Celebration of mill’s 150th anniversary

Clarks Mill. Photo by David Bruce.
Clarks Mill. Photo by David Bruce.
A founding feature of North Otago farm life is celebrating its 150th birthday this weekend.

Clarks Mill, a four-storey building made from local limestone, is located just south of Oamaru alongside State Highway 1 at Maheno. Now owned and run by Heritage New Zealand, its milling plant has been painstakingly restored by local volunteers.

‘‘Clarks Mill is the sole remaining flour mill where visitors can see the early machinery still intact and operating,’’ property manager Anne Sutherland said.

‘‘We know that the flour from the mill was being sold in February 1867, when it was then called the Kakanui Mill, so we are taking the 150th anniversary from this date.

‘‘We want to make this a truly memorable weekend involving the whole local community. During the weekend we would be delighted to talk to people who have memories of the mill they would like to record in our Clarks Mill Book of Memories.’’

Not only would the mill building be open on both Saturday and Sunday, but the Miller’s House, the stone cottage known Smokey Joe’s, and the shed now occupied by the North Otago Vintage Machinery Club would also be accessible to the public.

Club members would help the Clarks Mill team to show how wheat grown in the district was turned into the daily bread that fed its population.

Flour would be produced by the ‘‘Four Hi’’ milling machine on the Saturday, and on the Sunday all machinery would be cranked up every hour. Children’s activities and a popup 1949-style cafe were being added.

On Saturday night a new film recording of the mill would have its premiere screening at Purton’s Cafe & Bar in Maheno.

-By Sally Brooker

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