Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Town Mill, Lyme Regis, Dorset

The original watermill dates from 1340 and, along with the surrounding derelict buildings, was restored by the towns people. The complex houses various small businesses and is now a tourist attraction.  However, the mill itself is a working one which produces flour, and as such does not have that 'tarted up' look of a heritage endeavour. The interior is quite rough and ready, with undressed stone walls, exposed wooden ceiling trusses and cobwebs hanging from beams and in the windows. Just my kind of place!

The mill consists of three floors; the Meal Floor at ground level, the Stone Floor next up and the Sack Floor on the top. The Meal Floor houses the waterwheel as well as the machinery and gearing to power the millstones. The Pitwheel, painted red, can just about be seen on the left in the photo below. It is used to turn the power from the waterwheel to the vertical shaft, thereby transferring the power to the rest of the mill machinery. 

The Stone Floor, on the second floor, houses the mill stones for grinding the grain to make the flour, along with the hoppers which deliver the grain to be ground. The photo below shows the runner which turns at up to 100 revolutions per minute.

Below that can be seen the top of the waterwheel, which was made in 1878 and was procurred to replace the original one, which was removed in the 1930s when mill production became uneconomical. 

The top floor is the Sack Floor, where the grain is stored and the sacks can be hoisted between the floors.

It is also on this floor that a wonderful scale model of the mill can be seen.

The louvres were opened or shut in order to regulate the flow of air to keep the grain dry and stable.

The water power comes from the River Lym, part of which is directed into a separate mill race.

As well as using water to power the mill, a micro hydro-electric system has also been installed. This not only facilitates efficient usage for all the electricity used in the mill, but also generates enough power for some to be sold to the National Grid.

And finally, there's a lovely quiet in the Miller's Garden, which was designed to emulate a 17th century garden. Surrounding a central crab apple tree are four raised beds, each containing separate plantings; one of herbs, one of fruit & flowers, one of vegetables and the fourth bed of medicinal plants, using the species that the miller and his wife may have used where possible.

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