He was a free man. Millers lived away from the community and worked as and when the water was available, quite often sleeping in the Mill.

However, because the return of flour to grain varied (A hundredweight of grain never produced a hundredweight of flour and could vary according to the quality of the gram) people could not understand the loss, so that all Millers were thought to be dishonest. In short the Miller had “a millstone round his neck” i.e. he could not positively prove that he was honest. The Miller in the early days was one of the Elite technicians. He had to Mill all types of corn and at the same time keep the Mill and its equipment in good order.

Vocabulary Of A Mill

Milling is an ancient craft, the Romans first made use of Water Wheels, but the vocabulary comes to us from Middle English and the age of the horse. The Hey Day of milling by water was over by 1870, but milling terms have been taken into our everyday language.

Here are some sayings:

Rule of Thumb
The Miller feels his grain with his thumb.

All’s Grist to the Mill
Grist was an old term for grain

Never set the Temse
A temse was part of a bolting machine, since the man was paid by results, this could sometimes catch fire.

Show his Steel
A travelling Millwright would have marks on his left hand from the steel Bill for dressing stones.

On his Mettle
The Millwright would show he was experienced by showing his hands, which would have pieces of metal from the Bill in them.

Names Of Other Mill Equipment

Spindle which strikes shoe to distribute grain into eye of stones. Sometimes known as “Dandelion” or Chatterer”

Tapering wooden trough taking grain from the hopper.

Wooden framework which supports hopper over stones.

Timber framework supporting stones and enclosing main gearing.

Crook String
Adjusting device altering angle of shoe to regulate flow of grain from the hopper.

Tentering Gear
The mechanism for making fine adjustments to the gap between millstones.

Hard steel tool like a double edged wedge used for dressing millstones.

A pointed Bill used for stone dressing.

The turned wooden handle for use with a Bill.

A device for dressing flour. employing a cylinder of cloth. latterly of silk.

A device for grading flour, consisting of cylindrical wire sieves containing rotating brushes.

Breast Shot Wheel
A Mill Wheel driven by a positive head of water amounting to less than the diameter of the wheel.

Tail Race
Water escape channel.

A metal crossheaded bearing mounted on the centre axle of the wheel.

Sole Plates
Lining of a waterwheel forming the bottom of the bucket.


Bridgnorth Aluminium