WORCESTERSHIRE families are being given a rare chance to take a look at some of the county’s surviving mills which will be open as part of an annual festival celebrating Britain’s milling heritage.

Six watermills and windmills in Worcestershire, mainly in the north of the county, are taking part in the National Mills Weekend on Saturday May 13 and Sunday May 14 – one of which is not normally open to the public.

Until the advent of the steam engine, wind and watermills provided the only source of power for many different processes - making flour, paper and cloth plus hammering metal and extracting oils.

During the mills weekend families can explore some of these mills. Some are restored to working order, some are derelict and some are still working commercially.

The Worcestershire mills include Shelsley watermill at Shelsley Walsh in the Teme valley which was part of the farming community. There has been a watermill on the site since 1308 and the current mill shows three stages of construction spanning 300 years. It was last used to grind animal feed in 1923.

The mill was restored by the Shelsely Water Mills Society a working condition for use as a visitor attraction and educational resource, as well as providing active conservation of wildlife habitat. It is hoped milling will take place on both days over the weekend from around 2pm to 4pm.

The watermill at Brook House, Feckenham, is not normally open to the public but visitors will be able to see it turning during the weekend. It is an external waterwheel in the wheel pit of a demolished needle mill and its restoration was completed in 2015.

An 18th century corn mill owned by the National Trust called Knowle’s Mill, Dowles Brook, near Bewdley, will also be open. It retains upright shaft, pitwheel, spurwheel and crownwheel and the frames of an overshot waterwheel.

Churchill Forge, Churchill, between Stourbridge and Hagley, will also be in action. It was one of the last working water-powered forge mills in Britain producing metal tools such as spades, shovels and ladles until the early 1970s.

Since closing as a going concern, it has been maintained by a group pf volunteers as an important example of industrial heritage.

Forge Needle Mill at Redditch illustrates the rich heritage of the needle and fishing tackle industries in the area. This water-powered needle scouring and polishing mill, last worked commercially in 1958 and now restored as part of a museum. The machinery still works and the wheel will be turning during the weekend

The Danzey Green Windmill at Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove, will be open to the public. This post mill with a Midlands-type brick roundhouse was built in 1820 but became derelict. It was moved to the museum in 1969 and restored to full working order.

To find a full list and information about the mills open during the weekend visit http://www.nationalmillsweekend.co.uk/watermills.htm#worc

A spokesman for the festival said: “The weekend is an annual festival celebrating our milling heritage and provides a fantastic opportunity for families to visit watermills and windmills all over the country - many of which are not usually open to the public. Once there were thousands of mills across the country but now just a handful survive.”