• Jill Durnford

Acorn Bank Watermill

I visit Acorn Bank (near Penrith) regularly so I was delighted that their almost five-year project to restore the watermill was complete in time for National Mills weekend and that they would be grinding their own flour for the first time in 40 years. There has been a mill on this site since the 14th century, with this building dating from the 19th. It would have been used to grind corn, oats and barley rather than wheat and was a crucial part of the rural economy.

The dedicated team of volunteers responsible for the restoration have just had all their hard work recognised by winning the Marsh Heritage Award for volunteers. There were 19 entries in their category so it’s a great achievement - congratulations t great to see the machinery, part of our industrial heritage, back in working order. Here you can see the various cogs which are attached to the waterwheel on the other side of the wall. They move the two huge grind stones which are in the wooden box at the top left of the picture. The flour is ground directly between the two stones, hence the term ‘stoneground’ which you see on flour and bread. The flour then drops down the wooden chute into the waiting box below.

The mill volunteers who worked on the project are all at the Mill this weekend so if you’re at all interested in engineering and machinery, it’s well worth having a chat to them - they’re a mine of information!

Of course, it’s not enough to just grind the flour - you want to do something with it and a bakery from Gretna have baked loaves using the flour plus some which has been combined with flour from The Watermill, Little Salkeld. There are plenty of samples to try and bread to buy.

Or you may prefer to be a bit more hands-on and make a pizza. The children I saw rolling out their dough were having a great time and seemed to enjoy eating the pizza even more! Acorn Bank has its own cob oven outside the mill and here’s Head Gardener Chris Braithwaite acting as Head Chef with the oven:

The watermill has its own blog which is full of fascinating articles about the restoration - do have a read:  acornbankwatermillblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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