Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Sketch of mill works
'Leat' below road
Old Flour Mill ( Holding tanks and water channels are above the mill.)

The basic description of a Cretan water driven mill is given in “The making of the Cretan Landscape”, an excellent book written by Oliver Rackham and Jennifer Moody and published by Manchester University Press.

To see and appreciate just how they operated in real life, take the path opposite the Alpha Hotel down to the Holy Father’s Monastery. About 20 metres in from the road on the left hand side as you go down the path you can see the channel of the first leat or water channel. This took water from the hillside and would have originally directed it to a vertical chimney like shaft with a nozzle at the bottom. The pressure of the water falling from the leat was used to drive a wooden bladed turbine which turned a vertical shaft connected to a mill wheel. The water channel currently ends in mid air but in the past there was a flour mill, built by the priest Gabriel Papagregorakis, about 8 or 9 metres below. This mill was in use up to the early 1930's.

Going on down the hill, if you look from the Venetian style bridge back up towards the road, you will see a water channel on the left hand side of the bridge. This took the water from the flour mill under the bridge and into what appears to be a circular reservoir or holding tank. From this tank another leat carried the water to a point over another flour mill. If you venture very carefully inside the ruins of the factory you can still see the nozzle where the water would have come out from the wall, having fallen the 4 or 5 metres from the leat above. This mill lasted until the 1970's.

Also within the ruins is one of the old mill wheels.
Water from the holding tank above the second flour mill went to another tank and then was used to drive another flour mill, an olive oil factory and a tannery - all subsequently demolished in the late 1930's and replaced by the "new" olive oil factory.

The mill wheels along the road leading down to the Monastery are from the “new”, electrically driven, olive oil factory, built to replace the “old” water driven mills, which were then demolished; the "new" olive oil factory finally being shut in 1992. While it’s difficult to say where these particular wheels originated, mill wheels were apparently cut out of the rock on the sea shore just outside Paleochora. If you walk along the Sandy Beach towards Grameno and continue past the end of the sand, about 100 metres before you run out of land to walk on you will come to a stretch of grey stone sloping into the sea with numerous circular hollows where the stone has been extracted.


Craig and Carol said...

Hi Lucky!
We wish we had had time to see this when we saw you last week on our holiday. The mill sounds REALLY interesting.

And what a nice blogspot you have.

Best wishes from the south of England - 16 degrees as night falls...
Craig, Carol, Val and Brenda

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