Worsbrough Mill: Where flowers meets flour

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Few can resist the smell of freshly baked bread as it wafts through the air.

At Worsbrough Mill and Country Park in Barnsley, all the family can learn about how those tiny grains of wheat became that deliciously moreish loaf and see South Yorkshire’s only working
water powered corn mill.

Standing in the middle of Worsbrough Country Park on the edge of the serene reservoir, the two-storey Old Mill dates back to 1625; however, Domesday records show a mill in the area from as early as 1086.

Powered by the River Dove, the ancient water wheel is housed in the Old Mill which would have also been home to the miller and their family before the house was built in the 18th Century.

As technology advanced, the mill was modernised in the 1820s, followed by the building of a new, steam engine powered mill next door in the 1840s.

Sadly, due to cheap imports and the arrival of the faster and safer rolling mill, the UKs corn and flour trade dropped off towards the end of the 19th Century, with the mill becoming disused by the early 1900s. The steam engine was scrapped but the old water mill was still in use to grind corn and oats for the farmers’ animals up until the 1960s.

Thanks to West Riding Council, the site was restored and opened as a working museum in 1976, with a rare 1911 Hornsby hot bulb engine from Sykehouse Windmill used to replace the forgotten steam engine.

Today, the site is operated by Barnsley Council with the doors to the mill open most days if the miller, Richard Moss, is busy at work.

Starting as a farmhand 25 years ago, Richard worked as a park ranger and thanks to his knowledge of the mill, was asked to be a miller where he took over full time 12 years ago.

Producing 17 tonnes of flour every year, Worsbrough Mill is one of around 33 historic mills still operating, down by over 40 in the past decade.

Unlike modern, fast-paced mills whose heat kills off the nutrients in the wheat, the stone grinding at Worsbrough operates much slower, retaining the natural wheat goodness in the end product – meaning nothing is added artificially like mass-produced flour. This process takes years to learn, particularly to create the Worsbrough quality products.

With a different taste and texture, the Worsbrough flour also behaves differently when baked, with Richard offering baking and tasting demonstrations throughout the summer for you to try the distinct Worsbrough flavour.

Made from fully organic British wheat, while not entirely gluten free, those with wheat intolerances have noted how they can still enjoy the rye and spelt varieties of Worsbrough flour (seek doctors approval).

The flour is mainly bought by artisan or cottage bakers plus whole food shops; Rob Royd Farm Shop uses the flour to make the Worsbrough Cob which can be purchased and is served with soups and salads in the on-site Millers Tea Room.

Along with premium quality flour from soda meal to semolina, wholemeal to strong white, they also sell porridge and muesli with exceptional tastes.

After discovering the two historic mills, head up to the reservoir which was completed in 1804. Built to supply water to the Worsbrough branch of the Dove and Dearne Canal which is linked to Goole Seaport, it was enlarged in 1826 adding an extra 20 acres of surface water.

Today, the 60 acre water’s edge attracts bird watchers and anglers as well as those who tread the reservoir’s perimeter in search of nature and wildlife.

After the perfect family walk taking in water and woodland, playing on the free play area or taking part in one of the regular family activities, head on down to the Millers Tea Room for a bit to eat, a refreshing drink, or a freshly baked cake or scone.

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