There are two main elements to any mill; the mill itself, (the waterwheel, grinding stones, cogs, pulleys, gear and equipment in the mill) and the watercourse which is comprised of a weir or damn in the river to create a head of water, and the leat, a long thin canal to carry the water from the weir to the waterwheel and back to the river (see How It Works).
Grade II listing.
The mill building is described by Natural England as;
“The mill has a high degree of completeness and its significance is enhanced by the in-situ survival of a substantial amount of historic machinery. Externally there have been very few alterations to the fabric. The industrial process is clearly legible through the survival of the repaired water wheel, leat system, taking-in door and timber hoist loft. Internally the machinery survives remarkably intact including the wheel-pit, spur-wheel, tun, hoists and a rotating flour bin, demonstrating a high quality iron founding and millwright practice.”
The waterwheel and weir sustained damage in the storms of 2012/13 however only the timber sections of the waterwheel were lost, the ironwork remains in good condition, having had some repairs by a previous owner. The 12 x 6 foot wheel hangs on the shaft by a series of timber chocks which lock the wheel to the shaft. If the wheel is turned too fast the chocks work loose and the wheel disconnects from the shaft, preventing damage to the internal gear which can not otherwise be disconnected from the wheel. This chocking system is used for all the major gears in the mill and enabled the engineers to accurately align and balance these vast and weighty elements.
The wheel has now been re-dressed in pitch pine sourced from seasoned timber from a dockyard in London. It has been balanced back on the shaft and new chocks secure the two.
For the most part, the mill machinery is in good working order although wear and tear of some parts is in need of attention.
The leat runs about a kilometer from the weir to the waterwheel at a shallow gradient. This causes it to silt up during low flow months in the Summer. Consequently it always needed clearing to keep it efficient. The weir (which was also damaged at the same time) has a breach and so the leat has all but completely dried up. The leat needs cleaning out and the weir needs a repair.
Whilst clearing out the leat is a relatively mechanical task (it just takes a lot of man-woman-&-shovel-power!), the weir is a much more complicated matter. As the weir gives rise to altering the flow and level of local watercourses, any work must be carefully planned. We are working closely with a number of agencies, including the Environment Agency to find a suitable approach to repairing the weir which will not impact the ecology of the river.
Doing the work
We hope to start work on clearing the leat in the Spring of 2016 and are looking for people who might be interested in helping. Although hard work, it should also be fun and rewarding, and great to be a part of. Due to the extent of these repairs the mill is not presently open to the public, however with some dedication and hard work we hope to have this rare example of Devon’s cultural and industrial fabric up and running for visitors one day soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in visiting the mill please feel free to contact us through the Enquiries page, leaving contact details and your interest, and we will do our level best to accommodate, however until suitable liability insurance is in place this may not always be possible. PLEASE NOTE: Despite not running, the mill is still a hazardous environment with steep, narrow stairs and other dangers. You must take full responsibility for your own safety.