There has been a flour mill in the village of Eling just outside Southampton since at least 1418, the date of the earliest known lease of the mill.
There is evidence showing a Roman road passing through Eling and, as the mill stands on the causeway crossing the river Bartley Water, it is likely the road passed the same point. Was there a mill there then? It’s not impossible as two mills in Eling were recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The corn is ground in the mill using the variation in level between the water in front of the mill (Eling Creek, at the end of the Southampton Water inlet) and in the river itself. The causeway is used as a dam and the sluices are closed at high tide so the water is trapped in the river channel.
Once the tide in Eling Creek starts to fall the sluices leading to the water wheels below the mill are raised. The water from the river falls to the Creek, driving the water wheels on the way. One of these wheels is presently attached to fully functioning mill stones and the mill produces high quality flour (I know, I have a large bag downstairs).
Eling has the advantage of having two high tides a day as a result of the Isle of Wight, which stands at the mouth of Southampton Water, and so is able to grind more flour.
The present mill was built in 1785 and is now owned by Totton and Eling town Council. It is run as a very interesting tourist attraction with a small shop, along with a tea room, visitor centre and museum opposite.
Eling Tide Mill has two water wheels, only one is used for flour production. The second wheel has been left in decay but recently the Town Council has made an application to turn the unused wheel into a hydro-electric generator using the power of the tide.
This means that the mill can produce entirely environmentally and reliable electricity twice a day. The output will be sold to the National Grid and will be enough to provide power to a row of houses.
The project and a refurbishment will cost £1 million, much of which is expected to come from a grant from the British National Lottery.
There will be more on this project here on UKLotteryDraw.com in the future.
Money from the UK lottery draw has to date provided more than £1 billion to finance deserving projects in the arts, heritage and sports.
Find out more about Eling Tide Mill and the National Lottery Good Causes.