September 19, 2016

19/09/2016: The 1888 Plymouth milling convention

Milling journals of the past at The Mills Archive

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK
Mildred Cookson

Milling conventions and exhibitions were and still are an excellent way for the milling profession to keep abreast of the latest developments in technology and milling practice. 

They also attracted commercial organisations, keen to display their latest innovations in a rapidly changing world. Not surprisingly the media of the time, represented by the weekly journals Milling and The Miller were in attendance.

As a result, we have at the Mills Archive a detailed historical record of the steady replacement of millstones by roller machinery. One such event was the NABIM Plymouth Milling Convention of 1888, whose programme was described and illustrated in July 1888 of The Miller, giving us an overview of the state of milling in the south of England at that time.

The events had three main elements: technical papers, mill tours and a “ladies’ programme”. The technical papers, read by such people as Henry Simon and J Harrison Carter, and the tours of local mills would still work 130 years later, but this lady miller, would not be pleased to be offered a ladies’ programme, even with the military band concert promised!

Government Flour Mills and Bakeries

The first tour by steamer up the River Tay, allowed a view of the Royal Navy’s “Royal William Victualling Yard” designed and built by the famous engineering partnership of John & George Rennie in the 1830s.

The complex contained the Government-owned flour mill and bakeries housed in large buildings situated on the quayside. The mill contained 24 pairs of stones and the bakery contained twelve ovens.

Finally completed in 1883, the mill building was 74 metres long, 18 metres deep 21 - 22 metres high. Two wings each contained twelve pair of stones which were driven by two engines of 45 horse power. The millstones were four ft in diameter, and turned at 123 rpm. The grain cleaning and bolting machinery worked simultaneously with the grinding.

In 1870, when the GH Bovill’s patent for the improvements in the manufacture of flour was causing a stir, six pairs of French four ft stones were taken out and replaced by Belgian stones of 4ft 6ins diameter and to each of the six pairs of stones was attached an exhaust.

Bovill patented the use of an air blast and exhaust between the millstones. This plan was first adopted in the government dockyards, and once its advantages were found to be so great, it became generally used by millers.
About this time a silk reel of 30ft was installed. When in operation at least five of the Belgian stones were always in operation, and these could grind 4,000 to 5,000 lbs of wheat in an hour. The east wing, in addition to the twelve pairs of French stones, had two pairs of Peak stones used to make oatmeal. 

Read the full article HERE.

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