A Heritage site & working museum with a restored & operational water wheel in Summerhill, Blaydon on Tyne, in North East England
This page tracks our progress during the restoration work at Path Head Water Mill. Restoration of the Mill and landscaping of the surrounding area has been a slow process, but we're finally getting there!
The updates on this page were made monthly from October 1997 to September 2000, and whilst restoration work still continues at the Mill we have suspended future updates to the page. Our progress can be tracked quarterly through our Newsletters which are posted on this site in April, July, October & December.
Plans are underway to commission the new office and have all services and utilities moved across.
We now plan to purchase the split-roller bearing for the lineshaft that was recovered from Coopland Mill (near Wooler) now that adequate funding has been obtained. This lineshaft will be used to power the bandsaw and some other machinery.
Finally - almost a year after the initial plan was conceived our new office is complete - we just need some furniture inside! We will shortly start to dismantle the old office to allow more room in the Mill building.
Things have been very slow here due to the seasonal bad weather, however the weather has had some positive effects. The stream has been able to flush itself out with the volume of stormwater.
The foundations have now been dug out for our new static waterwheel display which is based below the existing crankshaft and flywheel display. This waterwheel was another artefact which was donated from Acomb mill. Our aim is to reconstruct the waterwheel in it's original manner so as to recreate the way it was at Acomb.
Everybody a likes a good story... and today loads of kids and their parents enjoyed a great storytelling session at the Mill. There were loads of stories about millers and milling in general, and everybody seemed to have a great afternoon. We hope to repeat this success again, and ask anyone interested in attending to get in touch so we can see how many would be interested.
Our new office is now underway which will help improve the appearance of our shop area, and also provide extra protection for our shop and visitors. Moving the office from the Mill building to our Tearooms will allow us more space inside of the Mill to create displays and set up reconditioned machinery.
Maintenance Month! The joyous task of cleaning out the gutters and repainting windows is over for another year!
An interpretation board for the Acomb Millstone is being designed and will be situated adjacent to the car park being one of the first artifacts to be viewed during your visit.
In the heavy rain of June we suffered a flood during the night which thankfully did not damage to the Mill itself and only minor damage to the contents. We have now nearly dried out!
As part of the development of our Flywheel and Crankshaft display, work on the refurbishment of the Acomb water wheel is continuing at a pace. Cleaning, repair and painting of the remaining side segments is now complete ready for fitting of the timber elements of the wheel.
Our very FIRST plastic "Duck Race" took place on Easter Sunday with great success. We received approx. 80 visitors of which 40 children took part in the race. We hope to repeat this on an annual basis.
Finally, please accept my apologies if you have tried e-mailing us over the past few weeks as we temporarily lost our connection with the internet.
We have received a generous donation of a large quantity of trees ranging from Oaks through Maples to various Pines. These trees were planted in strategic locations by Trevor, Ben and some of our volunteers.
The Ducks Are Back!!!
We are currently providing loaves of bread and a wonderful home for our new residents - a handsome couple of Mallards.
Hey, we're actually early with our update this month! Our new Marketing Officer is now in full swing, and has loads of plans for us this year. These include a number of events taking place at the Mill e.g. Duck Races, Children's Story Telling, Sponsored Walk, Artist's Day. (Details to follow soon)
The internal restoration is still underway. We have overhauled two of the three bearings needed for the final line shaft which will actually transfer the drive from the wheel to the machinery (when completed).
Work on the path around the rear of the millpond and streamside is now almost completed, this will provide access for us to service and maintain the stream and pond and eventually giving our visitors wider access to the site.
Our community activities have expanded enormously over the past few months with more and more volunteers coming on site and helping us with landscaping work whilst learning new skills and a great sense of teamwork. We regularly receive volunteers from Gateshead Health Trust, Sheltered Housing & Work (SHAW) and BTCV Enterprises. We even occasionally provide a resource for Prices Trust and Weston Spirit groups.
General maintenance work is being carried out for the new year - a sort of Spring Clean if you will! More developments are planned for the coming months - stay tuned.
Millennium Update It may not have been around for 2000 years, but PATH HEAD WATER MILL's buildings have been part of Blaydons history for almost 300 years.
Thanks to Trevor & Ben's efforts and the generousity of the many people and organisations that have assisted us, the Mill remains an active part of our local Industrial Heritage.
Trevor, Ben and all of Vale Mill Trust's Trustees would like to wish you all the very best for the coming year.
We hope the New Year will be prosperous for the Mill and hope you can support us by coming to visit and telling everybody you know about the work we are doing.
The internal machinery installation is continuing well, two counter line shafts are now located. This will drive the newly situated woodworking machines for demonstration purposes.
Braving the elements outside our intrepid "explorers" have now finished planting the whips and cuttings for the willow arboretum.
The pond has been given a "pre-spring clean"/overhaul, clearing the weed and silt thus returning our waterflow and capacity to the original tolerances.
We're back inside! It's cold out there, so we have started progressing with some internal machinery installation and restoration - That should keep us busy for a while!.
Continuing from where we left off last Winter we are working on the drive train of lineshafts, belts and pulleys. Once completed these will power the woodworking machinery.
Landscaping work is continuing, courtesy of our volunteers and depending on the weather. More outdoor work will be done in the Spring.
The foundations have been excavated for our new static Acomb water wheel interpretation which will be sited below the Flywheel & Crankshaft display. Thus recreating the mechanical format as was in Acomb.
Our new path leading around the rear of the pond and towards our new flywheel and crankshaft display has now been finished. Following recent completion of the new bridge, this now allows for reasonable disabled access around the whole of the site.
Construction of the new stand-on sundial feature is well underway and should be completed by December - weather permitting.
Further landscaping around the pond, near the new displays has been done which will allow for our plans for a new willow arboretum early next year.
We have now painted the flywheel and crankshaft in a matt black anti-corrosive paint ready for assembly in the next few weeks.
Our new path is now nearly ready for use with 1/3rd already prepared and laid with crushed concrete granular sub-base. The bridge is progressing well.
A new "homemade" picnic table is now available for use in our walled garden area by the water wheel.
The flywheel has been cleaned, ready for painting. We have also begun to excavate a path around the rear of the pond, this will enable our disabled visitors to gain access and enjoy more of our site.
The installation of this new path and bridge will also provide viewing access to more of the wildlife habitat.
Concrete caps on the flywheel interpretation are now in place ready for the timbers for the bearings.
We have begun to clear and level the area around the stone supports ready for seeding and lawn.
Our newest attraction - the Pole Barn, now has it's completed roof which has been constructed from Victorian corrugated iron sheets.
The stone supports are now finished and await their concrete caps which should be in place in the next few days. This will support the timberwork which will in turn support the bearing housing for the crankshaft and flywheel interpretation.
The corrugated iron sheets are now onsite and being fitted on the roof of the pole barn. We are hoping that this attraction will be completed before mid-summer and in time for the schools returning in September. Work can then start on restoring the sawbenches which will be housed within the pole barn.
The internal workings of the Mill are now starting to take shape with all of the line shaft assembly now in place. We are in the process of "running in" the line shaft and auxilliary components.
The stone pillars which will support the flywheel and crankshaft display are nearly complete. The stonework is now finished and now awaits the concrete caps which will support the timberwork which in turn will support the bearings.
The main framework for the Pole Barn is now complete ready for the Victorian corrugated iron roof which will be in keeping with the period.
The foundations for the flywheel and crankshaft interpretation display are now well underway and should be completed before the summer season. This work has been undertaken by BTCV Foundation in association with the New Deal.
Our Summer opening hours are now in effect. These are Tuesday - Sunday 9:30 - 6:00. Please note that last admissions are 30 minutes before closing. we are closed every Monday except Bank Holidays.
The crane, recently purchased from the timber yard has been assembled in readiness for use in conjunction with the Pole Barn.
Visitor figures are slowly improving, but are still slow for the time of year. We are hoping that as spring approaches more families will choose Path Head to enjoy a relaxing day out, maybe as an alternative to a boring Sunday at home!
We are now in a position to complete the line shaft assembly, which we hope to be finished within two months at the outside. This will enable us in the medium term, to drive some of the woodworking machinery.
Happy New Year! The foundations for the flywheel are now complete and work on the concrete blockwork will shortly be started.
The initial structure of the Pole Barn is now erect and we hope for completion of this project in time for the Easter holidays.
Interest from local schools has improved with a number of visits arranged during January. We hope that this trend will continue throughout the year.
All of us here at PATH HEAD WATER MILL would like to wish you all the best for Christmas and 1999. We have been very busy here for the last few months planning and starting our new projects.
These projects include the construction of the new Pole Barn, preparing the foundations for the flywheel and crankshaft from Acomb and starting work on the path leading around the back of our site.
Our photo gallery has now been updated with pictures of our current construction projects on site.
Planning consent has now been received enabling us to start construction of the Pole Barn on the second terrace. Work on the first two frames is progressing well, and completion of the main structure is expected before Christmas.
Visitor numbers are still very low - probably due to the deteriorating weather. This should be improved when we eventually have brown 'Heritage/Tourist' Roadside signs.
Work on the foundations to support the Acomb Flywheel and Crankshaft will soon be underway, this was also agreed in the recent planning consent.
What awful weather we are having! The typical northern downpours have not helped our progress but things are still moving on.
We have our first length of lineshaft running. We have had to run it in because we have had to re-cog the crown wheel.
We have also started work on a new path around the rear of the pond to show people more of the area. This path will eventually lead from the Pond Dipping area to the back of the Mill and provide a good nature walk for visitors and especially school children.
Work is still progressing at the Mill, although we are still awaiting planning permission to start work on the pole barn.
We have now received some additional woodworking machinery dating from the 1930's which was still in use, until recently.
We have now finished re-cogging the crown wheel due to the fact the originals were stolen whilst it was in Guyzance Mill. This now means we can run the start of our lineshaft link.
We have now purchased some much needed line shaft from a watermill conversion outside Wooler. This will help us complete the drive train inside the Mill.
We have submitted a planning application to enable us to erect a Pole Barn on site to house our sawbenches. This will be sited on our central terrace and will not stand more than 6 feet above the level of the Car Park. This building will be a valuable addition to the site, complementing our existing features.
Back to the top
Sponsored Walk Special I think I can safely state that the Sponsored Walk which took place on Sunday 16 August 1998 was a great success.
20 people turned up at Caroline Terrace to take part in the walk and all enjoyed the tour of the Mill at the end. Pictures will be added to the Photo Gallery soon.
At the initial count it appears that we have raised a total of £333.50 which will be doubled by Abbey National Charitable Trust to £667.00.
I would like to thank everybody who helped make it a day to remember and especially the staff from Abbey National who came along and participated in the walk.
Visitor numbers are slowly improving with a few local schools visiting the Mill, amongst these were Crookhill Primary School and Emanuelle College. Special thanks to Emanuelle College whose pupils spent the day constructing a rockery and helping with general landscaping.
The grass is growing well which is making the Mill look even more picturesque. The wildlife in the pond is now beginning to return after the disruption of the excavation work.
Above is the flywheel and crankshaft which we recovered from Acomb Mill (near Hexham). It was installed in the wheel house of Acomb Mill, above the water wheel to substitute the drive in place of the original wheel which was damaged. In order to remove the flywheel and crankshaft we had to remove part of the Mill's roof. This enabled us to move the flywheel using a 25 ton mobile crane.
Some of our Mill machinery which has been in storage for the last few years has now arrived on site for restoration. They will be displayed around the site with Interpretation Boards explaining their original uses. Some of these should be in place by late 1998.
Work is progressing well with the assembly of the gears and shafts inside the Mill. The main shaft is now in location to provide us with our first "ratio step-up". Timber work is now in place along with the bearings for the third shaft for the next stage of the drive train.
We now need to raise the profile of the Mill, and have arranged for some advertising with relevant Tourist Information sources. I am also arranging a sponsored walk for local residents participation. The plan is to do a 4 mile walk ending at the Mill and provide refreshments and a guided tour for all participants. More details will follow shortly.
The Official Opening on 18 May went well. We received around 180 visitors. The Duke of Northumberland, The Mayor of Gateshead, Dr Joanna Martin (NWET), and our Co-ordinator Trevor Underwood did the honours. The weather was kind, with clear skies all day long.
LEFT TO RIGHT:- David Williams (NWET), Dr Joanna Martin (NWET), Trevor Underwood, Mayor of Gateshead & Duke of Northumberland.
Now the work begins! Our main aim is to complete the restoration of the drive train and other components of the mill so that there is more for our visitors to see. Most of the major building work is now complete, only the finishing touches to do.
Well we're now open. Easter weekend weather was appalling, so not many people came for a visit. However, we are hoping for a better response during the May Bank Holiday weekends.
We have now completed work on the Interpretation Centre and have the "Restoration" Interpretation Board in place. We are now able to serve tea, coffee and sandwiches in this unit, and the disabled toilets are operational.
Some of the initial Mill machinery is now on site and is being installed within the next few months. Work is underway to renovate some of the older machinery before it is put in place.
Our temporary site office and storage cabin have now been removed which allows us to complete the landscaping of the surrounding area. Most of the grass seed has now been planted and we hope to have the grass well underway for the summer.
We are now preparing for our Official Opening on the 18th May at 2pm where the Duke of Northumberland will be doing the honours!
The mill is now connected to a mains electricity supply. The Interpretation Centre is rapidly nearing completion with the dry lining now completed and the framework for the lavatories is in place.
The pond has now been excavated to give us adequate water supply and a pond dipping area is underway for the natural wildlife.
The balcony on the first floor of the mill now has it's handrail in place, and we are currently adding a lectern for use by schoolchildren when they are making notes about their visit.
The paths leading to the Mill and Interpretation Centre now have their foundations and levels. The base coat will be applied shortly ensuring that the top coat is laid in plenty of time for our opening in Easter weekend.
Back to the top
We're getting closer to our opening day and things are finally starting to pull together. The interpretation centre floor is now complete and the timber-work for the dry lining for the internal walls is in place.
The volunteer's are currently working on the path to the visitor's entrance which is well underway with the connection to the footbridge complete.
Construction of the kiosk to house the electrical switch gear and connection to the National Grid was successful and it is only a matter of time before the mill is on-line. An electrician has recently wired the building and strip lights are now in place. We have chosen to light the mill using fluorescent tube lights as this is more environmentally friendly and cost effective.
Happy New Year! - Sorry for the delay in the January Update, things have been a bit hectic here with the grand opening not that far away.
The water channels have now been concreted and fully complete. After a bit of re-thinking we've also got the sluice gate working properly and the water wheel is now fully complete. I've seen it working!
We have now successfully completed the field drain across the front of the mill building to remove excess ground water. The drainage system is now in place under the new floor foundations in the Interpretation Centre.
It has now been confirmed that the Duke of Northumberland will be formally opening Path Head Water Mill on Monday 18 May 1998. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. All member's will receive formal invitations nearer the time. Go on Join Now!
The scaffolding has now been removed following completion of the roof, guttering and pointing. The window frames are in position ready to be glazed, and the doors have now been hung.
The bridge to the upper floor entrance is now complete and awaits the fitting of a handrail. This leads onto a balcony overlooking the mill machinery which is being fitted below. New floor timber's are now in place supporting the balcony.
The water channel stonework has been completed, and the sluice gate and channel floor will be completed shortly. The water wheel is now finished! All the spokes are in place, together with the paddle boards and sole boards.
We've almost got a wheel!!! We had to rebuild the entire wheel pit because the old pit had a severe lack of foundations and was being held together by tree roots. We now have the axeltree in place waiting for the wheel pit to be completed. This axeltree is a later edition and is made from cast iron. We decided to paint the axeltree a bright colour (yellow) so it is easier for small children to identify on school visits.
This part of the project is well underway and close to completion.
Left = The wheel pit in the beginning
Right = The wheel pit at the end of October '97.
Back to the top
After lots of hard work we've now got a roof. A lot of the structural work on the Mill and Interpretation Centre buildings have now been completed and the scaffolding will soon be removed.
As the weather is getting progressively worse we will be concentrating our work on the interior of the building for the next few months. The first undertaking is to renew the upper floor timbers and make good the floor area and viewing balcony. Once the foundations are in place, we will then construct the new ground floor from stone slabs, which will replace the original flooring.