Czech mills . A century ago, a rhythmic thumping of cogwheels could be heard in the Czech lands, that sound coming from the mills , essential elements of the community, did not disturb the peace of the countryside, but rather recreated its idyllic atmosphere .
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- 1 History of the mills
- 2 The miller and his helpers
- 3 The stones of the Mill
- 4 The millers and the Czech folklore
- 5 Mills today
- 6 Sources
History of the mills
Milling is almost as old as agriculture . In the Czech towns there are more water, known as aceña. As in the rest of central Europe , in this region, large networks of ponds , canals , and gates were built to regulate the movement of water : the ponds collected it, the channels led them to the stream, and the gates graduated the flow. Some channels were less than 20 meters long, while others exceeded one kilometer and powered several mills in their path.
The miller and his helpers
A hundred years ago, the roof and the stone walls protected the machinery were also the home of the miller and his family. Locals used to address this operator with a respectful title and it was not difficult to identify him as he wore a unique outfit: rolled-up white pants, a low hat trimmed with sheepskin, and a certain type of sneaker. The man had to be strong because the work was hard. You just have to think about the sacks of flour that he lifted and carried throughout his life. He had a highly respected profession that was generally passed down from father to son. The mill kept the whole family busyEven so, it was not uncommon to have to hire permanent or temporary workers. The latter were experienced itinerant millers who, in periods of increased movement, helped in various mills in exchange for food and shelter. The master miller, a highly valued and skilled worker, used to take over the place. He was assisted by a young man familiar with the trade in which the machinery was in charge and demonstrated his expertise in making good quality flour. Then there was the apprentice, a smart boy who was not allowed to be distracted, since he would only master the trade if he did not lose sight of the veteran operatives.
The stones of the Mill
There were two stones, an upper one called today volandera and the one below it called solera. The latter was fixed, while the former rotated to grind the grain that passed between them. Originally they were made of hard rock but later they were made with crushed stones joined with magnesium chloride , in addition there were some gear wheels made of very hard wood . They required an expert builder because they followed a complex design and had to mesh well. These wheels placed so as to increase the rotation speed of the rest of the machinery were the ones that produced the rattle mentioned at the beginning.
Millers and Czech folklore
Although many millers were honest and upright, others were greedy, overbearing, and deceitful so some songs mock them from their families while others tugged at and labeled their helpers good husbands. There are tunes that speak of the floods, the most frequent threat – after the fire – for the mill and its manager. It was the itinerant millers who were in charge of propagating the tunes and of course adorning them. To this day a Czech saying is heard : The stories are told, and the water runs. With these words it is implied that the story or news could have been exaggerated.
The mills today
With the passage of time, the millers were left without work because the facilities were modernized and the hydraulic machinery was abandoned in favor of the electrical one. A few tried at all costs to maintain their traditional way of life so that some steel mills continued to be used until after World War II . However, the year 1948 marked the end of the most persevering operator. The mills were nationalized and most of them stopped working and began to deteriorate. Today’s industrial mills no longer have the charm of the past. They now tend to use modern electronically controlled machinery. Instead of stones, most use steel rollers. Even so, the rustic aspect of the old buildings continues to attract those who seek a calm and lyrical environment, as well as tourists who love culture and history. Due to its charm a considerable number of mills have been converted into recreational centers. When visiting one of these restored buildings we imagine the miller from a century ago doing his work. We hear the water fall as the Ferris wheel spins.