Mills in Altoaragón - harinero


Broto is situated near Torla and the Ordesa National Park. You'll find the mill on the left bank of the Río Ara at the northern fringe of the village a few steps away from the village church and the new school.
The mill takes its water from the Río Ara.

Pictures: 1.III.2007, 28.VIII.2017

(1) Molino of Broto in 2007: the wheat mill and the old powerstation are in the higher section
The new powerstation is located in the lower section with green roof.

Picture (1) shows the situation of the construction in 2007. Since then the vegetation has grown a lot and at the time of our second visit the site was entirely overshadowed by huge trees and shrubs. First we have the oldest part of the construction with two storeys; it can be seen still standing alone on pictures from the early 1930s. The more recently added part was built against the existing construc­tion. Earth was dug out and its floor sits about 2 m below the ground outside.
The wheat mill and the old power station occupy the bottom floor of the older section.

The rightmost door opens into a small reception hall. From there a staircase (visible in (2) behind the door right) leads to the upper floor. From the hall a door (2, right) leads to the workfloor.

The entrance left of the previous door, leads directly into the workplace.

(2) Panorama of the work floor

The work place is dominated by a huge and high stone table (2, 9). As there are no traces of any steps, it is not clear how the miller managed to get up to the hopper in order to fill a new load of grain.

The table has space for two stone paires but only one set (2, left) is present. The associated stone case with part of the feeding system still attached (7) is visible at the right (2). The stone cover is a cilinder like in all mills we have seen in the basin of the Río Ara (e.g. Sarvisé, Fiscal, Jánovas, Cortillas). In other areas octogonal dust covers were prefered (on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Guara in e.g. Alquézar, Castillazuelo, Las Almunias de Rodellar)

The stone (3) measures 140 cm ∅ with an eye of 40 cm ∅. That is a rather big size for the region: most stones here measure only 130 cm.

The back of the stone carries several interesting features. Firstly we have three balance pits (circles in 3) evenly distributed around the circumference of the stone. They allow the miller to fine tune the balance of the stone in order to avoid any wobbling which could have disastrous consequences.

Next (3a, 4) comes the imprint of the manufacturer of the stone. It is the Grande Société Meu­lière Dupety Orsel et Cie, one of the important (associa­tions of) companies of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.

(3) A runner stone from La Ferté

(4) Marks on the stone: Dupety-Orsel & Cie.

We have seen the same brand in the Molino de arriba of Alquézar. The stone here in Broto, however, lacks the branded ring around the eye of the stone there. The main competitor of the G.S.M. was the Société Générale Meulière — or S.G.M. — which we have seen in f.e. Paternoy and Las Almunias de Rodellar. Apart from the names, also the logos were confusingly similar (by purpose?).
The supplier also has put his mark on the stone (3b, 5). While the G.S.M. stamp is in sunk relief, the supplier's is in bas relief. It is a box which says:

 Especialidad en Piedras de Molino 
y toda clase de Artefactos
Para la Molineria
Enrique Cebolla

(5) Marks on the stone: Enrique Cebolla

(6) Marks on the stone: Piedras de Exposición

Enrique Cebolla was established in 1888. In 1948 its letterhead proudly communicates: Especialidad en piedras de molino de las mas acreditadas canteras de La Ferté y La Dordoña (in red ink!)

The 3rd mark on the stone (3c, 6) is an ellips in bas relief. It says:  Piedras de exposición  — La Ferté sous-Jouarre. It is an indication of the superior quality of the stone.

I have seen a price list of Averly, Montaut y García — the sole representative for S.G.M. (the competitor of G.S.M.) in Spain and Portugal — where stones piedras de exposición cost about 15% more than stones primera clase. I am in the dark about what precisely makes the difference.

(7) The stone cover with part of the feeding system

(8) Turbine with cog wheels

A turbine (8) is hidden below the bancada (stone table). A huge wheel is mounted on the turbine. The wooden cogs of this wheel interlock with the iron cogs of a smaller wheel which is mounted on an axle together with the runner stone. The turbine is placed in the center of the bancada. This makes it easy to add an axle for a second pair of stones should the need arise.
On the floor, against the partition wall with the power station (9), rests another product coming from France. It is a small flour mill with vertical sto­nes: a type REX (10) of J. Sambron in Pont­chateau (F-44, Loire-Atlantique). The Sambron company was founded in the early 20th century and made small mills and cider presses. Cider presses of the Sam­bron brand are still commercialized (by the Société Pontchatelaine d'Equipements Cidricoles).

(9) The work floor with stone table, crane and door to the power station.

(10) Type REX flour mill of J. Sambron

(11) Writings on the wall: calculations

Plastered walls in mills occasionally stand in for writing paper (e.g. Labuerda, Montesa, Banastón). Here also. The wall between the upper half of the door and the bancada (9) is covered with many scribbles in several layers (11-13).

We recognize calculations: multiplications and (sometimes single digit) addi­tions (11). There is one remarkable citation of a saying attributed to the 18th century French writer Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle (12). It is a trans­lation of Une belle femme est le paradis des yeux, l'enfer de l'âme et le purgatoire de la bourse.

There are several entries about the mill at work: e.g. (13) Day December the 10th, 1953. We are here during the whole day, milling. or Linas - Estoy moliendo - 20 Del ? - 1954 - José ??? and also Linas de Broto - 22 de agosto - estamos moliendo.

Many scribbles are short: the name of a person or a village, often with a date: e.g. Antonio Villacampa oto a 27 de Abril 1948; Angel Duaso Broto a 6 Setiembre de 1953; Fragen á 30=10=53; Carmen Villacampa Buisan. The earliest entry we found was Día 12-1-40 and the most recent Linas de Broto dia 4-11-58.

(12) Writings on the wall: Fontenelle citation
Una mujer bonita es:
La gl?oria de los ojos:
El infierno del alma
Y el purgatorio de bolsillo

(13) Writings on the wall: activity report
Dia 10 Deciembre 1953
estamos aqui todo
el dia moliendo
Martin ????

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