Gosh its Christmas time again! Santa’s workshop is up and running with record numbers of tickets being sold. We added further sessions this year but again demand will outstrip supply. For last minute tickets do please call. All proceeds go to the restoration fund and we thank everyone who helps with the event and supports it by attending.
It has been a very good year for the mill all round with approximately 8000 visitors to the mill alone, all interested in the restoration project that is ongoing. The Hurst Frame is now complete and our attentions and efforts in the new year will focus on the reinstatement of the runner stones and the stone furniture.
The millstones are surrounded by a wooden or in some instances a metal case. The three water driven stones at Kersey Mill will each have a wooden case or tun also known as a vat, it is like a barrel. Its purpose is to collect the flour that has been ground between the stones and ensure it is directed out of the stones and down the spout to the waiting sack below.
On top of the case sits the hopper legs ( horse) and hopper. Grain is fed from the hopper into the stones by the shoe. The flow of grain into the stones is regulated by how fast the shoe is shaken.
If the stone furniture is not built correctly then the grain will not flow into the stones properly. If the slope of the shoe is too steep grain will flow too quickly, if the slope is too shallow grain will not flow at all.
The shoe also needs to be the correct shape to keep the grain from falling out of the side and on top of the stones. The grain will not be ground and instead will end us as whole grain in the flour spoiling it. We anticipate these works commencing in January and should hopefully be completed during 2019.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
Restoration works at the mill have had to come to a stop as October signals the setup for Santa and His Elves Workshop, one of the major events of the year for the mill.
September saw an unprecedented number of mill open days with visitors coming from near and far who were able to witness actual works in progress completing phase 3 of the Hurst Frame restoration.
Once Santa & the Elves have vacated we will start Phase 4 of the restoration during Januay. This phase will consist of reinstating the runner stones redressing them and building the stone furniture.
The Hurst Frame looks so different now, we had all become very conditioned to seeing the dereliction as none of us will have ever seen the Hurst Frame in any other state.
It has been repaired as per the original , this only made possibly by referencing & using some old photographs taken in the 1960’s. Fortunately some old photographs were available on the mills archive website showing images of the hurst frame that were complete . together with small signs and actual evidence means that the frame that is now in situ is as per the original. Visitors that have already seen the completed works have commented on the superb standard of craftmanship and thanks for this go to Bill Griffiths.
We have mentioned the on-going works to the Hurst Frame for several months now and this month I am delighted to say that they are nearing completion. The front should be finished in time for all the visitors who attend Santa’s Workshop in December to admire.
The bed is now complete, and two bedstones are back in their rightful place with one more still to be relocated. The bedstone is the stationary, lower stone, out of the pair that are used to grind the grain, the top stone that turns is called the runner stone and spins above the stationary bedstone creating the scissoring or grinding action of the stones. A runner stone is generally slightly concave, larger and heavier while the bed stone is slightly convex. This helps to channel the ground flour to the outer edges of the stones.
The stones are made from French Burrstones that create fine flour. French Burr comes from the Marne Valley in northern France. The millstones are created from sections of quartz cemented together and backed with plaster and bound with shrink-fit iron bands. Several of the stones had deteriorated badly and needed an overhaul consisting of new bands cementing and plaster.
Paul Willis of Armour engineering in East Bergholt accompanied by Glenn completed the refurbishment of the iron work and the finished product can be seen in the photograph.
Bill Griffiths has carried out the remaining cement and plaster works to the stones and the entire Hurst Frame. Another fantastic piece of craftsmanship.
Restoration of the mill has to come to a close at the end of September as Santa and his team take over ready to welcome all the children to help with preparations for the big day.
Tickets are on sale Now.
A sizzling summer has provided a welcome window for some of the works around the mill.
Having seen very little rain for 50 days or so water levels in the river and mill pond have been incredibly low. The limited water levels have made turning the waterwheel by water power impossible but has allowed a great opportunity for much needed repairs and maintenance to be carried out on the weir gates and mill pond walls.
George and Charles are pictured repairing severely damaged and cracked walling to the mill pool. Having cleared away a large amount of foliage the extent of the damage was very visible. Several large sections of walling had broken away, cracked and many bricks needed replacing.
A section of bank had slipped and the gates to the the weir needed general maintenance before the high waters return.
Water flow is a very important ingredient for a watermill, too little or too much is not good.
A mill such as Kersey Mill will not operate satisfactorily all year round on a small river like the Brett due to the variability of the water supply. The river level increases rapidly after a shower but decreases to levels that we have recently seen during the summer, milling would not be possible in these conditions.
The Mill Pond at Kersey would have been created around 1860 with the introduction of the steam driven side of the mill thus giving the miller a more constant supply of energy and enable milling all year round. The miller would have been able to store far greater quantities of water in the mill pond for the steam engine than could be held in the mill race and river to feed the water wheel.
The mill pond will not be used again to power a steam engine but nevertheless it is a very important part of the history of the mill and needs preserving hence the current works.
Works to the Hurst Frame have continued at a pace with the bed now being reinstated, pictured is Bill Griffiths working on the bed. More on this next month.
It has been a great pleasure in recent weeks to welcome various clubs and organisations to Kersey Mill. Bildeston Ladies Club and Hitcham After-Severn Club enjoyed a beautiful warm summers evening here for a tour of Kersey Mill and were provided with refreshments at The Copper Kettle. Our open days have also been well attended by individuals during the month. The Volunteers of The National Trust at Flatford Mill visited one morning to see how the restoration is progressing.
Works to phase 3 of the restoration of Kersey Mill are proceeding well. The Hurst Frame is a heavy wooden frame supporting the gears and three pairs of water driven mill stones. We are now working on the upper section of the Hurst where the mill stones sit. This is known as the bed and the lower stones that sit on it are not surprisingly known as the bed stones.
The section of bed, between the original timber Hurst for the water driven side and the cast iron Hurst that formed the steam driven side, is coming together nicely as can be seen from the attached photographs.
A horizontal Lay Shaft runs through the Hurst Frame in a straight line with gearing transferring power to the mill stones via a Wallower and Crown wheel.
Most of the frame was badly decayed, and the machinery needs complete overhaul and all the wooden teeth will need replacing, this will be part of phase 4 that will hopefully commence in 2019.
Although we are in the middle of a heatwave that has resulted in very little water to run the wheel it is hard to believe that works on our annual fundraising event of Santa’s Workshop is underway and tickets are already on sale.
Over the past month there has been no let-up in the activities 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 and to support the various open days.
Many thanks to all that have helped with events, Kersey Open Gardens was very well attended and Woofers Team produced a fun Dog Day that was enjoyed by many. Funds raised were split between Canine Partners and Friends of Kersey Mill. Many thanks to all that supported, sponsored and helped with the event.
With the lovely summer days, we have been able to continue with the repairs to the mill grindstones. Paul Willis of Armour Engineering has removed the remains of the centre spindles and is in the process of making replacement parts and repairing anything that is salvageable.
We recently replaced the temporary galvanised rods that had been used on the front scarfed joints created from new oak to repair the Hurst. It is incredible how badly the oak has already corroded the rod, this underlines why we need to use stainless-steel that is now in place.
Once the grindstones have been repaired Millwright, Bill Griffiths, and his helpers will lift the bed stones back onto the Hurst Frame in readiness for redressing. More on this part of the restoration will follow shortly.
The main structural repairs to the underside of the Hurst Frame are complete so now we move on to the upper section called the bed. The bed is home to 3 pairs of mill stones. The lower stone that remains static is called the bed stone also known as the nether stone and rests 20 -25 mm beneath the upper service of the bed.
The bed stones sit on oak stone beams that are fixed to the upper part of the Hurst Frame in a square shape that allows the main drive to pass through the bed stone to the runner stone and control its height and of course rotate it. The bed stones are firmly wedged and encased by 4x3 larch timbers that also create a base for the floor of the bed to sit upon and that is made from 7 inch larch floor boards.
The hole or “eye” through the bed stone that allows the spindle to pass is normally square and has an iron or wooden bush or neck/box to exclude the grain. For lubrication this would normally have been packed with binder twine dipped in melted mutton fat or candle grease. The iron Glut boxes have brass inserts adjustable with metal wedges which are tightened with screws from beneath to the side of the runner stone which are fixed with a bush or metal paddle to augment the action of draught and fiction in sweeping the meal round the annular space between the stones and stone case so that it passes through an orifice or spout otherwise some meal is lost.
The stones at Kersey Mill have not been in use for at least 100 years, so new and repaired parts to the Glut box are required. Paul Willis and Glen Hart of local Company Armour engineering are pictured removing the rusted and broken, damaged and ceased parts in readiness to reinstate to working order once new parts have been made and repairable parts repaired. The stones are incredibly heavy with some of the runner stones weighing around half a ton.
We have had a busy month with lots of visitors enjoying our open days which continue on June 17th with a big event “Dog Day & family fun” so lots in store for all to enjoy .
Our annual Summer Ball is on July 7th £35 pp which includes welcome drink, 3 course gourmet meal, dancing and auction. There are a few tables remaining if you wish to attend. 01473 829317 or email
The weather during the early part of the year may have had us all damp and dull but Spring is certainly in the air. For those of you who may have been out walking and enjoying the surrounding countryside you will have heard the amazing bird song along with the courtship and posturing as the breeding season commences. The two pairs of Kestrels that have successfully raised 5 broods over the years are back again for the sixth year taking up their regular positions in the orchard and on the nesting box located on the front of the mill under the Locum. Again, the cameras will be on this year so as the eggs hatch any of you that are interested can view via the Glass and Craft Studio and watch the excited chicks feed and hustle for position.
The swans are back and nesting already as are the grey wagtails that seem to adorn the mill pool and river banks.
The river has been full to overflowing with areas bursting the banks. The Environment Agency returned this week to repeat the fish count on the section of river to the rear of the mill. They use a boat and electronically fish which produces an accurate count and enables a close inspection on the condition of the fish. The last fish count was in 2012, encouragingly the results this year show a significant increase in stock. There were Roach and Pike which are regularly seen, but surprisingly Chub, Tench and several Bullheads and Stone Loach were also found.
Works to the undercarriage of the Hurst Frame have been completed this weekend just in time for our next open day. Spring also signals the start of the open season at Kersey Mill with numerous private and public open days where the ongoing restoration works can be seen. Mills weekend May 12th & 13th. Open Gardens June 9th. The next big Fun day is on June 17th our first ever “Dog Day” bring along a fury friend and see others in action with Woofers .Join in with some of the fun activities planned. Also, with June 17th being Father’s Day it’s a great opportunity for Dad to have an enjoyable day out with the dog! The Mill will be open for tours, children’s races & activities will be available on the day. 10am – 4pm.come and enjoy.
You may recall that in last month’s update on the progress to the Hurst Frame repairs we reported that 2 legs and 2 cross members were now the only missing part of the structural undercarriage repairs that needed completing.
Well we are now down to the final leg and a few minor repairs to the sluice gate crank.
Pictured is the final leg and Cross member that Millwright Bill Griffiths has prepared ready to be lifted into position and the cross member reinstated.
The sluice gate allows water to enter the water wheel by being lowered and allowing the water to flow over the gate and into the water wheel buckets at a mid-wheel height, hence the term a Breast Shot water wheel. The crank that enables the gate to be lowered is located centrally within the mill and runs horizontally along the length of the Hurst Frame and then outside to the wheel house and the sluice gate. It is quite apparent that there have been issues with the mechanics of the crank in the past with some later additional repairs that we are retaining but also improving by the addition of further support.
In preparation of works to the next stage of the Hurst Frame that will consist of reinstating the timber bed and the bed stones we have, with the help of some muscle, moved the bed stones out of the wheel house and back into the mill ready for the lift back up and onto the Hurst Frame.
Pictured are Charlie, Gary, George and Kegan carefully moving one of the 3 very heavy bed stones back to the mill. Each stone weighs between 350 and 400 KG.
In readiness of the continued works to the bed of the Hurst Frame we have managed to acquire some fantastic Larch that is very tight grained and with very few knots. This is ideal as the bed needs to be as tight and as clean as possible as this area is subjected to flour dust that may escape during the milling process.
The mill will be open on April 22nd when you can see first hand all the works that have been carried out recently whilst also enjoying numerous other attractions and the amazing display of Vintage and Classic vehicles that will be on show.
Drive it Day starts on April 22nd at 10am and finished at 4pm with all proceeds raised being shared by F.O.K.M and the Community Heartbeat Trust who will also be in attendance on the day giving Defibrillator demonstrations and the public the opportunity to have a go themselves.
Entry for display vehicles and pedestrians is free whist public parking is charged at £5 per car.
This month our works to the Hurst frame have continued. The Hurst frame being the supporting central structure which support the heavy massive mill stones. The Hurst Frame required total repair, the massive heavy timber frame requiring total renovation. We are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel with repairs now only required to the last remaining 2 legs and 2 cross members. Progress is going well & we have now successfully completed repairing an end leg along with a further cross member with a scarf joint.
Our enthusiastic Millwright Bill Griffiths was heard to comment that he had lost count of the number of Scarf joints that he had made since the restoration program of Kersey Mill started. A Scarf Joint is a method of joining two pieces of wood or metal together. Most of the joints used at Kersey Mill have been nibbed scarf joints, that is to say it has two flat planes meeting on an angle and terminating with a vertical edge allowing the two surfaces to lock. Adhesive is applied, and fixing bolts offer further support. This has enabled us to retain much of the original fabric. So many timbers have had damage to one end or another, by scarfing we have been able to retain as much of the original structure as possible.
We have also used another form of scarf that being a Keyed Nibbed Scarf, like the previously mention but the keyed nibbed is interlocking.
Plans are to have the top started prior to the next major open day on April 22nd from 10am – 4pm.
Our next very popular family day out is Drive It Day, when a lot of classic and vintage vehicles descend on Kersey Mill. It is a wonderful opportunity for classic and vintage vehicle owners to commence the season and come to Kersey Mill where you can admire and discuss with other owners the delights of yesterday’s vehicles. All public will be welcomed, so come and enjoy a lovely day out, admire the beautiful vehicles, tour the Mill, sample some delicious refreshments on offer. Entry for display vehicles is free. A very small entry fee for visitor parking.
Visitors to Kersey Mill will have noticed the bright red phone box located near the Brick Barn and the Flower shop. This is housing a defibrillator that is available for public access.
With all the decorations and staging taken down following Santa’s Workshop the Mil is looking bare & quiet t! ! It was a hive of activity with excited children enthralling in Santa’s Workshop throughout December, but now we look forward to pushing ahead with further restoration on the hurst frame, utilising the much-needed funds raised during December from the Santa events.
There are still 2 legs and 2 cross members to install to create a strong frame before we can move onto the installation of the bed stones and surrounding deck.
The machinery that is now very visible beneath the Hurst Frame l was made and installed in the early 1800’s. The "Hurst Frame" (the heavy wooden framework supporting the gears and milling stones) was built at the same time but suffered severe decay due to significant water ingress. .
The Hurst Frame is particularly interesting in having a horizontal "lay-shaft" resulting in the three pairs of stones being in a straight line; they are normally arranged around a central circular gear. This is unique and quite rare throughout Britain.
There are three pairs of stones at Kersey that are water powered. They are made from French burr stone that is found only in small pieces resulting in each stone being made of several skilfully shaped pieces held together with plaster of Paris and an iron ring heat-shrunk around the outside of the stone. The Stones In due course will be required to be redressed. The iron balance plates and rings will also need repairing, much of which will be retained if possible.
All being well and there are no unforeseen problems we hope to have the bed stones relocated and the bed complete before the next major open day. This being on April 22nd which is our popular Drive It Day event. , “Drive it Day” is an opportunity for classic and vintage vehicle owners to commence the season and come to Kersey Mill where you can admire and discuss with other owners the delights of yesterday’s vehicles. We will welcome all spectators where there will be many vehicles, the Mill and other attractions available for visitors to enjoy Entry for display vehicles is free. Small entry fee for visitor parking.
Well 2017 has been a fantastic and very memorable year for Kersey Mill. Quite considerable progress with the restoration has been made.
We are now mid-way through the restoration of the Hurst Frame with this due to be completed in 2018 before we move onto repairing the machinery that is associated with the Hurst Frame. The Highlight surely was being able to see the line shaft turn by water power, the last time this turned was around 100 years ago.
“Drive it day” was a huge success with thousands of visitors. What a privilege it was to have some of the world’s most beautiful vintage vehicles on display. We are looking forward to “Drive it day 2018”. This will be held on April 22nd, so polish up & dust off your special vehicle to get the season underway. You are all welcome and entry for display vehicles is free.
There are numerous open days planned for 2018 and these can be found on the kersey mill website.
Kersey Mill now has a public access defibrillator located within the refurbished telephone box, it can now be found adjacent to the flower shop. We hope it is not needed but worth knowing of its existence!
The year ended with Santa’s Workshop attracting more visitors than ever before from near and far. This was a demonstration of amazing support for an event that now attracts visitors from literally miles away. London Essex Cambridgeshire to name but a few. We also welcomed back groups of disabled & disadvantaged children a group of deaf children from The Ipswich Children’s Deaf Society where guided through their magical experience with an interpreter who was signing for them and many other children who attended with their friends and family. Many thanks to Cobwebbs at Elmsett Glass & Craft Babyartuk, All Seasons Marquees and all those that helped stage the event especially the amazing Santa’s Workshop team that have worked so very hard to produce an event to be very proud of.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported us throughout the year and wish you all a very happy healthy and prosperous New Year.