End of era as mill stops production

NRHNBE120501b1, Smiths flour mills, Langley Mill.
NRHNBE120501b1, Smiths flour mills, Langley Mill.

THE LAST remaining flour mill in Langley Mill has ceased production – just months after it was taken over by a new firm.

Around 20 workers are to lose their jobs at Smiths Flour Mill on Cromford Road.

It means there are now no more working flour mills in Langley Mill for the first time in nearly 1,000 years.

Smiths owner Whitworths Brothers intends only to keep the Cromford Road site on as a packaging warehouse for its other operations.

This week chief executive of Whitworths Roger Butler confirmed the firm was in the process of making staff redundant and that there would be no more flour production at the mill - but declined to say how many jobs would be lost.

However, an affected worker, who contacted us, claimed that out of the 30 staff there, 20 had taken redundancy rather than be moved to the firm’s other plants.

He said the news came as a shock to workers, who had been told the firm would continue as normal when it was bought out on January 31.

He said: It was terrible towards the latter end.

“In January all we knew was that they were taking over us and at the moment there would be no redundancies.

“It has been such a shock to all of us - there’s not a lot of people down there.

“We were a real family, we used to all go out together.”

He said some of the staff had worked there for around 40 years.

“I’m a bit older than some of them – some have big mortgages and everything – some have had to put houses on the market because they haven’t got a job,” he said.

Whitworths bought the assets of Smiths Flour Mills, which included its mills in Worksop, Langley Mill and Holbeach in Lincolnshire, on January 31.

Smiths had been one of the largest independent flour mills in the country, employing 130 people across its three sites, but it fell on hard times and went into administration at the start of 2012.

Initially Whitworths chief executive Mr Butler assured Smiths staff that business would ‘continue as usual’. He was keen to stress redundancies would not be made at that stage.

This week he declined to give a reason for closing of its flour mill operation.

The last heat-treated flour made there was three weeks ago, according to our source.

This week historian Brian Key, of the Heanor and District Local Historical Society, mourned the loss of an industry that gave the industrial village its ‘Mill’ name.

He said: “We can assume from way back in time there has always been a mill in Langley Mill.

“There is evidence of a mill in the village from the Doomsday Book in 1086 - just after the Norman conquest.

“If there’s been a mill there for 1,000 years and now it’s all coming to an end, it’s a tragedy really.”

Smith’s Flour Mill was first established on Cromford Road in 1820 by the Smith family and the building is well-known local landmark today.

When the Industrial Revolution came, Langley Mill was regarded as one of the most industrialised villages in England, said to Mr Key.

But now it joins the likes of Vic Hallams, Aristoc and GR Turners as great employers to have left the village.

Amber Valley Borough councillor for Langley Mill and Aldercar Eileen Hamilton said: “I think the loss of anything that’s been a traditional industry in an area is a shame, and Langley Mill is no exception.

“It’s a great pity they decided to stop production there.”