House Mill: How a Tidal Mill is Powered

Until its closure in 1941, the Grade I Listed Building House Mill in Bromley-by-Bow, East London was the largest tidal mill in the world – basically a traditional water mill, but powered in bursts by the tidal river over which it sits. I found it a fascinating place to visit, so I’m keen to share what I’ve learned about the mechanics of it all…

tide-rises

As the tide rises, the water flows through the open sluice gates underneath the red-roofed mill, collecting in the mill-pond behind.

mill-pond

As the tide turns, the sluice gates are closed, trapping the high tide water in the mill-pond.

sluice-cranksluice-wheelsluice-winders-and-water-wheel-doors

To power the mill, the sluice gates are opened enough to allow water through under pressure to turn the undershot water-wheels, which then through a system of gears and cogs powers the mill-stones located high above to grind the grain.

water-wheels

gear-system-1gear-system-2gear-system-3gear-system-4

PS If I’ve got anything wrong in my understanding of the process, many apologies! πŸ™‚

House Mill is currently open on Sundays between 11am-4pm for guided tours only – it’s little more than a shell of a mill at the moment, but at least it still exists, and is well worth seeing round. It closed in 1941, with much of the original interior being sold off as salvage, and the building itself then sat derelict for almost 50 years before it was bought in the late 1980s in order to be saved for posterity rather than pulled down for redevelopment.

The guided tours of House Mill are run by volunteers, who also run the adjoining cafe and little gift shop and are very knowledgeable about the history of the mill. To be honest I’d never even heard of a tidal mill until discovering House Mill – apparently it got the water necessary to turn the water wheels from careful management of the ebb and flow of the tidal river over which it sits, the water wheels in turn powering the mill-stones to grind the maize.

Please see http://www.housemill.org.uk/ for the House Mill website and further information πŸ™‚

See my other posts on House Mill here and here πŸ™‚

 

House Mill: The Milling Process

Like many other traditional 18th Century mills, House Mill in Bromley-by-Bow, East London used gravity to facilitate the efficiency of its milling processes.

House-Mill-exterior

First, sacks of grain were hoisted by ropes and pulleys through one-way trapdoors from the lowest floor to the uppermost floors of the mill, where they were stored until needed.

grain-storage-1grain-storage-2

The sacks of grain were then tipped into hoppers in the floor, which led directly through to the floors below and allowed the grain to be gravity-fed straight down into the grinding stones.

grain-hopper-above

grain-hopper-below-1grain-hopper-below-2to-millstones

House Mill had multiple pairs of grinding stones, so the noise and the dust and the rattling vibrations when the mill was in full production must have been overwhelming.

millstones-1millstones-2millstones-3millstones-4

The ground flour then dropped straight through into sacks on the next floor down, graded by fineness, which could be altered by changing the gap between the mill-stones by turning the metal ‘spiders’ on the wall above the sacks: The closer together the stones, the finer the resulting flour πŸ™‚

flour-sacks-1flour-sacks-2

PS If I’ve got anything wrong in my understanding of the process, many apologies!

House Mill is currently open on Sundays between 11am-4pm for guided tours only – it’s little more than a shell of a mill at the moment, but at least it still exists, and is well worth seeing round. It closed in 1941, with much of the original interior being sold off as salvage, and the building itself then sat derelict for almost 50 years before it was bought in the late 1980s in order to be saved for posterity rather than pulled down for redevelopment.

The guided tours of House Mill are run by volunteers, who also run the adjoining cafe and little gift shop and are very knowledgeable about the history of the mill. To be honest I’d never even heard of a tidal mill until discovering House Mill – apparently it got the water necessary to turn the water wheels from careful management of the ebb and flow of the tidal river over which it sits, the water wheels in turn powering the mill-stones to grind the maize.

Please see http://www.housemill.org.uk/ for the House Mill website and further information πŸ™‚

See my other posts on House Mill here and here πŸ™‚

Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow

Three-Mills-Island-1Three-Mills-Island-2House-MillClock-MillThree-Mills-TV-Studio-

Three Mills Island in Bromley-by-Bow was named after three mills that once stood there.

The red-roofed House Mill (built in 1776) still stands, and is currently in the process of being renovated for historical interest (more about this mill later – far too much of photographic interest for one post!). Clock Mill (with its clock tower and two drying kilns) was built in the early 1800s and is now a school premises. The third mill referred to was a windmill, but this has since long gone although the name remains. The building immediately behind Clock Mill (through the blue gates) is now a TV Studio, aptly named ‘3 Mills Studios’.

It seems there have been mills of some sort or another recorded in this area of East London at least since the 11th Century, as they have even been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086!

House Mill is currently open on Sundays between 11am-4pm for guided tours only – it’s little more than a shell of a mill at the moment, but at least it still exists, and is well worth seeing round. It closed in 1941, with much of the original interior being sold off as salvage, and the building itself then sat derelict for almost 50 years before it was bought in the late 1980s in order to be saved for posterity rather than pulled down for redevelopment.

The guided tours of House Mill are run by volunteers, who also run the adjoining cafe and little gift shop and are very knowledgeable about the history of the mill. To be honest I’d never even heard of a tidal mill until discovering House Mill – apparently it got the water necessary to turn the water wheels from careful management of the ebb and flow of the tidal river over which it sits, the water wheels in turn powering the mill-stones to grind the maize πŸ™‚

PS See further posts about House Mill here and here! πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Illusion

I grew up being told that ‘the camera never lies’, yet I was always puzzled that my early point-and-shoot photographs, once I’d had them developed, rarely turned out the way I remembered them. They were too ‘flat’, or too dull, or too unremarkably boring and not at all representative of what I’d thought I’d seen in my mind’s eye when taking the picture in the first place.

And then I learned that a camera lens doesn’t seem to ‘see’ the world the same way as I do, so I would have to learn to change some of the settings manually to ‘show’ the camera how to create and reproduce my chosen style of representation of what I was actually looking at. I would basically be teaching my camera how to lie – how to create an illusion of my own choice.

Quite often even once I learned these some of these technical tricks I would find my particular view of what I was seeing before me would prove very different to someone else’s captured view of the same subject, even if we we were both taking pictures at exactly the same place at the same time. There was not, it seemed, just one reality but multiple realities seen differently by different individuals, all presumably equally as valid as each other.

Frustratingly, even with a decent-enough camera nowadays to be able to choose my focus points, the depth of field, and play around to my heart’s desire with exposure values to suit myself so that I’m effectively making images rather just taking photographs, sometimes the results I get straight out of camera still aren’t quite enough for me… I’m still left wanting so much more.

I’m discovering that I want to start being even more creative with my artistic endeavours – I suppose I really want to learn some proper post-processing skills to add something more dramatic to my images, using whatever digital ‘darkroom’ techniques I might have at my disposal to help me make my personal illusion of how I choose to see the world complete πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: IllusionΒ 

Songs from the Past: Bill Withers – Lovely Day

Hugh has asked us this week about a Song from the Past we’d love to wake up to every day. To be honest I’m actually not keen on music first thing, I always prefer to wake up in peace and quiet wherever possible – at least until I’ve had my first cuppa, anyway!

However, if I did have to wake up to one song, it would probably be ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers, from 1977… ❀

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Rain/ Rein/ Reign

Mistress-May

This naughty-but-nice political poster caught my eye yesterday, ripped edges flapping flamboyantly in the breeze – ‘Mistress May Make You Rue The Day’.

When it comes to Theresa May’s continued reign as Prime Minister, she may still have the reins of the country in her ‘strong and stable’ hands – just – and she certainly has the bit between her teeth when it comes to Brexit, but she may find she needs to rely on the three line whip a lot more now she’s lost her parliamentary majority, especially as there are a larger-than-ever number of MPs who may be more than happy to rain on her parade! πŸ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Rain/ Rein/ Reign

London Stadium, Stratford, East London

London-Stadium

Looks pretty in the distance, doesn’t it? The London Stadium, previously known as the Olympic Stadium, looking deceptively calm and quiet. This was as close as I came to it earlier today, but I’d planned to come back from my walk along the River Lea from Stratford to Bow right past the foot of the stadium, a shortcut I take regularly.

However, I seriously miscalculated, because on my way back a few hours later I found the tow-path blocked off – in fact, the entire stadium was cordoned off due to a Robbie Wiiliams concert being held there tonight. So not only did I have to take a thoroughly inconvenient detour the long way round, but also I found myself in a contraflow of one, walking in the opposite direction of 70000 excited Robbie fans looking forward to the show.

Oh well, c’est la vie! To be honest it was really good to see security so tight around such a major venue, with no traffic allowed within a surprisingly wide cordon. And from the heavy bass beat thudding in the distance as I write, it sounds like it’s all going really well… πŸ™‚