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Working and Living Conditions

The Horns’ Sustainable Approach

Throughout their management of Thwaite Mill, the Horn family were keen to recycle and avoid waste. This economical approach is reflected in the mill and its surroundings today, which are brimming with evidence of sustainable industry and living. Old machines acquired new functions, rubbish was put to use in other forms, broken items were repaired and the natural landscape was exploited to aid mechanical processes and inhabitants’ daily life, without harmful side effects or dependence on outside assistance. Below are eight examples of the Horns’ sustainability:

  • Putty production – Rather than disposing of surplus whiting that did not get sold for the manufacture of other products, in 1923 the Horns created a new product from it: putty.
  • Recycled water pump – Linseed oil was measured out into the putty pans using an old water pump, rather than installing new and costly equipment.
  • Orchard and other outdoor space – Fruit and vegetables were grown, enabling greater self-sufficiency.
  • Raymond Mill – The Horns were the first to repurpose an old Raymond Mill, previously used to pulverise coal, for grinding chalk stone. Other mills soon adopted the idea due its greater efficiency.
  • Rotary Dryer – For the Raymond Mill to work the chalk first had to be totally dry. Consequently, a rotary dryer made from a recycled boiling tank was installed.
  • Grease can ducting on the Raymond Mill – Some tubes on the repurposed Raymond Mill were made from old grease cans attached together.
  • Conveyor Belts (feeding chalk into the Raymond Mill) – When these became too slack they were cut up and made into shoe soles in the Engineer’s Workshop.
  • Engineer’s Workshop – New machine parts and repairs were all completed on site using tools and processes powered by the already turning water wheels. Even the bellows for the forge were powered by water.
  • Old barge wood – Rather than being thrown away, the wood from dilapidated boats was burned as a source of fuel in the calcining kilns.

Thwaite Mills Engineering Shop

Today, the museum aims to continue the Horns’ sustainable approach by maintaining the site as a haven for wildlife and nature.