Watermills harness kinetic energy from moving bodies of water (usually rivers or streams) in order to drive machinery and generate electricity. The movement of the water drives the water wheel, which in turn powers a mechanical process within the mill itself. The most common mechanical process historically associated with water mills is grinding grains into flour. It was originally used for this purpose in ancient Greece and continues to be used this way today. Other common industrial applications of watermills include textile manufacturing and sawmills.
It is amazing to note that Cyprus, an island with chronic water shortage problems, for many centuries and until the 1950s (in some places even into the 1960s) used watermills in the production of (wheat) flour. Hundreds of watermills operated on the island in the past, and still more than fifty can be found in good condition, scattered all over Cyprus. In Cyprus one may come across watermills at various elevations and in many different areas. In many cases watermills in Cyprus are found far from communities, due to the geography of the area. In other cases the watermills are very near or inside the village.
The original function was for moving milestones and small scale grain grinding. While people had previously been able to grind grain it was a long and hard process that didn’t have much to show for afterward. With the invention of the watermill, people were able to mass grind the seeds into flour and it became a much easier process making the grain much more valuable. It helped grain become even more of a staple food. The watermill was one of the first sources of power not generated my man or animal.
The Watermill not only effected societies globally, it made even more of an impact on the individuals in the business of such things that it made easier. People didn’t need nearly as many people to do the required work and the owner of the mill could get much more done in a shorter time bringing in more money and less work.
Watermills were used for:
- Grinding Grain
- Forging Bellows
- Power Textile Mills
- Power Sawmills
- Crop Irrigation
- Water Supply