Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Visit to Houghton Mill near Huntingdon
Today we (Bob and Glenis) visited the National Trust's watermill at Houghton. We were made extremely welcome by Phil O'Donohue and Steve (sorry, can't remember his surname), who spent two full hours showing us round and discussing some of the issues around milling.
Houghton Mill is a rather bigger affair than Acorn Bank, being on 5 floors and powered by a "4 o'clock breastshot" wheel about 15 feet in diameter and 16 feet wide. They produce flour in one operating session each Sunday afternoon, which is sold at the mill and makes a valuable addition to the economics of the property.
The main lesson was that if we are milling flour, we ought to sell it, otherwise the public will (rightly) ask why we are bothering. They suggested that we should get the local authority food hygiene people involved as soon as possible. Their flour is also used in their tearoom scones, and it was suggested we should consider doing the same.
They also have a hand and a rotary quern to show the concept of milling - I think we should have at least one of these.
The design of our tun needs some extra consideration, as the uprights will form pockets in which flour can become trapped. This photo shows the Houghton solution of fixing internal boards across the angles.
They always un-tenter the stones after each milling session, as the flour can pack down into a dense, cement-like substance if left under pressure.