MSO10428 - Post-medieval tannery at Riverside (Building)


Former tannery buildings dating from the mid 19th Century. They were used as an army base during the Second World War. They are now in mixed residential and commercial use.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

'Tannery' shown on Ordnance Survey map of c1904. [1] 'The Old Tannery' noted on recent map, presumably converted to a private dwelling. [2] Although the leather industry is thought to have had much earlier origins, the former tannery, whose buildings survive, was founded in the mid 19th century. Oak-bark tanned leather was produced in quantity, although the trade began to decline after the 1914-18 war. To the rear of this part of High Street are the extensive former Tannery buildings, originating from the mid 19th century and now in mixed commercial and residential use. Built mainly of stone with brick segmental arch openings and some weather-boarding, the original pattern of casement windows with narrow glazing bars have been retained. [3] In later days the tannery was owned by Mr Pearce and then his son. Altogether about 30 men were employed. The leather was of top quality, used for harness and hunting equipment with a small quantity of best leather for footwear. The tannery was closed in the early 1930s and was taken over as a barracks during World War Two. The 58th Company of Royal Engineers arrived in 1941 and stayed until sent to India in 1942. The American Army later used the barracks and huts for extra accommodation were built in the field behind the tannery. They were demolished in 1945, immediately after the end of hostilities in Europe. The main buildings were subsequently used by the Exmoor Engineering Company until that business closed. The Tanyard is first mentioned in 1794 belonging to Abraham Phelps. It closed after the First World War. [4] Two-storeyed industrial buildings once used as atannery, built in the later 19th Century. Red brick piers and window arches infilled with rubble stone. It was water-powered, the wheel in the part nearest the High Street, and fed by a tailrace. Photos available from the NRHE. [6] There is a will of John Ridler, described as a tanner in Porlock, dating to November 1654. There is no mention of him owning a tannery in the will. It is not clear whether this tannery was located in the same area as the 19th Century buildings. [7,8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. c.1904. 1:2500 map, second edition.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2005. Landline Information.
  • <3> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Porlock: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p5, 12, 15, 19.
  • <4> Monograph: Corner, Dennis. 1992. Porlock in Those Days. Exmoor Books. p21-3, 70, 90.
  • <5> Report: Pratt, N.. 2013. Porlock Conservation Area: Appraisal Document. 31, 77.
  • <6> Digital archive: Council for British Archaeology. 1965 - 1981. National Record of Industrial Monuments. Recorded by MT Tucker, Apr-1969, Record No.SO11.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Ridler, J.. 1654. Will of John Ridler, Tanner of Porlock, Somerset.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 22 March 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8857 4680 (41m by 67m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 3 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 fluvial
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 3 fluvial
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE169
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1568055
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 19370

Record last edited

Jul 13 2021 10:26AM


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