Charity opens its doors to another season of milling

Wednesday 1st February 2017

Milling volunteers at Devon Wildlife TrustDevon Wildlife Trust milling volunteers

A leading conservation charity is set to open its doors to welcome the public to a new season of milling following essential winter maintenance to Exeter’s only working water mill.

Based at Cricklepit Mill near Exeter Quay, Devon Wildlife Trust has embraced its headquarters heritage and runs regular milling sessions where the public can watch Exeter’s only functioning water mill turn grain into flour and learn about the milling industry.

Kicking off 2017’s events will be a milling session on Friday 10 February, where experienced volunteers will be providing milling demonstrations from 10am until 12pm.

An exciting calendar of milling events for 2017

Rosie Workman, Communications Assistant at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: 

Grain ground into flour at Cricklepit Mill

“We have an exciting calendar of milling days planned for the year ahead. Every second Friday of the month we will be hosting milling sessions where we let Cricklepit Mill’s historic waterwheels turn and grind wheat into flour in the old fashioned way. During these special events volunteers will be on hand to share their expertise and teach visitors the unique processes of milling.

“The events provide a fantastic opportunity for adults and children alike to learn how our water mill runs and see the historic machinery in action. Our message to local people is to come down and discover this important part of Exeter’s history.” 

John Vincent, who has been volunteering at Cricklepit Mill since 2009, said: 

“I’ve always been interested in learning the skills involved in milling. Water mills are an important part of the heritage of Exeter and it’s incredibly rewarding to use such historic equipment to create an end product that people can use. 

“These water mills use natural energy, so it’s important that we conserve the mills themselves but also the practical skills that make them run.”

Essential mill maintenance

Martin Watts Millwright at Cricklepit MillThis year Cricklepit Mill has undergone a thorough overhaul. The volunteers have been busy working alongside experienced Millwright Martin Watts, completing essential tasks such as cleaning the historic millstones and repairing vital parts of the equipment. 

Martin was one of the team who repaired and restored Cricklepit Mill to a functioning water mill in 2004 and still supports the volunteers today. He has worked on over 200 mills across the UK and is one of the few milling professionals still practicing. 

Martin said:

“For thousands of years we relied on bread as a staple part of our diet and I believe it’s incredibly important to understand where flour, the key component, traditionally comes from. I love mills and I have done for nearly 50 years; I’ve always liked that milling is an incredibly simple process and that even a six year old child can understand how the machinery works and how effective it is.” 

On Sunday 14 May, Devon Wildlife Trust will be hosting a special event in celebration of National Mills Weekend. Visitors will be given the chance to take part in milling demonstrations that will run from 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1 – 3pm. Cricklepit Mill’s wildlife garden will also be open for visitors to explore and family activities will run throughout the day.