May 04, 2017

05/05/2017: Roller flour mill buildings in the port of London

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK
Mildred Cookson

Many very beautiful buildings seem to have been neglected in recent years. Even in the United Kingdom, where many are protected by the listing system for buildings of architectural or historic interest, the future of older roller flour mills is problematic

In many cases the buildings themselves, devoid now of machinery of any kind, are often regarded as an eyesore on the landscape – if a use for the cannot be found in the short term, then demolition becomes the only option.

We are lucky to find in ‘Milling’ and ‘The Miller’, journals that started during the early days of modern milling and a good record of the organisation and layout of many of the mills that have now gone.

Detailed articles are in many cases illustrated with internal plans and descriptions and often accompanied by photographs of machinery and information about the engineers that installed the roller plants. Sometimes but not always, we are given an external view of the mill.

Often the mill is mentioned as being on a dockside or on a particular river, but the actual architecture is seldom described. As we have already lost so many, I was very pleased to recently find a write up which showed some of London’s fine flourmill buildings all built by architects of the time who intended them to stand the test of time.

Looking at the images, some reproduced here, made me reflect on an impressive part of our heritage which has been lost, but whose records we are aiming to preserve. On the 6th June 1887, The Miller detailed the proceedings of the London convention of National Association of British and Irish Millers.

The council meeting was held in their London offices then at 61 Mark Lane. Following on from the meeting the association organised the inspection of some of the fine London flourmills, which were to be opened up to members who wished to view them.

It was interesting to note that a special report was being given as the meeting of the investigation into the depression in the milling trade at the time. The first mill of the day to be visited was Mr Seth Taylor’s St Saviour’s Flour Mills running on the Simon System.

This mill was described as occupying perhaps one of the most suitable sites that could be chosen for a great flourmill in London; it was situated on the River Thames in Mill Street, Dockhead, one of the busiest quarters of South London.

Milling had commenced there on 31st July 1882 and worked until towards the end of 1884 on a mixed stone and roller system, the machinery included 20 pairs of millstones and several sets of smooth roller mills for reducing the middlings.

Read the full article HERE.

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