Jordans Mill celebrates extraordinary woman pivotal to firm’s success
- Credit: Archant
This year, in recognition of the centenary of women’s suffrage, Jordans Mill near Biggleswade is celebrating extraordinary women – and one particular woman whose dedication to her family’s business has been paramount to its success.
The Jordan family have had a connection with Holme Mills, Bedfordshire’s last working flour mill, for more than 150 years.
The mill sits on the River Ivel in the hamlet of Holme, and in 1949 William John Jordan bought the assets of the business from his grandfather’s estate.
He had returned in 1945 from the Air Transport Auxiliary, where he was responsible for the delivery of aircraft to the RAF during the Second World War.
John, as he was known, married local farmer’s daughter Pamela Logsdon in 1946, having met during the war when Pamela – known as ‘Whizzer’ – was a motorcycle despatch rider.
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Pamela and John moved into Holme Mills House in 1949. Living ‘above the shop’, as she has since then, has brought a number of responsibilities – from running a home kitchen-based laboratory for checking flour samples, to running a highly successful mill shop.
Pamela said: “I have some wonderful memories, but raising three children on the grounds of an industrial estate wasn’t an easy task. The house is surrounded by water – a river, canal and swimming pool – and then there were the lorries and the mill machinery. Can you imagine?
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“When John bought the house, which dated back around 500 years, it needed a lot of work. There was no electricity, so we had to rely on the mill turbine.
“We needed to repair a leaky roof and restore the stairs and banister, which were rotten.
“Until the early 1960s we had no mains water, so it had to be pumped from a well in the back room to a tank in the roof.
“This also supplied the cottages next door, which meant the people who lived there had to collect their own water by the bucket.
“Flooding was always a worry until the late 1980s, when the river authority automated the lock gates.”
It’s safe to say Pamela’s life has been full of hustle and bustle, and she has never been one to rest on her laurels.
She said: “On a daily basis, John would bring me flour from the mill to test for gluten. The best way to do that was to bake Yorkshire puddings, which made a routine appearance at the dinner table.
“My kitchen never really was my own. My sons Bill and David were always concocting new recipes and testing cereals in the kitchen, and TV crews would often descend on us to film cookery programmes.”
In the late 1970s, Pamela opened the mill shop – where she sold early cereal products, flour and gifts for 35 years.
After the family firm had moved away from milling flour to create its own range of breakfast cereals and cereal bars, The Jordan Trust was set up in 2001 to renovate and restore the 19th century mill as a living and working museum and visitor attraction. Jordans Mill opened in April 2013.
Pamela said: “All three of my children – Bill, David and Lindsay – have worked hard for the family business to get it to where it is today.
“When they told me of their plans for Jordans Mill, I told them to do what they liked but to hurry up!
“I’m so proud of them all. The result is fantastic and it’s lovely to see a few old faces still coming to the mill store and enjoying the new heritage centre.”
Jordans Mill will be holding a free Heritage Open Day next Saturday from 10am to 4pm, at its museum.
As well as demonstrations of the mill machinery in action, there will be free interactive children’s activities. There will also be a dedication board detailing Pamela’s life story.
Director William Jordan, known as Bill, said: “We want to encourage people of all ages in our community to come and visit our beautifully-restored mill museum and watch the machines as they worked when we were children.
“This is our way of showing people young and old that milling is fun and very important, so that we can preserve the mill and its history for future generations.
“This year’s theme is very close to my family’s heart because we get to celebrate the most extraordinary woman we know, our mum.”
To find out more, have a look at jordansmill.com or call 01767 603940.