The blog

Flour mill at the Porchères dam

Culture and heritage, secret Gironde

60 kilometers from Bordeaux, between Porchères and Saint-Seurin-sur-l'Isle, on the course of a tributary of the Dordogne, the Isle, is the Porchères mill (Historic Monument), the only mill in working order. functioning out of the twenty-two that were counted, not so long ago, along this river between Périgueux and Libourne.
We are in the presence of an emblematic place, witness to the industrial activity that made the Isle valley famous from the Ancien Régime until the middle of the XNUMXth century. Here, in broad strokes, is his story.

On June 29, 1847, Mr. Charles Frouin, Mayor of Porchères, obtained authorization, by royal decree from Louis Philippe, to build a mill on the course of the Isle. Its construction requires the creation of a dam to provide the necessary energy for the spinning wheels and a canal to divert the course of the river, thus facilitating the movement of boats, barges and couriers.

The mill, whose architect is completely unknown, was built between 1847 and 1850. It is a large rectangular building of neat construction, in cut stone, with two square floors, with a long-sided roof and a hipped hollow tiles. The building, with a scheduled elevation, which develops over five bays, rests on four arches which house spinning wheels that operate pairs of millstones. A horizontal and angle chaining delimits the levels. Semi-circular arched windows with radiating fenestration illuminate the interior of the building. In 1863, a commercial stone warehouse, on a single level pierced with semi-circular arched bays, built at right angles, enlarged the mill. At the same time, a sawmill is put into operation.

Bought in 1904 by the Barrau family, the mill was gradually modernized: in 1920, two modern turbines replaced the old spinning wheels; in 1937, the mill was raised to the level of the attic and equipped with modern equipment. In 1947, electric motors were installed to allow the mill to operate in times of drought, when the water level was particularly low. In order to diversify its activities and ensure regular and increased work for the company, a food factory was created in 1954 by P. Barrau, in adjoining buildings. It is intended for the production of livestock products using wheat, but also corn, barley, oats, soybean meal, In 1997, P. Barrau sells the mill, which continues its milling activity some time. In 2002, the fire in the animal feed factory, adjoining the mill, caused the activity to cease definitively.

Porchères le plancher des cylindres

Porcheres the floor of the cylinders © H. Sion Gironde Tourisme

The mill still retains, on four floors, all the machinery needed to transform wheat into flour. A visit to the heart of this "monument" reveals the complexity and entanglement of the belts, pulleys, old and new machines that have transformed the grain of wheat into flour for baking and pastry. We discover an inextricable skein of belts, pulleys, various machines which have the name: spinning wheel, turbine, pinion, washer, wringer, winnower, grinder, converter, sasseur, sieve, plansifter, flour chamber... whose operation is mysterious for the uninitiated.

Today, in agreement with the new owner of the premises, passionate about heritage, the Association Vivons avec le moulin de Porchères, member of the Girondine association of Friends of the Mills (AGAM) offers exciting guided tours and activities at the mill. throughout the year.
They are just waiting for your visit!
You will be seduced, like yours truly during his first visit in 1996, by the beauty of the monument and its gleaming machines, in a setting where old pitch pine wood reigns supreme... Five people worked there, there is no not so long… A short-term project could revive this flour mill whose machines are still in perfect working order.
That would do justice to this jewel of the milling heritage of the Gironde!

  • Association "Let's live with the Moulin de Porchères"
  • Tel. 06 30 93 57 60