A TRADITIONAL flour mill which has been operating since the 1800s is to close with the possible loss of 32 jobs.

The historic Wessex Mill in Mill Street, Wantage, has announced that it will cease production at the end of the year due to rising electricity prices, which it says made it "unviable to continue milling on site".

The Wessex Mill brand has been acquired by Doves Farm Food in Hungerford, which will milling grain under the Wessex Mill name at its site in West Berkshire.

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Paul Munsey, managing director at Clarks, which owns Wessex Mill, said: "It was a difficult decision to close the mill, but we are very pleased to have been able to transfer the brand to another family flour mill, which will continue the tradition of milling local grains in the North Wessex Downs".

The company has now started a consultation period with 32 staff.

In a statement, the mill said: "The company thanks our excellent staff for their hard work over a number of difficult years particularly during the Covid pandemic.

"We would not have been able to continue milling for this long without their industry and skills.

"We thank all the bakers who have used our flour over the last hundred years for their enthusiasm for our flour and their support.

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The future supply of Wessex Mill flour is in excellent hands with Doves Farm Foods."

The Munsey family have been milling in Oxfordshire for more than 100 years. The mill is currently run by fifth generation flour miller, Emily, with the support of her father Paul.

Clare Marriage, CEO of Doves Farm Foods, said "Wessex Mill has an excellent reputation for milling the finest quality award-winning flour from locally sourced grain and serving discerning customers across the UK.

"We are excited to take on the brand to continue this tradition and bring it to even more bakers up and down the country."

Wessex Mill uses a traditional roller milling process, as opposed to the modern energy intensive method of debranning (removing the outer layers of the cereal grains) before grinding it into flour.

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It mills its flour slowly which means the flour doesn't heat up as much as other flour mills, preventing the protein from damage.

The flour is milled using local wheat collected by the family from nearby farms. It ensures only the best wheat is selected with high quality gluten by testing samples.

Being a small mill means wheat from each farm can be stored separately without batching, allowing the millers to select wheats to mix and produce flour of consistent quality.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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