Case study: Houghton Watermill

A traditional working water mill, Dorothea were contracted to design and install a pair of a motorized mill stones.

Due to the demand for flour from Houghton water mill we have been commissioned to design and install a new pair of mill stones power by a motor through a gear box. This is due to the un predictable river level and the requirement for a regular supply of flour.
We supplied a reconditioned set of french burr millstones, including re banding and balancing, a new stone crane was designed, built and installed, ew mill stone furniture was built by local volunteers and new assembly was commissioned in March 2013.

Houghton Mill Through Time


Houghton Mill, the last working water mill on the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire, has a history dating back as far as 974AD.

The first building was erected in this year and came to be owned by the Benedictine Abbey in Ramsey. Local peasants were obligated to have their flour ground at Houghton Mill with a tax levied in flour owed to the resident miller. At the time of the protestant reformation, with monasteries across Britain being dissolved, the Water mill became property of the Crown.

The mill building that stands today probably dates to the 1600’s with a later extension added in the 19th century. Not much is known of the millers that would have worked here over the last 900 years, asides from one Potto Brown.

A philanthropist and Quaker, Potto was milling here in the 1800’s and founded local schools and chapels in his time. Alongside his business partner Joseph Goodman they built a thriving business with 18 fulltime employees with flour renowned as far as London.

Otto spared no expense on the best quality millstones, and adopted the French dressing and ventilation system. Brown’s business continued to expand through the 1850’s, with two further mills at St Ives and Godmanchester, until his retirement in 1862.

The mill remained in operation until its decommission in 1928. At this stage, Houghton Mil had three watermills and several millstones, which sadly were removed, along with their shafts and gear wheels in the 30’s. Fortunately, the remaining historic machinery was left practically intact and untouched.

Local residents bought the building in the 30’s and following the war, the mill was used as a youth hostel. It wasn't until 1939 that Houghton Mill came into the care of the National Trust. Following a round of lottery and EU funding, the NT reinstated the missing components and began to mill flour by water power in the mid 1980’s. To this day, the National Trust is still producing flour on this historic site on a commercial basis. 




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