Waterwheel repairs help Heatherslaw Corn Mill meet 250% rise in lockdown demand
Repairs have been carried out at Heatherslaw Mill to ensure its waterwheel keeps turning.
The mill on Ford and Etal Estates produced much needed flour throughout the first lockdown and is once again seeing orders at 250% of normal demand in the second lockdown.
Head miller Dave Harris-Jones said: “Work has been taking place at Heatherslaw Mill this week to replace the bearings that support the main waterwheel.
"It is nearly 50 years since the mill was brought back to life in 1975 and the wheel will have turned many millions of times since then.
"This year the mill has really come in to its own and once again found itself at the heart of the community, producing much needed flour throughout the first lockdown, a busy summer season once we were allowed to open to visitors and once again seeing orders at 250% normal demand in lockdown number two.”
The bearings are a simple cup that the vast weight of the wheel rests in and turns slowly on what is known as a sacrificial white metal, this is so that over time the white metal will slowly wear away without damaging the waterwheel shaft.
The work has involved jacking up each side of the wheel to remove the bearings which were carefully measured before being taken to one of the country’s few white metal specialists R and R bearings in Consett.
"They have then been reverse fabricated and returned looking as good as new,” said Dave.
It was also the ideal opportunity to replace the bearing at the base of the stone shaft with a new brass cup.
The mill was fortunate to have received support for this work from the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings Mill Repair Fund.
“The work has meant that Heatherslaw was unable to make any flour for the week, but luckily really good river conditions at the end of October had enabled us to build up a stock to carry us through,” said Dave.
“The mill is now back up and running and supplying all the local shops again and this year the mill shop selling flour and other cereals will be open weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10am to 1pm so that you can call in in person to keep stocked up.”