Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Blackpool Mill nr Narbeth, Pembrokeshire

Blackpool Mill is an imposing building that stands on a picturesque reach of the Eastern Cleddau river, less than a mile below Canaston Bridge. The mill was constructed in 1813 on the site of a 17th century ironworks, which closed in 1806 due to financial and transport difficulties.

Blackpool Mill is a rendered four-storey and attic building with a pitched slate roof. There are symmetrical two-storey wings set back from the building's south east frontage. The main central door originally had a canopy, which has since been removed.

Blackpool Mill
The mill was originally arranged round a central waterwheel, 4.5 metres diameter and 3.5 metres wide powered by water from the mill leet, which in turn was controlled by ten floodgates. During the Rebecca Riots of the 1840s these floodgates were destroyed as part of the widespread protest against social and economic conditions in rural Wales.

The waterwheel was eventually replaced by a turbine in 1901, which drove the four pairs of millstones situated at first floor level. Much of the other existing machinery was updated at that time. The turbine remained in use until 1958, when an electric drive was fitted.

The four pairs of millstones were used as follows:
  • One pair for Maize
  • One pair for Wheat
  • Two pairs for Barley
Blackpool Mill gradually fell into disuse after the second World War the, the building being used mainly as a corn store after the electric drive was fitted in 1958.

The mill building was renovated and opened to the public as a museum and tourist venue with some working machinery in 1968; sadly it is currently closed.

No longer open to the public
An ornamental single arch bridge was built alongside the mill crossing the River Cleddau. Growths of ivy now cover much of the decorative stonework, but I think the bridge's arch is still pleasing to the eye.

Bridging the River Cleddau
Ornamental single arch bridge with Blackpool Mill in the background
If you are in the area the site is well worth a visit, especially when combined with a walk through the ancient Canaston Wood.