First Steam Powered Flour / Grist Mills In England

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Mosaic | 16:48 Sat 05th Dec 2015 | History
7 Answers
An area I'm studying lost its manorial water-powered corn mill to a textile print works in the 1770s. At this time a merchant opened a new flour mill about a quarter of a mile away in the newly growing town centre. This site persisted in use until the 1950s.
I'm struggling to work out the source of power of the new site in the 1770s.
It's not a windmill.
It's a touch early for steam power - if a steam engine had been in use surely there would have been more comment on it. Plus, there's no large water source or even a small stream to feed the boiler.
So as a matter of curiosity, when did steam-powered flour mills become commonplace? And could a donkey-wheel have been a viable alternative for the 10-year technology gap I'm looking at?
Bury in Lancashire BTW.


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All of the references I can find online to steam-powered mills seem to suggest that the mill you refer to opened a couple of decades too early for such a source of power to be viable.

When considering water power, have you looked at maps of the period (rather than current ones)? Many surface water courses that would have existed at that time may have been diverted underground by now.
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Yes Chris, I'm looking at the early maps and this is what's bothering me. In fact it took me ages to actually find the newer mill because it's not in (then) open country near a canal, as you might expect, but slap bang in the centre of the growing town on a street that was less than 20 years old. And if defo is the mill there, not just a merchant's depot. There's no local contemporary commentary I can find so far. So there's definitely about ten years before steam power was viable but flour was being ground on this spot.
oxen or mules?
It's quite amazing how fast technology has been changing and at an ever accelerating rate. Even since I was a kid 50 yrs ago, it's a different world.
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It certainly is a different age Svejk. Remember the valves in the telly?

Chris, thanks for the horse gin link
Yes, m, and having to turn it off after an hour or two to cool down. Best of all was someone having to go out in the garden to turn the enormous aerial every time we switched over from the one channel to the only other one.

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