The re-opening of the "Lark" roller mills
by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK
The Miller of December 2, 1901 reported on the re-opening of the Lark Roller Mills at Mildenhall in Suffolk, UK.
These mills were the headquarters of the enterprising firm of Parker Brothers Ltd, and were erected on a favourable spot on the River Lark. The site was protected by an ancient manorial right, by virtue of which the old mill had the exclusive right to grind corn in the large parish of Mildenhall.
Messrs Parker Brothers Limited was a private company with Joseph Parker, Luther CF Parker and W Ralph Dodd as directors and Ernest A Parker as secretary. The milling, malting and merchandising business ran two mills at Barton, one a stone mill and the other a roller mill, the water mill at Icklingham, and two at Mildenhall.
The Lark Mill, having just been fitted out by the milling engineers ER&F Turner of Ipswich, was opened by Mrs Joseph Parker at the request of Mr Turner himself. Mr Parker then gave a short speech in which he explained that, after a great deal of consideration as to whom should be entrusted to do the proposed alterations and additions to the Lark Roller Mill, they had decided to place the work in the hands of Turners of Ipswich. The two roller mills could now deal with no less than 1,600 "coombs" of wheat a week and it was their aim to supply the very best sack of flour it was possible to obtain. A coomb was a medieval Suffolk measure of approximately four bushels (140 litres), which was still in use locally well into the twentieth century.
Mr Turner in response said he had had considerable experience in introducing roller milling. He had spent considerable time setting up roller mills in various parts of the Continent where his firm first operated, before roller mills were much known in England.
An inspection of the mill itself showed how everything was carefully planned, and how clean the machines and floors were. The two double sets of break rolls were said to be very imposing in appearance, and in company with six double sets of smooth rolls, made up a pretty picture as a roller mill floor. On the upper floor were the Turner purifiers, making perfectly pure stock that was being taken off right to the tail end of each machine. Local wheat was coming to the mill and in splendid condition, and this was evident in that every roll was quite cool, the stock well dusted and the general workings showed most intelligent handling of the plant as a whole.
The hoppers, spouts and elevators were provided with small glass windows to facilitate the constant observation that was evident everywhere on the part of those who had charge of the mill and the absence of noise and vibration was remarkable. The dusted middlings had just that kind of feel that was so appetising to the practical man, and the quantity and quality of patent flour "resulted in great satisfaction".