An ancient flour mill on the River Stour has decided to resume full-time production after 50 years to help tackle food shortages due to Covid-19.
Sturminster Newton Mill in Dorset is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and there is evidence to suggest that a mill existed on the site as far back as 1016.
It has been open as a tourist destination since it ceased industrial operations in 1970, but miller Pete Loosmore has decided to restart commercial flour production after local grocers reported shortages. He told BBC News the work has been a “pleasure”.
Mr Loosmore restored the mill’s machinery 26 years ago and it opened to the public for heritage tours. He and fellow miller Imogen Bittner operated it on a part-time basis during tourist season to make flour for visitors.
Lockdown and social distancing rules initially threatened the normal operations of the mill, but it soon became clear that there was a shortage of flour. Recent weeks have seen a spike in demand as more people are baking at home.
Usually the mill gets through about a tonne of grain during the tourist season, but this increased when local shops began to report flour shortages.
“This year we have got through the whole of that tonne in two to three weeks and we’re still chasing more and more grain,” he told the BBC.
“It’s been nice to bring the place truly back to life and back into something like it used to be when it was working six days a week.”
Image: Mike Searle / Sturminster Newton Mill (2) /