news from the mill
Mill stones encased in wooden tun or vat
Grain is fed into the mill stones by the shoe
Setting up for Santa's Workshops
The original Hurst Frame
Friends of Kersey Mill
Mill Restoration Update
Having achieved so much during 2019, it was our intention to complete the final stages of the Mill restoration this year. With some of the furniture yet to be reinstated, we were able to mill our first test batch of stone ground flour back in April. We reported in May that work to the crown wheels had been completed, however the damsels and the refurbished hopper were still not in place. We were also about to reinstate the grain bins and chutes to feed the stones, which had been delayed due to issues with producing a replica gimbal for the second set of stones, to match the original version for the first set. Now with the preparations for Santa’s Workshops well underway, everything has been put on hold. In order to ensure the safety of everyone, special measures have been put in place to comply with the latest government guidance. We took the decision to go ahead with our plans and have adapted the event by making the visit a journey through a one way system and including additional attractions along the way. The Santa’s Workshops start from Saturday 5th December and the hour long sessions run each Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm. For the final week, additional Workshops have been added to include Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd December. Tickets and further information are available on our website, simply follow the link to Eventbrite. All proceeds go towards the Mill restoration fund and we thank everyone who helps with this event and supports it by attending. Should the Santa’s Workshop experience have to be cancelled due to changes in government guidance, all tickets purchased will receive a refund.
Photographs of the refurbished / reinstated stone furniture to date.
Kersey Mill Open Days
2020 has certainly been a challenging year. On reflection, now that we are well into Autumn with Christmas on the horizon, time seems to have flown by very quickly since the country was plunged into lockdown back in March. Back then we were all hoping that when restrictions could be lifted, life would return to normal as soon as possible. However it soon became apparent this was not to be the case and sadly our plans for Drive It Day in April had to be cancelled, as were the Mill Open Days which had been scheduled throughout the spring and summer months. Kersey Mill and the gardens re-opened as from 4th July, and most of the businesses on site were also back up and running. During August it was encouraging to see so many visitors to the site taking advantage of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme at The Miller’s Kitchen and we have also seen a number of classic and vintage car enthusiasts and cycling clubs meeting in the grounds here - albeit socially distanced and following the latest guidance. In spite of all the setbacks, we remain optimistic, we’re making plans for the lead up to Christmas, as the Mill is being transformed for the Santa’s Workshop events in December, and we’ll shortly begin to set out our Open Day spring and summer schedule for 2021.
Mill Restoration Update
Great progress has been made this year, with the mill starting to look like a flour mill once again. Both crown wheels are now displaying beautiful new wooden teeth. The horses and shoes are now in place and awaiting the arrival of the damsels. One refurbished original 19 century hopper is back in its rightful place whilst the neighbouring stones have replicas of their own. We still need to reinstate the grain bins and chutes to feed the stones, together with the replication of a gimbal to the first pair, and this is proving to be quite a challenge!
Assembling the mill stones and furniture
Kersey Mill Open Days
Sadly since our April newsletter was published the world seems a very different place. Following Public Health England advice and Government guidelines, Kersey Mill had to close its doors to visitors as from Monday 23rd March until such a time that the current social distancing restrictions are lifted.
It will be no surprise to learn that the Suffolk Mills Open Days scheduled for the Spring Bank Holidays (Friday 8th & Monday 25th May) and The National Mills weekend scheduled for 9th &10th May have all been cancelled.
We are, however, still hoping and planning for the Kersey Mill Summer Event & Open Day to go ahead on Sunday 30th August, and we will keep you posted. This event will be an opportunity to see the latest works that have continued whilst we have been observing the aforementioned Government guidelines. In the meantime we hope you all stay safe and we shall look forward to welcoming you back to Kersey Mill in the not too distant future.
Mill Restoration Update
Last month we reported that work to reinstate the three pairs of water driven stones at Kersey Mill was underway and we were about to embark on building the associated stone furniture and crown wheels. The tuns to the three sets of wheels have now been built using local pine and all three pairs of the water driven stones are back in place. There is, however, plenty of work in progress. We need to make horses, hoppers, shoes, damsels, and scrapers to complete the furniture. The crown wheel, which runs the middle stones, has been re-toothed using Copper Beech from the adjoining orchard. Sadly the Copper Beech that once stood on the riverbank died a few years ago, however we arranged for the timber to be milled with the intention of it being incorporated within crown wheels. The timber dried very nicely and it is now being put to good use as teeth for the two crown wheels.
Copper Beech was used to make the crown wheel teeth
Assembling the first crown wheel
Re-toothing the first crown wheel has proven to be a complex and painstaking process: first you need to plane the material to a consistent size then blank, create 2 shoulders, one on either side and cut 4 cheeks at various angles to match those of the crown wheel. Then plane to a tight fit, so that just a light hammer sets the tooth home. Once all the teeth are in position, spacing can commence using dividers, by marking the centre line and profile. Finally, remove the teeth and plane the front profile, using the shoulders to retain the wedges. The wedges are created in a very similar way: replace two teeth and wedge, repeat 104 times until all teeth are in position then cut wedges to fit the inside and outside rim.
We are now ready to repeat the entire process for the second crown wheel. Further works to the governors and line shaft have also commenced.
The first baked loaf using our stone ground flour
On Shrove Tuesday we decided to put our stone machinery to the test! The grain was kindly donated by Chaplin Farms of Nedging and, for the first time in approximately 110 years, our refurbished set of stones actually produced flour! Kersey Mill’s first stone ground loaf of bread was baked here on site at The Miller’s Kitchen by Charlie de Lara-Bell, who is an artisan baker. We are very much looking forward this becoming a regular occurrence, once we’re in production. There is still a lot of work to do until we can finally say that Kersey Mill is milling again, but nevertheless Shrove Tuesday was quite a momentous day.
Mill Restoration Update
During February, we have forged ahead with work to reinstate the three pairs of stones on the water-driven Hurst Frame. The bed stones have been levelled up and their bearings completed, along with the curbing and meal spouts. To assist with levelling, the stone bearers have been refined by splitting them horizontally. The new beech wood for re-cogging the crown wheels to the stones has been machined. Stone furniture is also being built, based on photographic evidence, which indicates an octagonal wooden stone case and wooden horse, three new sets of stone furniture have also been required. On the parallel engine-driven cast iron Hurst Frame, the circular metal tuns will be refurbished and re-assembled. This means the date when Kersey Mill will be able to produce flour again is becoming ever closer!
The Hurst Frame - photo taken in 1960
Above and below: Restoration work to the stones
Restoring the stone furniture has been a time consuming process, however it is essential for the machinery to be operated correctly and, more importantly, safely.
An article featured in a recent Suffolk Mills Group Newsletter describes how a local nineteenth century post mill at Bird’s Farm, Bildeston was completely destroyed by a fire in just 90 minutes as a result of machinery that overheated, caused by friction. Post mills are the earliest type of European windmill and constructed of timber. The whole body of the mill houses the machinery, which is mounted on a single vertical post around which it can be turned, to bring the sails into the wind. Unlike the mill at Kersey, there was no water source nearby and despite the parish having its own fire brigade, no attempt was made to extinguish the blaze. It was reported the tenant of Birds Farm, who had been grinding beans all day, had left the site unattended some 45 minutes prior to the fire’s outbreak. Fortunately the brick built roundhouse was saved with the assistance of neighbours. The site in Bildeston is now occupied by Taylor Made Joinery and Manor Road.
Open Days at Kersey Mill for 2020 have been published at the foot of the events page. If you would like to arrange a group visit on a different day, please contact: 01473 829317.
Save the date for Drive it Day, Sunday 26th April!
As we head into spring, plans get underway for the Mill’s most popular event in the calendar, to be held on April 26th from 10am – 4pm. Once again we are expecting a fantastic level of support with a huge range of classic and vintage vehicles being exhibited by their proud owners. Display Vehicles enter FREE of charge, so why not bring your pride and joy down to Kersey Mill to mark the start of the season? There is also an opportunity to view the Mill and enjoy a walk around the beautiful gardens. Takeaway food and refreshments, including a licensed bar and BBQ will be provided by The Miller’s Kitchen and several of the commercial businesses including the craft studios and shops will also be open. The Venue at Kersey Mill will also holding a ticketed event - an afternoon tea with entertainment from 2pm, please visit their website www.thevenueatkerseymill.co.uk for further details.
All public will be welcomed with FREE entry for pedestrians and £5 for public parking and the proceeds will be donated to the Mill’s Restoration Fund.
For those of you who enjoy the outdoors, why not pop down to Kersey Mill on the first Wednesday of each month for a Health Walk. Meet in the main car park at the back of the site at 9.20am. The walk starts at 9.30am and lasts for 90 minutes - no booking required, just turn up! Further details regarding the Health Walks in Suffolk, our Kersey Mill Open Days and other forthcoming Events can be found on our Events page.
After an incredibly busy Christmas and New Year at Kersey Mill, it’s a good time to reflect on the success of 2019 as well as all the progress that has been made with the Mill’s restoration. Now the decorations have been removed following the Santas Workshops, we can begin to look forward to continuing work on the fourth phase of this project, which should get underway this month. We will be able to update you in further detail in our next newsletter.
With well over 8000 visitors to the Mill itself during 2019, we are planning more Open Days, guided tours and events for 2020. Once again we will be hosting Drive It Day on Sunday 26th April. Planning is already underway to invite the national motor clubs as well as local car enthusiasts to display their vehicles for everyone to enjoy at this very popular family day out.
On the subject of visitors, we are also pleased to welcome back the Little Egrets to Kersey Mill. The Little Egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on its crest, back and chest, with distinctive black legs, bill and yellow feet. Although once a very rare visitor from the Mediterranean, Little Egrets began to appear in the UK during winter months in significant numbers during the late 1980s around the South West, Welsh and East Anglian coastlines. In the following decades, due to the milder winters we are now experiencing in the UK, further colonies have arrived from western and northern France, and they are even beginning to increase their range further inland and northwards here too.
2019 ended with our incredibly popular Santa’s Workshops and the tickets sold like hot cakes, attracting visitors from across the east region and even further afield! These events continue to be a huge success and are crucial in assisting with funding the Mill’s restoration project. Thanks so much to everyone who attended the Santa’s Workshops for your support, we also really appreciated reading the wonderful reviews we received on social media. Finally thanks to all those who helped stage the event, especially the dedicated Santa’s Workshop team that have worked extremely hard in the lead up to Christmas to produce an amazing event that we are all very proud of.
During 2019, steady progress was made with the Mill’s restoration and although at times the project was hindered by having to carry out essential maintenance work, we have been encouraged to see the work to reinstate the mill stones and furniture finally reach a conclusion. We are now looking forward to early Spring, when we will be able to commence the final phase in the restoration process; work to the mill elevators and bolters, in order to have the Mill fully operational for our forthcoming Open Days.
Our calendar of events for 2020 is currently being arranged and the Mill Open Days will start with the nationally organised “Drive It Day” on Sunday 26th April. We will also be including the weekends that coincide with “National Heritage Week” during 15th - 23rd August, please visit the website www.kerseymill.net for further updates. Following the feedback we received from our visitors during 2019, we will continue to offer our free guided tours of the Mill to small groups and societies, please call 01473 829317 for further details or to book.
Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy
and Prosperous New Year.
Click below for archived monthly newsletters
A family visit from overseas
Tragedy at the mill
A specialists view
The Waterwheel turns after 70 years
A look back at some of the people who lived at the mill
Work starts on the wheel
Welcome to our first newsletter