Eskdale Mill & the community

This watermill was a cornerstone of Eskdale’s economy, processing essential foods for the valley community for many hundreds of years. It was at its busiest between 1740 and 1890. Oats and barley were sent to the mill by local farmers, and later wheat was brought in. The grain was ground by the millstones into meal and flour to provide bread for farming families and workers. German millstones for milling wheat were probably installed around 1740, but oats and barley continued to be the main crops.

The miller’s account book for 1842 still survives, recording the details of the busy incomings and outgoings of the mill. Farmers usually delivered their grain to the mill themselves, but the miller would return the ground flour using his own horse and cart. The miller also kept pigs, chickens and a couple of cows, and had the right to graze sheep and dig peat for fuel on the fells.

Things changed dramatically during the late 1800’s, as cheap grain imports began to replace locally grown cereals and local farms concentrated on livestock. Huge industrial mills in large ports like Liverpool started to process imported grain, and most local mills were shut down or adapted for other uses. Eskdale Mill survived, and continued to produce animal feed until the 1930s.