Work is Underway to Repair Preston Mill’s Water Wheel
Nestled within an idyllic location in the beautiful East Lothian region of Scotland, Preston Mill is an iconic and memorable sight. Made famous by its use as Lallybroch in Outlander, when you first see Preston Mill you might think you’ve taken a step back in time. With its curious Dutch-style conical roof, the mill is an architectural oddity that enchants visitors as much as it delights painters and photographers.
However, in winter 2018, the Mill’s water wheel fused and would no longer turn. NTS USA partnered with NTS on what turned out to be a wildly successful social media crowdfunder to fund the repairs needed to fix the wheel. With the help of Outlander fans around the globe, the necessary funds were raised in just a couple short weeks!
Meanwhile at Preston Mill …
The wheel sits upon an outside masonry pillar which is topped by a timber bearing and a metal bush. This ‘bush’ houses the end of the wheel’s axle, holding it in place and allowing the wheel to turn. Over time, the heat from the friction of the turning axle has distorted the bush and caused the wheel to jam in a fixed position.
Now, with funds secured and the weather taking a turn for the better, we’ve begun repair work on the wheel.
Our team of preservation engineers have damned the adjoining stream by placing sandbags across the water gate. Emptying the water bed gives them access to the wheel and the ability to simultaneously examine the stone cobbles that line the floor under the wheel, repairing any that have become eroded or damaged over time.
Next, they propped the wheel, lifting its axle clear of the bearings that hold the wheel in place. Weighing over 4 tons, engineers had to figure out a way to lift the wheel a few inches out of position to access the broken fixtures. Due to the weight and age of the wheel, it’s a tricky job and one incorrect calculation could scupper the whole operation!
Now we can reach the broken machinery, we’ve taken their measurements and have started fabricating replacements. Once ready, we’ll begin on the next phase of work – installing the new parts and repairing the timber paddles.
With your help, for the love of Scotland
This work has been made possible by everyone who donated to our Preston Mill crowdfunder. Without support from people like you we would be unable to care for the places that mean so much to us. Thank you!