Water power and the watermill

Many of the designs at Miller Toys and Models are approximately based on old or even ancient ships, such as the Greek cargo Ship and the Chinese Junk (still in development).  And the mill designs, which we hope to present soon follow this idea.

Water power in the form of a turned wheel and in particular the watermill seems to have been invented by the ancient Greeks and developed by the Romans, and was probably also invented in ancient China.  So it is an ancient and venerable technology with a history stretching back over two millennia.

Closer to home watermills of many sorts were found throughout the British Isles until first the steam engine replaced them, and then the electric motor or diesel generator  Grain mills are the most familiar, but wherever metal, wood or sometimes stone was worked in large quantities trip hammers, power saws, presses and other devices required power and water was a major source.  And woollen milling was also in existence in ancient times, these types of water mill were called fulling mills, or Pandys in Wales , and also had other names.  Wikipedia tells us that, “By the time of the Crusades in the late eleventh century, fulling mills were active throughout the medieval world”.

One of our favourite water mills is at Skenfrith, a tiny village in Wales about half-way between Monmouth and Abergavenny.  Skenfrith is famous for it’s Norman castle and attracts many tourists but the mill, which stands to one side of the castle near the river Monnow  is unfortunately boarded up and has been for many years.  The Skenfrith mill was a corn mill and dates from the 15th Century.

One of the most impressive surviving tidal mills is WoodbridgeTide Mill, in Suffolk, it is still able to work and is highly recommended for a day out.  The massive timbers on show here have inspired our approach to mill design.

The technology of the past is often overlooked in the endless rush for the modern and the novel, but there is still much that can be learned from our ancestors and their working lives.  Our mill designs draw on these monuments to the past, and although they are still at the pre-production stage we hope to have them on sale here within a few weeks.

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Chris Miller