At Algarkirk  there are old account books covering the period 1844-56, and these show that the output of the farm varied from 75 tons to 178 tons and the price obtained for the prepared woad from 9 to 15. The mill had a circular track of oak blocks about 24 ft. in diameter on which the leaves of the plants were crushed and chopped by means of four great tapered rollers each furnished with sharp steel cutters. The rollers were towed round the track by a large overhead gear wheel with cast-iron spokes and a toothed rack with 456 teeth.

algarkirk-plan-2 elv algarirk

ALGARKIRK MILL. This mill brick built consists of a roller house with one couching house attached as a wing and another the other side detached from it. At one end of the roller house are the rooms used at one time for the production of chicory. At the other end the woad balls are stored after drying Built on to the side of the roller house at this end is the engine and boiler house

 Almost all the drying ranges had disappeared, the sole remaining one running parallel to the roller house on their visit in 1936. The mill had closed after the 1927 crop had been processed

The mill was the most interesting as well as being the best for convenience of working and construction. It differed from all others Rex Wailes had met or had heard of in that its roller track is raised about 2’-6” above the ground. The process demands a mill for chopping the leaves into very short pieces in much the same manner as parsley is chopped on a board for culinary purposes. The place of the chopping board is taken either by a platform of hard wood as at Algarkirk, or by a track of granite as at Skirbeck and Wyberton

Originally heavy edge runner stones of great weight were used, but these were replaced by the wooden type with wrought iron cutters about 1880 One of the stones still remaining is 50"diam. by 18" face width with a bore of 18"

A circular brick base with its outer circumference tapering smaller as it reaches the top. A tray of cast iron segments projecting from the brick base. This tray is dished to induce stray leaves to return to the wheel track. The track itself comprises a
umber of oak segments 3" thick with the joints laid at an angle, i.e., not radial. The four wheels are constructed of two oak discs, the outer being 5'-6" diam. and spaced 24 in. apart over all. The rims are furnished on two Wheels with 38 bars and on the other two with 34 bars. The maximum tip diameter is just under 7' These wheels are keyed to 6" square oak shafts by means of a number of folding wedges on each disc. It may be noted that the wheels are not equally spaced round the circumference, also that the wheels rest on the oak track so that the revolving axes have to be mounted in such a manner as to allow of a rise and fall. The oak track is now deeply grooved due to the action of the wheel bars and probably these grooves increase the efficiency of the grinding process.

The rotating mechanism comprises a large wheel built up of cast iron segments, a fine piece of millwrighting and similar in construction to the  old horse wheels. The main axle is of cast iron about 12 ft. long with a footstep bearing of ordinary pattern at the base and a common plummer block at the top fixed to a roof beam. About midway in the height is keyed a large cast iron hub, with 12 cast slots to receive a similar number of cruciform section cast iron spokes radiating horizontally towards the rim. The tops of these spokes are joined by segmental castings furnished with a spur rack on the upper face.These teeth have a face width of 6" and the pitch is approximately 2" There are 38 teeth per segment, making 456 teeth to the complete wheel, which is approximately 23'-9" diam.  On the top of the main axle is keyed another cast iron hub, from which depend 12-1" diam. wrought rods to serve as diagonal supports for the wheel rim. Towards thc bottom of the axle is keyed another cast iron hub, to which are fixed by dovetails and wedges, 12 cast iron spokes serving as struts to support the wheel rim. Depending from this lower axle are four forged pieces carrying, at the correct height, the pintle bearings for the inner ends of the four oak shafts carrying the runners. The runners are each towed by a wrought iron rod, having at one end an eye going over the cross-tailed gudgeon on the outer end of the runner axle, and at the other end an eye going over a pin fixed on the rim of the main spur wheel at about one twelfth of the circumference in advance. The rotation was clockwise looking from above.

To the wheel arc also fixed two scrapers canted in opposite directions in such a manner as to scrape up and direct straying leaves towards the track. In addition a radial scraper is provided constructed of metal which can be raised or lowered by a block and fall. Its purpose is to scrape up the ground leaves into heaps opposite three slots left in the projecting cas iron rim. Under these can be placed wheel barrows for transport to the balling gang. The three apertures in the roller track are closed when grinding by sliding doors of sheet metal.

The main gear wheel is driven by a 23-tooth pinion on the end of the engine shaft which is on the outer side of the mill house wall The steam engine was a single cylinder horizontal of an early pattern. The crank flywheel and bedplate remained in situ. The flywheel has an oval rim and six spokes. Its speed in work would be about 100/110 revs. per minute. For years previous to the construction of this mill there had been another that stood on the other side of the orchard. It was horse-worked and had runner stones, the remains of which are now buried in the floor of the new mill