The present stone mill (“Steen Meulen” in Flemish), otherwise known as the mill of St Arnould (patron saint of brewers), was built in place of a pivot mill, which had been blown away by the particularly strong winds at this location.
Mr. Michel Markey, a descendant of a milling family (fourth generation), took over the mill in a very sad state. Restorations were undertaken with the means of the time: the new wings were assembled with the force of arms and horses.
Over the years, Michel Markey, an inventive and experienced miller, made many improvements that were ahead of their time. The Steenmeulen is thus the only mill in France equipped with a safety device that prevents the mechanism from turning upside down!
The wings break. With the help of his son Joseph, a specialist in mechanical engineering, Michel Markey reinstalled new wings. The latter are built identically while benefiting from the most modern manufacturing techniques. It is said that since then “the Steenmeulen turns at the slightest zephyr”!
Joseph Markey, on his retirement, took over and kept the mill going. Passionate about technology, he developed the site to open it to the public. In the 2000s, the Museum of Flemish Rural Life (Marcel Leupe’s collection), the Museum of Agricultural Machinery and Energy were successively established.
In 2007, the mill was restored to its original potential with the re-installation of oil millstones on the ground floor. In addition to the three pairs of grain millstones, the mill can now drive the pair of oil millstones. In 2008, an oil press (donated by mill carpenter Eric Vanleene) completed the oil installation.
The building at the foot of the mill collapses. A complete restoration is necessary! This allowed the installation of a heavy fuel engine, identical to the one used before Michel Markey’s arrival in 1938. This engine drove the mill mechanism, replacing the broken wings.
Since 2010, the site has been home to a flour mill from the Thybaut factory in Fretin. Since 2011, a didactic installation has been used to understand how these “modern” machines work.
In 2014, Joseph Markey reconstructed his parents’ home as it was when they arrived. This is in the small house at the foot of the mill where his parents actually lived until the end of the 1990s.
The miller has been working all summer on the construction of a reproduction of a Persian mill, the ancestor of windmills, and intends to show his visitors how this ingenious ancestor worked!