This stump mill on the Törbjer brook was disassembled in 1984. The equipment so subject to heavy wear had to be renewed.
Several buildings stood in a descending row in a gorge of the Törbjer stream running past the village of Törbel near Visp: a fulling mill (cloth compacter), a sawmill and eight grain mills. The waterpower of the cascading brook drove one waterwheel after another – some of these rural trade buildings have been renovated in situ and are operated for visitors. They demonstrate how proto-industrial zones once arose along water courses. On the way to the village of Törbel there are former fields with granaries for threshing and storing rye. In combination with the bake house at the village edge they are reminiscences of the intensive grain husbandry practised here until the 1950’s.
Seen from afar this modest little building could be mistaken for a small barn. The raised quarrystone foundation was erected without mortar, as is often the case with stalls. An ordinary sawn timber hut much like a small barn rests upon it. Instead of shingles, the stone slabs common in this Valaisan valley form the roofing material. There is not a waterwheel in sight – is this supposed to be a mill?
Not every mill is driven by a big vertical waterwheel gently rotating on the side of a building. There is another principle: behind the building a hollowed-out log gathers the rushing water like the pressure conduit of a power plant and leads it into the cellar. There a pair of nozzles aim jets of water at two horizontal turbine wheels. The jets strike the turbine paddles and turn the wheels – a technological show, spraying mist and rattling the wheels.
The shafts of the waterwheels transmit the power directly to the runner stones of the mill on the floor above – the short upstanding drive shafts give these mills the name stump mill. The fineness of the grain or flour is regulated by a lifting mechanism that alters the spacing of the millstones. This stump mill on the Törbjer brook was disassembled in 1984. The equipment so subject to heavy wear had to be renewed.