Since October 2006, Andy Selfe has devoted most of his spare time to the restoration to full working order of the Water Mill at Compagnes Drift Farm, Bot River, Western Cape. Although the Mill had been preserved carefully by the Beaumont family since they took over the farm, it required the restoration of the water wheel, the 'launder' and the tail race to get the water wheel turning again after probably 50 years of standing idle. Once that was done, the original 200-year-old 'Vitruvian' or built-in Mill needed to be rebuilt, as all the woodwork, or 'furniture' was missing.
Apart from the Vitruvian Mill, there are two others in the mill-house, one from Gutmann in Frankfurt-am-Oder in the Eastern part of Germany, and a Stamford from the Blackstone factory in England, both about 100 years old. There are two evevators, one in working order, the other main one, and the distribution chutes from the top of it, are currently being restored. There is also a grain cleaner which still requires attention. All of this runs, via belts and line shafting from the water wheel.
In times of drought, the latter two Mills, the elevators and the grain cleaner can be driven by an engine. This conversion must have been added in the 1940s. Andy has brought and installed an engine of his, dating from 1939 to perform this function, but it has not been necessary to use it since the water wheel first turned again!
Andy is there most Saturdays, restoring and milling, and is always ready to down-tools to show visitors around. A small stock of freshly ground whole-wheat, stone-ground meal, (milled with a zero carbon-footprint!) is available at the wine cellar, which is open every week-day, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 3pm. It is best to check whether the mill is in operation before visiting, by ringing 028 284 9194. The farm gate is in the middle of Bot River village.
The article appeared in the May 2010 edition of Farm & Horticultural Equipment Magazine which is incorporated in Tractor & Machinery Magazine.
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