7 Jun 2017

Volunteering at Sarehole Mill

Hi I’m Allan. I have been a volunteer Miller at Sarehole Mill since early 2013. I was initially inspired to become a volunteer at the Mill when I attended a local forum where a talk was being given by a member of staff from the Mill on the restoration program that was currently in progress. It was stated that they were looking for volunteers to be trained as Millers, to be ready for the opening on Easter Sunday 2013. Having now retired from work, and having a keen interest in baking bread, the idea of being able to mill my own flour was too good an opportunity to miss. So here I am a fully trained veteran in the world of corn milling!

As a Miller, my role is to get the machinery ready for milling. Put the grain into the hopper above the millstones, open up the penstocks to allow the water from the millpond to flow onto the waterwheel, and start the milling process. During milling, the grain feed, and the gap between the stones has to be constantly monitored and amended accordingly, to ensure fine flour is produced.

To enable us to sell our flour, we have to maintain a HACCP check list (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) policy. After milling, the flour is then sieved, and any large pieces of bran that is sieved out is then reground finer and re-introduced back into the flour. This flour is then weighed and bagged up into either 1KG bags or 20kg sacks ready for sale.

Sarehole Mill and millpond

As well as milling we engage with our visitors. The most popular areas that the public are interested in, are: geography, history, engineering, production and the J.R.R. Tolkien connection with the Mill.

As I continued volunteering at the site I had hoped to do some baking at the Mill using the large Victorian bread oven in the bake house. However when this idea proved not to be a viable proposition instead we were given permission to build a clay oven at the side of the bake house. This we did, and are now having regular baking sessions and pizza making sessions, using Sarehole Stoneground Flour, for the visitors to sample. We also hold regular baking classes, which also seem to be very popular.

Dave and Allan baking bread at Sarehole Mill

It gives me enormous satisfaction to be working at such a historically important site, and knowing that we are bringing back to life a Watermill that had lain dormant for 100 years is very important.

If you are interested in volunteering for Birmingham Museums then take a look at the current volunteering opportunities we have available across all our sites.