Wednesday, 8 April 2015

WILFRED WRIGHT, Miller at Acorn Bank

We had a visitor to the mill over Easter weekend whose sister, Jane Ottaway, had found one of our millers in her family tree research.  This information is posted with the permission of her brother, Mark Godfrey:

Wilfred WRIGHT was born in 1800 in Aspatria, Cumberland and baptised on 29 March 1801.  In 1826 he is recorded as a farmer in Torpenhow, Cumberland and on 29 May 1830 he  married Mary Gram in Torpenhow.

In the 1841 census he is recorded as the miller at Acorn Bank Mill, Temple Sowerby, Westmoreland.

Wilfred was also a well-known wrestler (Cumberland & Westmoreland Rules).

Quote from ‘The History of Wrestling’

Cumberland and Westmoreland John Weightman of Hayton, Carlisle ring.

He was opposed, from the second round, by the following wrestlers, namely Thomas Lawman, Wilfrid Wright , John Robson of Irthington Mill, Joseph Robley and George Irving. 

Quote from ‘Carlisle Characters’

On another occasion, when wrestling in Penrith fell with Wilfrid Wright, he said “Noo, Wif, I’s gaen to throw thee straight into yon furrow yonder!”  and proceeded to do just that. Wright exclaimed: “Cush, man! I dudn’t think thoo cud ha’ deun’t hofe sa clean!”

Wilfred died on 18 August 1844 aged 44. He was still the miller at Acorn Bank Mill at the time. Cause of death is described as Apoplexy and instantaneous and there was an inquest:

Carlisle Journal Saturday 24 August 1844 (p. 3 col. 2-4)

INQUESTS  (Before Mr. CARRICK, Coroner.)

At Penrith, on Tuesday last, on the body of Wilfrid WRIGHT, of Acorn Bank Mill, aged 44 years. The deceased came to the Griffin Inn on Saturday night last, and, after sitting in the kitchen for a short time, his left leg lost all power, so much so that he was obliged to have the assistance of the ostler in leaving his chair. At his own request he was removed to a stable, where he was provided with a sraw bed and sufficient clothing, and was waited on by the ostler at different times during the night. He rose at seven the next morning and walked down to the kitchen, having recovered the perfect use of his paralyzed limb. In a few minutes he returned to another stable, where, in the presence of the ostler, he fell forward upon the floor and died, almost instantly.

Verdict – “Apoplexy.” WRIGHT was a noted wrestler in Cumberland.

Apoplexy is defined as a sudden brain haemorrhage or stroke. 

It is possible that an injury sustained through wrestling may have been the root cause of his early death.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Thinking about sieving flour...

We are well into milling again, and the wheel is still running very smoothly and efficiently.  This in spite of some of the brass screws we used to join the bucket boards together breaking under the force of the water.  We normally sieve all the flour by hand, and we have been wondering whether we could reinstate the jigger box for this purpose - more interesting for the visitor and easier for us!

The wrecked jigger box in the 1950s
Over the past few weeks David has cleaned and waxoyled the metal supports of the jigger box.  Today Richard, Donald and I were looking at the possible drive shafts and the arrangement of the sieves and spouts in the box.  We still have the old sieves that were retrieved from the mess that was there before restoration began.  On examination, it is not at all clear how they were used, in what order, or how they fitted into the box.  The ones made by the restoration team (actually only wooden frames for the sieves) don't seem to be the same as the old ones, and there isn't space to slot them into the box with sieves attached.

The new jigger box with
sieve frames pulled out

Two of the sieves from the old jigger box
The old bottom cover and third sieve

 Meanwhile, the cobbling is coming on well, and I managed to get a decent picture of the mill from over the river without the summer leaves blocking the view.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A rather chilly day!

Ice in the launder and spillway
Not a good day for doing what I planned to do - varnishing the inside of the flour chute - as the temperature inside the mill never got above -1 degrees.  The tine of varnish says not to apply below 10 degrees - about July by my reckoning.  Not good for cobbling the yard either.

Instead we did a few jobs.  We moved some of the large stones for the kiln from one part of the yard to another.  We mended the cement mixer by making some brackets to hold the stirring paddles, which had broken off.  We repaired the plaster lining of the French burr stone which had developed serious cracks, and sanded down the flour chute. And David continued overhauling and Waxoyling the iron parts of the jigger box.

We also found the maker's plate from the French burr stone, which we had always believed to have been stolen.  It shows that the stone must have been made before 1853, as the partnership was dissolved in February of that year.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Happy New Year!

The above pictures show the finishing stages of the dummy saw bench drive.  First three pieces of wood were cut into circles and trimmed to represent a toothed wheel.  After several stages of processing they were clamped together and glued.  The second picture shows the toothed wheel in place on the shaft.  We think this must be pretty much how the thing would have looked.

 Among other jobs, Richard made some adjustments to the chains on the dump valve.  This included putting adjustable links in so we could make sure the gate dropped level.
 With the stone lifted for its winter clean, Richard has adapted the wooden bearing blocks to take a grease nipple, as suggested by one of the comments on this blog.  This will make it much easier to keep the shaft lubricated in future, and removes the need for the masses of supposedly grease-soaked sacking that filled the other 3 slots in the bearing casting.
Instead we have cut some complicated wooden pieces to fill the 3 slots, while not bearing directly on the shaft.  Here Richard is trying one in place.

Other jobs have included still more cobbling of the yard, and work on the "declutch" lever for the shelling stone, which has not worked since some modifications we made last year.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Experimental Evidence

1                     2                       3
We know that breadmaking machines are not very good at making bread from the relatively low gluten flours that are made from British wheat.  For anyone who is uncertain about the properties of various flours and how they behave in a breadmaker, Philip Day from Leeds has carried out an experiment under controlled conditions.  He writes "to demonstrate the differences, I've baked three loaves using the Panasonic standard 'Wholemeal loaf' using 350 grams of flour in each case. Flours used are

  1. Acorn Bank stoneground wholemeal
  2. Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Stoneground Wholemeal [Spring Red Wheat]. 
  3. Carrs Strong White and Strong Brown [not wholemeal], roller-milled mixed 50/50."

If you want to bake using our flour, the recipe published by Little Salkeld Watermill certainly worked well when I went on one of their breadmaking courses.  Alternatively, I find a 50:50 mix with Allinson's Very Strong white or wholemeal works well in the breadmaker.

Meanwhile, back at the mill, Richard and I finished installing the dummy shaft and pulley in the former sawbench area.  These pictures show the inside and outside ends and their replica bearings.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

End of the season - or not?

The property closed on Sunday - but will still be open until 28 December at weekends!  That leaves us having to decide when to open and mill. Much of yesterday was taken up with a meeting to plan the work programme for the winter.  It seems that there is a lack of building surveyors in the Trust, which is holding up a number of projects, including our kiln.

 Work has continued on making the dummy shaft to fit the bearing box in the lower wall.  Ray has made two imitation wooden bearings, shown here carrying a surplus length of shafting, and these have been drilled to suit the holes in the original box.

This week Richard, Donald and I managed to hoist the shaft into position, where it sits on the beam and the bearing box. Now we just need to fit the dummy bearings and make a gear wheel for the outside.
We received our second delivery of grain at the end of October.  Ray, Donald and I  loaded it into the mill, half in the old grain bin and half in the new one in the information room - seen here both part full and locked up, as it will normally be.  The delivery was short of a tonne, but no problem as we won't need it all this season.

Meanwhile work continues on the mill yard.  This week all the garden and estate staff and volunteers turned out to clear it and put down gravel for an apple-pressing event this coming Saturday (with help from George and Peter).  They also managed to break one of our stone lintels while trying to move it into the kiln room.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sizergh Greenwood Fair, grain storage etc.

Our stall at Sizergh
Last Saturday, Sylvia, Richard and Bob ran an Acorn Bank stall at the Sizergh Greenwood Fair.  We assembled a fair display from the unpromising ingredients of Richards wallpapering table, two corkboards the Sizergh staff found, some pictures, bags of flour and some string to stop the boards from blowing over.  We had a good day, selling 25 bags of flour and advertising the virtues of Acorn Bank and, particularly, Apple Day.
Building the new bin

Meanwhile on Tuesday work continued on the new rodent-proof aluminium-lined grain bin.  This one is to have a hinged lid so it can easily be padlocked, as it will have to live in the Information Room.  Otherwise it is being built on much the same lines as the old one.

The need for the new bin is due to the change in our grain supply - instead of buying 150 kg at a time from Little Salkeld watermill, we are now buying 1 tonne at a time direct from the farm.  The old bin was not designed for that quantity, either in volume, or in the strength of its castors.

Fitting extra castors
As a new delivery is imminent, and our grain stocks are very low, we took the opportunity to empty the old bin and add 4 more castors to it to cope with the extra weight.

The driest September since records began has left us desperately short of water, and an average day's milling has gone from about 22 1.5 kg bags to 7 or 8.  It is therefore even more essential to keep the headrace clear.  It was obvious that there were several places where fallen twigs and branches were slowing the flow, so we took the clearing tools and removed as much as we could.

Clearing the leat - just look at
the "dam" behind Richard

While others were continuing with clearing the yard for cobbling, we also looked at the bearing support where the drive from the third waterwheel originally entered the building.  Having removed the masonry that had been inserted to block the space, we treated the metal with Waxoyl and put a wooden back in the hole to keep weather and wildlife out.  Ray is going to make some wooden imitation bearings to support the layshaft with its two pulleys.

Fitting a board to the
bearing support