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July 2018

The millwrights have continued their good work ahead of the main contract, forming the timber structure of the control gate from Elm.
Two sets of French Burr stones have been dressed (the worn "lands" and "furrows" of the grinding surface re-cut to the correct profile) for re-use. One set had been re-faced with carborundum (silicon carbide).
Neil has been preparing the control gate timbers by cutting slots which will allow water to feed through onto the wheel.

Work in progress installing the new control gate timbers. Now you can see them in place, with the narrow upper slots allowing a thin stream of water to start to fill the buckets and the wider lower slots which will allow more water to complete the fill as the wheel rotates.

cleaning and inspectingThe gearing of the vertical drive shafts, which take power up through the mill to work the equipment on the Garner Floor, was cleaned and inspected.

identifying objects and sortingKaren has been very busy sorting and packing loose items from the mill for storage during the main contract. All sorts of gems have been revealed, including bits of social history such as a small tin for the galena crystal used in making simple radio receivers, known as "Crystal sets", in the early days of radio broadcasting.

Some vegetation clearance and recording was undertaken on the upper courses of the escape weir and the invasive Himalayan Balsam weeded from the watercourses.

The main contract has started with site set up and protection works well underway to the remaining machinery within the mill.

millstones covered toprevent damageSince this picture was taken the stones have been further protected by a timber hoarding, which also serves as an additional storage area for large items.
Scaffolding was erected to allow access to the walls of the mill and the roof of the barn.

June 2018

The millwrights have been very busy, both on site and back at their base where replacement timbers for the control sluice and the escape sluice gate have been prepared. On site the cast iron components of the wheel have been cleaned and inspected; the stone cut pit for the pit wheel cleaned out; the stones lifted and inspected and the Hopkinson roller mill cleaned.
The removal of the timber remains of the control gate allowed access, via the wheel pit, to the head race tunnel.A variation in the profile of the tunnel vault indicates that the head race tunnel has been built in two phases. Initial thoughts suggest an upstream extension to the race tunnel. The additional 1.5.m (c.5 feet) would have given additional capacity to the loading dock above, perhaps when the area was given overhead cover and could be used for temporary storage. The tail race tunnel shows similar evidence of a two stage development. An in filled timber slot and an iron fixing in the northern tunnel wall, corresponding with the break in the vault, may indicate the position of an earlier trash screen at the entrance to the shorter tunnel.

The timber lining on the tunnel floor, seen end on last month, extends upstream 90cm (c.3 feet) from the wheel pit cill as far as slots for substantial timbers (15cm/6 inch wide) in both the race walls. The extent of the timber floor corresponds with the remains of planks extending up both side walls to the springing of the tunnel vault, forming a waterproof wooden trough within the stone tunnel on the immediate approach to the wheel. This structure gathered the water and directed it downwards in a controlled stream into the waterwheel buckets in the most efficient manner.
At the head weir and the site of a former sluice, upstream from the mill where the head race leaves the Cairn Beck and passes under the main road through the village, a cast iron plate set into the weir records a re-build by the Eckersley brothers in 1918. Mathew managed the mill and the brothers also had a shop next door in Warwick Bridge. Walter also managed a shop in Heads Nook.

Local school children returned to the mill to hear from experts about the history of the building, learn about the work of archaeologists and see some of the artefacts that have been uncovered and restored. They will return in the autumn term when they will be able to see further changes to the building.

May 2018

platform with silt from tunnelThe millwrights have been busy in recent weeks, removing the remaining wrought iron buckets from the wheel and cleaning the head race tunnel. The new buckets, fabricated in Corten steel, are a different weight from the originals, so a mixture of old and new buckets on the wheel would have made it very difficult to balance the finished wheel.

remants of timber floorClearing the silt from the head race tunnel revealed a timber deck with an upper surface of planks laid with the direction of flow and spiked into heavier timbers which run across the tunnel. Enquiries to the NW Mills Group produced the suggestion from Stuart Hobbs at Heron Corn Mill that the timber deck had been added to raise the level of the stream entering the wheel, probably as a consequence of replacing the wheel installed when the wheel pit was made (assumed to be in the late 1830's given the dated weathervane on the mill). Jon McGuiness confirms this suggestion pointing out that the timbers are angled to produce the optimum angle for the water entering the buckets on the wheel.

close up of waterwheel axle and bearingThe millwrights have lifted the wheel to inspect the bearings, confirming that the outer bearing shell is bronze but the inner bearing is stone (tradition has it that this required lubrication using suet!). An intermediate bearing, where the axle passes into the mill appears to be a later addition, perhaps a response to the apparent movement of the wheel out of true in the past, resulting in the scoring of the inner wall of the wheel pit. This bearing is lubricated by an oiler set at floor level on the Stone Floor. The timbers supporting the bearing have rotted away and will require replacement.

collection of milling equipmentThe search for missing parts from the escape sluice, reported to be in the barn, saw the millwrights rescuing the collection of machine parts and old equipment from the elevated floor over the wheel pit but sadly no parts for the sluice were identified.

The mill was open on the Sunday of National Mills Weekend and almost 70 people visited, including pupils from the local Primary school and their parents. Many of the visitors had personal connections with the mill and were happy to share their memories with us and members of the Warwick Bridge and District Local History Group who brought along a display. Heritage Open Days in September will provide further opportunities to see the progress of the project. [Photos and text credited to Harry Beamish, Archaeologist}

April 2018

millstones mar2018The furniture and casings from two sets of French Burr stones have been removed by the millwrights for inspection and restoration. The three sets of French Burr stones at the mill, of superior quality to locally derived millstones, would have been used to produce flour, the remaining two pairs of millstones being used for animal feed production. The French Burr stones were composites with pieces of the imported stone set in Plaster of Paris and bound together with iron hoops. The western set appears to be in good condition, the eastern less so. Bob Willis, the last miller to operate at Warwick Bridge in the 1980's, has scratched his name on the previous repairs to the eastern runner stone, and conveniently dated the repairs to 1962. (photos and text credited to Harry Beamish, Archaeologist)

company mark on millstoneThe lids of the four balance boxes in the runner stone of the western set bear the name Davies and Sneade, Liverpool. The firm, based in Cheapside, Liverpool, were well known nineteenth century millstone importers and millstone manufacturers. They were represented among the English firms exhibiting at the Paris exhibition of 1878 and at the Manchester Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1887

stone showing name and date scratchThe escape gate from the mill head race was removed by a previous owner for restoration prior to 2004, but fortunately one or two photos survive of the gate in situ. Closer inspection of the concrete repairs at the gate location revealed another scratch name and date, this time N. Myers and the date 1966. John Harrison's 2004 report on the mill recorded the components of the gate mechanism in store in the barn so the next step is to have a rummage through the bits and pieces in dark corners to see if they survive!

February 2018

man undoing bolts on waterwheelThe closing months of 2017 saw activity on the site with Neil Medcalf of Traditional Millwrights Ltd busy stripping the corroded wrought iron buckets and sole plates from the wheel for replacement – when the wheel pit was not flooded! The photo shows Neil starting to remove the first of the buckets. The original square headed nuts have not been moved for something like 170 years and are taking some persuading!

interiof of barn showing original featuresHarry Beamish, the archaeologist tasked with recording the ground works elements of the project, has been busy with visits to the archives in Carlisle to gather further information on the site; to the NECT offices to capture information from the project files and on site recording some of the external areas - also between floods! An initial look at the barn range which runs southwards from the mill building has revealed surviving elements of a threshing machine which was driven by belting from the mill and would have been a useful addition to the nineteenth century operations, allowing unthreshed grain to be processed. The photo shows this in more detail. Note the elevated "stage" at the north end of the barn. The overhead line shafting and pulleys served the threshing machine below. B – belt slot in the mill wall. P – pulley wheels, poss. from the thresher. J&T – surviving joinery.

September 2017 - Millwright and Archaeology research commences

In September we were pleased to be able to welcome Traditional Millwrights Ltd to site, and their very experience millwright Neil Medcalf is leading the repair work on the restoration of the milling machinery and the waterwheel and all the associated machinery, gates, sluices etc in order to bring them back into a useable condition. Work will be taking place on and off site, including the stripping down and restoration of the large wheel and will take approximately 6 months in total - although it is likely that the works will fit in around other activities on site, especially once the main building contract is underway.

June - December 2016. First phase of Emergency repairs start on site

main funders logo for the work on site

The first phase of repairs to the corn mill have now begun on site thanks mainly to a grant from Historic England. Scaffolding went up around the drying kiln at the end of May and the contractors are now carefully removing the roof covering and timbers, assessing their condition and will be replacing as necessary over the next few months.

We will be hosting tours of the works on site during this phase of work. The first of these events is on 13th July - see the community engagement page for more information

two men inspecting roof July 2016We held the first of our community visits to see progress on 13th July and had over 100 visitors during the day - including two groups from the local primary school. Everyone was excited to see work starting - and we were very pleased that so many people were interested in volunteering with a wide range of experiences and knowledge to offer.

july 2016 - re-pointing stone workEnd of July Update. The weather has largely remained fine, enabling the work to continue on site, new roof trusses have been installed alongside some of the original trusses to retain originality and strengthen the roof in preparation for re-slating. Some of the re-pointing of the drying kiln walls has also started.

On Sunday 7th August we held two site tours, one for members of the SPAB North Regional Group and one for local people and milling enthusiasts, when there was a chance to get up close and see the works currently on site and hear of our plans for the future of the building. We were delighted to hear the positive reactions of those visiting for the first time.

Early September update. Work has continued on site with much of the re-pointing now having been completed - this is slow and delicate work, and difficult to see from the roadside, but once the scaffolding comes down, it will be more obvious. The timber frame for the "louvre lantern" on the drying kiln roof has also been constructed and is looking good. It will shortly be felted and slated, making it weatherproof, but giving a new look to the drying kiln.

children with slates for mill roofOn the 30th September we held a "topping out" ceremony to celebrate the re-instatement of the louvred lantern on the top of the drying kiln roof. The event was attended by children and staff from the local primary school as well as representatives from the local community and funders. The children played their part in continuing the story of the mill by signing their names on the back of the new roof slates. Members of the local press and TV crews were also in attendance and the event featured on local television news and in the local papers.
A site board with more information about the works currently being undertaken has been installed at the entrance to the mill which we hope will help everyone to see what detailed work is being carried out and the rationale behind it.

newspaper article featuring local school children at warwick bridge corn mill
view from street

detail of new slating on roofNovember Update. Thanks to the mild weather work has continued onsite and we have now been able to complete the re-roofing of the granary, slating in the louvre at the top and completing some additional pointing work to the walls. We have also been able to undertake some timber repairs to one of the adjoining buildings and the complex is now better able to resist the effects of the winter weather.

February 2017 Update please click on the link below to read our latest newsletter on the project, and to hear a little about another hidden gem in the village that is receiving a face lift!

Other funders to whom we are grateful for their support for this phase of work include the Architectural Heritage Fund, Cumbria County Council through their Ward Councillors Community Grant programme and Cumbria Waste Management Environmental Trust.

Update May 2017 Thanks to the ongoing hard work of our kind neighbours and two volunteer gardening sessions in March and April, the grounds of the mill are looking much tidier and cared for, with lawns and flower beds weeded and shrubs pruned, vegetation cleared and intrusive ivy cut back from the rear of the building to prevent damage to the brickwork and windows from summer growth. The spring sunshine shows off the new oak louvre and slates of the granary roof, giving the building a new lease of life.

September Update over the summer months we have been working hard in the background putting in funding bids, updating the condition survey for the machinery and watercourse and carrying out ecology surveys to see what furry and feathered residents we have on site. This summer has seen several clutches of swallows, house martins and swifts all Following confirmation of grant support from the Arts Council England the specialist millwright has been able to start taking the waterwheel apart, in readiness for overhaul and repair. He will be working on the wheel and other elements of the machinery over the next few months, and we will be arranging volunteering sessions and training opportunities during this period. We also hope to be able to start the recruitment process for our Mill Manager and Engagement Co-ordinator in the next couple of months.