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Page 2

Newsletter 133 Summer 2021   © Hampshire Mills Group

 

 

Otterton Watermill

 

 

Ruth Andrews

Photos by Ruth and Keith Andrews

Otterton Mill is the lowest mill on the River Otter in Devon, and has a long history.  The heyday of the mill was in the mid-19th century when the miller was John Uglow.  Flour was delivered as far away as Plymouth, by coasting vessels from Topsham, as well as to Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, and the local villages.  After that it gradually declined until the middle of the 20th century when it fell into disrepair, and parts of the complex were used as a cattle market and slaughterhouse.  Milling finally stopped in 1959, after which the buildings were used for grain storage. The mill was restored in 1977.  

 

It is now in the hands of Chris and Carol Wright who took over at the end of 2015.  As well as grinding and selling wholemeal flour, the mill and ancillary buildings house a bakery, restaurant, artists’ workshops, and gallery.  The mill itself is crammed with an enticing selection of saleable goodies, and therefore functions as a shop, in which you can freely view the mill machinery.

For more information see ottertonmill.comif you pick explorethere is an excellent video of the mill in operation and the milling process.

 

Regarding the mill operation, water enters the mill via a tunnel under the road where it flows onto two 3m diameter breastshot Poncelet-type wheels.  Each wheel powered two pairs of millstones at opposite ends of the building, but only the righthand set has been restored and is used for milling.  That wheel has curved iron buckets whereas the unused lefthand one has angled wooden planks in place of buckets.

 

 

There are 3 control wheels for the sluices, the outer ones raising the slanted gates and the middle one on a bypass channel.

On the stones floor only one pair of stones are in use for milling, and they are made as flourproof as possible, with perspex covers over the hopper and a fairly new tun. 
The stones in use have unusual radial curved dressing. 

 

 

 

 

The two French burr millstones installed by John Uglow are on display and have inscriptions:

this stone worked the first time march 28th 1859

and

this stone worked first time, tis true may 1st 1862. 

Notice the 4 patent balance boxes by Clarke & Dunham.

Downstairs, the flour spout has been removed and is only put in position when the mill is working.  In contrast, the unrestored side of the mill has been colonised by the shop, as you can see on the right.

 

 

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