Rare 18th Century two-wheeled waterwheel restored in Somerset

Dunster Watermill, Somerset Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The 14ft (4m) wheel was delivered as a three tonne "flat pack kit"

A rare 18th Century two-wheeled watermill in Somerset has been restored to its full potential.

The National Trust-run Dunster watermill, near Minehead, has had its second "rotten and collapsed" wheel replaced as part of a £35,000 project.

Millwrights Dorothea Restorations, of Bristol, manufactured the individual parts of the wheel over the winter.

Delivered as a three-tonne "flat pack kit" it took conservationists around three weeks to construct the wheel.

'Extremely rare'

The timber watermill, described as an "extremely rare" survivor, was taken over by the trust in January 2014 after the previous tenants of 18 years retired.

Run for a number of years on just one wheel, the mill's second wheel had only been kept for "historical accuracy" until its collapse into the water.

Project manager Stephen Hayes said: "It was amazing to see all these specially shaped pieces of English oak gradually becoming a working waterwheel.

"It seemed effortless and once it was installed you could just push it with your foot and the three tonne wheel just span around.

"But the highlight was the first time the leat was opened to bring the water in and to see the water powering the 14ft (4m) diameter wheel."

The mill, which still produces wholemeal flour, will be operated seven days a week - continuing a centuries-old tradition on the site.

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