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Page 5

Newsletter 101, Summer 2013 © Hampshire Mills Group

A Visit to Daniel's Mill by Angela and Nigel Smith

 

There is a saying “the best laid plans of mice and men.....” which probably sums up our visit to Daniel’s Mill just outside Bridgnorth in Shropshire in April.  The mill is a working water mill which has the largest diameter wheel in Britain (at 38ft) and has long been on our list of places to visit.  The Spring AIA conference in Ironbridge this year included a group visit to the mill and this seemed ideal.  Things started to go wrong when the AIA cancelled the conference, due to lack of numbers, barely a week before departure.  Our accommodation in Ironbridge was booked and paid for so we were committed to go there anyway.  With plenty to see in that part of the country we changed our plans to include a trip on the Severn Valley Railway and make our own way to the mill.  On the map it is less than half a mile from Bridgnorth station to the mill so we chose to go on foot, however, for the last 300 yards there is no footpath and we took our lives in our hands on a busy minor road before arriving at the mill.  Note to anyone planning a visit here – there is ample parking, so we should have taken the car!

 

              The giant 38ft diameter wheel at Daniel’s Mill                       

Peter and Anne              photos by Nigel and Angela Smith

 

We were met by Peter George, one of the family which has owned the mill for the last 240 or so years.  He gave us a personal guided tour of the mill and machinery and then opened the sluice to get the wheel moving.   We later met his sister Anne who runs the tearooms and other parts of the business.    Outside the mill is easy to photograph as there is a public footpath which allows a good view of the mill wheel unobstructed by the railway viaduct.  For steam fans it is possible to get a picture of the mill through the viaduct as a steam train goes over the top.

Very much worth a visit and HMG members will get a very warm welcome and should contact prior to visiting – the mill is open from Easter to end of October daily 11.00an to 4.00pm. 

 

These photographs are from the Frank Gregory Collection dated 1961 – when the mill was still working.  
Copyright © 2009 Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
via the Mills Archive Trust.

 

 

Daniels  Mill  History www.danielsmill.co.uk

Domesday Book records a mill at Ardintone – present day Eardington –on the Otteley family’s Pitchford Estate; known as ‘Donynges’ or ‘Dunnings’ Mill by the late 15th century.  The earliest known resident millers were the Crowthers.  

In the 17th century land was obtained to construct the upper pool; when this was made a small mill was built under its dam and that was known locally as the “mill in the hole” or Clover Mill. The back wall and the wheel pit are all that remain of the smaller mill. The present Daniels wheel was originally cast at Coalbrookdale in 1854 to replace an earlier (probably wooden) wheel on the same site. 

As early as 1843 a steam engine had been purchased to work in conjunction with the present wheel.  In 1957 the mill was processing all kinds of grain for animal feed but the mill closed when the miller died.  A year later it was restored although a huge amount of work was required  including fixing water damage to the wheel, rebuilding walls around the wheel pit, installing a new steel axle, replacing millstones and timber framework, floorboards, windows and so on so that it could be made to work again.  Wherever possible old materials were reused as well as many obtained from demolition sites. 

The History Of Daniels Mill

Circa 1893

Upper Mill 2008 excavated 

 Upper Yard 2008

A grant of £67,500 was awarded to the mill in 2007 from GrantScape Community Heritage Fund so that a secondary water feed to the wheel could be reinstated including a large feed pool and an underground pipe plus the reconstruction of the overall wheel water tank which had been removed in the mid-1960s when it became unsafe. 

A further grant was obtained to upgrade the site and improve visitor access - a combination of the Shropshire Tourism Action Plan Programme for European Rural Development Fund, SPAB, Bridgnorth District Council and the Midlands Mills Group provided other funds plus money raised through public appeal and these all helped to restore the wheel and machinery to turn three sets of millstones.

The mill reopened to work again in July 2008. Later that year fragments of millstones and a very old waterwheel were exposed during excavations of the smaller, Clover Mill.  Peter and his father, Alan, have added a Visitor Centre and Tea Room plus illuminated evening visits.  Read the full story in “Daniels Mill :  Its History, Millers and Restoration”  by Joyce George, available from Daniels Mill. Price  £1.80.

Photographs and text are reproduced here by kind permission of the Daniels Mill Trust.

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