Mearns Probus

The first meeting for March was held in the Crown Inn, Laurencekirk with Mike Burleigh from Benholm Mill talking on his work there.

Situated just off the A92 between Inverbervie and Johnshaven, the mill lies in a small valley beside the Benholm burn. It is the last mill of its kind in the area and has been there for many centuries now.

Mike was appointed to the post of manager there in 2007, the mill having been opened to the public in 1997. Various groups have been in charge from the Museum Service to the Ranger Service and Social Services. The work there is carried out mainly by volunteers giving freely of their time and less able-bodied receiving training in the various tasks required to keep the whole thing going. Training in catering, serving in the kitchen or café, erecting fencing, making paths, repainting wood and metal working is given, all skills that are required for efficient operation.

The mill itself has been totally rebuilt and re-roofed and out buildings transformed into a museum with information panels to explain the workings. To turn the machinery, a large waterwheel is rotated from the dam. This in turn rotates a shaft and gearing through spindles and pulleys as required. The dam was drained under Mike’s supervision, as it was leaking and was then re-sealed with special clay before re-filling. Fencing and signage were then erected to meet safety requirements. The tea room is open to the public at certain times of the day. In the car park just off the A92 opening times and dates are shown along with information boards on the history of the mill. Disabled users can park nearer the mill to avoid the short, but steep pathway down to the mill. Short courses are also provided where possible on such things as dry wall building and some projects are supported by teams from local industry volunteering their services freely. Visitors can therefore see a historic mill which can still operate its machinery and follow its production methods, enjoy a walk across the burn into the woodlands, have a picnic on the site or visit the tearoom for refreshments. Member Geoffrey Goodyear proposed the vote of thanks.