As the year comes to a close and our thoughts turn to Christmas and the New Year, we have some exciting news…the water wheel has turned by water for the first time in 100 years. Although not all the new buckets have been fitted yet we reached a stage on remembrance day November 11th 2014 when we were able to lower the new sluice gate that you have heard so much about over the course of the last year and allow the buckets to fill with water, slowly but surely the wheel turned, what a wonderful sight and quite a poignant moment remembering all those years ago when she last turned and the changes that have occurred. A day we shall not forget.
Our plans are now to finish the water wheel and sometime in the New Year once some health and safety issues have been addressed in the vicinity of the wheel, we hope to be able to invite the public in to see her in motion. The wheel turning felt like Christmas had come early, talking of that.. Santa’s workshop is in full swing.
When the project of Santa’s Workshop first raised its head little did we expect dedication coupled with the enthusiasm of the people who have come to help as volunteers from the Hadleigh Community, all in a bid to raise funds toward the restoration. We hope you will be able to visit The Mill during December with your little ones and help Santa and his elves make presents for the many children of the world from their new base in Suffolk. The experience for you children lasts approximately 45 minutes and begins with a short story of how Santa found himself in Kersey Mill, followed by a visit to the mill, where the elves will be working hard decorating presents, checking names on the list feeding the donkey and much more.
The mill that has been transformed into a magical workshop with lighting and sounds of elves working and of course there is Father Christmas to meet, fantastic photo opportunities abound before a well-earned milk shake and cookie. A huge thank you to all those that help with this event and to those attending, last year 99% rated the overall experience as 10 out of 10 and said they would return.
Please book early as spaces are limited and tickets are going fast. A fund raising event brought to you by the friends of kersey mill. £12 per child 1 accompanying adult free.
Tickets can be purchased from Avis Newsagents or , Tel. 01473 829317 or alternatively on site here at Kersey Mill from Glass & Craft or The Copper Kettle Coffee & Tea Shop. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from all at t’ Mill.
A mill has stood on this site at Kersey for a 1000 years, it is mentioned in William the Conqueror’s survey, the Domesday Book of 1086. It could tell some tales and interesting stories. We are always keen to hear of any to add to our collection and to build on the wonderful history.
The present Mill was constructed in the early 1800’s by Whitmore and Binyon, a major task when one sees the wonderful mechanics, it is quite amazing to think how that was achieved with such basic tools and equipment in those days. Today we have electricity, lighting, modern lifting and drilling devices, and still we struggle. We are now working on the repairs to the waterwheel, installing 20 new buckets each bucket taking considerable time and effort,. We now have seven in place, it’s been hard and heavy work, although we are learning and gaining experience with each bucket fitting. Special thanks go to Bill Griffiths who has been giving up his Sundays to help. He is extremely knowledgeable and has been a valued member of the volunteers.
Our team of volunteers show incredible dedication coupled with amazing enthusiasm, so many different people who have come to help in so many different ways, with the aim to make the mill a working example in Suffolk again. The help and support that has been received from so many has been quite remarkable.
All those that helped raise funds for the restoration project with Santa’s Workshop and his Elves last year are back again this year. The purchase of the buckets was from funds raised by Santa’s Workshop, thanks to all the children and their parents who supported the event. The volunteers involved were from the local community here in Hadleigh. We are aiming again to run these events every Friday Saturday and Sunday from November 28th. The tickets are now on sale and the proceeds will help us further with the restoration.
Weather permitting, there will be other attractions available including children’s roundabout and swings, Glass & Craft will have their craft studio open where you can try your hand at glass painting, ceramic painting and also decopatch. You can even make your own Christmas decorations!
Please book early as spaces are limited and tickets are going fast.
Tickets can be purchased from Glass & Craft or the coffee shop or by telephone 01473 829317 and from www.kerseymill.net...
The Friends of Kersey Mill thank you for your support
The Waterwheel restoration is now in full swing. This month we were able to make a considerable step forward on the enormous task of restoring the waterwheel. Now that we can turn the wheel we have removed the corroded buckets so that they can be replaced. We are lucky to have Mill Wright, William (Bill) Griffiths leading the way. Bill amongst many other things is very experienced with a welding torch, some of the corroded buckets and nuts and bolts have needed burning out, a long, hard, time consuming process. Even when all the bolts are removed the buckets are a very tight fit and take considerable efforts to remove.The wheel now moves smoothly on its bearing but is so badly out of balance due to the inconsistent distribution of weight. As a result two pairs of block and tackle are used to turn the wheel and secure it from any unexpected movement whilst the team are working on it.
The section of the wheel that spent the last 80 plus years at the bottom of the pit buried in water and slime has hardly rusted at all, it’s the buckets that have been in and out of water and exposed to the air that have corroded, twenty of them in total. We have had the new buckets cut and shaped from Corten Steel by Needham Fabrications, using a monster of a machine, a Bystronic Pressbrake that is capable of delivering 400 tons, they only needed to use a mere 200 tons to shape our buckets. Many thanks to Kevin, Mick, Beckie and Rob for all their help and advice.
Picture is of Rob Cooper with the first of the new buckets.
Needham fabrications have managed to replicate the shape and it’s fair to say they look amazing.
Over half the starts on the entire wheel have broken so before the new buckets can be replaced repairs are required, To repair a set of starts and to replace a buckets takes approximately 20 man hours so quite a considerable amount of work required, however I am delighted to report that the first pair of starts were repaired this weekend and the first of the new buckets is fitted and it looks amazing!
Corten steel is an incredible hard material that will rust on the surface however due to its chemical composition is far less corrosive than other steels making ideal for this task.
A large proportion of the cost of the Corten steel has been covered by the fund raising events held by the friends of kersey mill such as Santa’s workshop that proved incredibly popular last year, so much so it will be repeated this year and tickets will go on sale mid-October. Spaces are limited so do book early.
If you have been to Kersey Mill recently you may well have noticed that the exterior joinery repairs are still ongoing.
David Harrison wildlife photographer who is resident at Kersey Mill recently took this stunning photograph of a female kingfisher perched by the river, for those interested in photography and the wildlife at Kersey Mill do give David a call 07562 600660.
After a beautiful summer the harvest draws to an end for another year, it’s interesting looking back at how in times gone by harvest would have been such a very busy time for so many people, perhaps we take food production a little bit for granted today.
When the mill was in full production back in the mid 1800’s farming and food production was a major occupation for many, labour intensive and very hard work. The mill being a hive of activity and would have had a major part to play in producing fine flour. The millers wife would have made the bread from the freshly ground flour . To the rear of the Mill House is the “Bake House” which still has the original Dutch bread oven. Faggots of sticks would have been lit and left to burn, the ashes raked out and the bread would have been baked in the red hot brick oven.
A lot of work was achieved using hand tools or horse driven implements and when it came to milling it was water or wind before the introduction of steam and engine power.
Photo’s show the old engine and some of the lifting gear at Kersey Mill.
A census taken in 1871 lists the owner of Kersey Mill at the time as Benjamin Mason who farmed 280 acres and had 16 men and 2 boys working for him. Benjamin Mason died 18th May 1935 leaving an estate of £435.
A local book titled “ Kersey Within Living Memory”. An Oral history compiled by Anne Maltby with an introduction by Ruby Ling is a fascinating insight into local life in and around the area over the years. Within this book there are many recollections of life, how it was in the early to late 1900’s, with many recalling their memories of life on the farm; Claude Munson recalls: “My father was second horseman at Trickers Farm, and the blacksmith was a-running then at the forge. The horsemen had to keep the horses going- even if it rained. The men would put corn sacks over their heads to keep some of the wet off and they’d just keep walking behind the horses, guiding the plough. But they loved it- it was a real skill that job. There are many recollections giving a taste of how life was and of how they just got on with it.
There are many wonderful memories within this book and most certainly worth every penny, printed and available from Keith Avis Hadleigh.
Another book with similar tales I recently read, written by George Ewert Evans, The Horse in the Furrow, again wonderful tales of life as it was, the author has written several books that recall life in the country in years gone by.
If you find yourself in Stowmarket do visit the The Museum of East Anglian Life, it is a Museum that specialises in presenting the agricultural history of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations, along with many other attractions recordings made by George Ewart Evens can be heard. It’s also home to Alton Water Mill. This was built in the 19th Century and originally situated in Holbrook. It was dismantled and rebuilt at the Museum in 1973 and is now a working museum piece.
Farming and milling was a very hard, dirty and at times, a dangerous occupation, we previously recalled the tale of a tragic accident that occurred at the mill in c1845
Reported in the Hadleigh Herald:
SHOCKING ACCIDENT.-A melancholy and distressing accident occurred at Kersey Water Mill, near Hadleigh, on Wednesday morning last, which terminated fatally.
A youth named Leech, 14 years of age, had only the previous Monday entered the service of Mr Mason, of the above mill as an apprentice, having previously been a considerable time in a wind mill. The poor boy was left alone in the mill, and is supposed to have been looking down at the great wheel in the pit, and overbalanced himself, and then fell between the cogs of the wheels. In consequence of the machinery having stopped, Mr Mason looked about to ascertain the cause, and found the poor boy between the wheels, with his heels uppermost. When taken out, the thumb of one hand was discovered to have been torn off, and the knuckles at the wrist lay bare: what state the body was in we could not ascertain, as an inquest had not been held when this report was written: death, however, was, doubtless, instantaneous.
Today life on and around the farm is still a hard occupation and has many dangers; agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In some countries, farming accounts for twice as many deaths as all other industries. Agriculture has been the deadliest U.S. industry every year for the last decade. It’s worth a moment’s thought, the next time you look out admiring the view across the fields.
Restoration work continues at the mill. With a fresh coat of white paint to the rear and side, we are currently working on repairing and repainting the windows.
We recently had the pleasure of Suffolk Mills garden party, sadly the weather was not kind, Chris Hullcoop. The cream teas were favoured over the gateaux and it appeared that a number of the members were eating left over gateaux for breakfast, lunch and dinner!! There was laughter and joy on hearing tales, stories and anecdotes recalled on the day. If you are interested in getting involved or just attending some of the Suffolk Mills Group adventures then doing so is easy and cheap with annual subscription at only £10.
Over the past few weeks there has seen no let-up with activity in and around Kersey Mill.
We have been delighted with the number of visitors that have been to view the mill and to see the work in progress that is ongoing.
With the lovely summer days we have been able to continue with the repairs to the exterior, quite a task due to the considerable decay to the timbers and windows. This is not an easy job due to the sheer height, positioning and scale of the building. Having the river and race run very close to the mill adds to the complications when it comes to maintenance, very difficult to erect a tower scaffold or indeed use a cherry picker in or across a water course. The cost of scaffolding for the entire building is in the region of £7000, needless to say on a tight budget it’s an expense we could do without. We scratch our heads! So what is the answer? We have to do the repairs but we can’t work at that height from a ladder.
Bring on Bill Griffiths, Bill has trained and become very skilled at rope access, a bit like abseiling. He uses one rope to climb and another to descend whilst being secured on another with a harness. It’s fair to say he is doing a fantastic job. The rear of the Mill now has a gutter that is free of debris and works correctly. This had not been cleared for a number of years, grass and weeds were growing from it . The rotten barge boards have been repaired and there is a fresh white coat of paint to the entire back elevation. The windows are in the process of being re- glazed and repaired. Rope access / abseiling is a fantastic way to work at height safely without the extraordinary costs associated with other methods.
Photo is of Bill Griffiths looking like Spiderman
The recent open day saw many visitors to the mill, Mr and Mrs Elmer kindly brought along some photographs of an engine similar to the one that would have been installed in the wheel-house. This would have been used to supplement the water driven stones . The photographs are of an engine that was installed in one of the Hadleigh’s Mills and looks impressive, it is currently mounted on a trailer and taken to shows. The Kersey Mill engine was removed some years ago, if anyone knows of its whereabouts we would love to hear from you.
Another visitor we were delighted to see was Martin Whitworth who owns Buttrums windmill in Woodbridge.
Buttrums windmill is one of England’s finest tower mills. Built in 1836 the mill is the product of the famous Suffolk millwright John Whitmore, Whitmore and Binyon of Wickham Market built Kersey Mill.
Buttrums has its sails intact that still turn on windy days; it has six floors packed with milling machinery and is over 60 feet high and well worth a visit.
Talking of visiting mills there are several mills within Suffolk that a certainly worth a visit and whilst in Woodbridge visiting Buttrums it would be well worth visiting the tide mill, Woodbridge Tide Mill in Woodbridge, is a rare example of a tide mill whose water wheel turns and is capable of grinding wholemeal flour. Also worth a visit is Pakenham water mill a working mill with flour grinding demonstrations regularly held.
All three mills mentioned above are very different to one another and in very good repair unlike Kersey Mill, but we are working on it!!
As another month goes by we have been blessed with some amazing weather that has allowed us to carry on with many different tasks at tut mill.
The summer Ball that was arranged as a fund raising event was a great success and was very well attended and supported a very big thank you to all those that helped in so many different ways, your efforts helped raise over £2500.
We have continued to have large numbers of visitors, with several WI groups, Long Melford Historical Society and other organisations visiting the mill, if you are part of a group and would like to arrange a visit then please do get in touch.
The previously mentioned work to the sluice gate has continued, with the shaft that lowers and raises the gate now repaired and back in its correct position, attached to the shaft are the original racks that having been repaired are now back in their correct location, theyhave a wonderful oak gate attached at the base of them that now works as originally intended allowing us to control the water to the wheel. What an amazing site to see something mechanical working, as far as we know the last time anything worked at the mill was about 100 years ago. The sluice gate is a tremendous weight when combined with the racks, yet with the gearing attached to the shaft its movement is achieved very little effort, a pleasurable experience.
Picture is of the new Sluice gate and racks.
The better weather has allowed for the continuation of the works to the exterior of the mill with repairs to windows, guttering and weather boarding, although from a distance the mill exterior looks good its surprising how much repair is required, another year untouched would lead to major repairs being required. A stitch in time!.
The wildlife seems much occupied with an amazing number of Water Vole having been seen recently swimming in the river together with a grass snake. The Kestrels eggs have hatched and from what we can see it looks like there are 4 young ones, that are keeping their parents very busy, kingfishers are dashing back and forth collecting fish feeding themselves and their brood the house martins, swallows and swifts are all at it too.
Photograph is a Kestrel’s eye view and also that of a painter.
Mark Barnard of Suffolk Mills Group has worked incredibly hard to prepare an application for a small grant to Heritage Lottery Fund to help repair the water wheel and pit wheel, this would help tremendously and allow us to install railings, lighting and educational material for our visitors Fingers crossed!
As the summer season approaches us we are all looking forward to the summer ball that takes place on June 7th to raise funds towards the restoration of the mill and have a great time too.
At the mill the last of the grind stones have been removed from the rotten Hurst frame, we now plan to take lots of photos and detailed drawings with measurements of what remains of the rotten timbers so when it comes to making a working copy it will be reinstated as original, before returning the grind stones to their correct position. To say the stones were heavy is an understatement – they were dead weights needing delicate handling.
The mill race has seen further works recently; the sluice gate continues to be worked on, the guides that we mentioned last month are now fitted. And the work goes on with some of the windows on the outside of the mill repaired and glassed.
National Mills day that took place on the 10th – 11th May. A great number of people turned out to see the mill and enjoy the refreshments made by Alison and Donna, cream teas and scones made by Charlie’s fair hand in the nearby Brickbarn. We even had a mention on BBC Radio Suffolk when “wind mill Bob” was interviewed. The oldest visitor was Cecil from polstead who is 88 years old and a retired building who we are hoping will visit us regularly perhaps next time with trowel in hand. The youngest was Olivia from Boxford who was 7 years old, fantastic to see such a diverse range of enthusiast visiting the mill. It was a pleasure to meet 30 members of the Longmelford Historic Society who seemed to really enjoy their evening tour of the mill and the Maltings Kiln along with refreshments again provided by Donna and Alison in the gardens on a beautiful warm evening.
Photographs of the mill and visitors on National Mills Day.
The wild life around the mill appears to be very happy with birds of all sorts nesting including the Kestrels and Grey Wagtails, the Otter and King Fisher has made several appearances recently. For those that may be interested wildlife photographer David Harrison is now resident a Kersey Mill where you can join him for a variety of photographic workshop and hopefully see and photograph an Otter or Kingfisher within their natural environment, David can be contacted on 07842667794.
A couple have been in touch who had an ancestor living and working at the mill so that will be in our next news from t’ mill.
If you have stories about the mill – please get in touch and thank you for reading.
With summer fast approaching with longer – warmer days – here at the mill we will be taking time to further clear the water courses in readiness for the winter rains. There will be summer rain too - yet not as much – we hope – as we have seen in recent months. This brings back memories for the past residents of the Mill when the owner in the late 1800’s took it upon himself to divert the course of the river without asking the local corporation permission…This resulted in much mayhem in the local corporation (council) office and surrounding landowners.Talking of surrounding landowners, thank you to all the land owners with river frontage who have reacted to our plea for the fallen trees and blockages to be removed from the water course. It is very noticeable how the water level within the tail race now gets away.The head race has seen considerable works this month with a new Oak sluice gate being constructed along with the original guides for the new gate being carefully cleaned of years of lime scale and debris. The guides are now ready to be reinstated ready to house the new gate. Further works to the sluice will continue during the coming months and will be reported on soon.Those of you who have previously visited the mill, perhaps on one of our open days or organised visits will remember how the mill stones were perched precariously on what was originally a substantial Pine Hurst frame. The majority of the frame had decayed considerably following the water ingress during the 1960’s and now being supported only by their drive shafts and looking very unstable.We had to find a way to remove the stones as they were crushing the shaft that needs to be repaired in order for the new sluice gate to operate, and to allow us to work safely, being under 4.5 tons of wobbling French Burr Stone is not ideal.The shaft has been so badly crushed that it has broken the original cast iron housings that would have been forged by millwrights Whitmore and Binyon in the early 1800’s. A lot of engineers will tell you that it is very difficult, some say impossible, to repair cast Iron. Bring on Russell Moye although he himself is very modest, Russell is known as one of the best welders in east Anglia having spent years welding different items including repairing live gas mains. Russell’s knowledge and experience of welding is quite considerable. Russell was able to perfect an incredible repair that is a joy to see.After much head scratching we came up with a plan of how to remove the 6 stones, each weighing approximatly3/4 of a ton, from a very rotten Hurst Frame which would have been used originally back in 1810 when it was built to lift and install them.We borrowed a heavy 2 ton gantry from Ian Allen together with other blocks and tackle and lifting gear and after much deliberation we managed to remove our first stone. This was incredibly hard, back breaking work for all the volunteers, however as luck would have it, Alex Dent who is a Registered Osteomyologist has recently moved to Kersey Mill where he is running his business Natural Health was very happy to help ease the pains the following day. Alex offers acupuncture, bio-feedback testing, modern homoeopathy, dietary herbs, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle tweaks. He is joined by Jackie Taber (reflexology and massage) and Louisa McKnight (nutritionist). In the next 2 months there will be another treatment room to expand the offering further. As we parted the runner stones from the bed stones we found the remains of the flour that was left over from the last time the stones were used to grind which was approximately 85 years ago.Pictures are, 85 year old flour, George de Lara-Bell, Bill Griffiths, Chris Hulcoop, John Sass and Steve having removed the first stone and Russell Moye welding Cast iron Boss. Kevin McCarthy of Needham Fabrications and his team are busy constructing new buckets for the water wheel that we hope will be with us in June ready for the huge task of installing them, watch this space for further news!There are a number of social events to raise funds for the restoration of the mill as follows so please do come along and join us.For those who would like to visit the mill it is open to the public during The Mills Open weekend that is May 10th and 11th from 11am -4pm. There is another chance to see the mill on June 7th when we will be holding a summer ball, a night of wonderful food, dancing and an Auction. £35pp further details and reservations available from Kersey Mill 01473 829317.Keep in touch and thank you to Chris who has provided some interesting information to follow up…keep reading the unfolding saga of Kersey Mill.
With summer fast approaching the team have been working hard to progress the building of the waterwheel gates that control the flow of water to the wheel. Once we have received the new buckets and they are installed, the waterwheel will then be capable of turning by water once more. The focus is also a month ahead on the very important National Mills Weekend 10th – 11th May when the mill will be open to visitors to show all the work that has been achieved in the past year thanks to our many volunteers who help us make what – at times – seems to be an endless list of ‘ to do’ jobs. Gradually they are being tackled and ticked off the list one by one, including the insertion of new window sills.Photograph is of Bill Griffiths helping with the installation of an oak transom that supports oak uprights which in turn hold the runners and the gate racks, installing the racks and making the gates we will be reporting on next month when hopefully the uprights will be in.During the weekend lots of wind and water mills are open to the public, for a full list do visit A date for your diary is 7th June. The Friends of Kersey Mill are holding a fundraising Summer Ball which will be held at The Venue Kersey Mill. This will be a fun memorable night for all. There will be an Auction and raffle, welcome drinks and tour of the Mill and grounds, 3 course gourmet meals, dancing to supreme sounds, black tie, 7pm till midnight. We do hope you will be able to come along and meet many of the people who have helped at the mill in so many different ways, everyone who attends will be helping with the restoration of the mill and will be able to see first-hand how things are proceeding. Tickets can be purchased by calling 01473 829317.What a difference a month makes, with the glorious weather we have recently had we have been able to dry out a little! We have been able to throw open the front doors and let the sun shine through to air out and blow the cobwebs away. The wildlife seem to be enjoying the warmer weather too, ducks have paired up and started nesting, we are hoping the swans that successfully raised seven cygnets last summer decide to nest on our banks again this year, the kestrels are back to their nesting box that is at the top of the mill under the locum, and the beautiful vibrant blue kingfishers that normally flash by at an amazing speed are pleasing to the eye! If only you could photograph it! Mr Otter too has recently been seen further down the river towards Cosford Bridge. Let’s hope the fine weather stays with us so we can push forward with the exterior painting, anyone with a brush and a spare hour or two, and has a good head for heights would be very welcome.
March news from Kersey Mill. As the wedding season approaches the garden around the mill are having a make-over with new planting and lots of composted mulch on the beds for good measure. This work will ensure those lucky enough to get married at the Venue in the old malting with be able to have some of their wedding photographs with the mill as the proud looking backdrop. The newlyweds are also offered the unique opportunity to have photographs taken inside the mill and also within the wheel house in front of the large impressive water wheel. The snowdrops look absolutely wonderful covering the riverbanks and give us hope that spring is only just round the corner.On the restoration front the work continues on restoring the mill to its former glory that was built in 1810. Much of the work on the wheel has been delayed due to the heavy downpours and high water level through the river. We are currently experiencing difficulties to our efforts due to the back-watering of the river and tail race to the wheel. This occurs and impedes the wheel because the water is struggling to get away due in part to the flow between Kersey Mill and Toppesfield Bridge in Hadleigh having a large amount of fallen trees which have been effectively damming the river and impeding its flow. We would welcome any landowners along the river bank who have fallen trees in their portion of the river to help by removing these obstructions. This will also help others that live near to the river and potentially reduce the risk of flooding. There is currently an abundance of blockages along this stretch. Photographs show a section of river to the rear of Ann Beaumont Way. Despite the horrendous weather works have not ceased. Repairs to the joinery are currently on-going.With the wheel now free and turning manually, the under shot chute repaired and down in the race ready to be fixed in position it is hoped that this year will see the wheel turning once the new buckets are fabricated and installed. It is thanks to the volunteers who helped with Santa’s Workshop and those that supported the event, which proved popular enough to raise monies to pay for over 50% of the cost of the buckets that are currently being made from Corten steel.With the happy band of volunteers the project continues to gain momentum to the ultimate goal of opening the mill up for education visits and regular open days. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer please contact Steve or Alison on 01473 829317.Please get in touch if you have any stories.Allan Scott-Davies
Kersey Mill news – February With Christmas and the New Year celebrations well behind us thoughts are now on a romantic Valentines with someone special or the appearance of Easter Eggs in shops – soon be Christmas again comes the sigh.Over the years the mill has seen a number of romances start and lead to marriage in Kersey or Hadleigh church. One such couple were John Brame Bradbrook who moved to the area and started work in 1862 where he soon met Anne Hoy who worked in Hadleigh as a maid. They walked out – as dating was called by the Victorians – until John proposed to Anne. They married on 1st February 1866 with John living to the grand old age of 72 and Anne living on for a few more years until they were reunited again in Kersey church yard.Many others have met and gone on to marry or go their separate ways as sure is to continue as many young couples celebrate their wedding day at the venue.Things on the building side have slowed a little due to river height and the cold weather so everyone is looking forward to enjoying another season in the adventure of putting the mill back together. Despite the weather being against us we have managed to do further works toward reinstating the steel plate adjacent to the waterwheel. The plate is incredibly heavy and took five men and an engine lift to lower it back down into the head race. Pictured is Callum Davis who was ably assisted by Steve & George de Lara-Bell Gary Barnes and Bill GriffithsThe plate having been lowered into the head race now needs to be fixed close up to the wheel back in its original position you may recall this was a find that was recovered from under the water wheel over a year ago looking very sorry for itself indeed, its function is to help retain as much water in the buckets as possible thus increasing the wheels efficiency. Lovely to see it going back in.In March the plan is to continue work on the reinstatement of the plate and we will continue to work on the gates and reinstating the buckets on the wheel.. All three tasks are quite time consuming and will probably take several months to complete. Allan Scott-Davies.
News from t’Mill. As the New Year starts we can but look back with satisfaction at all that we – as a team – have achieved towards the restoration of the mill and the maltings. The support has been great throughout so we look forward to it continuing in 2014 and beyond.We have had the wheel turning for the first time in decades, new and restored paddles to be fitted during 2014, reinstatement of the force shute and some very happy stories of life at the mill. Some have been sad yet all bring to life the history of this great building.The wildlife has not been missing out either with the Kestrels nesting high above the main entrance, water voles making a home in the banks of the river whilst yet another family of Swans have grown up on the river and meadow.As the thought of going to the gym may not inspire many after the large amounts of food, drink and chocolate over Christmas and the New Year we do wonder what the two sisters who lived, played – alas one perished here – would have thought of the Santa’s Workshop created in the mill? The event was enjoyed by so many children thrilled to be able to help Father Christmas make sure that all the children around the world received their gifts for Christmas. How they all laughed at the naughty Elf being told off by Father Christmas for being naughty. It was such a great event that next year Father Christmas has said that he will be back as the children (parents too) were such a helpful bunch. A very big thank you to all the volunteers and helpers at the Christmas magic event as well as the children and adults who attended the event to make it such fun and a fantastic success. We hope we were able to leave the children with as many lovely memories as they left with us.As this goes to press we are planning 2014 volunteer days so if you can spare a few hours a month please get in touch. We are also able to offer tours of the mill to groups for a donation towards the restoration - not forgetting the £50 that can buy a tooth in your name or that of a loved one.A big thank you from all at t’mill. Ellen(in the bow) and her sister just months before Ellen died aged just 15.
Kersey Mill newsletter – December As the year comes to a close there has been so much happening at t’ mill.The Maltings have once again had life breathed into them – the mill has seen the wheel reinstated within its housing and capable turning (by hand) for the first time in many a decade whilst the ghosts have been well behaved – thus far.When Steve and Alison took on the project little did they expect dedication coupled with the enthusiasm of the people who have come to help them as volunteers to help make the mill a working example in Suffolk. The help and support that has been received from so many has been quite remarkable…thank you. There have been many finds, twists, sad stories as well as many funny ones too. Like the story of the young lad who met his maker in the cogs of the waterwheel; 15 year old Ellen who died in a freak fire caused by exploding flour dust and the tales of the river bank and the bones that were recovered from beneath the pit-wheel and the subsequent visit from the archaeologists.Many families have been in touch relating stories of their ancestor who worked, lived and played at the mill since it was built. One family, who have relatives living in America, have provided many pieces of the puzzle that is a giant jigsaw of the mills history. We even had a visit from the American branch of the Bradbrook family over the summer. Joining them on a trip to the cemetery at Kersey Church we were shown the locally cast iron crosses adorning the graves of ancestors past. The most moving was that of young Ellen who died at the mill shortly after her 15th birthday. Below is a lovely photograph of the pupils at Kersey School c 1892. Ellen is towards the back wearing the black hair ribbon. During the summer there was a wonderful open day that saw in excess of one thousand people visiting the site where a number of events were organised by the friends of kersey mill, including vintage vehicles and engines, golf trick show, martial art, art exhibitions, yummy cakes, dancing and games and even Richard Webb arriving with a working model of a water mill. The wealth of knowledge that has been offered from many water mill specialists has been over whelming as the volunteers worked to get the wheel turning once again. There has also been great support in the sponsoring of the Pit-Wheel teeth.Soon it will be Christmas. We hope you will be able to visit The Mill during December with your little ones and help Santa with his elves make presents for the many children of the world from their new base in Suffolk. The magic begins with a story of how Santa found himself in Kersey Mill followed by a lantern lit walk to the mill, where the elves will be working hard. He is looking for boys and girls to help him find the naughty Elf, pack the presents and get them ready to be taken out on Christmas Eve. Mix food and feed the ponies and of course meet Father Christmas and his elves in the mill that he has transformed into his workshop. After all the excitement the children will enjoy a drink and cookie. Please book early as spaces are limited and tickets are going fast. A fund raising event brought to you by the friends of kersey mill. £10 per child accompanying adults free. Tickets can be purchased from Avis Newsagents or , telephone 01473 829317.Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all from all at t’ Mill.Allan Scott Davies
With the light starting to fade in the evening sky as the air turns colder many ducks who having left the banks of the mill stream during the summer after the full on parenthood times have returned to again make home in the low level trees along the river bank. A dart of electric midnight blue colour passing the mill gate on the river is a reminder of a summer watching the Kingfisher pluck fish from the water in those hazy days gone by.
The progress on the mill is running to plan with the fifteen new Corten steel paddles being fabricated off site ready to be placed on the waterwheel in the new year, the next major task is to connect the heavy steel concave shaped plate that we recovered from under the wheel to a new oak timber then secure under and around the wheel within very close proximity to keep as much water as possible within the buckets adding to the efficiency of the wheel, new oak beams have been crafted and the sluice gate guides will hopefully be in place before Christmas – in the new year we hope to be able to start making the new sluice gate from English oak, the same as we used for the plates and for the sluice guides.Over the course of time the brick work in and around the mill has deteriorated, in some places quite considerably so during the warmer weather many repairs have been carried out to the brick work that forms The Race and The Weir.(Pictures of Weir Brickwork & New Oak Guide Plates being installed.
Would you like to come along with the children to Santa’s Workshop this Christmas a unique experience at Kersey Mill during December, when the mill will be transformed? The children will first meet a story teller who asks for their help to keep a naughty Elf in order whilst Father Christmas is out. The children will meet Santa. They can help his Elf’s and see them working hard for Santa. And so the adventure begins…will you join us for this fund raising memorable experience? Please click here for further details.