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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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™‚

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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™‚

River Lea Rust

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Today’s wander and ponder took me along the Lea River from Stratford to Bow, and I took loads of photographs of anything and everything along the way.

It’s only about a mile and a half in distance, and yet there are remnants and relics of old London, multiple layers of new London, with masses of construction and regeneration along both river banks.

No doubt there’ll be a lot more images to be shared later, inevitably in a lot more than one post, but for now here’s my first batch…

Wherever there’s an urban waterway, there’s rust close by, and I just love the patina of rust-spotted old iron… ❀

Under Urban Bridges

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Playing about with framing using the view from underneath a bridge – well, two different views from under two bridges along the same river, on the same towpath. Taking out the colour helps reduce some of the chaotic busy-ness of each image, I think, focusing instead mainly on highlighting the contrast between the lights and darks, hopefully pulling your eye deeper in towards the centre of the image…

I was quite pleased with the results – sometimes I can get the exposure wrong with strong contrasts, but I’m happy enough with the overall look and feel of these two πŸ™‚

Bridges along the River Lea, East London