Skip to Content

August 2019

The building works are approaching their conclusion, with lots of activity on all levels of the mill, wiring, lighting, plumbing and surface finishing all being undertaken. Work on installing the hydro generation has also been underway, with just the final connections to the control panel and commissioning to be completed. We have had another session with our millwright, working on some of the machinery accessories with more work to be done in September and October. Preparations are underway for the upcoming Heritage Open Days festival, with the mill being open for tours on 14th, 17th and 18th September, as well as a family friendly day of activities on Saturday 14th too. Our volunteers have been busy promoting the open days through posters, leaflets and social media and preparing material for display - and we're looking forward to learning more about a key local figure from the Warwick Bridge and District Local History Group who will also be present on the 14th.

July 2019

Lots of activity onsite this month, Harry our archaeologist has prepared his usual monthly update which you can read below. Karen and the volunteers have been busy with gradening activities, continuing the kiln tile restoration and had the chance to participate in a specialist millwrighting masterclass fitting the last of the sole plates to the waterwheel, learning how to grease the bearings for the pitgear and testing the running of the wheel to ensure everything is balanced. The contractors have been busy too, fitting lighting, staircases, relaying cobbles and installing our disabled access ramp and installing the new escape sluice in the headrace.

June 2019

As work on the main building contract continues we have had a variety of specialists on site during June. Work on restoring the ironwork lattice for the drying kiln has been completed, repairing as much as possible and inserting new elements where this was needed. Our volunteers have also started on the restoration of the kiln tiles that sit on the latticework. The contractors have been working on completing the installation of the wiring, lighting, plumbing etc to enable the mill to function, and our millwrights have brought back more of the external sluice gates and fixings to go into the headrace. The water, electrics and telephone cables have now been installed and connected into the building. HPR held another skills training session for volunteers and members of the public and we had further meetings with the steering group as we work towards a greater community involvement in the running of the mill. Harry has provided us with his usual monthly summary of the works which is below.

May 2019

May was another busy month on site with work continuing on all fronts -inside the building work continued on reinstating windows, staircases, installing electrical wiring and plumbing, and outside with trenches for drainage and utilities; skills training sessions for volunteers and members of the public in working with lime and stone dressing, meetings about the running of the mill and more activities by the volunteer gardeners and Karen, including planting flax seeds as part of the "Heron 1220-2020 project". We have a new resident too - see if you can spot her in the video clip below.

Harry our archaeologist has sent through his usual update which can be read in full below.

April 2019

April began with a promise of spring, with birds starting to nest, flowers emerging and a bit of heat in the sun. Our contractors continued to make progress both inside and outside the mill, with joiners, millwrights and stonemasons all hard at work. Our volunteers undertook some training in ironwork conservation so that they are able to help with the restoration of the victorian kiln tiles, and got muddy clearing debris from the headrace so that the millwrights could fully test the sluice gates and the waterwheel. We were able to see the wheel turning for the first time in many years which was very exciting.

Harry our archaeologist has uncovered tantalising glimpses into the mills history again - his monthly review is available to read below.

March 2019

Lots of activity again this month from our building contractors, hydro engineers and millwrights with work being carried out in various areas inside and outside the mill. The spillway has been cleared of excess vegetation to assess the condition of the stonework. Test pits were dug to determine where the new drainage trenches would run, these uncovered more evidence of previous buildings on site. Recruitment for a new member of staff continued during March, and Karen gave a talk to another local WI group which was well received. Details of a training session for volunteers on historic ironwork conservation were confirmed along with a public meeting to explore wider community involvement in the project, both events have been publicised widely in the local community and online. Our archaeologist Harry has sent through his usual monthly overview of activities which is attached below.

February 2019

February continued to be a busy month with contractors on site and some complex and challenging repairs to some of the major structural timbers have been carried out by the team from HPR as well as ongoing work by the millwrights - working in the confined spaces of the headrace culvert to replace the timber linings there, and completing the mill wheel. Towards the end of the month the external scaffolding was able to be taken down and it is now easier to see the work that has been done to the exterior of the buildings. Karen gave a talk to one of the local WI groups which went down very well, and we had a training session for some of the volunteers on collection care and record keeping - which will be useful for the future. Harry has compiled his usual monthly overview which is included below.

January 2019

Once again this month our friendly archaeologist has been keeping a close eye on the works going on in and around the mill by the contractors and the millwrights. Some interesting glimpses into the buildings history have been uncovered - you can read more in the monthly report below. Beth and some of our volunteers have been busy transcribing the oral history recordings they've made so far, we've also been finalising the details of some forthcoming training opportunities. We had a site visit by a group of NECT Trustees and Karen is preparing for her first WI talk coming up in early February.

December 2018

Work has continued onsite, with the millwrights completing the painstaking job of fitting of the steel buckets and sole plates back onto our waterwheel and ensuring it remains balanced for efficient operation. The main contractors have been working hard inside, creating wooden sub-frames for the inner windows and fitting more of the wooden louvres in place as well as checking the condition of the lime mortar on the interior walls. The roofing contractors have continued repairs to the barn roof, fitting new laths where necessary, laying felt and starting to re-slate the roof. Stonework repairs to the pigeon loft have also commenced. Beth and Karen continue working with volunteers - carrying out research at the archives and starting to create our new wildlife garden which will include a Bee Palace. We've also been in discussions with other mills on collaborating with skills transfers and training opportunities.

November 2018

Our project archaeologist has been kept busy during November, recording the activities of the millwrights and the conservation builders on site, and his monthly update is below. Highlights on site have included starting to refit the buckets to the mill wheel, repairs to the main timbers of the barn roof, as well as volunteers taking part in gardening activities, planning research work at the local archives, starting to record memories of the mill and turning up some fascinating photographs too.

October 2018

During October the main emphasis has been on working on the outside of the building, re-pointing and setting in new stones and window jambs at various points around the mill. They have stripped the slates on the barn roof and removed the rotten laths underneath and secured a tarpaulin in place to protect the inside over the winter until the new roof timbers are in place. Work inside has included stripping out old timbers from the tower floors, removal of old limewash and careful removal of old window frames ready for reconditioning. Works to the head and tail race have continued, with the walls being rebuilt and new walkways put in place for safe access to the spillgate.
A training session was held for volunteers interested in recording Oral History, with recording sessions being planned to capture memories of the mill to share as part of the ongoing story. Other volunteers helped to remove some of the delicate machinery to safe storage offsite for the duration of the works. Both Karen and Beth are continuing their outreach work, Beth's Health Walks have commenced and Karen has been asked to give talks to three local groups early next year.

September 2018

Several community events took place during September, including a Volunteer Open Day, a return visit from the local primary school to see what progress has occurred over the summer holiday period, and two days of Heritage Open Days, when visitors were able to see behind the scaffold as well as participate in family friendly activities, including a demonstration of early milling process. Works on site have continued, with significant progress being made on the repairs to the tailrace and headrace outside, with work inside including checking the condition of the floor joists and beams, internal scaffolding being erected to allow access to the roof trusses and further work on the control gate bearing blocks.

August 2018

Lots of activity onsite this month with the contractors making progress clearing vegetation from the side of the building which has revealed areas requiring re-pointing. Work has started in the in the head and tail race, with sandbags in place to prevent backflow from the beck and the accumulated silt and debris being removed. The millwrights have continued their work on the control gates and have refurbished two of the millstone casings. Karen has continued work packing up the small artefacts and creating a photographic archive alongside further archaeology work by Harry. Beth has been preparing for our upcoming Volunteer Open Day, and has been exploring the potential of Health Walks as a way of improving health and wellbeing in the community. A selection of images from progress this month can be seen below along with a link to the full update.

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.