Friday, 3 April 2009
On our recent visit to Derbyshire, we paid a visit to Stainsby Mill - an old water-driven flour mill which is (incredibly) still working. The mill on the Hardwick Estate (of which more later) and is maintained by the National Trust, whose friendly guides gave us an end-to-end tour of the milling process.
It all starts with the water wheel, of course, but unfortunately (for photographers) the wheel is enclosed within the building so it's only possible to get a tantalizing glimpse:
There's even a handle to control how much water flows into the wheel:
A lot of cogs, belts, and what-have-yous transfer the energy to a number of different tasks around the mill:
One use of this is to winch heavy sacks of grain from the ground floor (where they're delivered) all the way up to the roof space:
The grain is then milled using millstones (also driven by the water wheel), of which there are three pairs at Stainsby:
The milled grain then needs to be sifted into different grades of flour and bran, for which there's an extensive mechanism:
The grain is tipped into the top of a mesh tube which has holes of different sizes along the length, getting bigger further down the tube. The brushes turn and push through the appropriate grade of flour (whatever fits through the holes at each point):
The turning of the brushes is also driven by the water wheel, of course.
The flour then falls down a set of chutes and into sacks:
All these components can be switched on or off independently, which is really quite a feat of engineering.
Where's your favourite example of 'living history'?