July 29, 2018

30/07/2018: City of London Flour Mills, a millstone mill

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK

  
Mildred Cookson
As a former "millstone miller" I am always attracted to the detailed descriptions of the large millstone mills frequently featured in the early years of The Miller. The September 2, 1878 issue described Mr Hadley's City of London Flour Mills in loving detail.

By then The Miller was reporting the sharper competition with other countries that was rapidly developing, along with the greater varieties of wheat available. This was necessitating modifications in machinery and systems of manufacture. The formation of a National Association of millers had taken place, and local associations were springing up all over the country proving beneficial to all millers.

Mills were up to this time secretive places not allowing anyone inside to avoid their new installations being shown to competitors. Gradually this changed and some mills started to show how they were fitted out, allowing publication of some excellent engravings of both exterior and interior arrangements. City Flour Mills was one such, which was only too happy to let other millers know of its innovations in the hope that it would encourage others to follow suit.
 


Building of the mill was started in 1849 on an old rubbish site on the Thames, alongside Puddle Dock, near Blackfriars Bridge. This involved the expensive and laborious construction of a coffer dam to enable the foundations to be laid, requiring them to go down to the London clay level, a depth of 15ft. Two large steam engines were used day and night for pumping out the water. The completed mill opened in October 1852.

Then, on the Sunday morning of November 10, 1872, a fire occurred. Despite the Lambeth fire brigade turning out 200 men with 30 engines, five of the upper floors gave way, destroying much machinery and stock. Sadly, one of the firemen was killed when an iron beam fell on him. After the fire the mill was reconstructed, and the rebuilt mills became the largest and most substantially built in the Metropolis.

The external length of the building was 227ft 10in and it was 60ft wide. The external walls in the basement were 4ft 8in in the basement above the footings and a more substantial 6ft 9in on the river front on a bottom course that was 10ft thick.

The mill was seven storeys high and had rolled wrought iron joists 6in deep supported by sockets in cast iron girders which in turn were supported by hollow cast iron girders. There were 61 columns on the ground floor, 56 on the second, 61 on the third, fourth fifth sixth and seventh floors, making a total of 427 in all. The floors were of Rock Hill stone laid on wrought iron joists.

For more informaiton email Ms Cookson at 
mills@millsarchive.org.

Read the full article, HERE.
 

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which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.


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