Bellamy's Steam Flour Mill
(Page 2 of 8)
In January 1863 disaster struck. A fire destroyed the interior of the mill. Nothing was saved. During the dismantling of the mill in 1981 a thin layer of ash interspaced with nails was all that remained of the mill's timberwork and wooden machinery. Yet three months after the fire the mill was back in business with new and updated machinery.
During the rebuilding important changes had been made. A third pair of stones had been added and more importantly steam power to supplement the now inadequate water power. To house the boiler and 30 HP engine a wing to the south of the main structure was added. The addition of steam power was a significant step in providing the mill with an economic future. Hitherto the nine feet of water on the south branch of the Rideau River was available for only about four months a year. Insufficient water supply in summer and cold in winter brought the mill's machinery to a standstill. The steam engine and boiler provided power and heat and could be called on twelve months a year regardless of the weather.
What has been reconstructed at Upper Canada Village is Samuel Bellamy's rebuilt mill of March 1863. It contains three pair of stones, the water turbine, the steam engine and boiler, and all the other necessary equipment to manufacture flour and feed.
The search for a mill suitable for Upper Canada Village commenced in 1979. The hydraulic and topographical characteristics of the original site would have to be duplicated. The character and scale had to be complementary and the mill would have to be architecturally intact and available to Upper Canada for the restoration project to be successful.
Every mill is designed around a particular millseat. The head of water and the volume available are important factors in the mind of the millwright. The mill structure must accommodate the mechanical needs of the desired type of business. Custom mills, designed to meet the needs of the local farming community, require quite different machinery from merchant mills, whose business lies in the milling of flour for export. The mechanical requirements are so different as to affect the scale and character of the mills. For Upper Canada Village a small custom mill would best complement the site and the programming.
Even if a particular mill might be suitable for relocation it may not necessarily be available, and because mills were frequently instrumental in the development of a particular community, they arouse sentimental j responses in people long after their commercial significance has faded away. Their removal is often challenged regardless of legal title or condition, and with good reason. Historic buildings are important in the community.
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