Daughter hopes to develop Norfolk's only working water mill

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill.

Two decades after its restoration, Norfolk's only working water mill has  'floured' into a thriving business.

And now Michelle Thurlow - who runs the 220-year-old Letheringsett Watermill near Holt - wants to take things further and put it more firmly on the map as a visitor destination.

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of water mills left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of water mills left in the UK still running and milling flour. The water mill was leased and restored by Michael Thurlow and is now run by his daughter Michelle. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Miss Thurlow, 35, said: "I'm trying to make it more of a venue where people can come.

"I'd like to have a bakery and a tea room and I'd love a massive play area in the back paddock. I've had a feasibility study done, it's just a matter of finding the funding to do it."

Visitors can already tour the different floors of the mill, buy fresh produce from the farm shop, a Fryer's Original Pies stall, and an antiques shop which has just opened on the site. 

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of water mills left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. She is pictured with her team, Miller Vic Gerrard and Mill Assistant Jason James. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow with John Fryer of Fryer's Original Pies, who has a pop up stall at the Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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Letheringsett is one of just 24 working water mills in the UK, harnessing the power of the River Glaven to produce 4-5 tonnes of flour a week in the way it has been done for hundreds of years.

Miss Thurlow's dad, Michael, took on the mill in 1987 and had it up and running a couple of years later.

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Miss Thurlow was a police officer for nine years and left the force to run the mill after her dad died in 2013.

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill. The mill was built in 1802. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michael Thurlow, Michelle's dad, who took over Letheringsett Water Mill and began producing flour there after its restoration. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Miss Thurlow said her dad travelled around the world with the Royal Navy and had seen heritage being lost everywhere, so wanted to dedicate his life to saving part of the UK's heritage when he left the service.

She said: "This was his world. He built it up and learned all his milling knowledge from books, and I learned my milling knowledge by growing up here."

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Miss Thurlow said demand for flour was at its strongest during the first lockdown thanks to the popularity of home baking, and business was steadily growing.

She said: "We went from milling 4-5 tonnes every four weeks to 6-7 tonnes a week of flour.

"We had some quiet periods through Covid where we did struggle, but now people are coming on holidays again and doing visits."

There have been some setbacks - recently a part of a huge milling stone broke, which Miss Thurlow said would cost thousands of pounds to fix. 

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michael Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Pieces from the past: Antiques shop launches

One of the newest additions to the Letheringsett Mill grounds could be described as an 'Aladdin's cave' of treasures. 

Mill Antiques and Brocantes has recently opened in a converted stable building on the site by Malcolm Mellor and 30-year veteran of the antiques business, John Overland.

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Malcolm Mellor of Mill Antiques and Brocantes at Letheringsett Watermill. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Inside, traditional Norfolk chairs sit cheek by jowl with flamboyant Asian furniture, rugs and ornate mirrors. 

Mr Mellor, who is semi-retired, said: "I've always had an interest in antiques and collecting them, and the opportunity arose to move into this converted barn. 

"There's everything from a chest which is going for £3,500, everyday collectables like pieces of coloured glass for £10, and everything in between.

"It's a totally eclectic mix of items, many things you might never have realised you wanted until you came in here and said 'Oh, look at that'.

Mr Mellor said he acquired most of the items in the shop by "private sale or private negotiation".

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of water mills left in the UK still running and milling flour. The water mill was leased and restored by Michael Thurlow and is now run by his daughter Michelle. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Flour at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michael Thurlow, Michelle's dad, who took over Letheringsett Water Mill and began producing flour there after its restoration. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Malcolm Mellor at Mill Antiques and Brocantes at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Machinery at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill, on the River Glaven. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Inside the farm shop at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Looking out onto the River Glaven from Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of watermelons left in the UK still running and mi

Letheringsett Water Mill is one of only a handful of water mills left in the UK still running and milling flour. The water mill was leased and restored by Michael Thurlow and is now run by his daughter Michelle. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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