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Page 4

Newsletter 103, Winter 2013 © Hampshire Mills Group

Romancing the (Mill) Stone



Once upon a time on the shores of Ashlett Creek, way, way down in the deepest New Forest of Hampshire, a tired old tide mill ceased her arduous work of providing flour for the bread to feed countless mouths, both on shore and at sea.  Her bones were laid bare after machinery was removed to house 4 score of labouring men who were constructing a massive development to refine a new type of power, and the mill lost her heart as the millstones were spirited away and her use was simply as a shell.  Ninety years on and now hosting a club house where travellers, especially sailors, could once again find food and shelter,  new generations of men and women desired to make known the history and chequered life of Ashlett Tide Mill. Here is the moving story which once fell on stony ground and how one part of Ashlett’s downtrodden heart was found in a garden pathway,  just half a mile away up the hill towards Fawley.  The garden’s owner, Mr. Dana Mungapen, was delighted for the millstone to be returned, as he said, “to its rightful place, the mill.” And he welcomed the plucky gang of five who arrived to carry out the task.

Tim Woodcock, a professional photographer who lives in the top part of Ashlett Mill, was there to record the team’s progress on camera and here he relates the day’s events:

The club chairman and I had earlier examined the stone, set into a concrete path, and found that due to the effects of weather over the last ninety years or so, the stone was not actually bonded to the concrete. We went back to it and (on a very rainy Friday morning) we gently eased it away from the concrete and when we were satisfied that it was completely free arranged for it to be moved. It took five people to get the stone lifted and then it was carefully rolled out of the garden by hand.  (Here they are in shots  2,3 & 5 Maggie & John White, Phill Crossland, Jack Rushmer, Paul Rushmer – studiously minding their toes!-Ed)

We were very fortunate that Go Plant Equipment Hire supplied the truck with a crane to transport it to the mill, very generously free of charge and out of hours! Thought to be Derbyshire Peak stone, it is currently in storage awaiting advice on its conservation, and verification of type, before being put on display in the foyer.

Bottom row photos: Dana Mungapen bids adieu to the millstone then John White steadies it as it is gradually winched back to the mill building.   Many thanks to Tim for allowing us to reproduce his photographs and supplying the details.  Let’s hope that the other millstone will be reunited with the mill too. – Ed.

All photographs ©Tim Woodcock


Take a Peek at Peak Stones in the Peak District

The Ashlett Tide Mill’s stones may have come from the Peak District in Derbyshire and here, from an article by Professor Alan McEwen on the internet, is a little about them. 

The Millstone Grit quarry is also known as a ‘Delph Hole’ and is located at Burbage Edge.  Alan and his wife Christine visited it on a very hot summer’s day in 2012.  He records their first sighting thus:

 “Looking down over a virtual moonscape of Ice-Age boulders – erratics – among the thousands of gigantic and small gritstone boulders, we could discern here and there a number of gritstone enigmas: beautifully worked millstones, some of which were lying flat, partially covered with grass and heather with others peeping out from earthen banks, with one or two resting up against the towering rock walls of the Edges.

“We were amazed and excited too, for we had purposely driven over 100 miles from our home in North Yorkshire to seek out and photograph these enigmatic millstone curiosities, produced by Victorian stone- masons.  To our astonishment we soon discovered large numbers of these millstones lying abandoned all around us.”      Sheila.

Read the full report of the McEwen’s trip here

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