Water Newton Mill

Today's been one of those raw, grey January days that eastern England does so well. It was actually rather a treat to stay indoors this morning (after the obligatory early start) and finish a report in the warm.

I put off taking the dogs out, in the hope that the cloud would clear, but this was not to be, and we set off after lunch for our walk. I couldn't think of anywhere that would look especially attractive, but for a change of scene I decided to walk along the river between Castor Station and Water Newton. As I drove through Castor village I noticed that the first daffodils were blooming - they're always the earliest around here. In a few more days they might become blip fodder!

All was very quiet along the river, though there was a distant flock of fieldfares foraging on the flood meadows, and I startled a greater spotted woodpecker, which then flew to a nearby willow and rattled off a couple of drum rolls. So instead I decided that I'd record some of the buildings.

This is the back view of Water Newton Mill, with the lock in front of it. It was built in 1791 and has 19th century additions and alterations. Like many of the local buildings it is constructed from limestone rubble with freestone dressings, and has Collyweston stone slated roofs.You can just see the tapering red brick stack of the steam engine house on the left of the main building. The internal machinery is largely intact, including two wheels (one with fourteen foot diameter), two pairs of stones, sash hoists and grain bins.

Collyweston stone slate is a fissile limestone from the Jurassic period (140-190 million years ago). It is named after the village of Collyweston, in Northampton, which lies in the centre of the area in which the slate is quarried and has been used as a roofing material since Roman times. From the middle ages until the 19th century it was used on almost all buildings within ten miles of the quarries and on prestigious buildings further afield. If you look in large you can see that the smallest slates are used near the roof ridge, and the slates gradually increase in size towards the bottom of the roof.

I have to say it was good to get back home. Ben and I did a session on the circulatory system and then made a venison and chestnut casserole for tea - just the right sort of dish for a wintry day!

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