Monday, May 29, 2017

Flour mill and bakery onboard naval ships during Crimean War

To support the British troops with their daily bread ration during the Crimean War in 1855-6, two iron steamers were refitted – one named “Bruiser” as a floating mill and the other “Abundance” as a bakery.

Early mills were occasionally on boats on rivers. I posted about them HERE   Details on "Bruiser" mill steamer -

“The Famous Floating Mill” in American Miller March 1, 1910 -
"Some of the oldest members of the milling fraternity no doubt will remember hearing of the floating mill, used by the Allies during the Crimean War, but to the younger men it probably comes as a distinct novelty. During the siege of Sebastopol it was determined, on the urgent recommendation of Assistant Commissary-General Julyan, to effect an arrangement for supplying the troops daily with new bread and fresh flour from the grain of the surrounding country. To this end it was determined to construct a floating mill and a bakery.

Accordingly drawings and plans were prepared for the mills and ovens and two iron Steamers were purchased by the English government for this purpose. These steamers, subsequently named the “Bruiser” and the “Abundance,” were fitted with machinery by William Fairbairn and Sons, the English manufacturers, and were completed and ready for duty in less than three months.
The arrangement of the machinery Within the Bruiser is clearly shown in the large illustration accompanying this article. The machinery was all driven from the propeller shaft, A, which was driven by the engines B, B. These engines were of eight horsepower each, with an exceedingly short stroke. The wheat was stored in the forehold of the vessel and was raised by an elevator into the Screw conveyor C, which carried it to the cleaner D.

From D the grain was carried by the elevator E and the conveyor F to the hoppers, G, G, from which it was fed by the silent feeders I, I, I, I, upon the millstones H, H. The millstones were hung on stiff irons, as the ordinary balance rynd would have hardly been serviceable when the ship rolled.

After being ground upon the stones the flour or meal was taken by the conveyor K, to the elevator L, which delivered it to the flour dressing machine M, where it was freed from the bran and packed into sacks, being separated into two qualities, fine and coarse. The propeller shaft A was exposed under the millstones but covered by an iron trough  N in other parts of the vessel. A cross-section of the vessel is shown in the smaller cut, giving an idea of the transverse arrangement of the machinery.

The mill worked very satisfactorily, even in a heavy swelling sea. On one occasion, when the vessel was steaming 7 ½  miles an hour, the mill was kept constantly at work for thirty-five hours. During the time the vessel was in the harbor at Balaklava the mill produced about 24,000 pounds of flour per day and that from very hard wheat, full of small gravel, and consequently difficult to griad. So well constructed was it that it never once got out of order during the whole period of service in the Black Sea. It is recorded that from January 1 to March 31, 1856, the mill ground 1,331,792 pounds of flour, with 358,172 pounds of bran.

Bakery ship
In the sister ship, the Abundance, fitted out as a bakery, brick ovens were built, and the necessary tables, troughs, kneading machines, etc., installed. This bakeship was thoroughly tested as was the mill, before being put to sea, and showed a maximum capacity of 22,000 pounds of bread per hour. In the three months above mentioned, 1,284,747 pounds of bread were made. The success of both these vessels was extraordinary, everything considered, and reflected greatly to the credit of Sir William Fairbairn, under whose personal direction they were planned and constructed."

More info on boat mills, bridge mills and hanging mills HERE

©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
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