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Sarehole Mill - a historic gem in Hall Green, Birmingham, UK

Sarehole Mill located on the Hall Green/Moseley border was built in 1771. The original Mill was built in 1542. Take the link for more from our People with Passion on this historic gem. 

What we found out

What difference has it made

Passions

History & heritage, Art, culture & creativity

Project dates

04 Aug 2018 - On-going

Contact (for more details)

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ freetimepays.com

Classic Architecture
21 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Tour of Sarehole Mill during the Open Day in October 2013

Come with me as we have a wonder around Sarehole Mill. This was during the Open Day in October 2013 during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill had been restored again to full working order in the Winter of 2012-13. The last full restoration was back in 1969! After a look outside we go inside and up the mill to see the machinery where they grind flour, using the water wheel.

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Tour of Sarehole Mill during the Open Day in October 2013





Come with me as we have a wonder around Sarehole Mill. This was during the Open Day in October 2013 during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill had been restored again to full working order in the Winter of 2012-13. The last full restoration was back in 1969! After a look outside we go inside and up the mill to see the machinery where they grind flour, using the water wheel.


My previous Sarehole Mill / JRR Tolkien posts are here:

Sarehole Mill

On Sunday 6th October 2013, there was a free Open Day at Sarehole Mill during the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival. While thre I got a chance to look around the mill, including around the Mill Pool, and more importantly inside. You could head up the wooden stairs and get to the top of the mill, and see the machinery in action, or what used to be used. The mill had been restored over the Winter of 2012-13 (including the dredging of the mill pool). The last major restoration took place back in 1969.

Some history. Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed watermill located in the Sarehole area of Birmingham (now on the Moseley / Hall Green border). You can access it now via the car park on Cole Bank Road (via the building used as the shop and ticket office now). The River Cole flows past the mill through the Shire Country Park. It is known for it's association with J. R. R. Tolkien.

There had been a mill on this site as early as 1542. It was once known as Bedell's or Biddle's mill, after a name of an early owner. By 1727 it was known as High Wheel Mill. Matthew Boulton leased the mill as early as 1755, and he converted the mill to metal working. The current mill was built in 1771 and was in used until 1919. After that it fell into disuse and was derelict until it was restored in 1969, and taken over by Birmingham City Council. The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the mill from the Council in 2012 and is now a museum.

 

Map of the area that Sarehole Mill is located in. Many buildings along the Cole Valley are now lost (including Sarehole Hall), but you can walk through th Shire Country Park. Today the John Morris Jones Walkway goes from Cole Bank Road to Robin Hood Lane.

 

This map shows more of the area around Sarehole Mill including Moseley Bog. Was used to illustrate the area that J. R. R. Tolkien grew up as a child.

Maps above taken from the Sarehole Mill Guidebook published by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2002.

 

Painting of Sarehole Mill in Hall Green, British School. 1850-1900. View from the Mill Pool.

Painting by George Willis Pryce (d. 1949) of Sarehole Mill. View from the Cole Bank Road.

The paintings above are Public Domain Dedication images taken from the Digital Image Resource of the Birmingham Museums Trust. Free to download.

 

Now onto my own photos of Sarehole Mill from the October 2013 visit.

After heading through the shop, you pass the Bakehouse to get into the courtyard area of the mill. What to do at Sarehole Mill?

Welcome to the Mill -----> Entrance to the mill is to the right.

The outside courtyard area of Sarehole Mill. On the day of this visit was a market for the We Are B28 Hall Green Arts Festival.

You can head out to the back of the mill and go round the garden area. There is also a back gate entrance / exit to the mill this way.

View of Sarehole Mill from the back. Remember to close the gate behind you.

Deep Water sign. Close the gate as you go in and out of this area.

View of Sarehole Mill from the Viewing Platform. Was a nice mirror image in the Mill Pool at the time (other times of the year the Mill Pool is usually full of algae).

Panoramic of Sarehole Mill with the Mill Pool.

During the Open Day, the view of Sarehole Mill was quite clear from the Wake Green Road. Usually this is all overgrown. You can imagine the artists that painted this view being on Wake Green Road when there wasn't too many trees growing on this side.

It's now time to explore the inside of the mill.

A view of the waterwheel as it was spinning at speed. Waterwheels had been used at the mill for centuries until it was replaced with a steam engine in 1852. It collects water from the Coldbath Brook (which flows into the River Cole). This is the north waterwheel.

Large cogs and gear wheels. The Mill Machinery. The power generated through the waterwheel is transferred to the mills gears to work all the machinery in the mill. The north waterwheel drives the gears which turns three pairs of milestones on the first floor.

The Flour Bins. Some of the many cogs / gear wheels that turn when the waterwheel is moving. The south waterwheel moves these gears and the flour bins where flour fell through hessian chutes from the dressing machines on the floor above.

This is the Sack Hoist. The ground floor of the mill was often called the bagging floor. Where wholemeal flour and the sieved graded flour was collected and put into sacks and bags.

One of the Millstones. The hopper is at the top. Grain falls through the chutes from the storage bin above. Below that is the vat. It collects the meal as it comes off the stones. Other parts include the shoe which directs the grain into the centre or eye into the millstone. Finally the iron damsel knocked against the shoe, shaking the grain into the millstone.

The Mill Machinery here was the crown wheel. This is near the Flour Dressing area. When grain has been ground it is called meal or wholemeal. This is a mixture of flour and bran. Dressing machines were used to separate the finer flour from the bran producing white flour. White flour was preferred in Victorian times to make white bread.

Now up to the roof of the mill. Mind your head. Up here was a pulley wheel. Steps ahead on the Tolkien Hobbit trail (link at the top for a post to that). This was the attic floor or garner where grain was stored before milling.

Another view of the pulley wheel in the attic / loft of the mill. Head room is quite low up here, so you have to duck and be careful. Farmers would bring their grain to the mill and it would be stored up here in sacks hoisted up from carts.

Next up in the attic / loft area was The Lucam. The trapdoor in the Lucam only opens upwards  and is hinged with leather hinges. The sack hoist mechanism once connected to the waterwheel but is no logner in place. The grain would be stored up here until the miller was ready to grind it. It would then be released through the holes in the bottom of the bins, into the hoppers above the millstones.

Saw this wooden wheel. Appears to be a strap around it. This was inside of the lucam, the projecting structure at the front of the building. This was where grain sacks woule be hoisted through the trap door into the garner from carts below.

Heading downstairs from the first floor. It looks like that they replaced the original staircase with a new wooden one.

The steam engine. There had been a steam engine at Sarehole Mill since about 1852. It was a sizeable investment, but the waterwheel had been repaired in 1851. This is not the original Sarehole Mill steam engine. But is of a similar size. Compact steam engines were suitable for small workspaces. This engine was used for over 100 years. Owned by Smith & Co which began in London in the 18th century. This one came from the Messina factory in Italy. It closed in the 1860s and the engine came back to London where it was in use until 1948. It was displayed at the 1951 Festival of Britain and was donated to the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry in 1952. It came to Sarehole Mill in 1975.

A Tull seed drill. Probably a Jethro Tull seed drill. Used for positioning seeds in the soil and burying them to a certain depth. It is possible that the miller or local farmer grew the grain in the surrounding fields. The land that is now the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground could have been used for that purpose.

In this room was somewhere for kids to make something with straw (by the looks of it). This would also be used as a school classroom for visiting school children and their teachers.

I later saw kids with their moms making something down there. They would learn all about the mill in here, and make things with straw, such as weaving a basket.

 

Beyond Sarehole Mill, there are walks along the Millstream Way in the Shire Country Park. Head towards Yardley Wood via the John Morris Jones Walkway, The Dingles, Trittiford Mill Pool and the Scribers Lane SINC. Or head towards Small Heath via the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground, Greet Mill Meadow, Blackberry Way and Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve. I've not been beyond the Burbury Brickworks, but you can walk or cycle as far as The Ackers Trust and Grand Union Canal. All along the River Cole.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Inspiration

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

If you visit Sarehole Mill, inside or out, you may see these signs (if they are still there) of a Bilbo Baggins / The Hobbit trail. The biopic Tolkien was released in UK cinemas in early May 2019. Featuring scenes set in Birmingham and near Sarehole Mill and around Edgbaston and the City Centre. This is a fun trail for Tolkien fans!

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J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill





If you visit Sarehole Mill, inside or out, you may see these signs (if they are still there) of a Bilbo Baggins / The Hobbit trail. The biopic Tolkien was released in UK cinemas in early May 2019. Featuring scenes set in Birmingham and near Sarehole Mill and around Edgbaston and the City Centre. This is a fun trail for Tolkien fans!


These photos below were taken during a free open day at Sarehole Mill in October 2013. Couldn't help but notice these The Hobbit signs. Clearly part of a picture trail round the mill!

Seen in the tea room, when it also used to be the ticket office (that was later moved into a building close to the car park).

Bilbo Baggins - look for his pictures around the mill.

Gandalf the Grey - he is looking for young Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo Baggins - a Hobbit.

Gandalf A grey wizard.

Thorin Leader of the Dwarves

Gollum A Stoor Hobbit of the River folk.

On the top floor of the mill, Bilbo's house!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

When the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire

During another visit to the gardens of Sarehole Mill (September 2016), I saw these four signs on stones with JRR Tolkien quotes from his books! Only had my (then) smartphone camera on me at the time. So not as detailed as would be on my main camera. I would guess that they were meant to be clues?

One Ring to rule them all One Ring to find them ...

Tall ships and tall rings, Three times three what brought they from the foundered land ...

For Bole and bougo Are burning a bit the furnace We go to War ...

Reeds by the shady pond. Lillies on the water ...

Bonus photos. It was the Summer of 2015. And The Big Hoot's Little Hoot trail was on around Birmingham, along with the bigger The Big Hoot trail. In Kings Heath they had several of them in shop windows. But if you popped into Lloyds Bank between July and August 2015 (may have still been there September 2015), you may have seen Frowldo Baggins!

This owlet was designed by Zac Iman and based on the character Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. I saw it during August 2015 in the Lloyds Bank in Kings Heath (Alcester Road South next door to Sainsbury's).

There was little owl sculptures at Sarehole Mill, but they weren't really Tolkien related.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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