MSO8324 - Cowbridge mill complex (Building)


The mill complex at Cowbridge included a disused corn mill and a 20th Century sawmill, together with a 20th Century forge and garage. A disused overshot wheel is still visible, which at one stage was used to generate electricity.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

'Mill' and 'Mill leat' are printed on the 1962 Ordnance Survey map from River Avill at SS 9501 4200. [1] A saw mill at Cowbridge is reported to be on the site of a corn mill. There is an iron overshot wheel, 13 feet in diameter and 4 feet wide, with 48 buckets. It is now disused. The saw milling machinery was brought from Knowle (MSO8330). [2] The first record of a mill on the site is dated 1567. It operated as a flour mill as part of the Knowle Estate. An additional building in the courtyard, shown on the Tithe Map, was probably a grain drying kiln. It was changed to a house (SS 9562 4262) and sawmill (SS 9562 4260) in 1904. A petrol garage was built on the roadside in the late 1920s (at SS 9563 4258) adjacent to an existing two storey thatched building (SS 9561 4259) which has since been replaced by tin garages. Electricity was generated from the water wheel at SS 9562 4260 until the late 1930s. The forge building (SS 9561 4259) with cart shed and workshop was constructed in 1933. The mill was water powered until the early 1950s, when the wheel fell into disrepair. There has been demolition and alterations on the site in 2010. [3] The Tithe Map for Timberscombe shows the site is situated within a much larger plot, labelled 362 and labelled "House gardens Mill &c." This was owned by James Hole Esquire and occupued by John Matthews. The mill, forge and garage complex was situated in the northern part of this plot. This included: a) an E shaped building, facing the road at SS 9562 4261 and now including Hill View (north) and the historic mill (south); b) a long linear building including a dog leg at the northern end, straddling the mill leat and running from c. SS 9562 4258 to SS 9562 4260; c) a long linear range fronting the road at SS 9562 4257; d) the mill leat runs through the site from the southwest and exits to the north of Hill View (see MEM23777). [4] By the time the 1st Edition map had been published, the linear building fronting the road ('c' above) had been reduced in size, with the southwestern end of the building being removed, and a new range built at SS 9560 4257 alongside the mill leat, which had been adjusted to match this range's orientation. This range still appears to be extant and modern MasterMap data labels the two semi detached cottages as 'Devonia' and 'Cowbridge Cottage'. The linear building 'b' had been subject to some demolition and alteration (which may or may not have been at the same time the course of the leat was adjusted), particularly at its northern end, but still appears to have been largely extant. However, the mill appears to have been altered at some time between the 1st and 2nd Edition maps being surveyed, to form the present arrangement (without lean tos). Both maps label this building as a corn mill. Since the 2nd Edition map was published, the entire northern end of the linear range 'b' appears to have been demolished and rebuilt, although some parts of the original buildings may still survive at the northernmost end. In addition, the southeastern most section of the range may still be extant or partially preserved within the building now sited at SS 9562 4258, which abuts the garage mentioned in [3] and sited at SS 9563 4258. [5-7] A watermill has been in existence at Cowbridge at least since the early 14th Century, when it was named in a deed concerning some land belonging to Dunster Priory. The rent at that time was £1.6s.8d. It was recorded as a flour mill as part of the Knowle Estate in 1567. In 1728 Cowbridge Mills were leased by Paul Orchard of Stoke, Devon to John Mudon, when it included a house, outhouses, grist mill, fulling mill and Bridge Mead Meadow (c. 3 acres). The last millers at the site were the Morgan family and the Phillips. In 1904, part of the mill was converted into a house (Hill View). The site was purchased from the Knowle Estate in June 1916 by Henry Phillips, when the water wheel and launder were renovated. A garage was built at the site in the 1920s and the water wheel supplied electricity until the late 1930s. A forge building was constructed in 1933, when blacksmithing operations relocated here from the village centre; however, the forge has been recently demolished. The mill was water powered until the early 1950s, at which time the wheel fell into disrepair and works continued by electricity until the tenant miller, Mr Ken Grabham, retired in 1993. [8] A list is being produced of the machinery held in the mill's museum collection. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. SS94SE.
  • <2> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. D Warren, Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society, 1 December 1977.
  • <3> Report: Rush, O.. 2010. Cowbridge Sawmill and Forge.
  • <4> Map: 1843. Timberscombe Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment. Land parcel 362.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <7>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #43542 ]
  • <8> Unpublished document: Unknown. 2010-2013. The history of Cowbridge Mill.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Unknown. 2012. Cowbridge Sawmill and Forge restoration project machine and tool list.



Grid reference Centred SS 9561 4259 (55m by 92m) (Historic mapping)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11614
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE61
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1119491
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34114

Record last edited

Jan 14 2020 4:41PM


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