I served my engineering apprenticeship between 1959 & 1966, at a historic mill located in Bosley, a small village in rural Cheshire, England. I owe so much to the mill owners of the day, as they sponsored my further education until I was 22 years of age and this gave me a sound foundation for a long career in technical sales.
In 2012, I decided to write a book about this famous mill dating back to 1766 when it was constructed for a local businessman named Charles Roe. He was producing copper sheet to line the bottom of wooden hulls of Naval and Merchant seagoing ships. In my time the mill was producing organic fibres as used in the plastics, linoleum, and explosives industries. My book covered the manufacturing processes plus a profile of many of my fellow workers, all aimed at capturing the amazing culture of the place.
Shortly after my book had been published, I was contacted by a present-day worker who told me a fantastic story about a little lead ball. He explained that they had been scrapping some very old machines and one in particular was a centrifugal screen, constructed from Pitch Pine and Cast Iron frames. He described how he had asked a mill manager if he could have some of the Pitch Pine to take home and burn on his open domestic fire, and when he was chopping a piece of the wood to make sticks, out popped a little lead ball, which he later identified as an historic Musket Ball.
I did some research and concluded that as Pitch Pine is an indigenous tree species of North America, the Musket Ball is likely to date back to the American Civil War, or maybe it was fired by a hunter out in the forest hunting Moose. Who knows, we shall never know the true history of the little lead ball, and what were the mathematical chances of it ever seeing the light of day once again?
Sadly, on the 17th of November 2015 there was a major incident at the mill and the huge building was completely destroyed by fire and several explosions. Four workers lost their lives and others suffered serious injury. Going back to that little lead ball, if it hadn't have been embedded in that machine they had scrapped it would have melted in the fire, never to be seen again.
I believe there is far more to this Earthly life than we human mortals appreciate, as is exampled by my anecdotal tale about an amazing little lead Musket Ball.