Sarehole Mill

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Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed water mill (in an area once called Sarehole) on the River Cole in Hall Green, Birmingham, England. It is now run as a museum by the Birmingham City Council. It is one of only two working water mills in Birmingham, with the other being New Hall Mill in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.

Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Built in 1542 on the site of a previous pool. It was once known as Bedell's or Biddle's Mill after the name of an early owner. In 1727 it was described as High Wheel Mill. As early as 1755, the mill was leased by Matthew Boulton, one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution and leading figure of the Lunar Society, for scientific experimentation.

Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom

It is believed he converted the machinery for use in metal working. As well as milling grain it has been used for grinding bones for fertiliser, metal rolling and wire drawing. The current building dates from 1771 and was in use until 1919. Thereafter it fell into a state of disrepair and dereliction. A local community campaign to save the mill was launched when demolition was mooted, and was finally successful with the mill being restored in 1969.

Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Sarehole Mill is currently (2012) undergoing a £375,000 overhall of the roof, chimney and millpond and the water wheel is being restored to produce flour again. It is intended to sell bread baked in an oven unused for more than a century. Fifteen volunteers are about to be trained as millers to operate and demonstrate the mill.

Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom

In 1852 the water wheels at Sarehole Mill were supplemented by a single cylinder steam engine. Although water would have been the primary energy source powering the mill, the addition of a steam engine would have ensured uninterrupted operation of the mill. Unfortunately the original steam engine was at some point removed, the current engine is of similar size and capacity, being a single cylinder table engine of 16 hp (12 kW), albeit currently in a non-functioning state and of unknown manufacturer.

Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham, United Kingdom

The current engine was installed as part of the restoration of the mill in 1975. It was formerly used by a sweet manufacturer, Smith Kendon Ltd, at their factories in England and Messina, Italy, where it was used up until 1948. It was donated to the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry in 1952 before being moved to Sarehole.

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