A Fraggle report~Path Head WaterMill

Last Thursday turned out to be a rare sunny day, and Sophie and I went on a trip to visit Path Head Mill at Blaydon.  The original Mill was a corn mill founded in 1730, but by 1974 was derelict with a 1930’s farmhouse the only survivor. In 1992 The Vale Mill Trust was founded, and the 18th century watermill has  been restored by them.  The work has been done mostly by volunteers, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have been given opportunities and training to help them develop life skills and employment.

When we arrived we were the only visitors, as it’s early in the season and kids were at school, that wasn’t a surprise really.  Sophie and I love having a place to ourselves so that was great. We were met by the Trust co-ordinator who’s name I didn’t get (sorry) and he took the time to explain things to us, and also to turn on the water mill so we could see it in action.

from the website:- (details at end of post).

Recovered from Guyzance Mill in 1994 it was stored and refurbished in the stables at City Farm before it was installed in our restored wheel pit at Path Head in 1997, ready for the mill opening in March 1998. His Grace the Duke of Northumberland, who donated the wheel, officially opened the mill in May 1998. 
The stonework for the headrace and overflow channel was rebuilt using recovered stone from a demolished railway bridge in Byker.

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After seeing that we had a wander around to see the other bits and bobs in the grounds.

Acomb Water Wheel, Crankshaft and Flywheel.

These parts, recovered from Acomb are reassembled as a static display. The water wheel was in bits at the bottom of the wheel pit, as a result of a large fire at the mill. Only half of the wheel survived the fire. 
Before the fire, wheel was already redundant, as the axletree through the centre had snapped and was replaced by a steam engine to power the mill. Acomb mill machinery was donated by Peter Wilson.

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The Stone Seat
A dry stone walling exercise by waller, Donald Gun, who teaches the profession. This project was carried out as a training programme for students in dry stone walling. 

Fungi Bench 🙂 I think this will be cleared though as it’s a great spot for artists to sit and paint, for us togs though the fungus was awesome!

The sun clock is embedded in the grass and you can stand and put your arm up to make the shadow, but they haven’t done the first mowing yet so we couldn’t see it very well, will need a revisit.

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Ram Pump
This hydraulic ram pump uses waterpower to pump water against gravity. 
It works on the principle that liquids can not be compressed, so some water flowing through the pump is forced up to the reservoir at the top of the site. 

The Reed Bed
The reed bed helps to clean the water by filtering out some of the dissolved iron and sediment that it carries.

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We found some great machinery and a work shed to shoot

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and lastly we were shown the inner workings.

Mill Machinery

From upstairs on the balcony, you can see below the wrought iron drive shaft coming into the mill from the water wheel outside. The large red gear (Pit Wheel) set into the pit in the floor is on the same shaft as the water wheel. This meshes with blue gear (Wallower) to drive the mainshaft of the mill. From here, the large green gear (Great Spur) drives the yellow gear (Stone Nut) to increase speed. From here, each step increases the speed of the overhead line shafts, from the pulleys on these shafts a belt takes the drive down to power the woodworking machines. There is a wood turning lathe, bandsaw and a surface planer all powered by the wheel.

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We really enjoyed our visit, and will be going back again when spring is in full swing.

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click on these for

Path Head Water Mill website

Full size of all shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

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