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Family affair as mill is back in business

National Trust grant helps give mothballed mill a new lease of life

Beryl Bardsley grandaughter of the last miller at Nether Alderley

A 600-year-old mill is grinding wheat again after being out of action for more than 70 years.

Beryl Bardsley, whose grandfather was the last miller to operate Nether Alderley Mill, had the honour of re-opening it yesterday, after a £400k renovation by the National Trust.

She said: “I think it’s marvellous. I’m very privileged to be here and to start the wheel off again after such a long time.

“I’m sure my grandfather would have been very pleased if he’d known that the milling tradition at Nether Alderley is now alive and well.

“I have many fond memories of visiting my father and uncle while they were working there.

“I can remember uncle Ernest allowing me to test the flour – it felt like warm silk in my hands.”

Mrs Bardsley’s grandfather, John Hogg Rawlins, was given the mill, on Congleton Road, as a wedding present from his father in 1884.

He ran it until he died in 1924, when his sons Ernest and John – Mrs Bardsley’s father – took it over.

But the trade declined following the introduction of steam power, forcing the mill to eventually close in 1939.

Mrs Bardsley, 75, who lives around the corner on Welsh Row, is now hoping to be the first to sample some of the flour when it is declared fit for consumption.

She said: “I am a confectioner so I would love to make something with it.

“I’m thrilled to think I could make something with the flour ground at my grandfather’s mill.”

The National Trust spent £423,000 restoring the ancient corn mill, parts of which date back to the the 16th century.

Phyllis Bayley, project manager for the restoration, said: “It’s been fantastic watching the mill slowly coming back to life.

“We’ve had some amazing moments during the restoration and conservation work: for example when we removed the mill’s 200 ton giant roof we discovered, thanks to the light coming in, a collection of graffiti, some of which dated back to the early 18th century.”

The mill will be open for guided tours on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 1pm until 4.30pm.

 
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