Milling starts again at Mill Green to meet flour shortage

PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 30 April 2020

Alex Popovic, the miller, at Mill Green Mill

Alex Popovic, the miller, at Mill Green Mill

Welwyn Hatfield Council

Milling at Welwyn Hatfield’s Mill Green has started again to help plug the flour shortage.

An archive picture of the mill at Mill GreenAn archive picture of the mill at Mill Green

Here Jack Cowap, an apprentice with the Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service, reports on the history of milling at Mill Green and how the operation is working today.

For centuries the mill at Mill Green has been serving its local community.

Now, during the current health crisis, the wheel is continuing to turn in that historical setting with senior miller Alex Popovic at the helm to provide flour for the local community once again.

We know that milling has been taking place at the Mill Green site for almost 1,000 years as it is one of the mills owned by the Bishops of Ely at ‘Hetfelle’, listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Millers working in face masks at Mill GreenMillers working in face masks at Mill Green

Since then, the mill has continued to change and survived a multitude of challenges; from our millers being fined in the 1400s, feuding with their neighbours, and seeing devastating fires destroy nearby mills in the late-18th century.

But since the mill’s reopening in 1986, it has been running at a more leisurely pace, teaching new generations about the history of milling and the science involved in getting that freshly baked loaf on to your table.

However, as supermarket flour stock is depleting in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the mill is once again proving its value to bakers.

To meet this new demand, the wheel is turning at a pace it would have seen in years gone by with our millers, Alex and Richard, working tirelessly to fulfil orders for local people.

The socially-distant collection system for the flour made at Mill Green Mill. Picture: supplied by Welwyn Hatfield CouncilThe socially-distant collection system for the flour made at Mill Green Mill. Picture: supplied by Welwyn Hatfield Council

Of course, there have been new challenges to overcome that have made us adjust the way that we are working.

We are able to continue our milling operation with two millers working together; keeping their distance from each other and wearing face masks throughout the process.

We have also been working hard with our staff behind the scenes, taking orders and giving collection times.

Our front of house staff have developed a new process of contactless collection, with flour picked up directly from the mill itself, ensuring the safety of both our staff and our customers.

Mill Green Museum. Picture: Alan DaviesMill Green Museum. Picture: Alan Davies

We are able to provide locally sourced organic, stoneground wholemeal flour for our customers, which makes for a great taste fresh from the millstones as well as being highly nutritious.

Also, while we are unable to host our usual bread making courses, we are more than happy to give advice on baking and offer recipes for soda bread while yeast is still tricky to get hold of.

It is also heartening to see so many people learning brand new life skills, as customers tell us that they will be attempting to make their first loaf with our flour or that they will be baking with their children while the schools are closed.

It is amazing how many lessons we can teach through baking, from the maths of ratios and measuring weights to the science of types of scales as well as showing where our food actually comes from.

We are incredibly proud to be working as a community resource for the Welwyn Hatfield borough and it is great to see our mill continuing to thrive as we write a new chapter in its long history.

Flour is available for pre-order from Mill Green Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm, with collection times being arranged at the point of order.

Mill Green will be taking card payments only, with a maximum of 3kg per person (6 loaves) at this time.

Visit www.millgreenmuseum.co.uk/contact for more on Mill Green Museum and Mill and to place an order.


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