Monday 20 September 2021

A 10th Anniversary Party!

 Yesterday we had a small gathering at the mill to mark the 10th anniversary of the date when we first milled flour at Acorn Bank, following its 70 years of silent deterioration.

Guests included the former manager of the Acorn Bank property and members of the present visitor reception and gardening staff, volunteers past and present and their partners, and local shopkeepers who stock our flour. That's me in the whites just left of centre.

We had messages of support from several important and knowledgable people who couldn't be with us:

Jamie Lund, the National Trust archaeologist who has been a great friend to us sent his best wishes and commented:


I can hardly believe that it is a decade since you first ground flour at the mill.  This is amazing to me in two ways, firstly that ten years have passed, and secondly, that a building that was simply a collapsed ruin back in the 1980s would have a chance at such a worthwhile second life.


Martin Watts, national mill expert, said:

Hopefully your Trust will ensure the survival of Acorn Bank Mill both as a working mill and a visitor attraction. Your invitation is much appreciated and were it not for the distance I would have been pleased to attend. 

and Nick Jones sent his best wishes for the next ten years. Nick was for almost 40 years the owner and miller at Little Salkeld Watermill just a few miles from here, former chairman of the Traditional Corn Millers Guild and the really helpful neighbour who helped us set up flour milling and gave us the basic training in milling.

Thursday 8 April 2021

Back at last


After a year of enforced neglect, the mill is now in action once again. 

The financial problems the National Trust suffered as a result of the pandemic left them unable to support the reopening of the mill. The mill volunteers offered to set up an independent charitable trust to lease the mill from NT.  Much to our surprise and delight they agreed and the mill is now operated by Acorn Bank Watermill Trust, registered charity no 1193320.

When we started to look at the deterioration, the cobbled mill yard was more than knee deep in weeds, mill moth had made merry wherever they could find a milligram of flour, wasps had made several nests in the roof and the place was filthy. The leat needed clearing and many of the wooden wedges in the machinery had shrunk and needed refitting, replacing or reinforcing.

Our volunteers put in several weeks of scrubbing, disinfecting and weeding to ensure we were ready to start milling for the Easter weekend.

We had a new delivery of a tonne of Paragon wheat from a new supplier safely stored in the grain bin.

We also had new flour bags featuring a lovely line drawing of the mill by Victoria Mandale.

The pandemic has meant that people were much more likely to want to use contactless payment methods so we also acquired a card reader.

In spite of not being allowed to have visitors in the mill due to social distancing rules we got off to a flying start selling a number of bags of flour each day of the Easter weekend.

We have also managed to place stocks with local shops and hope we can increase the local public's knowledge of the mill's existence as well as the Trust's income. We are looking for more volunteers and aim to operate on more days to show the mill to more visitors.

These are exciting times!