A day in the life of….a miller

For #NationalMillsWeekend 2021 Simon Dodd the miller at Worsbrough Mill gives you a glimpse into his average working today, which as you will see is far from average!


The first job of the day is to get some grain up to the stone floor

This is where the millstones are that mill grain to produce flour.  Each day we mill around 300kg of grain – this can be wheat, rye or spelt – and the grain is currently taken from storage in the mill yard up to the feed hopper by hand.  This is not usually the case but we have been so busy for the past year or so that we have not been able to do it the usual way.

We usually have around 3 tonnes (3000kg) of wheat delivered at a time and, ideally, we would transfer this from the mill yard to the storage silos at the very top of the mill

This is done using a sack hoist, which is powered by the waterwheel, one sack at a time

Each sack weighs 25kg, so a single delivery can contain 120 sacks and it takes just about a whole working day to complete this job.  Once the grain is in these silos we move it into the feed hopper over the stones using an electric auger – basically a long corkscrew contained in a pipe – which is a lot easier than doing it by hand!

Once we have put some grain into the feed hopper

and there are enough sacks of grain on the stone floor we can start to get ready to mill.  We keep the millstones apart overnight to let air flow between them so we need to lower them slightly before we mill.  This is done using the tentering screw

Then we have to make sure that the flour chute is clean so we “rod” it using a very large test tube brush

All is now ready in the mill so we now need to turn the power on.  In our case this means opening a sluice gate (known as a penstock valve) at one end of the mill pond using a large metal “key”

there’s no simple on/off button to press at Worsbrough!  We regulate the power to the waterwheel by changing how much we open the penstock.  The more turns we open it the greater the amount of power.

To ensure the mill is working properly we start by only partially opening the penstock and then checking that everything is working as expected.

This involves heading back from the mill pond,

going down the stone steps,

entering the mill

and then walking through the mill from one end to the other,

going downstairs

and back along the ground floor to the machinery,

looking and listening to ensure all is well,

adjusting the tentering screw to reduce the gap between the stones

and then heading back up to the pond,

opening the valve a little more

and then repeating the journey! At present I do this twice before the mill is running at the right speed and the stones are the correct distance apart.  Both of these things are crucial as if the mill runs too quickly or too slowly it can create problems for the machinery or produce too little flour and if the stones are too far apart or too close together the flour is too coarse or too fine.

Flour Power!

For more information about our flour and how to place your order visit our website http://www.worsbrough-mill.com/flour

Virtual Tour of The Mill

While you are still unable to visit the mill we are offering the next best thing: A virtual 360 tour and a video walkaround from our Miller, Simon Dodd. Watch on our Facebook page this Sunday at 9:00am

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