Bob's Mellor Mill Diary
Bob (Robert Humphrey-Taylor) is leading the excavations at Mellor Mill.
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The Challenge Twelve
Well, July 28th will be a date to remember. We finally received our "Permission to Start" from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It has been a long, and at times a frustrating, journey. Still we are there now and we can look forward to moving on at a pace with the Revealing Oldknow's Legacy Project. Very soon we should be able to get some welfare facilities on site, purchase an excavator and make the job look like a professional archaeological dig.
In the meantime we have been busy. During July we had a group of eight A Level Archaeology Students from Aquinas College join us for a week closely followed by a group of twelve young people from The Challenge Project. We are looking forward to having another 12 young people from The Challenge join us on the 12th August. Young muscle is always very welcome!
We also have Carlos Blanco, (right) a Spanish history student from Barcelona University, digging with us for the whole of August. Carlos is keen to learn more about British Industrial Archaeology and asked me if he could be a volunteer. It was also good to welcome ten members of Aquinas Staff who spent a day working on the stable area at the front of the mill. Of course, we have also had our regular dig volunteers working at the weekends and our volunteer guides who do such a magnificent job showing our visitors around.
The next event to look forward to is Oldknow's Day of Fact and Fun down at the Roman Lakes and the Mellor Mill Site on the 7th September - make sure YOU don't miss it.
Metal Detectors Help In Dig
Stockport Metal Detecting Club have agreed to be our official metal detectorists. We welcome them as part of our wider team of volunteers. All the club members work to a nationally recognised code of practice and carry an ID card identifying them a bona fide members of the SMDC.
Since the nature of our dig at Mellor Mill involves using machinery to remove the bulk of the spoil it is inevitable that many small finds will be missed. By partnering with SMDC we will be able to recover many of those missed objects - every find they discover is a bonus for us. One unlikely detected object, discovered by Colin Wilson yesterday, was this glass jar which was buried next to the most westerly stone gatepost at the entrance to the stables and coach house. I had earlier commented that there will still be many glass and pottery finds missed as there isn't yet a machine capable of detecting them. The jar was unearthed because it was full of galvanised fencing staples! Colin also found the gate latch plate from the eastern gatepost. Last weekend a number of George V and Elizabeth II coins were found by SMDC members. However,we are still waiting to find a George III coin.
Delighted to receive eight Lower 6th Students of 'A" level Archaeology to the site this week.The Students are from Aquinas College in Stockport doing a one week work experience, what a great group they are.Today, their first day, they have worked really hard and made great progress on the southern staircase area.The stonework is be coming really well defined. The hope is that an internal staircase will be revealed over the next few days - well done the Aquinas Team!
Spinning Machine Mine
Wow! What a great week end we have just had. Continuing our excavations of the steps at the rear of the mill we have uncovered more and more pieces of spinning machines. As the photograph shows the finds are extensive. John Glithero, our expert on mill machines was down over the weekend wheeling barrows of spoil away from the dig - if we pulled out another piece of machinery whilst he was away tipping his barrow he was jogging back to take a look as soon as he noticed it. I have to say we are now gettiing a bit blasé about cog wheels and spindles as there are so many in this one small area of the dig - it is probably less than 5% of the total. We are going to need a large warehouse at this rate.
Pictured below is the largest piece of machinery recovered so far. It is thought to be the input drive of a spinning machine (identification is ongoing) you can clearly see the pulley over which a drive belt would have passed. It is good that this is supporting theories that many pieces of machinery would not have been recovered by the scrap merchants, following the fire in November 1892, if they were difficult to get at. i.e. below ground level.
Four MAT trustees signed the 25 year lease for the land at Mellor Mill today. The lease is a requirement of gaining "permission to start" from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We can now look forward to getting on with the excavations in ernest. I'm sure 3 years will soon slip by !