January's work sees Bob Humphrey-Taylor, the Mill Site Director, and Rachel Miller, the Project Archaeologist, busy clearing the spoil heaps. That’s the piles of earth that were dug out mostly by hand, to uncover and expose the mill foundations.
Despite the cold weather and snow, they have made fantastic progress. Around 1000 tonnes of earth have been moved so far! They are making a path around the edges of what was the mill, so that people can safely see all the exciting discoveries. Paths have been also been created throughout the site so that volunteers can make their way around more easily. Some of the earth is being used to landscape the area around the mill, providing a flat space for the site cabins to go when they arrive.
Bob also used the digger to dig a channel from the Engine House towards the middle of the mill, and Rachel was excited to uncover a long metal cylinder sticking up out of the earth. She suspects it is a hold down bolt for a drive shaft bearing, if that is the case it would confirm the position of the drive shaft, from the Engine House across to Wellington Wheelpit. This would mean that it was likely that the steam engines were added and joined up to the waterwheel powered system. So rather than steam power replacing water power, it was brought in to add to the power that was still being generated by the grand Wellington water wheel.
Wellington water wheel was a breast-shot water wheel. Water channelled from the millponds (now the Roman Lakes) poured over the edge of the wheelpit and hit the waterwheel blades in the middle of the wheel, which pushed them down to drive the waterwheel.
Join us on an exciting journey around Samuel Oldknow's stomping ground, Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal in Marple…
Mellor Archaeological Trust and the Canal & River Trust have joined forces to secure £2.3 million of investment, including a grant of £1.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Over the next three years, the Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy team will reveal, conserve and interpret Oldknow’s legacy, through archaeology, learning and volunteering opportunities. We're going to put Marple on the map as a visitor destination.
So who is Samuel Oldknow and what’s the big deal? Read our blog posts to find out more.
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