It was with mixed feelings I visited a building I had spent a lot of my childhood within and for many years, through the wars, had been operated by my Grandfather and Father. There are many wonderful stories of their time spent in this building particularly the Christmas Eve Raffle which had to stop when the police became involved!
I was surprised by the new entrance into the building but on entering in further a lot of familiar features became apparent. I was relieved to see many features had survived the fire including the mill ladders worn into shape by much frequent use in the past. The leather driving belts had survived which the Norris's being saddlers as well would have made themselves.
Andy Phillips took us around and I was impressed with the amount of thought he obliviously had put in to this project to ensure sympathetic restoration to suit a changing need. It must have been quite a challenge. I thought the idea of not replacing the upper floors so the layout of the milling machinery could be seen and admired from below was inspirational. The colour scheme in the old corn room was brilliant. On a hot summer day early in the morning with a high tide and the mullet breaking the glass surface of the river the best view in Beaulieu can be enjoyed from this room. The electric lighting was well thought through as this would not be an easy building to light well.
I envy the new tenants being able to work in the warm ambience of this lovely old building. There is only one thing missing from this restoration and I was reminded of it not so long ago when visiting a groat mill in Scotland. It is the smell. The old mill had a unique smell a wonderful aroma of river water, freshly crushed grains and leather belt dressing.
By Frederick Norris