With so many lifetimes’ worth of milling knowledge, we cannot let collectors’ work become lost in a pile…
All too often, collections, such as the one containing the photograph on the right, are ravaged by decay before reaching us.
To reverse the rot and stop its spread, we must work to combat degradation, mould and damp. But constant care means constant costs. With your help, we can fight for the continuing salvation of priceless milling records.
Upon sand or rock?
Sir William Alfred Gelder, the founder of Gelder & Kitchen and Mayor of Hull between 1899-1903. John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868–1914), Alfred Gelder, 1904 (2), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
Millers, millwrights, engineers and architects waded through daily minutiae to place their legacies on firm ground. Founded in Hull, the architectural firm, Gelder & Kitchen, regularly worked for the milling businessman, Joseph Rank. Joseph Rank Ltd. had its expansion quite literally drawn up by Gelder & Kitchen with each brick, tile and beam being placed to ensure its success. Upon this bedrock, Rank could donate enormous sums to his hometown of Hull, including to his local Cricket Club, Children’s Hospital, and the impoverished to name a few. Had Rank not built the foundations to aid his city and The Mills Archive not intervened to save Gelder & Kitchen’s work, both their legacies would have been washed away.
The Armfield Collection languishing in purgatory
In the abyss of binbags and basements, we too often find our milling heritage. Two friends of The Archive rescued the work of the Hampshire engineering and millwrighting firm, Joseph J. Armfield & Co. Ltd., from this limbo. Teetering between deliverance and damnation, mould could have easily spread like an inferno. Whereas a structure can be rebuilt with knowledge and records, these cannot be so easily replaced.
The aftermath of a fire in Rank’s Atlantic Flour Mills, Barry
The aftermath of mould
There is a light
Archivist Nathanael saving the Gelder & Kitchen Collection from a basement
Archivist Nathanael rehousing part of a collection in acid-free packaging
We protect the source of milling knowledge in our collections. To save the Gelder & Kitchen Collection, our Archivist Nathanael and Trustee Mildred raced from Reading to Hull before it could be condemned to the skip. After rescuing a collection, the cost of preserving even a single box of images and documents rises exponentially.
But behind the grime, there is a window to shed light on our milling heritage, including Armfield’s milling machinery.
Figuratively of course. Sunlight can damage archival documents. This is just one of the many precautions our Archivist must take to preserve documents. Inadequate packaging will also accelerate degradation, unlike the acid-free archival storage we require. Every collection must be painstakingly organised, catalogued, repackaged and transported to our climate-controlled store. Once we have stabilised their condition, an accredited conservator can restore these records. With your generous support, these costs are not enough to deter The Mills Archive.
One of our rediscoveries: Armfield’s ‘Perfected Milling Separator’
Your donations will allow us to build the foundations needed to preserve our milling heritage forever, matching the enduring legacies of milling pioneers. Their work reverberates today in the mills and records they left us. Help us to stop the rot and preserve their life’s work and life lessons in The Mills Archive.