The Water Mill is a Grade II listed building in rural Surrey. The building originally formed part of a listed property known as The Mill House although the mill building and associated land are now in separate ownership. The main mill building itself is sited below Mill Pond and had several phases of development probably from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries. The last flour grinding took place in 1928 and in 1947 a new outflow from the mill pond was constructed. The building had been neglected for many years although the turbine and other machinery had survived.
The oldest part of the building is the main central section; the south and north wings were added at a later date. All the buildings were of timber construction with the central section and the south wing constructed in oak while the north wing was a softwood later addition. The external walls were natural oak boarding with a plain red clay-tiled roof.
The mill-race originally ran through the middle of the building although the water has now been cut off. The condition of the existing timber structure of the south wing was extremely poor, due to a leaking roof.
Planning permission and listed building consent was granted for the conversion of the building into a dwelling, with one of the conditions being that the principal frame had to be conserved.
Working closely with the Conservation Officer, the internal spaces were designed so that many of the original features were retained. These included some of the original milling machinery with the pit-wheel turbine and the existing layshaft gearing that drove the three sets of inline millstones. Two of the millstones were still in place and these were positioned behind a glass panel so they could be viewed from the main staircase.
The Conservation Officer was also keen that the existing grain bins and chutes on the upper floor levels were also retained within the bedroom areas. There were some changes to the fenestration although the external appearance of the elevations visible from the ‘public’ side of the mill building has changed very little. The building will include an internal swimming pool which is connected through lock gates under a glass bridge to an external pool which is located in front of the main mill building.
The building includes low and zero carbon technologies which will reduce its carbon footprint and annual running costs. An existing continuous flow of water from the mill pond will be used to power a new water wheel to generate 'green' electricity.
It was agreed with the Conservation Officer that the south wing could be completely demolished and rebuilt as this building was beyond economical repair. Extensive ground works were also required with new piled foundations for the south wing and also for the main mill building itself. The latter also required the incorporation of a dam because the lake behind it was at a much higher level. The south wing was completely reconstructed using new oak frames supplied by Carpenter Oak and Woodland (www.carpenteroakandwoodland.com).
Once the south wing had been constructed, works commenced on the central older section. This section consisted of six bays with seven principal frames of varying condition. Extensive piling was required underneath the building including a new ground slab and also the lowering of the lower ground level. The building had to be temporarily supported while these ground works were carried out. However, it proved impractical to repair the principal frames in situ so it was decided that they would all be carefully dismantled, repaired on the ground, and then hoisted back into position. This operation also required the insertion of new oak floor joists between the principal frames although some of the original oak joists were retained and reused. The building was re-clad in feather-edged oak boarding, new bronzed windows within oak frames were fitted along with a new clay-tiled roof with conservation roof lights.
The construction has taken some four years so far because the works had to be carefully phased but the whole project is due for completion in 2013.