Monday, 7 October 2013

Poltesco Mill under wraps

Anyone visiting Poltesco over the next month or so will be greeted by the unusual sight of the Mill carefully wrapped up in a protective tent of tarps and scaffolding.  This impressive temporary structure is to provide protection from the elements as necessary building work is undertaken to remedy a leaky roof.

An icy January scene from 2010
The mill's slate roof is being completely stripped and relaid and timbers repaired where rotten. Traditional techniques and materials are being used, and the temporary roof will be helpful in controlling the drying of the lime mortar, which is key to the process.

This, the upper mill, is the only survivor of at least 4 mills that have existed in the valley over the centuries. The earliest reference to  'The mill of Poltuske’ was in a document dated 1396 so mills and Poltesco go back a very long way! The other mills, such as the lower mill behind the education barn, are now no more than ruined walls and depressions where there were once wheel pits.

The mill c1870
The surviving mill has the honour of being the Most Southerly Mill on the British mainland, and still contains many of its original cogs, millstones and tools, as well as timbers from wrecked ships, which were used in its construction. It once served the farmers of Ruan parish, and the miller would have lived with his family next door, keeping pigs and running a small holding to supplement his income. Until 1828 tenants of the manor were obliged to use their landlord's mill, and help maintain its leats and workings.

I'm sure all the millers and farmers who have known the mill over the centuries would be satisfied to know it is still there and cared for, and getting a new roof!


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