Blue Flower

At the mill the scaffold has been taken away and on Wednesday two of us walked down the riverside path. The unspoilt view from across the river shows the new brickwork really well and the wheel with its new steel buckets looks good too. We noticed the steel strips have been fitted to the gate frame, these are where the sluice boards slot in. The arch is now permanently fixed to the walls and dowels have been fitted in the joints. The frame is the first feature of the mill to be seen when approaching from either side, and it will look even better when the wood ages to a more mellow colour. All the Geotextile sheets are still in place although the one over the hammer mill was flapping in the wind. We saw a buzzard near the mill, and further down near the pumping station bridge we saw a Kingfisher twice, but as usual we could not get a picture. On the way back we saw two Barn Owls hunting over the fields and sitting on the fence.

On Thursday there were five of us in the working party and we met at the yard to look at the railway wagon which was moved last Saturday. There is a lot of work to do as it needs refurbishing to use as a visitor center and volunteer base at the bone mill. John has researched our wagon using numbers printed on the side and found it was made in 1957 at Warrington.

The first job was to clear up at the barn where the wagon came from, so we all went there and finished sorting through the wood we moved out of the wagon. Most of it was tidied and covered up ready for use as fuel on the logburners in the house, and the rest was burned on a big bonfire. This leaves a neat stack of wood in the middle of the barn so it can be dismantled. When we were moving the wagon the machines churned up the grass beside the driveway, so this was repaired and levelled using a garden roller found on site. Puddles were forming in the driveway so earth was barrowed from near the entrance and put down to fill them in, then it was rolled flat. There are a number of other items that need taking apart and burning including a barn and tree house so we will have more working parties there, as we all enjoy a good bonfire.

After lunch four of us went back to the yard and started working on the railway wagon. We took out the bolts holding plywood panels to the metal frame and most came out easily, but some had to be ground off. A few of the wooden panels have now been taken off and we tested a needle gun which removed the rust and scale from the metal frame effectively. When taking out the top bolts using a ladder we were able to inspect the roof which is badly rotted and confirms that we need to replace it. The door width and overall internal height were measured to enable plans to be drawn up for the interior layout. A pair of metal canopy supports has been fabricated to enable the wagon to be covered while we work on it, which is ideal as most of the work will be done over winter when we can’t work at the mill, as the site is covered up to protect from frost and the track is very slippery.

We looked at ideas for the internal layout and discussed what we think is needed. Folding displays for open days that can be stored to save space when used as a volunteer seating area were proposed, and a toilet and small kitchen area at one end plus storage for supplies at the other end. We then discussed plans for next week, as Thursday is Christmas Eve we will have a working party on Wednesday 23 December instead when we will continue working on the railway wagon.

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