The use of the force of water

At the end of the 18th century, mills in the Périgord had to be counted by the hundreds. The slightest stream in the Isle basin could carry several along its course until the beginning of the 20th century.

The strength of the current being insufficient here, a waterfall was generated by diverting and retaining part of the water in a bief or a dam. The hydraulic energy created by the falling water drove a wheel mounted on a shaft, which in turn transmitted this rotary motion. This motive force could thus be used to drive grinding wheels, mallets, a saw or a dynamo to produce electricity at the end of the 19th century.

Mills were therefore defined as white or black mills, whether they were barrel or forge mills, a sawmill or a maillery, depending on the machines it operated.

Illustrations :

– Photograph of the mill of Sainte Claire in Périgueux in 1899. (Photo E. Audoi – private coll.)

– Postcard of the mills from Chamberlanne to Parcoul (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 2 Fi 1169)

– Postcard of the Vauclaire mill in Montpon-Ménestérol (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 2 Fi 1139)

– Postcard of the Mauriac mill and castle in Douzillac (Iconotheque of the Historical and Archaeological Society of the Périgord)

– Drawing « The village of Saint Astier and its mill, seen from the river » in 1866 by Jules de Verneilh (1823-1899) (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 53 Fi 02)