January 15, 2016

15/01/2016: Jordans mill: A visit with London and South East Millers Society

by Tom Blacker, Milling and Grain Magazine

First published in Milling and Grain, October 2015

The London and South East Millers Society held another great meeting for its industry members in early September. This meeting was at a former flourmill, Holme Mills in the UK, which is now a heritage mill.

It is an important mill, since from the early era of the roller mill revolution, it seized the opportunity to use this new technology in the Victorian era. Bill Jordan, chairman of Jordans, welcomed all from the society to the mill and provided a short presentation.

Bill’s brother David, vice-chairman of Jordans, was also on hand to assist and provide additions to the presentation. Bill has a history of flour milling through the family firm as he trained at Holme Mills for six months when he left school at 18 years old.


The Mill

The mill’s formal name is Holme Mills. In 1086 in the Domesday Book, the contemporary mill was recorded and valued  at an annual turnover of 47 shillings. It is located on the River Ivel, a tributary to the River Great Ouse. In the local county of Bedfordshire there were over 400 mills at its peak in the late 1890s. This was a high concentration of mills by any standard today and was possible because the mills were supplied by the ample harvests of grain from the wider Eastern England region. Still today, this region produces the most flour milling wheat than any other in the UK.

In 1855 the Jordan family switched from farming to flour milling under lease at Holme Mills, until buying the mill outright in 1890. In 1894, following a fire in the mill, a 25 horse-power water wheel was installed to work in conjunction with a 20 horse-power oil engine. Another fire in 1899 helped to further the technology and production capacity from the mill. These technological leaps enabled the mill to increase production significantly and helped Jordans to become one of the leading producers of flour in the region by the turn of the century.

Inside the mill, and located above the river on the ground floor are the gears and mechanisms that gave the mill its power. From the water wheel, the power was transferred to the crown wheel. This is the largest wheel in the mill and is constructed with individually repairable timber teeth to ensure easy and quick maintenance in case of breakages.    

Read the full article in Milling and Grain HERE.

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