Trip Report – June 2019 – Shelsley Walsh Water Mill

The weather was kind to us when we met in the enchanting Teme Valley  at the village of Shelsley Walsh. The current population of 31 is apparently almost the same number as it was in medieval records, the 1841 census and most other records!

When Max Hunt gave his excellent talk on Austin last year we saw pictures of cars being tested on the famous hill climb.  Nestled at the bottom of the hill climb is Worcestershire’s only working water mill and Max asked for his fee to go to the restoration charity.  Our interest piqued we set about visiting.

Shelsley Walsh Water Mill (

There has probably been a mill on this site for hundreds of years, primarily serving the estate centred on the Teme Valley.  It was certainly still in use after WWII before becoming uneconomic. The story of the restoration of this mill from dereliction and neglect is the most impressive and inspiring tale of pensioner power, stamina, energy and expertise.  We were exhausted just looking at the pictures of the vast banks of soil and spoil that had to be dug out to expose the works and, although in places it was possible to use machinery, the contrast between men and spades and the banks of earth was awe inspiring.  Several of the men who undertook the work were there to explain it all. We saw the unearthing of the wheel, the repair of the buckets and the fabrication of some new replacements; the repairs and reworking of the wood structures; of the belts and pulleys and of course of the stones themselves – those for flour and those for animal feedstuffs. 

The mill pond is now a thing of coffee table garden book photo beauty. It was indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape but it was located and dug out, albeit not to anything like the previous size. Silting up remains a problem especially as it is now in a lovely garden and digging it out is necessarily disruptive.

The mill can be operated by one man and so with some judicious unknotting of a few bits of rope it came to life.  What an amazingly efficient and green way of getting power. How little water was needed to move the buckets once the wheel was turning. How powerful the forces and yet how gentle the noises. We could have watched for ages but a lovely cup of tea from more kind volunteers called!

And while all this was going on they were testing cars on the famous hill climb too.  What a contrast for the cars being raced up there were vast F1 type sports cars and what is more they were electric and autonomous!  They were almost entirely silent and without a driver. It really was a sight to behold.

We ended our afternoon by visiting the church just yards away from the mill and the hill climb.  It is a little 12th century tufa gem in a picture post card church yard set against a glorious country backdrop.  The 15th century woodwork escaped Victorian attention and a delightful wooden ceiling painted with stars is a delight.  Even with all of us there it somehow was so serene that we fell into enchanted silence and just absorbed the atmosphere, imagining its use through the centuries.

If we have whetted your appetite do look at the Shelsley Water Mill web site.  They open for the National Mills Weekend (2019 has already gone by but they will do so again in 2020) and on certain dates when there are events such as vintage cars racing on the hill climb.

Comments are closed.