Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I am going to have a go at the undershot watermill.


I will log here my progress and thinking.


First job is a paper space model.





This is to gauge the final size and shape and how to hang the building together.

The odd shape of the cellar is my experiment with different depths. The second half I made deeper as I figure that I might be able to mount this into a boxfile and wanted to check that the depth would actually work.

Some of the dimensions were hard to determine, which is another reason to start with a simple bit of paper. I got a little lost on the arch part of the house for instance. Another was that the dimension given for the river side of the building, the long straight wall is not the sum of the dimensions on the other side. Not really a problem to find at this stage but a headache to find if you have spent a lot of effort into the walls and are at final assembly.


Other things that I have noticed is the lack of chimney. The house...assuming it is a house... (or office) would have something to keep the place warm in winter. The flames would have to be some distance away from the ground flour to prevent a dust explosion. But where do I put the chimney?

The other change that I would like to make is to move it out of the Cotswolds and into either Surrey or Hampshire. So brick and timber will be the order of the day. But what parts are brick and what will be timber. The roof I think will be clay tiles.


Another thought is the period, 1880's or 1960? It might help in setting the context of the base and the general condition of the structure.


Any thoughts are welcome.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose that the period of building would depend on whether you want to model a working mill or an abandoned one. Most mills of about this size seem to have gone out of business - owing to larger mills being built in the mid-nineteenth century (both water and steam powered) and the improvement of rural transport by roughly 1900 - my employers can provide details from our archives if you want to check: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/place.aspx?region=2!


The two mills of roughly that size near me that I know about (Woodmill in Swaythling- in truth about twice the size - and Old Basing Mill, both in Hampshire) were derelict in the '60s if local pictures are anything to go by. Old Basing has been a pub for some years; Woodmill is a water sports centre. There's no reason a mill wouldn't have a chimney though - there are no end of historical references to flour mills burning down so hearths must have been a feature of many and Woodmill, certainly, had chimneys (but away form the mill machinery - presumably this was one way of keeping stored corn dry and possibly for malting on a small scale: http://www.oldukphotos.com/graphics/England%20Photos/Hampshire,%20Southampton,%20Woodmill.jpg At Old Basing, the bits around the mill workings were clad in wood but the whole building is timber fraed behind a brick frontage.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Cheers Adam,

what got me thinking about 1960 was coming across some old copies of Country Life dated circa 1959/1960 that had photos of a picturesque village scenes some showing a ford and an old mill. The mill being photographed was not in a shabby condition so it may well have still been in service or had some restoration. Could it have been a private house by then?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's possible - that a mill might then be a private house - but I wonder at exactly how representative Country Life depictions might be! It's no accident that most of the watermills that survive in working condition are either quite large or tied to large, more or less self-contained, landed estates; those are the ones which survived.


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Well that has all given me something to think about. And in the intervening period think about it I have.

It occurred to me that the heart of the model would be the wheel. The condition of this would set the period.

And never having built a water wheel before it's condition could be anywhere from perfect to being so bad that I leave it off and build a ruin.


As I write this, I am thinking of those guys who think that they can't build a good model and so either don't try or give up after the first attempt. I hope that they read this and will try again and not give up trying.


The first attempt at the wheel was with cardboard and a compass. But I found that after cutting I didn't get a particularly round shape and that the inner cut left a lot to be desired.

It was at this point that I started to eye up the Will's waterwheel kit.


(image Wills)

Although it would be easier, and I get a sluice gate as well, I figured that this is not how I wanted to go about making this model. In my head I thought that this might take something away from what I wanted to achieve. I also feared that it might start to look like every other watermill. So it went back onto the shelf and my spend is still at zero!


The second attempt at cutting out the rings was a little more successful. I looked around for some round pots of the right diameter. The kitchen proved most successful and I found a pot of baking soda and chocolate sprinkles about the right size. Although not perfect I did manage to produce a few roundish rings.

My thinking then turned to idea that by using thin card, in this case card from a box of teabags, I could build the ring in three layer and get a strong round ring. I could then mount spokes into the centre and some kind of axle.

But it still wasn't right.


One problem that I found I had was that there is no prototype drawing and scant images on the web or in the many books that I have.


However a search through some old Railway Modellers circa 1982/3 found an article that featured a waterwheel and that with a couple of other Victorian watercolours gave me the inspiration I wanted.


That was to start with the spokes. So I set about making I sections with the top of the I forming the outer edge of the wheel.

I then glued these onto a couple of the good rings and, to my eye at least, it looked about right.

The paddles or slats were then glued in. Undershot waterwheels seem to have an open frame so the structure was very flimsy at this stage.

When the glue had set I then set about cutting out the really crooked paddles and re-setting them straight(er).


The axle is a cocktail stick.


Around the outside of the outside of the ring I stuck a strip of card to represent an iron hoop.


So there it is ready for paint. But the question is does it set any period to mind?

Late 19th Century? 1960? Somewhere in between or even earlier?

Or is it so bad that I should either start again or model the mill in a ruined condition?


Over to you.

Edited by brightspark
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting solution, I would go for an aged effect. also liked the do a paper model quick test. I would stat colouring see how happy you are, and set the age after you have coloured it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having roamed the interweb I have been quite surprised at how long lived some watermills have been. Although many kept their wheels but lost their inner workings.

circa 1900 seems to have been a period of culling, but some struggled on to the 1960's. Mainly the larger mills (I can remember Cox's Lock Mill at Addlestone lasting into the 80's) but some smaller mills as well.


While pondering the period, I have started on the buildings.


My plan was to have gone down the Pendon route of scribing the bricks and painting them in. However all has not gone to plan. Despite my measuring twice and cutting once, I have somehow managed to cut a door and window in the wrong place!



Now there are three ways out of this.

1. start again

2. put an extension over the feature

3. Use brick paper


The first option of starting again isn't too bad and gives me the shape that I was thinking about. But....I'll come to that but...

Option two is interesting as it would give the model some age and paternaster. Some horrible shed put up say during the war out of different materials would perhaps give it an industrial feel.

 After all it is an industrial building. However there is still that but...


Option three...well I have always has a dislike of brick paper. I never liked the way that bricks don't go around the corner and that arches have to be to the shape and radius dictated by the paper manufacturer. And they also look flat and you can't weather them as the ink runs.

However there is that big but still hanging there from option one and two. That but being the time available before judging.

Modelling time for me is after I have cleared the work that I have bought home. I also have to prepare (repair, check and clean my stock) for the show at Portsmouth at the end of November.

So to scribe and paint the buildings in time might not be practical.


So I guess that I will have to eat my leak and paper over the cracks. Scalescenes looks the best perhaps a red brick or aged red brick.

It will also be a chance to learn some new skills and think about how I overcome my 'pet hates'.


So bearing in mind period and location (Surrey and Hants) what brick texture should I go for?

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

It goes against all my principles...but....well...I had to spend some money on this project......(Hangs head in shame)

A whole English £1.99 was invested in a Scalescenes brick paper. I got old red brick.

Lets see what I can do with this.


The two main blocks of building have been folded up and the house/office has been covered in brick. The mill house and store/work room have yet to be covered.

I have still to make up the extension to the house/office, that the bit with the arch.




I am still pondering chimneys. It must have had some. And while in a pondering mood I am also thinking about the mill race. In the plan it is boarded over, but the pictures of prototypes shows it exposed. Slightly outside of the area, one example is the wheel at Bayeux.




Near me is a local watermill that has just had it's waterwheel restored. Sadly there are no workings and the structure has been extended into a house. I have watched it's development as cycled past it during the summer. The house was recently put on the market and I was wondering if I could convince the estate agent that I had enough money to buy it so that I could get a look around. For those interested here is a link to the mill



Oh we can dream.


and here is some history of Emmets Mill.





  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks Freebs.

Having done the wheel cleaning and oiling for this weekends Expo South, sorry SHMRC show, I have found a bit of time to do some more bit more.


So here is the latest.



There are several things that I find displease me about model buildings.

The first is that gap that appears under many buildings. I hope that you have noticed that I have cellars on my buildings with the bricks going below ground level.


Anther place is the corners. Brick courses should line up and the corner bricks should have an end and a side.

The latter being a particular problem with brick papers, although I have seen may building made in other media that suffer the same.


Fortunately the edges of the Scalescenes print out has a row of stretcher brick double width. I assume that this is what they are intended for.

Here is my method of tidying up the corners.


cut out a strip


Mark the back with lines at 2mm 3mm 4mm and 6mm from one edge.


cut to width at 6mm


score and fold the back at 3mm


cut out every other brick to the 2mm and 4mm lines.


make sure that you alternate the bricks so that you get on either side o the fold line an end and a side.


Cut to size and glue on.



I am using photomount as you can spray on a fine layer of glue.



Getting there slowly.


I will bring this with me tomorrow should anyone care to see it.


I shall be operating Swaynton.



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Progress report from Brightspark towers...


Realising that time was getting short and not having much spare time myself the amount of work seemed daunting.

So I decided to concentrate on the Mill Building and small shed.


These now have windows and doors and the basis of the roof.


I now have a week of idling so I can try and make progress with the rest now.

Or should I just try and finish the roof of the two structures I have now and leave the gate house and mill house alone?



Here are snaps of what I have got so far to get an impression as to what the whole thing could look like.



I wish that I picked something a little easier now.


Merry Crimbo.



  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is the latest progress report.

Like the advent calendar that is lurking from the waste bin the watermill has 24 doors and windows (and no chocolate).

My chosen method of is as described by Chris Pilton in his book "Cottage Modelling for Pendon".


So here is how I done it.


Start off with some thin card (about 0.5mm thick) and cut off a strip that is approximately 5mm wider each side than the hole that you want to fill.


I mark lightly in pencil a line about 5mm up from the bottom of the card and the centre and use that to line up the card behind the window (or door)


Then mark around the inside of the opening.


I then mark back from the line I made so that I now have the exact hole size marked on the card.


Mark out lines slightly less that 1mm along the edges and top and slight over 1mm along the lower edge.

As these are casement windows with a centre pillar I also mark the centre and 0.5mm either side for that.


Cut out using a sharp knife and a straight edge.


Window bars are paper cut approx. 0.5mm wide again using a sharp knife.


 Mark the back of the window frame the centres where the frames are going to go and then fix to the back of the window frame.


The window ledge is a strip of the card a little over 1mm wide and cut to match the width of opening.


I then paint it white and weather it. Finally add glazing, in this case some clear plastic sheet from my spares box.


Doors are similar in that the frame is cut out and painted white.

The door card is scribed at 2mm intervals to represent 6inch planks and painted. In this case Burnt Umber.


When dry glue door to frame.


Finally add door knob or latch.

The door knob is just a pin with the head painted black.

For the door at the rear of the building I got a little creative and had a go at a latch and handle out of thin wire.


Then you have a big pile of doors and windows. Oh yes it is a good idea to number them all at the start!


When dry glue to the structure.


I have also started to work on the ground as well. This is so that I can the building joined together, the ground card being cut to the floor plan.

I think that it is starting to come together now.




  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all from Brightspark Towers.


As I wrote earlier, I didn't expect to finish this model in time for judging and as we approach the middle of January the finish looks a long way off. So I guess the judges will have to decide if this is eligible as part finished or not. However, either way I am enjoying this build so will continue with it. Mrs Brightspark has suggested that it ends up on a layout and that raises the questions as to period and a more local location.


I have found a good source of inspiration from this website that links to Francis Frith photos.



The problem with the Frith website is that there is no search by subject. So to find a whole gallery of photos on one subject, in this case watermills, is quite handy.

A thing that I found interesting is the longevity of some of the mills especially in the south east and even into the south London Suburbs or least Commuter belt.


Of particular note is;

Bexley 1965 http://www.francisfrith.com/bexley/photos/the-old-mill-c1965_b83063/

I like the semis in the background.

Carshalton 1955 http://www.francisfrith.com/carshalton/photos/mill-wheel-hall-c1955_c38027/


As the windmill world website list the mills by name so that in some cases it shows the same mill over a period of time.

It looks to me that around 1900 many were still in a rugged condition but by the 1950's had been smartened up a bit. That is if they survived.

So what period of layout could this appear on? Could I go into the blue 3rd rail?


Anyway on with a progress report.

This week the roofs or in newspeak "rooves" have been getting attention.


I had a look at printed tile sheets, although quick they just don't feel right for this model. So back to old fashioned method of cardboard strips.

Again following the method of Chris Pilton in his Pendon book.

Thin card, print on the back a grid. My printer (HP) has an option for school reports and will print graph paper with 5mm squares.

So onto the graph I draw a line across at 2mm high and vertically at 3mm. The 3mm is the width of my tile. Cut along the bottom edge at each 3mm line up to the 2mm point then cut out each 5mm strip. I then have a strip of tiles 5mm deep with a 2mm cut.


On the roof I mark out horizontal lines at 10mm spacings from the ridge. This is to ensure that I lay the tile strips fairly evenly.

As these are clay tiles I lightly bend them between my fingernail and thumb to give them a slight curve.

Then I glue and plant making sure that the bottom of the new strip is 2mm above the last. If there are odd spacing I adjust the strips but cutting them and adjusting the tile. I also cut off the odd corner for broken tiles.


Below are pictures of the progress.



Right back to the bench to finish of the rest of the tiling






  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Harrah! I've finished the tiling.

Also the ridge tiles.




Now to let the glue dry and give it a wash of colour before picking out odd tiles in a slightly different mix.

At the start of this I had hoped that by now to have finished this with greenery and water. But at least the roof will be done.

I have also added chimneys. These are not on Alan's original plan or model. But I felt that the front offices/ house would have had some provision for heat.


I guess the build of this is going up to the wire and beyond.








  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Today I write encouraged as the model is starting to look like progress is being made.

I guess that it is the mass of white card that makes a project look so far from the end rather than a long way from the beginning. I guess a case of glass half empty.

So adding colour to the roof suddenly makes all the difference.

I have simply applied several colour washes to the roof to get rid of the white.



I am now adding colour to odd tiles in different shades to add texture to the model. The first tiles picked out are the ones still white or showing white. Next it will be those that have uneven colour on the tile and those that are too dark too light etc.


I took a trip out too compare colour against the local buildings. The roof looks about right although it will require some serious weathering or should that be horticulture as the roofs I saw today were covered in moss and lichen. So dark greens for wet moss, bright green (really bright!) for the dry /new moss and bright yellow for the lichen. But I doubt that this will be added before close of play.




  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well here we are with the last lunge to finish line.

Here in Brightspark Towers I have managed to get the watermill to a reasonable state.


The model still needs a few details and setting into some landscape. Here are some pictures of the (almost) finished model.



  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.