A note on Finland from Rex and Auvo
EXCERPT FROM THE TRANSACTIONS OF THE NEWCOMEN SOCIETY VOLUME XLI, 1968-1969
FINNISH MILLS PART 1
Several thousand kilometres have been covered in south-west Finland, by rail, bus and private car, over roads ranging from among the best … seen down to quite the reverse. The very beautiful countryside has a high proportion of spruce, fir and silver birch forests, with glacial moraines forming ridges which are as much a natural feature of the country as the lakes. Many of the arable fields are divided into strips by drainage ditches, and agriculture can be carried out on a large scale only in limited areas. The forests are a national asset, extremely well looked after, and in places the cut timber, stacked along the roadside awaiting shipment to the saw mills, is a sight not to be forgotten.
With so much forest, inevitably the mills are mainly timber-built with the minimum of iron used in their construction. They are therefore both liable to rapid decay when abandoned, and easy to remove and re-erect for preservation. With such a large area only able to support a sparse rural population, distances between towns are considerable. The largest administrative unit is the province, of which there are twelve; next comes the parish which can be in the north-east as large as the English county of Rutland, and in the south-west very much smaller. Finally, there are villages and isolated settlements, which in many cases are some distance away even from a hamlet. There are a surprising number of open air museums organised by parishes; the best are quite excellent and, as will be seen, in a number of cases these include a mill.