Trainees with true grist sought for working Yorkshire windmill

A community group is appealing for volunteers to train as millers in Yorkshire's oldest working windmill.

Holgate Windmill. PIC: PA

The Holgate Windmill Preservation Society is looking to increase its group of around 30 active members to help with milling flour for customers in the York area.

The five-sailed windmill in York was reopened in 2012 after a £500,000 refurbishment, which saw the 18th century, Grade II-listed building restored to working order.

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The mill currently has three trained millers who work one day a week to produce 50kg of flour, which is sold to local restaurants, farm shops and individual customers, with proceeds used for the upkeep of the mill.

Steve Potts, chairman of the society and one of the trained millers, said he believes they could produce 10 times the amount of flour with extra millers and an extra day of milling each week.

He said anyone interested in learning the skills of one of the oldest professions in the world could be trained in a couple of months.

Mr Potts said: “It’s not a reading skill, it’s a doing and learning by experience skill. We used some of our grant money for a miller to come along and give us on-the-job training.

“Part of it is to come along so we can pass on our skills. It’s about keeping the skills alive.”

He added: “We can do 50kg of flour per week but we could do 10 times that if we had the manpower.

“We started off reasonably gradually because we’re a volunteer group and it’s supposed to be fun but we are trying to make more money out of the milling.”

Volunteers would learn how to work the mill’s sails and motors and how to process the flour.

Mr Potts said: “It’s quite skilled, there’s an element of responsibility. It’s a big powerful machine that could run away with you quite easily.”

Volunteers are also needed to attend the mill’s open days to tell visitors about the history of the building.

Anyone interested in volunteering at Holgate Windmill should contact Mr Potts at [email protected]