Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Putty and powder
Thwaite Mills started out as a fulling mill in the 1640s, a way of pounding woollen cloth to matt the fibres and make it thicker and more waterproof. In the 1820s the site was redeveloped. The two waterwheels that exist today were installed, along with several buildings, a mill manager's house, workshops and cottages. The mill has been used for several purposes including crushing seeds to make lubricants and lighting oil and crushing wood to make dyes. In 1872 it was bought by the Horn family who ran it for over 100 years, at first crushing china stone for the pottery industry, then grinding chalk to make 'whiting', used in many things from pharmaceuticals to whitewash, then finally making putty. It all came to an end in 1975 when the river flooded and the weir collapsed and it was decided it was uneconomic to repair. Volunteers formed a society to preserve the site and eventually the weir was repaired and the museum opened in 1990, allowing the wheels to turn once more.