Mill Wheels Grinding

 {aka Yenta searching for mills} like any good Jewish Donna Quixote would do.

What began as a mild interest, seeing that I live near historical mills, has become an abiding passion. One of amazement and learning, to a degree that has me searching via the internet, physically looking for old mills, and listening to many, many stories, from farmers or ‘mill families’.

Main picture: Horse Mill

Classified now, as vernacular architecture, this precious entity has all but vanished from our country. At one stage, there, through research show some one thousand mills in South Africa, of which, 598 were in the Eastern, and Northern Cape, slipping a tad into the Karoo, in any direction. {not allowing for unknown mills’.} an example, if you will, “Cradock 67 mills”- I found one.

Wind Mill, Gradwell’s Mill in Grahamstown

The mills fall under three designs, a. windmill, {with those big blades} b. water mills or grist mills. {the huge wheels on the side of the building} c. horse mills, {the wheel is on the top, which shafts protruding out, where the animals were tied to, and they walked around in circles, making the wheel work.} d. very rarely, Norse mills, or tidal mills, {built over a stream, which harnessed the flow, to make the machine work} There have only been two of those known to have been constructed, in South Africa. Not to be confused, the water/grist mills also needed flowing water, to make the big wheel work, however, to a lesser degree, and manpower, as the enormous stone grinding wheels worked on a momentum, induced by man.

Grist or Water Mill:
Bradshaw’s in Bathurst

Since time began, man has attempted to grind seeds into food- from the smallest mortar and pestle, to the African grinding stones, the desire and necessity to produce a product which they could cook and eat, one as a ‘porridge, {mealies}  and the other {wheat] for making bread, the most basic food on the planet. Note, we are excluding wool/spinning/cloth mills, those are a different breed of construction.

Horse mill

Leave a Comment.