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November 20, 2017
Three tuns restored

All three tuns along with their shoes, horses and hoppers have now been cleaned and preserved. They will be covered in plastic as we continue work on  repairing the floors and wall plates.

November 17, 2017
New windows installed

Here you can see the three new windows in the north face. We worked with Robin Uff the (now retired) conservation officer on the design of these windows. We have a very traditional horizontal sliding sash design that was very common in Bedfordshire. These are often referred to as "Yorkshire sliding sash windows".

November 15, 2017
Fitting the new sluice gate

Here are Don and David fitting the new sluice gate. Don has designed a rack and pinion system to control the water flow. He has followed traditional practice carving the engineer's name (that's Don) and the year into the front panel. The water is held back by the stop boards further back since the dagger-boards for the new sluice gate haven't been installed yet. Even with low flow rates the fine sheet of water is evident as it flows over the tray it resembles a sheet of black plastic.

November 14, 2017
Restored set of furniture

The first set of complete mill furniture restored. The set includes the tun, shoe, horse and hopper.

November 14, 2017
Testing out the new sluice tray

Bedfordshire drainage board finished dredging the river last week and we were keen to try the new sluice tray. Shifting thirty years of accumulated silt is challenging.  As we lifted the stop boards we were rewarded by a beautiful clean flat sheet of water flowing over the new sluice tray.  

The water is running properly again after a very long time resting. We continue to excavate the tail race by hand and hope to render the waterwheel "dry" ie running with clearance below the buckets rather than flooded which loses efficiency.

November 10, 2017
Mending a hopper

All of the mill furniture has been ravaged by woodworm and some of it is barely hanging together. This hopper in particular was in a bad way and has needed wood glue and filler in places to hold it together. The millers mended things using tin and lots of small tacks so the same technique has been used to mend the corner of this hopper. The tin is already rusty because it had been used to mend a rat hole in one of the grain bins.

November 9, 2017
Restoring hoppers

Here are two hoppers resting on the top of the Victorian tun. The hopper on the left has just been treated with woodworm killer. The one behind has been treated with both woodworm killer and white colour stain. The colour stain will ensure that the colour remains the same instead of going orange when the shellac and furniture wax is applied.

November 8, 2017
Removing the tuns

The tuns have been removed from two pairs of stones so that they can be renovated. In the foreground are the stones that were driven by steam via an auxiliary cast iron hursting frame.

November 8, 2017
New sluice tray

The new sluice is made of of Accoya. The tray curves very slightly to direct water into the waterwheel buckets. 

Accoya is a remarkably stable material used extensively in the waterways of the Netherlands. It is is guaranteed to last 25 years submersed in water and 75 years as a cladding material.

November 8, 2017
Scaffolding-free

The last of the scaffolding is down. We now have a clear view of the corner window and renewed access means we can have big clear up.

November 8, 2017
Victorian Tun

There are three pairs of stones in the mill. The original pair were driven from the waterwheel. Another pair was added later, probably by the Victorians and were driven by steam. These millstones have a hexagonal tun whilst the others have round barrel-style tuns.

Here you can see the Victorian tun gently sanded and painted with woodworm treatment on the top.

November 8, 2017
Inside a set of stones

If you look down onto the centre of the millstones you can see the gimbal that holds the (upper) runner stone on its spindle.

October 4, 2017
Trial bucket bolts

Finding the right bolts to hold the new buckets onto the waterwheel has taken some time and a sample or two along the way. Here we have a stainless steel bolt combined with a tapered SG-iron washer that matches the geometry of  the grey cast iron waterwheel flanges the washer ensures that the fixings operate properly.

September 20, 2017
Installing the box sash window

This is the only vertically sliding box sash window in the whole building. It's an Accoya copy of the original and is held in place with inflatable cushions prior to permanent fixing.

September 11, 2017
Corner window

The corner window was installed by expert fitters from Andrew Jaynes who manufactured the windows. It achieves exactly what we wanted of it - the timber structure of the mill inside is clearly visible from the outside. This is a particular favourite of our recently retired conservation officer, Robin Uff.

August 1, 2017
Don preparing the pit wheel
Preparing the pit wheel

Don prepares the end of the main shaft. This is simply a tidying up of the end of the shaft enabling the drive flange to locate on a spigot.  The flange will couple the gearbox to the pit-wheel converting 10rpm to the 1500rpm necessary to match grid electrical frequency.

May 25, 2017
Weatherboarding finished

The weatherboarding is complete and most of the window liners are in place. The structural openings are designed to secure horizontal sliding sash windows having areas of glass matching the originals.

May 16, 2017
Temporary bearing

The outer plain bearing of the waterwheel needs to be replaced.

This little temporary stand supports the shaft with roller element bearings mounted on a steel and wooden plinth. We can rotate the wheel with the use of a winch. 

May 5, 2017
Fully clad lucum

The lucum is the trickiest bit of weatherboard installation. The space below the lucum is now filled in so that we have more than just a floorboard between us and the driveway below us. The trap door is carefully preserved to ensure its future.

April 20, 2017
Gable end date

The year that we finished restoring the roof is carved into an oak diamond at the eastern gable end.

January 1, 2017
Why we chose Accoya

We were originally going to use a larch or oak weatherboarding that would have been painted with a proven long-lasting exterior paint. Then we discovered Accoya. The ultimately superior properties of Accoya result from a process called Acetylation.

Accoya is a wood that is almost inert, immune to bugs and even immersion in water. It's TRADA guaranteed for 75 years. The colour was an unexpected bonus since it is so close in colour to the paint that was originally on the mill. It will pale and 'silver' with age but won't need any maintenance for many years.

Accoya also works beautifully for making the windows. It is stable enough that we can make the glazing bars that are just as thin as the existing windows even though they are holding double-glazed panels. So we get low maintenance low energy windows that don't need to be painted, will match and age at the same rate as the weatherboarding and will still open and close smoothly after 10 years of being battered by rain and condensation.

Accoya Academy
October 26, 2016
Lucum Slates

This is getting exciting, the lucum is almost the last thing to be slated and it means we are nearing the point of putting the ridge tiles on.

October 26, 2016
Mark, roofer's mate

Mark is astonishing. His work ethic is second to none and he carried about 10,000 slates up and down to our roof. He was the man who sorted and graded the slates so that Nick and Wayne could work efficiently. Together Nick Wayne and Mark were a fabulous team.

October 26, 2016
Oak replaces sweepings

The critical load bearing structure of the south wall above the hursting frame was largely swept up in the vacuum cleaner. The wall plate had gone completely in places and we elected to replace it in oak. The wall plate now supports new Studwork beneath a new supporting horizontal beam above. It was a big relief when we removed the acro-props and nothing happened.

October 26, 2016
Nick Stephens, Roofer

Nick runs a tight ship with super attention to detail. We had a great experience when Flitwick Roofing did the work on the Forge and Garage buildings and we had no hesitation in getting them back. If you want a good job well done go find a busy man. He's busy for all the right reasons.

You can raise Nick on 07792 331536

Flitwick Roofing
October 26, 2016
Lucum Leadwork

We are now working on the leadwork around the lucum and that means we are well on the way to a completed roof. Nick is a masterful welder, his leadwork is perfection and the whole team take great pride in a great job.

October 19, 2016
Wayne Stephens, Roofer

Here we see Wayne knocking in a few copper nails as he nears completion of the North side.

October 19, 2016
Wayne's working

Here's Wayne fixing the top row on the south side. These slates have to be cut to size.

October 10, 2016
South roof half completed

South side of the roof shows clear indication of what it's going to look like. The roof is loaded with slates which have been painstakingly sorted with thin ones at the top and heavier thicker ones at the bottom.

October 8, 2016
The state of the frame

We unearthed a lot of distressed timbers eaten by rats, rot and the ravages of concrete misguidedly used to shore up failed joints.

October 2, 2016
Exposing the timber frame

We have been exploring ways of exposing the timber structure of the mill to passers by. By glazing on the outside, we could leave the timbers in one corner of the mill exposed so that everyone can see a little history as they walk past.

September 28, 2016
Roof without slates

The south side of the roof was stripped and wrapped during the first week. We managed to rescue a few slates but our decision to replace was confirmed at this stage.

September 22, 2016
The old mossy slate roof
Starting the roof

The old roof turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. When we got up there we discovered irrecoverable slates. We very quickly decided to abandon the idea of re-using slates and ordered new ones that matched those on the other buildings.

September 16, 2016
First floor chaos

Here we are on the first floor (the Stone Floor) having cleaned all the paintwork off prior to woodworm spraying. Modern woodworm spray is relatively harmless - the active ingredient is that used in dealing with head lice. Harmless to humans nasty for bugs.

September 5, 2016
New brick arch

The bards work. David Shakespear is the son of a stone mason. Artfully described by the local people in the know as, "He's the man".

We are very fortunate to have him on board as one of the most talented bricklayers in town. He can turn a hand to almost anything.

August 26, 2016
New opening

New opening... with a view into the new concrete floor in the mill. There are no fancy bricks in this scene just the steelwork in place and a big opening to get diggers in and out. Concrete teams in and out etc.

August 26, 2016
Liquid floor

Here we are a few days after the concrete was poured. Removal of rotting timbers started to reveal the medieval wall of the 1720 mill. It also compartmentalises the milling process nicely. Gravity takes corn from the top floor, to the stone floor and deposits it on the ground floor beneath the mill stones into sacks.

August 20, 2016
Pouring concrete

The concrete lorry arrived on our custom made road. This was 44 tons fully loaded. The road was necessary because our lovely neighbour thought he was gaining leverage over us by blockading our rightful access to our front door with motor vehicles and heavy planters. The job simply went on and the neighbours bargaining chips diminished.

The erosion of chips continued as we used the roadway to load stone, sand, insulation drainage and reinforcing materials enabling the mill floor to be constructed.

August 19, 2016
Ravages of rot the sequal

This shows the north-east corner of the hursting frame after a new lower cross-brace has been fitted. The degradation of the foot of the post is clear - the vacuum cleaner has done a good job!

The whole of the east end of the husting frame was unsupported and the mill stones were indeed about to fall into the room below. The oak blocks here will be replaced with engineering bricks and the stump at the lower end of the post will be tidied up properly. At least the collapse has been halted.

August 19, 2016
Pit wheel props

We made some rather disturbing discoveries along the way. The decades of neglect and almost wanton destruction due to water ingress have taken their toll on the ground floor and anything within. it was clear that we needed to prop a lot of things up during foundation works - and beyond.

August 15, 2016
Hursting repairs from above

This shows the top of the repair to the hursting frame. The new piece of oak it let in to the old and jointed into place. a similar job happened below and the two were bolted together as a unit.

August 14, 2016
Upper hursting frame repairs

This image shows the view from below of the north east upper hursting frame repair. This joint supports the cross beam under the mill stones which sit directly on top of these two timbers.

Rot at the bottom of the vertical post caused it to drop and the weight of the millstones rendered the end of the oak beam assunder - this is shown elsewere.

There was no possibility of replacing the whole of the longitudinal member and it was decided to simply graft on another chunk of oak and bolt it to the beam behind it. The beam behind also made it impossible to fit a true mortice so this is constructed in two sections split along the length as shown.

The mortice was routed in the top half of the extension to the longitudinal member and a second chunk of oak was fashioned to fit into the existing joint and mate with the tenon. These two oak sections where then bolted together and the pair then secured to the beam behind with large coach bolts.

August 13, 2016
Collapse of the hursting frame

This image shows the damage to the longitudinal member at the north east top corner of the hursting frame. The end of the member has failed as the vertical post supporting it has rotted away.The mortice and tenon joint at the end of the hursting frame horizontal beam simply failed. It is surprising that the whole Mill stone assembly didn't collapse into the floor below. Urgent repairs were the order of the day.

August 12, 2016
The lower brace is fitted sucessfully

This shows the East end of the hursting frame back in place with the new lower brace fitted and the laser line showing it to be correctly in plumb. Both posts are now firmly back in their respective places with the mortise and tenon joints back together. There was a time where both posts were hanging in mid air from bits of rope secured from above. It was the only way to get the lower joints together and provided a challenge that precluded a photo shoot.

The lower brace is temporarily supported on oak blocks and the missing lower ends of the posts are clearly in evidence.

August 11, 2016
Rotten lower brace

This is all that remained of the lower brace at the east end of the hursting frame. There are no tenons and it's barely recognisable as a beam. The mortices had gone from the posts it was supposed to support.

August 9, 2016
New oak brace for the east end of the hursting frame

This is a substantial piece of oak. It replaces the the old one which had almost rotted away completely - certainly well beyond the point of usefulness. The tenons are 3"x8" and the section is 12"x15" fitting will be a juggling act with substantial posts to support and gentle nudging into place with a fourteen pounder. When it's in place it will take the vertical loads that supports the whole of the east end of the hursting frame and the eastern pair of mill-stones.

August 8, 2016
The ravages of rot

This shows the lower south-east corner of the hursting frame. There is nothing supporting the structure at this corner. And the post has fallen out of its mortice.

August 6, 2016
South side drain

This again shows the drainage regime in place. It was a quagmire that you could almost lose a shovel in simply by leaning on it. The drainage has already started to clear the water from the mill floor.

August 6, 2016
North side Drainage

This is like a scene from the battle of the Somme. It actually shows the internal drainage along the North wall of the mill. The foundations are completely saturated at this point in time. The ground water level in this space was less than two feet above the river outside. The drainage inside the mill has transformed this situation.

July 28, 2016
Creating the kitchen door

Across support the temporary steel pins that holds up the building whilst the steel is put in place. This enables the brickwork to be dismantled, cleaned and made ready for re-use.

July 28, 2016
Buckets 2

The trial of the buckets continues. It was important because we discovered that the bolt spacing is different from one side to the other. This necessitated separate drawings.

July 27, 2016
Trial buckets 1

Here we are trialling prototype buckets on the water wheel they fit one above the other.

July 26, 2016
Steel and pins in place.

Here we are ready to support the temporary pins in the wall and create a space for the steel to live.

July 25, 2016
Steel arrives

The steel for the opening into the kitchen area arrived on time. This is a substantial I-beam capable of holding up the mill on its own when the bricks are removed below it.

July 6, 2016
Bridge into our kitchen

The bridge into the mill is made of Eucalyptus marginata, commonly known as jarrah wood. Native of Australia it is used for railway sleepers as its very strong, heavy and doesn't rot.

June 7, 2016
Boiler-house chimney

Here is the footing for the old chimney for the steam engine that is no longer here. The chimney was demolished in 1952 and was taller than the building there is a picture or two elsewhere showing the chimney in place.

November 11, 2015
Insulation regime

The forge is a chance to try out many of the materials and methods that we will use on the mill. This includes the insulation regime.

Here you see a good thick layer of wool lining the walls. What you cannot see is the space age, breathable multi-foil insulation layer just under the weatherboarding. We're already surprised at the difference it all makes to both noise and thermal performance.

October 5, 2015
Two buildings complete

The outer shell of the two buildings complete. The forge is on the left and the garage on the right. These two buildings are an essential first step that forms our base. From here we can start the restoration of the mill.

October 1, 2015
Kositos Cooked Maize

When we found this enamel sign in the mill, it was so dirty that we thought it was just one of a number of sheets of rusty metal.

The sign is advertising animal feed from a company called R&W Paul Ltd, an Ipswich based company founded in 1842. The brewery diversified into the manufacture of animal feedstuffs after 1877.

The company was eventually sold to the Irish-based agriculture and sugar conglomerate, Greencore.

October 1, 2015
Frame of the Forge

The frame of the forge complete, ready for windows, doors and weatherboarding.

September 21, 2015
Leadwork

The leadwork around the chimney on the forge is a neat finish to the roof work. The roofs of the garage and forge are slate and have a similar pitch to that of the slate roof on the mill.

September 11, 2015
Roof structure

The roof structure of the forge has traditional king posts in keeping with the kinds of timber structures found in the mill.

September 10, 2015
Pumice & Leica

Pumice and Leica. Not their names but the fabric of the chimney. Here's Dave (Ratty) Ratcliffe with right hand man Steve in typical mood getting ready for a well-deserved pint at the Compasses in Greenfield.

August 21, 2015
Boarded garage

Here's the garage after the walls, membrane and weatherboard have been added.

August 13, 2015
Completed timber frame

The completed timber frame of the garage.

August 12, 2015
Staring the oak frame structure

Oakley framers work as a well oiled team. They don’t stop but keep up a steady relentless pace moving heavy oak posts and beams. The four of them loaded and unloaded 9 tons of garage materials and drove down from Corby all before 11am. By evening the oak frame was up.

Oakley Framing
August 12, 2015
Timber frame construction

Sharing has a different meaning to timber framers. Traditional artisan methods of construction demands good teamwork everyone has to pull their weight and more as they are man-handling big, heavy oak beams.

February 24, 2014
Injecting the resin

“Weeping walls" can be impregnated gently with slower curing mixtures of resin. The water is effectively pushed out of the wall as the expanding resin “freezes” forming a waterproof structure inside brickwork and replacing water and lost grouting.

As this barrier cures, the pressurised resin bleeds backwards to the near side of the wall where it leaks out of every nook and cranny as it forces the water from the wall. The curing resin is shown dribbling down the wall. These white rubbery streams are easily removed when the resin solidifies. 

After six months the wall is now dry and happy. The whole building is far more airy and theres a feeling of warmth in the place that’s never been there before.

February 23, 2014
The resin machine

The team from Oxford Hydrotechnics injected a hydrophobic resin that is thinner than water into the structure of the wall. This is a common cure for serious leaks in tunnelling applications encountering subterranean water.

The resin can be brewed to cure at different rates. When the resin meets water it reacts by rapidly expanding up to twenty-fold in volume. Big leaks can be quenched instantly by quick acting resin that forms a waterproof flexible foam that fills large voids and blocks large holes.

August 31, 2013
Removing the fountain mixer

Removing the fountain mixer - it went out of the opening that it must have gone in through.

August 30, 2013
The fountain mixer dismantled

The fountain mixer is a two-storey steel drum that stretched from the walkway at the top of the building and ends in a funnel shape on the first floor, having passed through the bins floor. It is a relatively modern agricultural machine that was typically used to add moisture to the corn prior to grinding it.

August 30, 2013
Removing the fountain mixer

Once the brackets had been removed, the mixer was suspended from the uppermost sack hoist whilst the two cynlinder sections were dismantled. By removing the many bolts including some large coach bolts, the fountain-mixer dismantles into 3 main pieces.

August 3, 2013
Removing the buckets

About a third of the buckets have been removed. We freed a log trapped down the side which has made the wheel a little easier to turn but there's plenty more debris to remove before it will rotate without a great deal of force.

August 2, 2013
Scaffolding for the wheel

The scaffoling has been put up alongside the waterwheel ready for renovation to start.

July 2, 2013
Stopping the flow

We've closed the mill gates to stop the flow of water over the waterwheel. Now that the wheel has dried out, we can remove the rusting buckets and start to renovate the wheel, ready for new buckets to be installed. Once the buckets have been removed, we'll be able to inspect the wall behind and remove whatever had stopped the wheel from turning. When the frame has been renovated, we'll install new buckets and then look at renovating the mill gates and mill tray.

April 20, 2013
Finished side door

The builders did a great job of making the door look in place and in character. In fact, this isn't the final door, it's a temporary and very sturdy one that will be there during the renovation.

Once the renovation is complete, it will be replaced with a door that is even more like the original front door to the mill.

April 16, 2013
Side door in progress

The doorframe is flanked by bullnose bricks to match the door in the north face of the mill. The header bricks match those above some of the windows on the south face.

April 13, 2013
Trial Pits

Out of the four trial pits that were dug, one had to be abandoned because it filled up with water too quickly. The archaeologists found their lunch in another pit - in the form of a live crayfish.

On the south side of the mill, they found remains of the riverbed. This implies that the river previously ran through what is now the mill and possibly alongside a previous, smaller mill.

April 10, 2013
Hole for the side door

It took a while to get going because they had to drill the mortar out from between the bricks. Great care was taken to preserve as many whole bricks as possible so that they can be re-used to replace damaged bricks elsewhere in the mill. Broken bricks were ground up and used to make sure that the mortar matched the rest of the mortar in that wall.

February 19, 2013
Planning permission granted

We've recieved notice of grant of listed building consent for the door in the West wall and to dig the trial pits inside the mill.

April 29, 2012
Flooding in April

The mill race flooded shortly after we bought the mill. This picture shows the bridge by the footpath with the water almost up to the top of the arch.

April 29, 2012
A rod of water

When we bought the mill, there was a serious leak in the west wall that had been there for a number of years. When the water levels were high in the lake at the back of Flitwick Mill House, a rod of water poured through into the mill. The floorboards of the ground floor had been rotting away in the humid environment for many years.

Laying concrete

Laying the concrete for the outbuildings.

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