Flour production restarts at historic UK mill after 50-year hiatus

The mill last operated commercially in 1970

24w ago

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You will likely have seen many reports over recent weeks on shortages of flour on shop shelves, with COVID-19 once again being responsible.

In addition to the initial panic buying of loo rolls and soap, basic supplies (including bread, milk and eggs) started to become scarce as the coronavirus crisis deepened.

The problems have largely been caused by the majority of the public being holed up indoors and prevented from going to work or restaurants; basically, everyone’s been bored stiff. So, people decided to stop constantly banging their head against a wall and take up baking – ultimately leading to the flour supply chain being unable to keep up (and so much banana bread knocking around that the government might have to use it to build new hospitals).

To help boost the UK’s flour supply while demand is so high, an ancient flour mill in Dorset has restarted commercial production.

The Sturminster Newton Mill is recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and was last rebuilt in the 18th century. Nobody is really sure exactly how old it is, but the charity that owns it believes it has been at the same site since 1016 – roughly the last time James May cut his hair. Since the mill stopped operating industrially in 1970 it has been open as a working museum.

However, local miller Pete Loosmore (whose grandfather worked at the mill for around fifty years) chose to recommence larger scale flour production at the mill after learning of concerns from nearby shops that they were struggling to meet the demand for flour. Usually, the building gets through one tonne of grain a year in order to manufacture a small amount of flour for tourists; this year, that tonne was used up within three weeks.

An historic flour mill starting up production again to benefit the local community is another unexpected twist in the convoluted coronavirus tale. If only there were some hens there, too.

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