MDE20890 - Post-medieval sawmill at Oaklands (Monument)


A sawmill built in 1875 including a water wheel, aqueduct and pond. The site was in use until much of the machinery was damaged during the Lynmouth Flood in 1952.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Sawmill at Oaklands. The site was visited by the SPAB in 1980. Mill workable. The six inch 1962 Ordnance Survey map [1] shows 'aqueduct'. [2] Oaklands Mill, Brendon. The waterwheel is made of cast iron with wooden buckets and arms. It is 21 feet in diameter by 3 feet 6 inches wide. Within the circumference of the main wheel there is another wheel, 14 feet in diameter, which has cogs on the periphery and engages another wheel shaft that apparently drove a circular saw. The buckets are beginning to rot, otherwise all is in fair condition. The millstones and machinery have gone. The granary or mill house is constructed of stone and wood with galvanised iron roof and is in fair to dilapidated condition. The owner's house is on the site. The mill and waterwheel were built by the present owner's grandfather in 1875. It was in use before the Lynmouth Flood Disaster in 1952. This flood destroyed sections of the wooden launder and filled in the small mill pond. There is no leat. A considerable length of launder survives, and the general condition of the site appears unchanged. [3] The zinc launder is in need of support. A wooden slatted bridge, in good order, crosses the stream to the granary. [4] At SS 7584 4747 are the well preserved remains of a water wheel. The site is depicted on the 25 inch 1st Edition Ordnance Survey mapping with the descriptor "Aqueduct" [5]. The 1978 25 inch mapping has the descriptor "water wheel"; a pond is shown some 25 metres to the south [6]. Local information [7] indicates that the site was formerly used as a sawmill and that associated woodworking workshops existed nearby. The water wheel was apparently in use until the Lynmouth Flood Disaster of 1952, when much of the machinery was damaged. Field investigation reveals the site to be remarkably well preserved. The wheel survives in situ. It is of iron with timber blades, and is 6.4 metres in diameter and 1.07 metres in width. Eight iron spokes connect the hub to the rim. The wheel stands within a rectangular stone lined pit 2.8 metres deep. On the eastern side of the wheel pit is a substantial stone wall. This formerly served to seperate the wheel from the working areas. Power was transmitted from the wheel not via the hub, as might be expected, but by a toothed wheel approximately two thirds the diameter of the main water wheel, which resulted in an eccentric power take off. Power was transferred by gears, which survive. On the eastern side of the wall are the remains of a flywheel which presumably would have powered belt driven sawing machinery. The working areas have been either destroyed or adapted for modern sheds. The water supply was a stream. At SS 7584 4745 are the remains of a pond constructed so that the stream passes through it. The pond is retained by a substantial earthen dam on the steep valley slope. The dam is over 2 metres in width and is faced on the internal side by coursed walling, which gives a silted pond depth of 1.2 metres. The water level in the dam was controlled by a sluice, 1.5 metres wide, on the western side. A stone lined channel emerges from the northern face of the dam where it connects with a length of metal laundering (0.45 metres wide and 0.23 metres deep) which carried water to the wheel (which was overshot). To the north of the complex, at SS 7584 4751, are the remains of a second water whel within a private garden. Superficially the wheel appears to be ornamental: it is approximately 1 metre in diameter. However, it is conceivable that it was used to power a small lathe or woodworking equipment. [8] The water wheel and the pond are marked on 2021 MasterMap data. [9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Index: Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. 1982. Mills Index.
  • <3> Monograph: Thorpe, J.. 1989. North Devon Watermills. North Devon Archaeological Society Report. 5. 48.
  • <4> Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. University of the Third Age. A5 Paperback. 86.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889, Devonshire 111(15).
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 25 inch Ordnance Survey map. 1:2,500. SS 7547.
  • <7> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R Calaz, Carpenters.
  • <8>XY Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 2 November 1993. [Mapped feature: #46887 Location of water wheel, ]
  • <9>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2021. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #46888 Location of pond, ]
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1001684, Extant 6 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7583 4745 (12m by 27m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 19618
  • Devon SMR: SS74NE/571
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE11923
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE20
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1001684

Record last edited

Dec 6 2021 5:10PM


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