Practising the traditional trade of stone-grinding flour, demonstrating the art, developing products and driving sales are all in a day’s work for the recent recruit to Worsbrough Mill – the 17th century working water mill.
And, if he’s lucky, new Miller, Simon Dodd, might even get to sample some freshly baked bread along the way.
With the task of developing the already fantastic range of flour based products, increasing sales and ultimately securing the mill’s long-term future as a first-class visitor attraction and artisan food producer; Simon and the team at Worsbrough are busy building on the foundations of the business that was established six years ago.
One of only 43 working mills in the country, the original water-powered Worsbrough Mill dates back to 1625 and is a gem in Barnsley’s impressive cultural offer, attracting thousands of visitors each year. With the added charm of an open water reservoir, stunning 240-acre country park, woodland walks, abundant wildlife, museum, children’s play park, shop and tea room, it’s a place that brings history to life.
For Simon, the unusual post of full-time Miller was an opportunity not to be missed after he cut his teeth in the trade some years ago helping out a friend at a busy mill in Cumbria. He later moved to Selby but the hands-on experience and learning on the job ignited a passion that meant he
just had to go for it’ when hestumbled across’ the Worsbrough job advert
The aim for the growing team at Worsbrough Mill is to drive the business forward with a focus on new developments. Plans to add self-raising flour to the range of premium products are in the pipeline and will eventually add to the varied stock list. This currently includes the Mill’s best-seller, unbleached white flour plus wholemeal, spelt, rye and malted along with semolina and bran.
Products are stocked not only in the on-site shop which opens from 10am-4pm at weekends, with daily opening hours during Barnsley’s school holidays, but also at Elsecar Heritage Centre and Experience Barnsley plus a growing number of farm shops and small bakeries across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
To discover more about milling flour, visitors can pop along to one of the regular demonstration days. These are held on the last Sunday of each month between 10am and 2pm. Admission is free with the next event taking place on Sunday, January 27th. Here, spectators young and old can step back in time and discover the Victorian waterwheel and French burr millstones, watching and hearing the ancient tools of the trade in action.
The demonstrations are also a great chance to try a delicious loaf baked in the wood-fired oven. Aroundtown can personally recommend the malted sourdough, especially when served slightly warm on a cold winter’s morning. Produced after a long ferment, it includes three different flours, seeds and malted flakes which when combined create a divine flavour, a tantalising aroma and a very tasty treat on an otherwise damp and dreary day.
Aside from learning the secrets of historic flour-milling, visitors will find plenty to do at any time of year at the Mill and Country Park. They can enjoy the sights and sounds of a woodland walk or bike ride, thanks to well-maintained footpaths and cycle routes. On their travels they can get back to nature, look out for birds and other wildlife or simply admire the scenery. Two of the three designated routes are pushchair friendly and suitable for wheelchair access. An ideal spot for dog walking, furry friends are welcome to come along and join in the family fun.
After a brisk or even leisurely stroll, you can browse in the shop at weekends and pick up foodie treats, gifts, books and souvenirs. You can also reward yourself with a visit the Miller’s tea room which is open seven days a week serving breakfasts, lunches, cakes and drinks. It also holds bistro nights on the first Friday of each month, offering a four-course set menu. Please check Miller’s Tea Room on Facebook for details.
Simon will also be hitting the road and taking his bread-making demonstrations directly to children’s and community groups across Barnsley. Thanks to an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery, secured by Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust, the mill was able to buy a mobile bread oven and trailer to launch its Buns on the Run project. Now the touring workshops are spreading the traditional cooking and healthy eating messages, showing how easy it is to make bread at home as well as bringing people together, tackling loneliness, language and cultural barriers and improving health and mental wellbeing.