One afternoon, we were searching for an abandoned school in the Northern Irish countryside when we stumbled across this nondescript abandoned building. From the outside, it appeared to be any regular abandoned farmhouse, which can be found dotted all across the country. Inside, however, we found something completely unexpected.
The building was not a farm house at all, but instead, some kind of vintage mill.
There were a number of milling and drilling machines from Adcock & Shipley Ltd, which was founded back in 1914. The horizontal milling machines from Adcock & Shipley Ltd were widely employed in manufacturing, and they had what was described as a “no-nonsense approach to both design and built quality.”
The smallest milling machines were introduced in the 1930s, and over the years, these were modified and brought up to date. The machines had a normal automatic feed mechanism, and the feed drive was powered by a rope from the main spindle to the feed drive shaft. They were designed for high production on a wide variety of work in small or medium batches.
In another section of the building, we found a Feedmore Master Mill, which was used to deal with dried grass, cereals or dredge corn from the sheaf. There was also an old beetling machine, which is used to finish linen or cotton cloth by hammering it with heavy wooden blocks. Beetling was first introduced in Ireland by Hamilton Maxwell in 1725.
In front of the beetling machine, there were some old wooden steps that led up to a small mezzanine area. Here, there were some old photographs and paintings of people and animals. There were also some unique keepsakes, such as an old fan, an old typewriter, and a collection of magazines from the 1960s and 1970s, mainly the Ulster Tattler and Which?.
As we proceeded through the building, we came across a hand operated sewing machine which could have dated back to the 1800s. The sewing machine industry took off in the 1850s, and the most popular one of which became the Stinger. This one was so old that it didn’t have a brand.
There was another section in the building which appeared to be some kind of workshop area, with tins of oil, rags, nails, saws and other instruments that appeared to be ancient and covered in rust. On one of the walls, somebody had scrawled in dates which appeared to be for repairs, the first of which was 28th December 1957.
There were also a handful of other vintage mementos and keepsakes throughout the vintage mill, including a tin for Belfast’s Biscuit Factory on the Springfield Road, Belfast. The Belfast Biscuit Factory opened up its doors in 1928, having previously been used as a cotton mill. The company produced cakes and biscuits before closing down in 1956.
Behind some of the milling machines, there was a large sign from Heysham Steamers. In 1904, the Midland Railway built a purpose port at Heysham. Four new steamers were built to open services to Belfast and Douglas in the Isle of Man.
If you can identify any of the other items in our photographs, please feel free to share them with us!