We had a little stroll to look around the mill. Opening times dependant on volunteers so we weren’t expecting much, but to our surprise a volunteer was there and he gave us a guided tour. The mill here was working until 1965, and after it closed was bought and opened as a museum.
Top picture shows the water wheels of the north mill.The picture I took on the way through was actually originally a brewery (see past blog). The lower picture shows the south mill. The water wheels were started up for us to see.
Upstairs in the north mill is the grinding pan (upper picture), it could grind 1.5tons of Flint in 24hrs. The result would be a liquid called slop which then fell below to a washtub, which separated any unwanted particles (lower picture). Flint is an important source of silica and about 33% is used in earthenware pottery and tiles. There are links to Cornwall with the potteries. The stamp mills used to crush mineral ores in the copper and tin mines of Cornwall were adopted by the potteries to crush flint and Cornish stone. In Cornwall water flowed over the dry material, but not in North Staffs and many of the workers inhaling the dry silica died by 37 of pneumoconiosis.
The pictures above show a millers cottage built in the early 1800’s with some renovations in the early 20th century. Note the original cooking range.
Finally for the horse lovers some tack harness showing the row of coloured wooden beads that protected the horses flanks when negotiating tunnels. A well fed and watered horse could work an 18hr day pulling a butty boat. What a hard life for the boatmen also.