The Welding Research Consortium (WRC) is a group of likeminded researchers formed to perform research in areas loosely related to developments in welding technology. This talk is provided by members of the WRC presenting their work they have performed to analyse the historic spade mill processes from a modern metallurgical perspective. The talk will be delivered in the stunning National Trust property Stowe Gardens.

The WRC Project

The WRC Project – Historic Spade Mill

A group of likeminded Cranfield university researchers got together to form the Welding Research Consortium (WRC). The WRC vision was to generate technical papers loosely based around ongoing welding research as a collective in an interesting and entertaining way. Covering obscure, imaginative, and peculiar topics – only limited by the imagination of the group.

The first research project was based on Patterson's Spade Mill in Northern Ireland, which belongs to the National Trust. The mill is the last working water-driven spade mill in daily use in the British Isles, Europe and potentially the world. A mill of one type or another has been on the site since 1882. Historically, the exact processes have been kept secret, passed from eldest son to eldest son for five generations.

All manufacture at the site is performed by eye, by volunteers with no procedures, measured temperatures, or a real understanding of the metallurgy involved. All information at the working museum is about the history and not the process science / metallurgy.

The team visited the mill for two days in mid-May to photograph, video, measure, record and witness the process, timings and temperatures (using thermocouples, temperature probes and state of the art thermal cameras). Samples were taken back to Cranfield University for mechanical testing and microstructure study using both optical and a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), thus subjecting the historic process to modern science. Information in the form of posters from the research will be produced and displayed at the mill and of course an academic paper will be published.

Join us at the stunning National Trust property Stowe Gardens to hear all about the WRC's journey of discovery into this historic manufacturing process.

The WRC Project

To find out more about the WRC please visit their Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram pages.

Location and travel details

Temple of Concorde and Victory, Stowe Gardens, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire. MK18 5EQ

Who should attend

Open to all.


Free to attend