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Ancient flour mill back in business to meet lockdown demand

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An ancient mill in Dorset is back in business as a result of high demand for flour during the lockdown.

Until a few weeks ago, the 1,000 year old Sturminster Newton Mill on the River Stour was a popular visitor attraction, catering mainly for tourists.

But the rise in home baking, during the lockdown, has led to flour shortages with many shops sold out.

Suddenly we founds ourselves with plenty of grain and the means to grind it into flour. With all the local shops suddenly desperate for flour, it seemed a pity to just sit on the grain and do nothing with it."

– Pete Loosmore, Mill Supervisor
Credit: ITV News Meridian

Despite most of the machinery at the mill being more than a century old, the way the grain is ground into flour by the mill stones, has never changed.

700kg
of grain is typically milled each summer season for demonstration purposes

The most recent major re-build was 450 years ago.

Although the water wheels, which powered the mill, were replaced by underwater blades mid-last century.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Demand is so high, that the mill has received calls from customers in the United States.

But the mill's flour is exclusively for locals.

Bread and cakes made with the flour can be bought in the local bakery.

It's stone ground wholemeal flour so there's nothing added, nothing taken away and it makes excellent bread flour. If it's sieved it takes the bran away and that can be used for cakes as well. We're selling absolutely everything we can make."

– Imogen Bittner, Mill Supervisor
Credit: ITV News Meridian