DORSET, ENGLAND — For the first time in 50 years, a historic mill in Dorset, England, is producing flour again commercially to help with supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bournemouth Daily Echo reported.

The Sturminster Newton Mill on the River Stour, which dates back to 1611, produced flour on an industrial scale until 1970 and then became a tourist attraction. It did make a small amount of flour to sell to visitors in the gift shop. A mill has been on that site since 1016, more than a 1,000 years.

Since it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic, millers Pete Loosmore and Imogen Bittner decided that, due to the current demand for flour and the loss of income from visitors, it would be a good time to restart commercial production.

The wooden water mill processed a tonne of wheat in its first functional 10-day period. The mill delivered 200 three-pound bags of flour to local stores and bakeries.

“We would have been milling, on the whole, about two days each month,” Loosmore told the BBC. “That would have supplied us with enough flour to keep going throughout the whole of the season. It’s been nice to bring the place truly back to life and back into something like it used to be when it was working six days a week.”

Bittner added, “We’re only doing this while the crisis lasts and it’s not only helping us but the local community because there is a shortage of flour. In one way we have an advantage over the bigger mills, which are used to selling large sacks to the wholesale trade and don’t have the machinery or manpower to put the flour into small bags.”

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