Last year, under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, we accepted a grant managed by Natural England to help restore the machinery in Clencher’s Mill, an old water mill on the estate about a mile from the castle. We had maintained the mill building, and the machinery, including the water wheel dated 1820, had luckily remained in situ as opposed to being removed for scrap. The mill had worked with water power until the 1920s, when the miller and the farmer, who farmed the land where the water entered the mill leat, had a row, and the supply was cut. The machinery then was powered by a tractor until the 1940s.
We were encouraged by Alan Stoyel, the local representative of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings-Mills section, who wrote a synopsis of why the mill was important within the Herefordshire context and by the John Masefield High School in Ledbury who wanted to bring students to see the sustainable plant in action as part of the school curriculum. English Heritage was helpful too and an important part of the grant approval process. We were keen to start in the autumn, but the bat survey revealed we were not alone in the mill, so we have had to wait until their hibernation ended before moving in.
We selected Dorothea Restorations the trading company of Wallis Conservation Limited, as they had the experience of our sort of mill and were based not too far away. In the first image, you will see the wheelhouse with a large gap at the top where the water should be held in a pen trough or launder before being released through a sluice onto the overshot wheel. In the second image, you see Zenon Jurkow on the left and Julian Beel on the right, preparing to assemble the new oak boards of the replacement launder.
After being empty for almost 90 years, the pond and leat have needed a lot of additional work, some of which will be funded by the Malvern Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund. In another blog, I will describe some of what we have had to do to link the pond again with the stream and the regulatory hurdles we have had to cross.
JH-B 11th March 2013