Clark & Butcher Mill

The Granary

Clark & Butcher Millers

Soham Lode Mill Pond

The old Granary, known as ‘The Flint’, had originally been a maltings and had floors on several levels. To effect new production methods, the building was gutted inside and wheat silos were installed with a capacity of twelve bins. Clark and Butcher decided to undertake the work themselves. The structural steel came from the firm Redpath Brown, who were so short of work that they reduced the price of their steel dramatically in order to supply the order. The steel work was delivered to Soham Station ready to erect at a cost of £4 7s 6d per ton. The foundations were made from sand and cement. The sand came from Fordham, and the cement from Cambridge, which Clark and Butcher transported in their own lorries. There can have been few permanent industrial buildings built with such economy either before or since.

During the early 1990’s, production at the granary was wound down, with Clark and Butcher transferring all their manufacturing process on to more modern plant at the Lion Mills site. The buildings were used for storage for several years before being sold for conversion to housing in 1999.


Clark & Butcher Mill

Clark & Butcher Mill

The mill had been lit by oil lamps, which were never a good industrial lighting method and particularly bad in flour mills with their high fire risk, but gas light would have been no improvement. Electric generators did not reach a stage when they might have powered industrial indoor lighting until the late 1870’s. and the first incandescent filament bulbs that were in anyway practical were installed by their inventor, Joseph Swan, in a millionaire’s lavish new country house in 1880.
The had many imperfections at this stage, but they seemed destined to live up to their promise to give cleaner, brighter, more convenient lighting than any alternative at the time.

Alfred Clark observed another advantage - that they would burn safely in a flammable atmosphere. That was the lighting he wanted for Soham Mill. As early as 1883, he consulted a local firm of electricians, Simpson’s of Newmarket. They cannot have had much experience with direct current installations, if any, and the lighting of Soham Mills was a big job with many problems. Nevertheless, the task was undertaken. One special problem arose because the dynamo was driven from a waterwheel. The power output would be reduced when the water level was low. This was eventually overcome by fitting an adjuster, which enabled the voltage to be maintained at 110. The lighting was so satisfactory that it remained in use until 1933.


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