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The buildings which fed and powered Herefordshire's agricultural and industrial past are opening their doors this month. Elizabeth Edwin looks at what is on offer to visitors

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Milling around

The buildings which fed and powered Herefordshires agricultural and industrial past are opening their doors this month. Elizabeth Edwin looks at what is on offer to visitors
Pictures by Alan Stoyel and john teale

The mill owners of Herefordshire will be opening their doors during the National Mills Weekend of May 8 and 9 to give visitors an opportunity to learn about the past importance of these buildings in rural and industrial life.

Herefordshire, because of the nature of its landscape, has its mills powered by water, whereas in counties to the east of England there is a greater prevalence of windmills.

Throughout the country during this annual weekend celebration, the mills that are open will be illustrating the part they have played in the history of their locality.

In earlier times a community relied on the work of the miller and his workers often his own family to provide it with flour for bread,
fodder for livestock and power for the local industries such as the
production of cloth, or sawmilling.

Watermills have always been the more prevalent and the history of some can be traced to before the Norman Conquest. Windmills did not come into general use until medieval times.

This aspect of our national heritage was recognised b y the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) when in 1920 it founded a Mills Section. Initially this was for the rare windmills. Watermills were added to its remit in 1947.

National Mills Weekend was introduced in Herefordshire in 2006 by Alan Stoyel who remains the organiser.

This year Arrow Mill in the centre of Kington will be opening for the first time, it dates from the early years of the 19th century. It is hoped the waters of the River Arrow will in due course enable it to generate electricity.

This is the second Arrow Mill to welcome visitors, the other is at Kingsland and it is regarded as one of the best examples in the county. It dates from the 17th century and is timber-framed. It has a machine for beating out clover seeds and the ground floor is of beaten earth. It once had another use, for it included a hop kiln in its building. Visitors to Kington can also look up Hergest Mill, an 18th century building on an ancient site.
The River Arrow has long been a source of mill power for it also drove
the Court of Noke Mill near Staunton-on-Arrow and Staunton Mill. The Court of Noke Mill used to grind feed for prize Hereford cattle and its waterwheel and complex iron gear used to drive a pair of millstones and farm machinery. Staunton Mill has two waterwheels, each of which used to drive two pairs of millstones. This 18th century building has mostly iron machinery, the century-later replacement of the original. Its history goes back much further however, as the first mill on the site was built as part of a grand scheme of corn-milling with irrigation in the 1650s.

Home Farm at Dulas near Longtown which dates from the 1860s is a rare survival. Nearby Clodock Mill stands near Clodock Church and by the bridge over the Monnow. It was once fed by a leat from the weir below the church.

The corn mill at Rowlestone near Walterstone is set in a steep wooded valley and takes its water from the top of a waterfall upstream. The leat makes a dramatic sight. Also on a steep incline is the tall stone building of Mordiford Mill built in about 1840.

Mortimers Cross Mill at Lucton has an unusual and rare 19th century water-powered dust extractor.

An example of a mill that had an important role in serving a large estate is Clenchers Mill at Eastnor Castle.

The large iron waterwheel dates from 1820, making it among the oldest in the county.

A visit to the Waterworks Museum in Hereford will provide a good overview. Among its exhibits are a 1912 Pelton wheel from Ross-on-Wye and a 1937 turbine from Kington and on open days the pumping station engines are in steam. (Tel: 01432 357236 for openings.)


National Mills Weekend in Herefordshire
Saturday and Sunday, May 8 and 9

Arrow Mill, Kington:
Saturday, 10am-1pm. Free entry.
Staunton Mill: Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm. Donations: Staunton church repairs.

Hergest Mill, Kington: Saturday, 10am-6pm. Free entry.
Clenchers Mill, Eastnor: Saturday, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Clodock Mill, near Longtown: Saturday, 10.30am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm.
Donations: Air Ambulance.
Rowlestone Mill: Saturday,
2pm-6pm.
Donations.

Arrow Mill, Kingsland: Sunday, 10am-1pm. Free entry.

Court of Noke Mill, near Staunton-on-Arrow: Sunday, 10am-4pm.
Donations: Staunton church.

Mortimers Cross Mill, Lucton: Sunday, 10am-4pm. Entry 4, concession 3.50, children 2.50. Free to English Heritage members.

Waterworks Museum, Hereford: Sunday 1pm-4pm. Entry 5, Seniors 3, Children 1.

Mordiford Mill: Sunday, 10.30am4.30pm. Free entry.
Home Farm, Dulas: Sunday, 2pm-5pm. Donations.

Visits are by courtesy of the various owners please respect their privacy and opening times for the mills.
Please take care All these visits are at your own risk. For further details:
www.spab.org.uk (follow the link to mills open to visitors).

National Mills Weekend 2011 will be May 14-15
For any further details please contact Alan Stoyel, tel: 01544 230235.

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