Tributes to Ernie, the last miller at Muncaster
Last updated at 11:43, Thursday, 26 July 2012
ERNIE Priestley, the last miller at Muncaster, has died aged 68.
Born in Liverpool, he first discovered Eskdale in 1962 after an interesting journey over Hardknott Pass. He returned to the city with a camera full of photographs and a lifetime of wonderful memories.
Ernie’s wife, Pam, said: “He never imagined that 40 years later he would be living and working here.’’
After spending most of his working life as an engineer with the Post Office, Ernie took early retirement and took over the lease at Muncaster Watermill in 1996.
Twelve weeks after moving in, there was the worst flood in 30 years and the mill was several feet under water.
Pam said: “After a lot of hard work making things clean and in working condition again, the Priestley milling team opened to the public at Easter.
“Ernie became an expert miller, supplying his customers with exactly the type of flour they required.
“Customers were invited into the mill to tell him if the flour was fine or coarse enough for their requirements.
“He invented different types of flour by mixing the separated flour with the wholemeal. The bread, scones and cakes available in the Mill’s Tidal Teashop were very popular.’’
At Muncaster Watermill, Ernie wanted to provide an old traditional feel with pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, a dog and two mill cats. All the visitors enjoyed his directions on how to control the geese.
Pam said: “Many people will remember Molly, the Border collie, at the mill. She was later Ernie’s constant companion every day along the beach at Seascale where he retired to on leaving the mill.
“Sadly, when Ernie retired, the mill was sold and now is a beautiful cottage in a beautiful place but sadly not a working mill.
“He was the last miller after over 700 years of the mill producing flour for the area. His previous customers still say that they have not been able to find flour as good as his!’’ she said.
In Lydiate, near Liverpool, the local pub is called The Scotch Piper and dated as far back as 1320. There is a hatch rather than a bar and customers have to queue single file to be served.
This is where Ernie’s tradition of drinking two pints of Guinness at once started as it saved time standing in the queue.
Pam said: “Ernie said drinking two pints of Guinness at once started as it saved time standing in the queue.’’
Even though The Ratty Arms has a long bar, he still insisted on buying two at once. Two pints became his trademark.
Last week, Pam explained: “Ernie went for a nap because he felt so tired and sadly didn’t wake up. He died quietly without pain or trauma when his heart slowly stopped working.
“At his funeral, he was wearing his ‘uniform’, a T-shirt with two pint glasses with Guinness logos stating ‘Home or away dress for the occasion’.’’
At his funeral, Ernie’s youngest grandchild, five-year-old Abigail, wanted to be a flower girl. Pam said: “Not usual at a funeral, but she and her mum collected a bunch of flowers from his garden including forget-me-nots, mint, and his favourite pinks.
“Abigail then walked forward and put them on his coffin and said ‘night, night, Grandad Guinness’.’’
Ernie “a unique man’’ will be sadly missed by Pam, his four children and seven grandchildren.
First published at 11:08, Thursday, 26 July 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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God bless you Ernie x
RIP Ernie, You will be sadly missed.