Heritage Partner Spotlight: Eling Tide Mill Experience Celebrates One Year Anniversary!

April 12th 2019 by Lucy Noble

Today the spotlight is on one of our Heritage Partners, Eling Tide Mill!
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On Tuesday 9th April, Eling Tide Mill celebrated the 1st anniversary of the Eling Tide Mill Experience with a day of fun activities including face painting, balloon-modelling, badge/keyring-making, story-telling, an Easter trail and guided tours of the mill.

 

The Grade II* listed tide mill has stood at the centre of life in Eling since its construction in c. 1785, but in 2018 the Experience was opened, as part of a project made possible by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund secured by Totton and Eling Town Council and the New Forest District Council. The project involved work on all four parts of The Eling Tide Mill Experience, including essential conservation works of the mill, extending and developing the visitor centre to create a new learning centre and café, and improving access to the outdoor areas of Goatee Beach and Bartley Water.

 

Eling Tide Mill is one of only 8 surviving tide mills around the coast of the UK today, and one of only two which are still working. The mill itself is getting on for an impressive 235 years old, but millers have been harnessing the power of the tides in Eling Creek for 900 years. In the days before modern milling, tide mills were an ideal solution for millers living in coastal places such as Eling Creek. Perfectly positioned for access by boat in an inlet off Southampton Water, Eling is one of only 8 surviving tide mills around the coast of the UK today, and one of only two which are still working.

 

Grain for the mill would have been brought in barges, several hundred miles round the coast from the Eastern side of England. When the tide was in, the barges could be sailed up Southampton Water, into Eling Creek, and right up to the Mill. Its maximum possible output would have been about 4 tonnes of flour per day, which would have required running both waterwheels and all four sets of stones at full speed for both tides.

 

A dam is created with a sluice across a tidal inlet; the tide comes in and enters the mill pond through a one-way gate which closes automatically when the tide begins to fall. When the tide is low enough, the stored water can be released to turn a water wheel.

 

Grain for Eling in the old days would have been brought several hundred miles round the coast in barges from the Eastern side of England. When the tide was in, the barges could be sailed up Southampton Water, into Eling Creek, and right up to the Mill. Its maximum possible output would have been about 4 tonnes of flour per day, which would have required running both waterwheels and all four sets of stones at full speed for both tides.

 

The mill has two undershot waterwheels, each one capable of running two pairs of millstones. Originally the waterwheels were wooden, but were replaced by cast iron ones in 1892, along with the wheel shafts and gears.

The mill was in full working order until 1936, when its machinery broke down. It continued to run for another ten years with the use of a diesel engine to power the animal feed machinery, but in 1946 it was abandoned and left to the elements for nearly 30 years. The mill’s salvation came in 1975 when it was bought by the New Forest District Council, who took on the job of repairing the near-to-collapsing mill. Eling Tide Mill Trust was set up, responsible for overseeing the final stages of the repair, and its final re-opening of the mill and museum in 1980.

 

 

Today the tide mill, surrounding riverside walks and adjacent visitor centre and cafe form The Eling Tide Mill Experience. The partnership between the New Forest District Council and Totton and Eling Town Council (who have managed the mill since 2009) have invested in its future after securing a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This involved work on all four parts of The Eling Tide Mill Experience, including essential conservation works of the mill, extending and developing the visitor centre to create a new learning centre and café, and improving access to the outdoor areas of Goatee Beach and Bartley Water.

 

​Eling Tide Mill is an idea place to visit in the area: you can see the power of the tide turning the water wheel and powering the millstones; explore its history in the new interactive exhibition; stroll along Eling Creek shoreline and relax in the café, and take part in the full schedule of activities they run for people of all ages.

 

You can read about Eling Tide Mill on the featured mill section of our website here and on our catalogue here.

More information is available on their website, as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Image on the left from the John Munnings collection, viewable on our catalogue here.