All our flour is produced by water power alone. We are very pleased to have received a Green Business Silver Award in the summer of 2014.
Our mill, like many others in Britain, went out of business in the 1940s – replaced by industrial-scale mills often by docksides where the grain was imported.
These days, people are getting rather more concerned about their food and what it contains. We only produce wholemeal flour which means that all that goes into the mill is the grain – not a single additive! We currently mill local (Herefordshire) wheat and organic spelt from Yorkshire and organic rye from Hertfordshire.
On average, we mill two or three days a week. Mostly we mill on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. All our milling is done by our team of volunteer millers – bless them, they work for love not money!
A day’s milling starts with basic maintenance – oiling and greasing all the bearings to make sure everything runs smoothly. Much of the machinery is held together with wooden wedges, so there’s often a few blows needed with a heavy hammer to make sure everything’s nice and tight. Next up, we open up our top sluice (from the little River Ellwye) allowing water to flood down the mill leat. The ‘penn-stock’ (header tank) is then filled and set up to deliver just the right amount of water onto the wheel.
Inside the Mill, the hoppers are filled with grain and the ‘damsel’ (so called because her job used to be done by the miller’s daughter in days gone-by) knocks a small but regular amount of grain in between the top millstone – the ‘running stone’, and the bottom one – the ‘bed stone’. The gap between the stones is adjusted to get the flour just the right quality. Too far apart and the flour is rough and course, too close and the friction causes the flour to heat up – it wasn’t unusual for mills to catch fire in days gone by!
All the above usually takes a good half an hour, then the miller can relax a bit and start collecting flour – but keeping a watchful eye out too – nothing is ever quite as straightforward as it seems!