Digital Images Collection

Michaelchurch Mill: Restoration of the machinery and watercourses in the 1990’s



1. The Sluices and Mill Leat

The headrace today; instead of the leat feeding the millpool, the sluice gate controls the flow of water through a pipe direct to the waterwheel.


The sluice gates were completely rebuilt by Mike Griffiths of Clehonger. Patterns for the rack and pinion mechanism were taken from Cagebrook Mill in Clehonger and new castings made to match.

The mill leat is nearly 400 yards long. It was overgrown and silted up, and had to be dug out to restore a proper flow of water


The original line of the leat was followed, though there are occasional deviations round tree roots.

The Alder trees lining the leat were coppiced, and will re-grow naturally from the stumps.


In the old days the silt was dug out by hand; fortunately things have become a little easier since then.

Mike Griffiths renewing the main sluice gate at the weir, where the water for the mill is taken from the Escley Brook.


The wooden sluice gate is held in place by heavy masonry, to stand up to the force of the water. Mike Griffiths of Clehonger made the new gate and is putting it in place.

The finished sluice with the weir behind. The arched stone culvert is original, and has been skilfully made.


Winter floods had washed away part of the stone-built weir. It was repaired with concrete blocks, faced and capped with local stone.

The restored weir. The sluice is to the left, facing the water flow. The surplus water is diverted at right angles over the dam.


The pool behind the weir is divided by a stone wall with slots to allow water through. This helps protect the sluice gate from debris carried down in floods.

The view from below the restored weir.


The restored weir, looking upstream.

The restored weir, looking upstream.


Looking down on the weir from the west side of the Escley valley.




2. The Mill Machinery

The main gear wheels set up on the octagonal upright shaft. The wooden teeth in the spur wheel and pit wheel have been renewed.


The oak hursting, with the machinery aligned and wedged into position. The spouts that carried the meal from the stones have also been replaced [top left & top right]

Close-up of the wallower and the great spur wheel with its new wooden teeth.


John Burt of Firs Farm, Michaelchurch starting to dismantle the waterwheel; here the steel backing plates are being removed.

The old buckets are unbolted or cut away from the curved flanges on the inside of the shroud.


Unbolting another backing plate. All the components of the waterwheel are made in sections, bolted together, so that it could be assembled and dismantled in confined spaces.

The old wheel brake can be seen in this shot; it is a horizontal oak beam that can be lowered onto the back of the wheel rim to prevent it turning.


The last of the steelwork being removed. John and Stephen Burt are cutting stubborn bolts off with an angle grinder.

The final bucket comes off.


The wheel reduced to the cast-iron spokes and shrouds

Detail of the casting that locks the spokes to the axle. The axle bearing can also be seen lower right.


The round spokes and the style of the  brackets to which the shroud is bolted suggest that this wheel was made by Thomas Bray in Hereford c.1860. John [in the pit] and Stephen Burt rebuilt it.

Applying preservative paint to the cast iron framework before fitting the new backing plates and buckets.


Detail of the spokes and shrouds. The curved flanges to which the buckets are bolted are cast on the inside of the shroud. The flange and bolt holes for the backing plates can also be seen.

Stephen and John Burt applying preservative paint to the cast iron work after wire-brushing off all the rust and applying a special primer.






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