A few more photographs from the Working Steam Weekend at Stotfold Mill last Saturday:
A threshing machine in operation, separating the grain from the chaff and straw. The earliest of these machines were powered by a horse-gin - a horse was harnessed to a wheel and walked in circles to turn the thresher. Later steam-power was employed, making the process even more efficient. It was these early forms of mechanisation that were smashed by the farm workers during what were known as the Swing Riots - not because the men were inordinately fond of threshing by hand but because their livelihoods were threatened by the new innovations.
Steam was also used to power saw-mills. Lining up this apparatus correctly seemed to take a long time, but once in action sawed through huge logs with ease.
This magnificently rusty contraption is what's known as a "portable engine" of the kind used to power all kinds of equipment. It would however require a team of horses to move it any distance.
The machine above was being used for splitting firewood. It looked highly dangerous but as far as I could see the operator had a full compliment of fingers!
The owners of the various machines camp on site for the weekend in all manner of carts and caravans.
Apple pressing taking place prior to making cider.
This huge steamroller was formerly used on the roads of Cambridge. I think I might have seen this one in operation when I was a child; steamrollers were certainly used into the 1960s by many local authorities, their huge weight being an obvious advantage for road building. It seems to have a very little buddy alongside!
There were many tractors in all sorts of condition, some awaiting their turn to go ploughing.
Tractors in a wide variety of colours too.
The watermill was also open and making flour. A mill has stood here in one form or another for over a thousand years, but in 1992 there was a huge fire which destroyed most of the mill. However local volunteers decided that it could, and should, be rebuilt. It was reopened in 2006. Though it lacks some of the antique atmosphere of older mills it shows what these buildings must have been like in their heyday.