The Tide Mill at Eling has been absorbing my attention recently. I popped over to see it and have a chat with the Mill Assistants, John Hurst (pictured beside the giant waterwheel) and Andrew Turpin. This proved to be a very informative afternoon and I was soon absorbed in the history of this unique place.
There has been a mill standing on the site for centuries. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and it was owned by Winchester College for over 600 years. The current building was rebuilt about 230 years ago and is of a mellow red brick with low ceilings, narrow staircases and the pleasant odour of salt water, old wood and flour dust.
The millpond, on the opposite side of the toll bridge outside, is a huge dam. It is a haven for waterfowl and wildlife. The tide comes in, opens the sea gates, fills the millpond and the sea gates close on the change in the tide. On milling days the sluice gates are opened and the trapped water cascades over the waterwheel, sending the grinding stones around. A simple idea using ancient, environmentally friendly and fully sustainable energy!
For those interested in visiting the last working Tide Mill in the UK, it is signposted off the A326 when you leave Southampton, Hampshire, going towards the New Forest. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Flour milled there is for sale in the shop on site.