PortCities London

Flour milling and the port


Grain elevator discharging the SS Cornish City at the Royal Victoria Dock.
View full size imageDischarging grain into lighters at the Royal Victoria Dock. © NMM

The milling of grain to obtain flour for bread and other uses has changed dramatically in recent centuries.

For thousands of years, people milled small amounts of grain for their own use. First, watermills then windmills were used to mill larger amounts for whole villages.

Spillers Millennium Mills, Royal Victoria Dock.
View full size imageThe Spillers Millennium Mills after closure. © NMM

In modern times, steam power increased the scale of milling, and mills as big as factories could produce flour for whole cities.

With London dependent on grain imported by sea, the windmills that once surrounded the city gave way to larger mills based on the river and then to giant mills at the docks.


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