Steam weekend at mill will bring rural traditions to life

Working horses at Stotfold Watermill during the Working Steam Weekend
Working horses at Stotfold Watermill during the Working Steam Weekend

Rural traditions will come to life at Stotfold Watermill this weekend.

Countryside life as it was in the past can be experienced at the Working Steam Weekend on Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11.

Steam-driven threshing machine in action at Stotfold Watermill

Steam-driven threshing machine in action at Stotfold Watermill

Visitors can see grain being delivered by horse-drawn carts, before being threshed in a giant steam threshing machine. The end product is then driven to the mill to be traditionally ground by millstones into quality flour, which can be bought in the Kingfisher Gift Shop.

Other machines will demonstrate timber-cutting and steam - as well as horse-drawn - ploughing. There will be a working display of a vintage cider press, dating from 1890, currently undergoing restoration, plus a wide range of stalls featuring country crafts and foods.

A beer and cider festival will be running, with 16 cask ales and seven ciders, with live music by local artists adding atmosphere.

Featured musicians include Round and Around, Luke Murphy-Wearmouth, Michael King, Nick Moyster and Becky Phillips.

The mill will be open all weekend, with Randalls Tea Room serving quality refreshments, including their famous cream teas. The Kingfisher Gift Shop will offer locally-sourced, unique arts and crafts items, as well as copies of the book detailing the mill’s history, which was published last year.

Tickets are £4 for adults, £3 for senior citizens and children aged 4-16. Under fours have free entry. All funds raised go to the upkeep of the mill and nature reserve, a charity run entirely by volunteers. Gates open at 10.30am until 5pm on both days.

The bar will be open from 5pm to midnight on Friday, 11am to midnight on Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sunday.

Information panels describe the mill’s thousand years of history and the restoration after the disastrous fire of 1992.

The Milly Mouse signs direct visitors to key points around the building giving an insight into the milling process and the history of the mill and its restoration.

On the ground floor is the 4.2-metre wide overshot corn mill waterwheel, the widest in the country. The original restored cast-iron hursting frame, installed in 1897 by Whitmore & Binyon supports the millstones, along with the driving gears which include the great spur wheel, wallower and the main drive shaft. These are driven by the power generated from the overshot waterwheel. On display is a remnant of the original upright shaft and the diesel engine used to power the mill machinery in the early 1950s.

On the first floor you can see two sets of millstones. One is the original set of restored French Burr millstones and the other is a set of new composite stones. Children can grind their own flour using our small quern stones to help them understand the process – they can even take home a small bag of flour. Various exhibits include a charred remnant of the original great spur wheel and a replica of a millers smock.

On the second floor is a range of dressing equipment for cleaning the grain and sifting the flour plus an oat roller.

The Nature Reserve is not open during the weekend.