Thursday, 27 August 2015

Industrial archaeology revealed

Derwent Hydro are currently working on the turbine house at the side of the East Mill. They are clearing out mud and silt, replacing stone steps, traps and beams to make the turbine efficient and viable for the future, a contemporary use of water power. There are times in the last week when it must have seemed anything but 'clean' energy as the workmen waded in the sticky smelly mud! If you come and take a look, you will see aspects of the Mill site that will no doubt be hidden from view for years to come. It's fascinating to see the supports for the East Mill building and the channels that run underneath. This week we have had a team of experts in the North Mill basement, assessing our problem with water breaching a corner of the foundations. Again it has been a real insight into the industrial archaeology of the site. Historically Mills have come and gone, tunnels and sluices have been blocked and old ancillary buildings, including garderobes or lavatories have been demolished.Some of the mortar contains clinker and coal dust. Drainage channels and pathways within and outside the buildings have been covered over. Looking at the site as a whole, there's a sense that all the buildings are on islands, with water courses around them. Not quite Venice, but you get the idea! Each discovery seems to lead to another query at the moment, but modern technology and new types of surveys should help us get some answers.

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