Friday, 30 March 2018

A bit of history

Our Heritage Lottery Fund award will enable us to learn more of the mill’s past from archaeological work by professionals, and a local history study led by volunteers, as parts of the three-year project. The process began as our application developed, with a report on the working parts by Martin Watts, a national authority on mills, in 2014, and a survey by Wardell Armstrong Archaeology in 2016.
The present mill building is orientated north-south, built into the slope parallel with the road from the village. Both reports concluded that the original mill was a much shorter building, with a roofline running east-west, and a single water-wheel on the gable end facing the beck. This possibly Tudor building has been encased by later extensions on three sides : the kiln and drying room to the north, the present main entrance with its cart door to the west, and an extension to accommodate the second water-wheel to the south, with the bakehouse at the end.
Most of the exterior dates from the eighteenth or nineteenth century. It is fairly certain that the cottage was built around 1756, but dating the mill extensions is more difficult. The best clue, for the addition to the north, is the inscription M Tyson / DT 1819 (probably Matthew and Daniel Tyson) on a wall near the mouth of the kiln; John Tyson owned the mill at the time. There seems to be no evidence so far for dating the western extension, where the present gable end facing the road, remarkably for such a tall structure, is a dry-stone wall.
Successive editions of the mill guidebook since 1976 date the southern addition and the second wheel to soon after 1737, when Edward Hartley’s purchase of the mill from Edward Stanley included Dalegarth timber for a new wheel. This seems to be supported by the date 1740 carved on a lintel in the southern interior wall.
However the 2016 archaeological survey concludes that the second wheel was not added until the early nineteenth century, and that the 1740 lintel is not in its original position. This challenge is based first on a large plan drawn in 1795 for use in the enclosure case of Sharpe v Tyson, which still shows the mill as aligned east-west. Secondly the authors rely on a drawing of the mill by the young JMW Turner from around 1798, showing a single wheel on an east facing gable end.
Of course, Hartley might have replaced his existing wheel around 1740, rather than adding a second, but there are questions about these conclusions which I hope the local history project will resolve. The 1795 plan was produced to show the position of a controversial fell wall, not the exact position of buildings in Boot. Turner’s drawing, done in London by copying another work before he ever visited the Lake District, is an art student’s exercise, not necessarily intended to be an accurate representation, and some features are clearly fanciful.
Paul Pharaoh

Hydro progress

 - February 2018

By 5 February we had built a sufficiently well-structured enclosure around the relocated generating machinery to allow us to test its effectiveness in limiting the noise which was of some concern. At the time of writing, the generator has been running for 21 days and it is believed that the objective of reducing noise to an acceptable level has been achieved.

Enclosure Construction:
As mentioned in previous Newsletters, the decision was taken to reduce the noise by lowering the generating machinery from waterwheel axle height down to a level deeper into the rock cleft in which the waterwheel is built, and to bolt the machinery upon a concrete block of considerable mass, using anti-vibration mountings. The generator was then to be driven from the waterwheel axle via a massive sprocket and chain, at a reduced speed of rotation. This approach gives a more sedate appearance to its rotation and enables the buckets to be filled more completely.
The generator machinery, gearbox and motor/generator were enclosed by a housing made of two leafs of solid 150mm thick concrete blocks, and the gap between the leafs was packed with acoustic rockwool insulation. The roof comprises horizontally laid, 100mm solid concrete blocks on a steel frame, which is covered with two layers of plastic sheeting and another layer of heavy rubber conveyor belt material. The whole is surrounded by a European larch framing, infilled with river gravel about 50mm deep. The north, west and east walls have been clad in a European larch. The acoustically insulated air intake and exhaust box, needed to ensure adequate cooling of the generator, have been installed in the north wall and door (also on the north face), so as to prevent any sound which may emanate from them being directed towards local houses. Thermocouples have been installed so that the air temperature in the enclosure and that of the generator casing can be measured.

The generator was producing about 3.3 kW for the first 15 days and nights, but with the impending drier weather as we approach the end of February, the power output is falling gradually and may shut down temporarily in the near future. The energy produced so far since commissioning is 1800 kWh, which will realise a Feed-in Tariff payment of about £450, with all but about £100 being earned in the last three weeks.

As this project approaches completion, it has to be said that it would not have been possible had it not been for the most generous financial support of Worthington Construction Ltd, and for the tremendous voluntary efforts of time and expertise of Rod Chilton. A great deal is also due to the excellent working relationship we have with Rod Smith and his company, Smith Engineering (GB) Ltd of Maryport, who designed, manufactured and supplied the mechanics. The Postlethwaite family at Border Hydro Ltd of Cockermouth were of great help with all the electrics and negotiating the Feed-in Tariff paperwork.

The construction part of the project is now very nearly completed, apart from some access steps, a low wall to direct water away from the enclosure doorway, and reinstating the fencing.

Len Watson

Editor’s note : Len omits to mention that the project has depended on his own massive volunteer contribution, often single-handed and sometimes in dispiriting circumstances. The Trust is greatly in his debt.