PortCities London

Flour milling and the port

Early flour milling

Milling by hand

Flour is obtained by milling - grinding grain to separate the inner kernel from the outer husks. For thousands of years, people milled their own flour by hand using a stone or a pestle and mortar. Improvements to the stones used for milling meant better flour, but milling was still done on a very small scale.

Milling by wind and water

A view of Blackheath, depicting Montague House, Shooter's Hill and Morden College, with windmills in the foreground.
View full size imageA view of Blackheath, by John Charnock. © NMM
From the Middle Ages onwards, more sophisticated forms of milling were used. These harnessed the power of water or wind to turn the millstones. Before the 19th century, wooden windmills were very common throughout Europe.

Dozens of windmills stood in what is now London, though almost all have long gone. 

The mills of Millwall

Isle of Dogs as seen from the Docks at Rotherhithe
View full size imageThe Isle of Dogs as seen from the docks at Rotherhithe. © NMM
Millwall on the Isle of Dogs got its name from the seven windmills that once stood on the western side of the peninsula.

Some of these windmills survived into the 19th century, as shown in this view of the Isle of Dogs from 1821.



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