Monday, 16 July 2012

Visiting Maud Foster

Mark disappeared off to the station to catch the 09.50 to Oxford so I settled down to enjoy a day in Boston. First stop was the market.

Street markets have been having a hard time in the last few years, but Boston has one of the biggest and best - and a fine market square to hold it in. Browsing in a bookshop I came across a local history of the market which contained an interesting explanation of at least one of the reasons for their decline: with most people now being paid by bank transfer many people pay for their shopping mainly by card and don't carry a lot of cash, so using a cash-only street market becomes more difficult!  I can't say that Boston market is thriving, at least not on the evidence of last Saturday, but it is surviving and still includes a wide variety of stalls including several food stalls that enabled me to top up supplies.

The other highlight of the day was a visit to the Maud Foster mill

Maud Foster Mill

Situated almost in the town centre (that's the Maud Foster Drain, part of the Witham Navigable Drains in the foreground) I'd expected a sort of working museum, perhaps with occasional demonstrations of the art of milling. But no, as you'll see if you follow the link above, it's a working windmill that you just happen to be allowed to look around. There's no brochure, no interpretive panels or "interactive displays" - just a windmill. You wander round on your own figuring it out as you go along and if you need to know more you just ask the miller. It's also gloriously "un-PC" as far as health-and-safety is concerned. Steep wooden staircases, low wooden beams ("you look just tall enough to bang your head on the beams") and close proximity to working machinery - how on earth did they ever get it past the h&s inspectors?
I spent a happy half-hour figuring out which shaft turned which wheel which turned which gearing which turned which other wheel which turned the millstones to turn the grain into flour.

The finished product

The only disappointment was that in a year when Spring had turned straight in to Autumn I chose to visit on one of the few days when there wasn't enough wind to for the mill to work!


Neil Corbett said...

What a pity you couldn't see it working, I am amazed you found a day without wind!
That looks like my sort of place, a REAL one.
Kath (nb Herbie)

Nb Yarwood said...

Lovely post Jim, very interesting.