Tuesday, 18 May will finally see the opening of Hessle Whiting Mill.
Fully refurbished and with original machinery and new displays, the mill will open to visitors on Tuesday, 18 May and Friday, 21 May between 10am and 4pm (closed 1 hour for lunch 12-1pm). The mill will open on Tuesdays and Fridays at these times from then on.
Visitors will explore inside the mill’s tower on five levels and see the crushing gear which ground chalk from the quarry. They will learn how the mill worked and how whiting was made and ‘meet’ the mill’s Victorian owner and the Edwardian wife of a quarryman.
Only six visitors will be allowed inside the mill at any one time and face coverings are mandatory. The project officer and members of the volunteer team will be on site to welcome visitors and answer any questions. Once government restrictions are eased, the numbers permitted inside the mill will be increased and there will be an increase in open days.
The refurbishment of the Humber Foreshore’s Hessle Mill shows a rare example of an early nineteenth century whiting mill that once ground chalk from the nearby quarry.
A £724,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund funded most of the £968,869 project, with the council covering the remainder of the costs.
The mill forms part of ‘The Chalk Walk’ heritage trail, which follows a path through the oldest area of the quarry, continuing inside the mill’s tower.
Dr Alex Ombler, project officer, said : “The exterior of the mill features a new stepped plaza area and mill stone seating, as well as relevant interpretation panels, lighting and benches. The mill is fully interpreted inside and includes a display screen with media footage.
“We are very excited at finally being able to open to visitors, and are really looking to sharing the fascinating history of the mill.”
Unlike the windmill at Skidby, which ground corn and wheat to make flour, Hessle Mill was an industrial ‘whiting windmill’ designed to crush chalk from the nearby quarry that now forms the Humber Bridge Country Park. The exact date of the mill’s construction is not known, but based on the design of the tower and the cap and sails (which were removed in 1925) it was likely built sometime between 1810 and 1815, when it replaced an earlier horse-powered mill. The crushed chalk was used to manufacture a purified powered form of chalk called whiting. During the nineteenth century this was mainly used as a filler in paint or mixed with linseed oil to make putty; later it was used more extensively in the production of rubber, paint and plastics.
Chalk extraction stopped in 1970 and the wider quarry area returned to nature. The construction and opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981 brought a new focus to the site, which had been purchased by Humberside County Council during the previous decade. In 1982 the whiting mill acquired grade II listed status and four years later the Humber Bridge Country Park was opened by the local council as an attraction for the thousands who visited the area. In 2002 the Country Park was also designated a local nature reserve due to its wildlife value and importance to the local community.
Full details of the Hessle Mill reopening and the Chalk Walk Trail can be found at : www.quarrytocountrypark.co.uk