New water wheel turns at Mapledurham watermill

On a previous visit to Mapledurham watermill to do maintenance work on the Archimedean Screw the new water wheel was in construction and it was hoped that it would be installed during the Summer. On our visit this week, and to to our surprise and delight the new water wheel made from locally sourced oak had been installed.

Original wheel installed in 1670

Original wheel installed in 1670

The watermill at Mapledurham is the last working corn and grist watermill on the River Thames and is still producing high-quality stone-ground flour today. The mill produces stone-ground flour using the water wheel that was installed when the mill was increased in size in the 1670’s.  Wholemeal and white flour, bran, semolina and Millers Mix, a blended combination bran and semolina, are all produced at the mill and can be bought locally.

Original working water installed in 1670

Original working water installed in 1670

Over the years some of the paddles of the existing original wheel were beginning to show their age so these paddles were replaced so as to extend the life of the water wheel and to allow it to continue to grind the flour.

The new oak waterwheel in construction ~ Photo Credit: www.mapledurhamwatermill.co.uk

The new oak waterwheel in construction ~ Photo Credit: www.mapledurhamwatermill.co.uk

The main reason for replacing the wheel was because of the appearance of a number of splits in the wheels framework and also many of the joints are showing signs of decay and movement.

New water wheel insitu

New water wheel installed April 2014

The new water wheel is the exact structural copy of the existing water wheel and is made out of oak which was sourced from the Mapledurham Estate.

New water wheel at Mapledurham

An exact replica of the wheel installed in 1670

Over the years some of the paddles of the existing original wheel were beginning to show their age so these paddles were replaced so as to extend the life of the waterwheel and to allow it to continue to grind the flour. These ‘replacement’ paddles will now be reused to replace the paddles as they become worn on the new wheel which I imagine won’t be for many years to come!

New water wheel at Mapledurham

New water wheel made from locally sourced oak

 If you’re interested in getting an existing water wheel refurbished or own the site of an old mill that has the possibility of reinstating a water wheel and would like more information please contact us here.

Archimedes arrives at Osney Lock!

Osney Lock Hydro is the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames.

Constructing a community-owned hydro scheme at Osney Lock has been a dream for local residents for over thirteen years. It started in 2001 with a survey of  Osney Island residents that revealed a shared concern about climate change and a desire to harness the power of the river that ran around the island to generate green electricity. A small island next to Osney Lock was identified as the best site for the hydro scheme. The island is owned by the Environment Agency so they were approached about the possibility of leasing the site. It was discovered that work was to begin on the weir in 2013 so the pressure was on for the residents to draw up plans for the Archimedean Screw and secure planning permission and then most importantly secure funding for the project.

Construction work prior to installation

Construction work prior to installation

There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.

Osney Lock hydro installation

Lifting the 4.35m Archimedean Screw into place

osney lock hydro installation

On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock – the final construction phase of the Osney Lock Hydro scheme. The screw was designed by Mann Power Consulting Limited in the UK and manufactured in the Netherlands by Landustrie. Once operational, the 49kW variable speed Archimedean Screw turbine  will harness the power of the river to generate approximately 179,000kWh of green electricity per year.  When the scheme is completed it will generate enough electricity equivalent to that used to power around 60 houses. It will also generate an income of over £2 million over the lifespan of the project for the community to use for further environmental projects in the community.

Osney lock hydro installation

The four bladed Archimedean Screw being guided into position ~ Photo Credit: Andrew Watson

Over the coming weeks the power house will be constructed and then the gearbox and generator added. Once the Archimedean Screw is commissioned it will generate clean green elcetricity for the Osney Lock community – a long awaited dream that came to life 🙂

Update: Gear box and generator connected.

Gearbox and generator connected

Gearbox and generator connected