguin said...

If I were the owner I would want it running so when I built my flat I could spend all day just watching the wheel go around.

I'm easily entertained.

Tim Trent said...

Have you thought of sponsoring some of the work as part of your marketing?

Mark In Mayenne said...

I have thought about getting involved, but I'm not close to the project and I don't know exactly what has been agreed between the partied involved.

The mill is still in private ownership, and unless there is an appropriate contract in place, I can see possible difficulties if the owner decided in future to limit public access to less than what is currently envisaged by the volunteers. But I will investigate further.

the fly in the web said...

And no public money involved...?

I must admit I'd steer clear too without sight of a proper contract as to future use and access, though it sounds a great project.

Mark In Mayenne said...

Nope, no public money (as yet, at least).

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