Mostert’s Mill

+27 (0)82 771 6480
Rhodes Ave, Mowbray, Cape Town

2024 Restoration Update 15

In the last update, Kimon Mamacos had installed the beams for the floors.  His next job was to machine the 50mm (2 inch) thick floor planks which were a gift from the Parker family on Zonnestraal in Wynberg and cut and fit them to the intricate shape of the tower, leaving spaces for the ladders.   As soon as the floors were in, the Millstones could be broken out of their crate and rolled inside, to be hoisted up to the Stones floor, one up from ground level.  Kimon had left out two planks so they could pass through the stair-well.

Charel and Juan had brought along the wooden Curb which locates the Bedstone, the lower fixed millstone.  This had to be placed exactly in the middle of the building below the Pintle bearing up in the roof Cap, then fixed down through the floor beams. Only then, and after a circular hole had been cut in the floor, could the Bedstone be laid within the Curb. 

(The Pintle bearing:  The vertical shaft which turns the top millstone runs nearly the full height of the Mill.   In the top of this shaft a steel rod is inserted, exactly in line with the central axis of the vertical shaft.  The rod is fixed in the vertical shaft and turns freely in the pintle bearing, which is dead centre of the Mill whichever way the cap is facing.  Similarly at the bottom of the vertical shaft is another steel rod turning in a support called the Bridge Tree.

This supporting point, called the Footstep bearing, must also be in the dead centre of the Mill directly below the Pintle bearing.  If either bearing were off centre, the millstones would wear unevenly).

In these photos you can see the Curb ring, and the underside of the floor planking. John Wilson-Harris is fitting a wedge to the locating pin of the curb above. In the photo on the left, Jon Stevens is positioning the curb centrally below the pintle bearing.

A bearing in the centre of the lower, fixed millstone (the Neck bearing) could then be installed and the Stone-spindle through it, on to the Footstep bearing on the Bridge tree. Then with great care the Runner or turning millstone could be lowered on to that, followed by the Vertical shaft.

Here, Andy Selfe is cutting a circular hole for access to the underside of the bedstone.

Once the Curb ring was positioned centrally, the fixed lower millstone could be lowered into it.

Here John Hammer sets the stone spindle into the Neck bearing in the lower millstone, and in the other photo the upper or Runner millstone is being lowered on to the stone spindle.

The ladders/stairs were already there and had to be finalised to be safe, with bannisters and handrails fitted. The Tun (a cylindrical casing for the millstones, to keep all the freshly ground meal inside) and the rest of the furniture could then be tested and refinements made.

At the end of the year Andy’s workshop produced a few items to fill out the Meal or ground floor. Using only the metal meshes that were saved after the fire, along with some left-over Teak from Henry Louw and some scraps from the V&A clock tower, he made a cabinet to replace the one which burned.

Two folding tables were required, one to stand between the Hurstings (vertical support pillars on either side of the table in the photo) under the Bridge tree for items like the scale for weighing out the meal; another for Steve to sit at and collect the membership subs, including a shelf to tuck the cashbox into!  A further requirement was for a Miller’s stool, seen here to the right of the Hursting pillar. A total of 14 of the old partly burnt sail-bars went into these items for their legs.

Finally, we should add that the Restoration Team was awarded the Mayor’s Medal for Community Service at a ceremony at the Council Chambers on 6th December 2023.

From the left:  Mayor Giordan Hill-Lewis, John Hammer, Andy Selfe, John Wilson-Harris, Clive Thorpe. 

Behind Clive is Lungelo Mbandazayo, City manager, and behind him is Felicity Purchase, Speaker of the City of Cape Town.

For detailed information on the whole restoration process, please visit https://mostertsmillafterthefire.blogspot.com/?view=magazine compiled by Andy Selfe.

Yours sincerely – the Mostert’s Mill Restoration Team