Rare chance to work at 900-year-old mill

Daily Echo: David Plunkett (Picture: Zachary Culpin/Solent News & Photo AgencyUK) David Plunkett (Picture: Zachary Culpin/Solent News & Photo AgencyUK)

BRITAIN’S only operational tide mill based in Hampshire is recruiting a miller to produce flour at the 900-year-old site, in what is one of the country’s rarest jobs.

The role is so unusual that the successful candidate is not expected to have any experience in the milling trade whatsoever.

Instead, they will be trained by David Plunkett, 70, who first held the position when Eling Tide Mill was restored between 1975 and 1980.

It had been abandoned in 1946.

The new recruit will work at the site, on the edge of the New Forest, for 24 hours a week.

They will produce around 16 tonnes of flour each year, and earn an annual salary of between £15,190 pounds and £16,215.

The mill – which is mentioned in the Domesday Book – harnesses the power of the tide to grind wheat into wholemeal flour.

It was once owned by the King of England, and later the Bishop of Winchester.

Mr Plunkett said: “It’s a huge privilege to secure this job because it is rare, specialised, and in such wonderful surroundings.

“I’m looking forward to passing on my knowledge of the tide mill to the next generation, and hope they will continue its fine history.

“I was lucky enough to be part of the team that restored the mill in the 1970s, returning it to its former glory.

“I responded to an advert in the local paper, in much the same way as the new recruit will all these years later.

“I was working as a stone mason at the time but had some experience of milling at other types of mill.

“It will take the new recruit a few months to learn the ropes and years to master, because the conditions are so variable.

“We don’t expect applicants to have any experience in milling but they will probably have a trade or engineering background.

“They should at least be comfortable with a hammer and spanner, and will likely have an interest in history.”

Mr Plunkett, who helped restore Windsor Castle following the fire in 1992, added: “Our hours of operation are entirely dependant on the tide, so the hours can be antisocial.

“Sometimes you have to be down here really early before most people are thinking of waking, and other days you’ll be here late in the dark.”

Helen Robinson, from the Eling Experience, which manages the site, said: “This is a fantastic and highly unusual job. We look forward to welcoming the new miller soon.”

The mill uses grain that is grown just a few miles away on the Cadland Manor Estate in the New Forest.

The grain is currently Solstice – an English breadmaking wheat, which is finely milled for best rising.

A 1.5kg bag is sold at the mill for £2.

The mill originally had two waterwheels, each driving two sets of millstones.

One wheel and one set of millstones have been restored and the others left unrestored, so visitors can see the machinery without modern safety screens around it.

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