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Report - Healings Flour Mill, Tewkesbury - July 2010

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by clebby, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
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    Healings Flour Mill, Tewkesbury

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    I've always found this fine mill building fascinating, even before it closed. After going swimming at the skanky nearby Cascades pool (band aids and athletes foot all round), we used to sit outside the mill by the river eating ice cream. Even then the subsiding silo building and the roaring machinery fascinated me, and I remember trying to peer through the windows to see what was making such a racket.

    I didn't realised the mill had closed until about a year ago, and this resparked my interest in the building and I was determined to get inside and see what was on the other side of those windows. Well, it was never going to be easy, but perseverance paid off and eventually everything fell into place when Kempes and I visited. Thanks has to go to patwintab though, for getting in before everyone else - you beat a lot of people to it!

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    Tewkesbury has a history of flour milling spanning many centuries. Monks from Tewkesbury abbey used to produce flour at a watermill on the Avon, but by far the most substantial mill was just upstream from here. The photo above shows the massive Healings Mill complex, built for Samuel Healing in 1865. It did not start out that big, but bits were added here and there over the years and it grew into a sprawling tangle of different aged buildings. Luckily, the handsome 1865 buildings survive today.

    When built, it was considered to be the largest and most modern flour mill in the world, producing 25 sacks of flour an hour in 1892. It has had, in the course of it's history, three means of transport in and out of it. It had road access via a handsome cast-iron bridge, rail access via the Tewkesbury to Upton-upon-Severn railway line, and canal / river barge access via the Avon. Barges were used right up until 1998, as the mill had two barges named Chaceley and Tirley which transported grain to the mill from Avonmouth and Sharpness.

    The mill was purchased by Allied Mills in the 1970s, and was completely refurbished and fitted out with brand new machinery. It was in turn taken over by ADM Milling, but in 2006 they announced the closure of the mill and the loss of around 40 jobs. It milled flour for the last time on October 20th, 2006, ending 140 years of milling on that site.

    This is the original mill building, dating from 1865. The mill reminds me a lot of the Foster Bros. Mill in Gloucester, only much more modern and much less decayed. It's also one of the largest and most recognisable buildings in Tewkesbury, and probably the tallest after the abbey.

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    With a handsome date stone:

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    The other side of the buidling is badly subsiding, as the silos have been unevenly loaded over the years. The cast-iron bridge is original:

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    Round the back, it's a bit more modern and utilitarian, and frankly lacks any charm whatsoever.

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    I'll start in the original building first, as that's where it seems the actual milling was done. The top floor was about twice the height of the lower floors, and was absolutely packed with some amazing, and massive, machinery.

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    The lighting was also pretty stunning up here. Thanks to Kempes for letting me borrow his wide angle, you're a star!

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    The machines had doors that could be opened, reveling slots and slots of seives inside. I imagine it was used to separate grain size - largest at the top, smallest at the bottom.

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    On the next two floors down, it was a tangle of pipes and shoots and conveyors. The pipes had glass tubes on them, so that operators could see the condition of the grain flowing through them.

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    The floor below was something special. It is absolutely packed with the actual milling machinery, which seems to have been put in in any places possible.

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    Again, more fantastic lighting:

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    Mmmmmm, still smelt of oil and grease. :cool:

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    Oh, and an epic control room. It's reminded me a bit of the ones at Pyestock. And there's 2 others in this building alone! ^_^

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    One thing about the mill that was a disappointment was the lack of original features. The Foster Bros. Mill was stunningly original, whereas in here it was all a bit 70s. Nice wood and all, but not the original thing. For example, although this staircase was nice, it would be nothing compared the the original.

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    The other building was much larger, but not quite as impressive as it was largely taken up by silos. Still, some nice machinery:

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    I love the lighting in this one:

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    And, even better, the door led to another control room.

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    More pictures below.

     
    #1 clebby, Jul 6, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010

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  2. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
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    The mixing / blending mill:

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    And finally, the silo block. The silos are astronomically huge. I popped a trapdoor open and peered in - they go right down all six floors of the buidling. There's some fairly interesting machinery used to feed flour / grain in at the top:

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    And yet more fantastic lighting. I found the mills a very easy place to photograph.

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    Another pipe with a glass section, so an operator could see just by glancing whether it was in-use or not:

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    Again, kudos to patwintab for getting in first, and thanks to Kempes for a great (if not very thirsty) day out. Oh, and for buying me a pint at the end! :)

    For anyone planning on visiting, there's 24 hour security on site, and they do go into the buildings, making it a fun game of cat and mouse. Luckily, our ninja skills paid off and we weren't caught. :cool:

     
  3. Chelt original

    Chelt original 28DL Full Member
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    this was seen whilst on another rural explore, pre clean....
    (1960)​

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    ultravox likes this.
  4. ultravox

    ultravox 28DL Full Member
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    Excellent report! :thumb
    I went here in May 2011 with "Lost Explorer" and "DHL"..I didn't have a very good camera back then and my pics are not anyway near as good as yours!
    I have also seen some more recent reports. So might be worth a re-visit!

    R.I.P DHL. Gone but not forgotten.
     
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