Posts Tagged ‘mill’


Photo: Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images
The UK’s “Sturminster Newton Mill has stood on the banks of the River Stour in Dorset County since 1016,” writes the
Smithsonian. It was called up out of retirement to help feed the populace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

You’ve heard of old soldiers reenlisting to fight a war and medical people being called out of retirement to fight a pandemic.

In this story, we learn about a 1,000-year-old decommissioned mill in England that is rolling again. (Imagine being able to talk about 1,000 years ago! In this country, only indigenous people can do that.)

Cathy Free writes at the Washington Post, “Flour has been in high demand and short supply during the coronavirus pandemic. Imogen Bittner and Pete Loosmore knew they were in a unique position to help home bakers in southwest England by firing up a mill site that is more than 1,000 years old.

“So the two millers, who help run the Sturminster Newton Mill and the adjacent museum, decided in early April that it was time to dust off their aprons and go back to the grind.

“They cranked up the ancient machinery at the mill, which has been updated through the years but has been powered by a water turbine since 1904. In recent years, it has been used exclusively as a museum that churns out small ornamental bags of flour for visitors in the small town of Sturminster Newton in Dorset county.

‘When covid-19 struck, all of the local shops ran out of flour very quickly,’ said Loosmore, 79, a retired art teacher who has worked at the mill for 25 years. ‘We had a stock of good-quality milling wheat and the means and skills to grind it into flour, so we thought we could help.’

“In the past month, with the mill operating full-time in the agricultural town of 5,000 people, he estimates they have ground more than a ton of grain and bagged several hundred sacks of flour. The three-pound bags are sold at cost to a local grocer and baker, who then sell them, said Bittner, with all proceeds benefiting the mill’s upkeep.

“ ‘We’ve been inundated with requests to sell it online or in large quantities, but we are not a commercial business,’ said Bittner, 63, an artist who began learning the art of milling 18 months ago and plans to take over as supervisor when Loosmore retires next year.

“Bittner, who has traveled the world but now lives in the home in which she was born near the mill, said she has always been drawn to the historical structure along the River Stour.

“ ‘It’s been amazing to work alongside oak beams that have been inside the mill since the 14th century and which were probably [trees] growing locally in the 10th and 11th centuries,’ [Bittner] said. ‘Although there have been adaptations and changes, these gnarled old timbers still hold the roof in place.’ …

“Loosmore said the mill, which is managed by the Sturminster Newton Heritage Trust, is treasured by locals, who volunteer every year to bag flour for museum visitors and help with maintenance. …

The wooden water mill dates to 1016, he said, and is mentioned in agricultural records in the Domesday Book, a ‘survey’ of England and Wales written in 1086 by order of William the Conqueror. …

“[It’s] a building that has survived everything from war to the Black Death.

” ‘It’s just a wonderful historical attraction — we have details from abbey documents dating back to the 13th century naming some of the millers and describing their roles, rents and obligations,” said Bittner, adding that one miller in 1230 paid part of his rent in eels.’ ”

More at the Washington Post, here.

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Photo: Breaktime Bowl and Bar

Suzanne and Erik’s little boy (soon to turn 3) has one friend who, like him, can speak both Swedish and English. It’s a special bond. The other day they had a bowling date. With parents.

I wondered where they went bowling and was very surprised to learn that it was upstairs in the winter farmers market building, a rabbit warren for food vendors and artisans in one of the old mills so common in small postindustrial cities like Pawtucket.

Ethan Shorey had an article about it at the Breeze Online.

“They thought a throwback bowling alley would be a popular spot, but nothing like this. Breaktime Bowl & Bar has been a magnet for those seeking an old-fashioned good time since it opened just after Christmas, says Manager Jay Santos …

“Perhaps it’s the novelty of having workers manually setting up your pins, or perhaps it’s the raw, uncluttered interior free of dancing turkeys or black lights, but people seem to love Pawtucket’s newest — and oldest — bowling alley, said Santos.

“Michael Gazdacko, director of development and operations at the Hope Artiste Village, where Breaktime Bowl & Bar is located … said it was the intention from the time Urban Smart Growth bought the old mill in 2005 to restore the six-lane duckpin bowling alley on the third floor. …

“The restoration of an alley first built back in the 1920s for the workers of the Hope Webbing Mill has been everything he and others thought it would be, he said.

“The entire facility is full of reclaimed lumber, original exposed brick, and painting in the same color scheme that the bowlers of the 1920s would have seen. The bar top was made of reclaimed flooring from another mill. The original lanes were sanded smooth and stained to play much like modern lanes. Balls and pins meant to be as much like the original ones as possible were purchased from Paramount Industries in Medway, Mass.” Read more at the Breeze Online, here.

Photo: Ethan Shorey/Valley Breeze
Cecily Russo, of Cranston, prepares to let loose on her duckpin lane at the new Breaktime Bowl & Bar. For more information, visit www.breaktimebowlandbar.com.

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