When we decided to do some Portuguese pop-up restaurants we knew that having delicious bread would be key in making an authentic Portuguese meal. The bread in Portugal is incredible. We have travelled a lot & it is our favourite bread ever. At its best it gives you jaw ache, the crust is ridiculous. The colour is sort of grey & flecked & the flavour is intense. There is not really anything to compare to it in England so we were worried that it would be impossible to produce what we had in mind.
Then we realised that we could buy proper, old-fashioned, organic, artesan flour. It makes a huge difference to the flavour & texture of the bread and our guests have loved it.
We have been buying it from Green’s Mill in Nottingham & I have sort of fallen in love with the place. The mill is gorgeous & you can explore it at your leisure. I love climbing up high things. It has steep ladders, weird machinery, wooden chutes, stones and miles of clanking metal chains. Being inside when the sails are moving is somehow really peaceful & there are glorious views of the city.
You can also meet the millers, when do you ever get to meet a miller? David & John are lovely chaps who can explain all about flour, wheat & wind. They produce flour most days so you can buy some to take home & try (I highly recommend that you do). The wheat is all organic & high quality. They also have spelt & the tastiest oatmeal I have ever eaten.
- Can you tell me a little bit about the history of the mill?
The mill was built in 1807 and produced flour until about the 1860’s. Sometime later the mill was used to store boot polish, which unfortunately caught fire in 1947, gutting the windmill. The mill was then left derelict until 1979, when work began to restore the mill to working order, eventually opening to the public as a heritage attraction in July 1985. We’ve just celebrated our 30th anniversary.
- Who was George Green?
Green took on the family milling business from his father (who built the mill) but his real passion was mathematics. He was a brilliant mathematical physicist who published papers, one of which was entitled ‘An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism’. This was just one of ten papers by Green. Green’s functions are now widely used in research into nuclear physics, quantum electrodynamics and superconductivity. We have interactive displays in the center about his work.
- How did the restoration come about?
There were fears that due to developments in Sneinton that the mill would be demolished. This led Professor Lawrie Challis of the University of Nottingham to detail the mill’s plight at an international conference of physicists at Budapest in Hungary. He passed a hat round & the delegates donated money, this started the ball rolling on the restoration.
- Who is running the windmill now?
The mill is now run by the Green’s Windmill Trust. The City Council stopped funding the mill in March 2013, so we’re now required to find all our own running costs to keep it open to the public and operating. We do this by selling the flour, holding events, room hire & grants. Entry to the windmill is free. The Trust registered as a charity in 2012 (charity no. 1145901) prior to the change.
- What can visitors do at the mill?
Visitors can climb to the top of the mill and see how we turn grain into flour (wind permitting of course!). The mill is a fascinating place for both children and adults, there are not many of them around these days. You can also learn more about Green and his work in our interactive science centre. We also have regular events for children & families, our baking classes are really popular.
- I have been baking with your flour & really love it. Why is it different to commercial flour?
All of our flour is made to organic standard and nothing is added to the product at any stage. For example we do not bleach our flour. Our grains are also ground on traditional concrete millstones, whilst our white flour is extracted using a large sieve as opposed to a roller mill, which ensures a lovely, fluffy texture. The flavour is more intense than commercially produced flour.
- How can people get involved with the mill?
Following the loss of our Council funding the mill is now very much led by volunteers; in fact without them we would be unable to remain open. We love welcoming new volunteers to the team and they can get involved with everything from selling our flour, running activities or gardening.
- What events do you have coming up?
We’re running a Summer Craft Fair on the 8th August to raise money for the mill, and have a whole host of children’s events coming up over the summer holidays such as pizza making and salt dough modelling! Our baking classes are extremely popular & a unique way for children to understand where their food comes from & make the connection between farm & table. They also love that they get to eat what they make.
9. What are the longer term plans for the site?
When the Trust took over we initially worked towards securing its short term future and keeping it open. That was an achievement in itself, and we’re now looking at securing some longer term funding which will help develop the site and enhance the experience of our visitors. Watch this space!
I would like to thank Jamie & all the other staff at Green’s for their time & wonderful flour. You can find out more here on their website .
They are open from Wednesday to Sunday & on Bank Holidays. The website has listings of upcoming events and they also have a lovely room you can hire for parties & meetings & stuff. If you are a baker & live nearby I suggest you treat yourself to some of their flour. It is more expensive than supermarket flour but you will see why when you eat it.
Just reading through the post I realise it looks like an advert but we have not been paid for this blog post I just wanted to share some information about the mill and help them to publicise what they do. Places like Green’s are unique, they represent so much about our history & culture & are also beautiful sites which we should enjoy.