Milling

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Milling

Milling was a process being used by the people of Sprowston, to produce flour, in 200 BC.

A Beehive Quern Stone (Upper stone), was found in a trench that was being dug for electricity cables, just off Blue Boar Lane.

Domesday Book (1086). Beeston St Andrew and Sprowston both had two mills, these would most likely be in the form of a Horizontal wheel, possibly using an animal to create the power.

Windmills. In the 12th century mills were powered by the wind, using sails. During the following centuries Mousehold Heath had many Mills operating, in the early 19th century there were 5 mills situated off Sprowston Road.

Sprowston Post Mill. The mill was built and erected on Mousehold Heath in the first decade of the 18th century. It was owned by the Robertson Family, then by the Harrison family. It was destroyed by fire in 1933, just after it had been restored.

The design of the Post Mill meant that it was very portable and could be dismantled and moved. It normally consisted of three floors, on the top floor under the curved roof, are the big storage bins which held the wheat awaiting dressing into flour. The sacks of seeds would be hoisted to this floor using the sail powered pulley system. There was very little standing room on this floor as the bins took up most of it.

The wind shaft which carries the sails came into this floor, mounted on this was the big 12ft (3.6m) gear wheel (Head Wheel) this powered all the mill machinery. There is a small storm hatch behind the head mill which allowed the miller to get access to the sails. The middle or Stone floor was the grinding area. The bottom or Bagging floor, was the flour bagging area, the milled flour could be refined depending on what type was required. By enclosing the base support area, gave the Miller two more floors, which provided much more storage space.

When NASA were making plans to go to the moon, their engineers studied the workings of the ball bearing set up that was used on the Post Mill. This being the first known Industrial use of ball-bearings! Our thanks to the Harrison Family (owners of the Postmill) for donating the family archive to Sprowston Heritage, these are now held by the NCC Records Office.