The history of Knight’s Mill goes back to the year 1256, when Jean Baptiste BAUDOT was commissioned to build a mill on the MEUZIN. From then on it shifted a few dozen metres during rebuilding and settled on the existing site around 1750.
Since that date it has undergone several periods of rebuilding and restoration and one can identify the various stages.
There is evidence of evolution in building components and in milling apparatus from the millstones of the eighteenth century to the cylindres of 1950.
In such diversity lies its attraction and interest.
Its close association with the history of Vergy and the chapter of Saint Denis, (on which it was dependent since its foundation until 1765), is manifest in the wrought stonework which decorates the main part of the central building.
Bearing alternatively the name of « Knight »or « New » it operated initially to the whim of the Meuzin (as witness the tablets of the outer walls indicating flood levels), but it acquired a feeble gas motor in 1915, followed by a petrol engine and finally electricity in 1935.
These four floors represent the basic machines used in milling during the two last centuries.
This is where the milling (or grinding) takes place.
The visit begins with the millstone room which is the heart of the mill.. Here, a supporting bracket serves to lift the heavy millstones during cleaning operations. It is where the wheat or barley enters and emerges as flour. Notice the weighing machine near the window. In the centre is a rope for the sack hoist and nearby are silos for bagging the finished commodity, wheat, bran or barley flour. And at the far end a mixer far blending the different qualities of flour. Behind this, an opening leads you into the work-shop under which a cistern feeds the turbine (and, in bygone days, the paddle wheel).
On the walls hangs basic equipment used by the miller to maintain and repair. He thus became, as necessary, a carpenter or mechanic.
This is the oldest part of the mill.
( eighteenth century)
The collection of wheels, gears and chains is known as « pit wheel » to begin with, it was linked by an horizontal shaft to the paddle wheel situated behind the wall. To day, a turbine drives this axle and, using different belts, all the machines of the mill. The other rooms in the basement were for personal use as cellars or storerooms. In one of these was installed in 1935 an electric motor to help replenish the chronic shortage of water in the Meuzin.
The staircase opens into a room where the mixtures to be crushed by the millstones where prepared. There is another vertical shaft with chains which facilitate transport throughout the level. At the far end is the separator.After the extraction of the bran, the residue passes into this machine to be separated into several components, from the finest particules (flour) to the coarse grained (semolina and groats). In the next room is the bran brush, which, by vigorous threshing of the grain husk, allows the extraction of a little more flour. On the left, one of the eight bucket lifts used to transfer merchandise between different machines. And finally, the cleaner – point of departure for the corn – used to remove all the impurities contained in the cereal:(poor grains, dust, gravel…)before grinding.
The first room is dominated by the pulleys of the sack winch. At the back is a centrifugal filter whose inner paddles beat the flour through the gauze of the sieve. In the second room , on the left, an older hexagonal filter performs a gentler action, a slow rotation, dropping the flour from one pan to another. On the right, a plansichter (horizontal filter) is a more recent development which enables manual sifting. Notice also how the bucket lifts allow mechanised distribution of the product to other machines and levels.
OF THE MILLER
The room by which you entered the mill was until 1889 part of the miller’s living quarters. At the beginning of the twentieth century it housed some cylinders which replaced the millstone. At the same time a dynamo enabled electric light to be produced. The four pairs of cylinders introduced in 1950 were the concluding purchase of the last miller. Near the door, opening on to the courtyard, a « potager » or charcoal stove was used in summer. Moving on, two other rooms represented the kitchen and bedroom of the miller in the nineteenth century. They are equiped in the style of the time.
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