Forge Mill is the only working water mill left in the world. In the 19th century it was used to make needles, and is built up into two parts: The east wing, which has three floors and the west wing, which is the scouring mill. It has been turned into a museum so the public can see what life was like for needle makers in the 19th century. The evidence comes from the forge mill guide book This is the outside of the Forge Mill. The picture shows that the exterior of the Mill has not changed because there are no modern extensions onto the building.
The exterior has been left almost, the same since the last workers left. The glass in the windows has not changed from the glass that needle workers in the industrial revolution had. This shows that it is an accurate representation because as nothing has changed. There is one visual difference which is the plaque on the wall, to show the preservation of the mill. This plaque shows that the building has been kept the same since 1963. The only extension to this building was in 1871 where the Lewis family added an extension to turn it from a one story building into a two story building.
Since 1963 only minor maintenance has been used to keep the building an accurate representation of the original needle mill for visitors. The East wing is the newest building to the mill and was made in the 1870’s by the Lewis family. It has three floors and the top floor is now used to display various needles varying in size and other little things like the packets and small hand powered machinery. On display here are some modern needles like the ones used to stitch on some of the thermal barrier tiles on to the space shuttle Columbia.
This is good because it not only fascinates the visitor but it educates them as to how the needle industry developed and how important the needles were. This floor shows some accurate and original needles. On this floor there are many more examples of the importance of needles to show how the industry developed. The middle floor shows the needle making in the area and has cloth puppets on display. This shows the variety of the uses for the needles and educates the visitor.
The ground floor shows the main processes of needle manufacture and according to the Forge Mill guide book this was used for various needle processes and may have been used. Previously the east wing has been called the ‘Salmon fly works’ for one of the things it manufactured was fish hooks between 1911 and 1963. The ground floor may have been used for pointing in the past. On the exterior is part of an exploded pointing stone, on it is engraved: ‘EM 1816’. This is to remember the pointer Edward Mathews, who died in August 1816. This shows that pointing probably was carried out at the mill.
The ground floor does accurately show the working conditions and job of a pointer. It does this by using primary evidence with the grinding stone and a model to show how it was used. This is useful for accurately seeing what the job involved and for showing the danger involved in pointing. One of the dangers is pointers rot where all of the metal dust from pointing gets in hailed and rips there throat and lungs, but this was slightly solved by the introduction of an extraction which lengthened the pointers lives but they still died of pointers rot.
The ground floor is now used very well to show the living conditions of the Mill in the 19th century because it has been kept the pretty much the same since the 19th century so it is quite reliable primary evidence. This means the visitors can understand the jobs involved and the process of making a needle. The source below from the forge mill guide book shows a kick stamp on the left and the fly-press on the right which are still there today, which shows that the ground floor is primary evidence.
There is also other machinery shown in the museum and you can see the order of each process of the needle and who from adults to children did which jobs. This educates the visitor as to how complicated making a needle was in the forge mill and why they developed into the best needle makers into the world because of their good quality needles. The west wing of the museum was used for scouring needles in the 19th century. The runners and beds for the scouring are attached to the water wheel next to the West Wing.
The beds and runners still work and they are still the original beds and runners from c. 1730. This is good because it allows visitors to see how the beds and runners worked; because they are still the originals, it gives a very accurate impression. The only change is the safety guards that the scourers would not have had. The safety guards do not get in the way and visitors can still clearly see the machinery. The scouring mill has been left exactly as it was. There are no electric lights to impede on the atmosphere of the room.
This is good because it shows the light levels and dinginess that scourers had. The only modern addition is a small electric heater. The heater does not obscure any machinery; it does not get in the way because it is high on the wall. The source shows the man on the left with a sett on and on the right there are needle runners. This is still around today but they only demonstrate when special guests and schools come to visit it. The water wheel powers the scouring mill. The water wheel has been replaced since because the wooden one rotted away and was replaced for a metal one.
To preserve the wheel it is only activated when special guests come to visit. The wheel has been built in the same shape as the original but it is made out of metal instead of wood and is therefore is not primary evidence. However, it does not stop the visitor understanding how the wheel worked as it is designed the same way except that it is made out of metal so it will last longer. The museum shows the working conditions of the needle mill in the 19th century as in the west wing there is low lighting and unusual smells like it would have been in the 19th century.
The original equipment is very educating to the visitor and gives them an accurate view of the needle industry in the 19th century. The west wing shows the development of the needle industry with the complicated process shown, and the various uses of the needles e. g. on the space ship Columbia. By showing the demand for needles they have managed to show how the industry developed and the complicated process shows why not many places made needles and how the forge mill museum became the best needle mill in the world.
In conclusion, the Forge Mill Needle Museum portrays the working conditions of the needle mill by keeping the place as primary evidence of the original mill and showing the visitor the condition of the mill. It also shows the development of the needle museum with interesting uses of needles and the complicated process and care involved. So the needle museum does show the visitor the conditions and the development of working in a needle mill in the 19th century.