RESTORATION OF DANIELS MILL

Daniels Mill stayed unaltered from 1855 until 1958, when it was decided to restore the mill. The wheel was tackled first, water damage to the walls had trapped the wheel preventing it from turning.

The only option was to demolish the walls of the wheel pit and rebuild them. Due to safety reasons the pentrough that stood above the wheel had to be dispensed with due to its unsafe condition. It is only recently that this has finally been renovated and restored.

After the walls had been rebuilt, a new axle had to be sourced as the original had required regular maintenance. A steel axle from a railway locomotive was located, and fitted giving the wheel greater stability.

Inside the mill the frame holding three pairs of French burr millstones was badly decayed. It was necessary to remove the stones and rebuild the timber framework on which they stood. An RSJ had to be used to replace the original timber in the back wall to support the stones that were ready to collapse, if this had happened the gearing and stones would have been shattered.

All the floorboards had to be replaced due to the ravages of time and woodworm, these were sourced from buildings in the area that were being demolished, to preserve the integrity of the building.

Several windows had to be removed and reglazed, this was done by the boys of St. Philip Howard School in London and their metalwork master, Mr Reg Lowe, who had a love for old buildings and an interest in industrial archaeology.

A great deal of work had to be done to walls, foundations etc, and as far as possible, great care has been taken to use old materials, mostly obtained from demolition sites, but wherever possible the original has been removed, repaired and replaced.

It was all thanks and tribute to Alan George, whose dogged determination, working almost every weekend on some task or other, that the mill stands proud in it’s former glory. When the roof was off many locals shook their heads and said “They will never get it back together again”. Alan proved them wrong, and saved the heritage from the fate that has overtaken so many old watermills in Shropshire.

In October 2007 the Mill was awarded a £67,500 grant from GrantScape Community Heritage Fund to reinstate the secondary water feed to the wheel – this involved reinstating both a large feed pool and underground pipe, and the reconstruction of the overwheel water tank which had been removed in the mid 1960’s when it became unsafe.

Whilst this work was being planned the mill was badly affected by the serious flooding during summer 2007 which left the site desimated. A grant from the Shropshire Tourism Action Plan programme from the ERDF European Regional Development Funds to upgrade the site and improve access to the visitor attraction helped put the mills watercourses in good order again after the devastation. Other funding from the Society of Protection of Ancient Buildings, Bridgnorth District Council and the Midlands Water Mills Group – along with money raised through a public appeal – helped restore the wheel and workings so three sets of millstones could turn once again. The culmination of these three projects was marked by a re-opening in July 2008.

During 2008 work to uncover the ruin of the formed mill, known locally as ‘The Mill in the Hole’ was also carried out. Fragments of mill stones, one large english mill stone, and evidence of an even older water wheel were exposed during the excavations.

This article has been edited and abridged from “Daniels Mill : It’s History, Millers and Restoration” by Joyce George, available for sale at Daniels Mill.

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