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1122 - Flour Milling
As early as 1122 reference is made to Castleford having two flour mills.
In Sagar's 1752 map of Castleford the 'Old Mill' is shown on the north side of the river standing by the side of a cutting which took water from upstream on the Aire and deposited it back just above the bridge. Water to the wheel being controlled by means of a lock in the cutting. In the 1770's a new mill and farm buildings, called the 'Castleford Old Mill', were built by John Smeaton for a Mr. Crowther on the site of the 'Old Mill'.
In 1822 when Thomas Heptinstall was the miller he moved the mill to its present location in Aire Street. Queen's Mill, as it was named, consisted of five pairs of mill stones driven by a twenty foot water wheel. At the peek of production the mill could turn out one and a half tonnes of flour every hour.
In 1921 the mill was taken over by the National Food Company which had been established earlier by Dr. Thomas Allinson (1858-1918). Allinson, a controversial man in his time, actually believed that a good diet including wholewheat flour, "with nowt taken out", could contribute to a healthy life. An idea we all take for granted today.
Between 1950 and 1970 one of Castleford's outstanding memories was its "snow". Scouring agents deposited into the river by the heavy woollen mills upstream were churned into soapsuds by the weir. The river around Allisons had a permanent cover of foam which at the slightest breeze would swirl up into the air and fall over the whole of the riverside area including the outdoor market and the Bank Street bus station. Complaints about the damage it did to clothing and car paintwork were often directed at Allisons who were mistakenly accused of being the cause.
As late as the 1950's grain and flour were being transport to and from the mill by barge.
The whole mill was modernised in 1978 and is still claimed to be the largest mill in the world producing genuine stone ground flour.
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