MSO9357 - Early 20th Century electricity generating mill west of Pixton Park (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
- None recorded
The site of an electricity generating mill, west of Pixton Park. It was originally known as the Dulverton Electric Light Company, then the Exe Valley Electricity Supply Company, until it was taken over by the National Grid in 1938. It had a Swiss vertical shaft turbine, in an open flame, sitting on the weir across the River Barle.  Dulverton produced its own electricity through a hydro-electric generating plant on the River Barle until nationalisation in the 1940s. At times of high demand an auxiliary generator was put on to top up supply.  George Bowbeer Fisher helped to form the Dulverton Electric Light Company and instal a small hydro-electric plant on the River Barle.  The site was subject to a desk-based assessment and a level 1 survey in November 2011. It was stated that there was no evidence to suggest the weir existed prior to the construction of a hydroelectric plant in around 1909. The Dulverton Electric Lighting Company was formed in 1904, using a waterwheel thought to have been at the former Lower Mill. By 1914 the current (probably as early as 1909, above) a corrugated iron building, founded on the newly built concrete Beasley weir, housed two "waterwheel 50kw Armfield turbines with 75v 30amp Crompton Alternators". The turbines were later replaced by two vertically shafted turbines producing 50 kW each. By 1930 the Dulverton company had merged with the Exe Valley Electric Company. The plant continued to generate electricity for lighting as the Beasley Power Station until the arrival of the national grid in 1938 but was maintained, throughout the Second World War for emergency purposes. The plant was dismantled in the 1950s, after which fish trap tanks were installed and used by the then Rivers Authority (now Environment Agency) until the 1980s. The dutch barn type construction was mounted on a concrete platform which extended northwards as a weir, and housed the turbine pit below the floor of the buildings. A lean to projected beyond its north east wall. The roofs and walls were clad entirely in corrugated iron which, although dilapidated, survived well considering the materials and its centenarian age. The weir and fish pass remained in good condition to the north and on the far bank a revetment wall may have predated it, perhaps reflected in the angular modification of the river visible in the 1890 map.  The mill was subject to building recording in January 2015 in order to understand the date, form, function and development of the structure prior to its partial demolition and replacement with a modern 78kW hydroelectric facility. This was limited for safety reasons due to the proximity of the river and as the survey took place in winter. The first building on the site was constructed by the Dulverton Electric Lighting Company in c.1912-14 utilising two Armfield River Turbines produced by a company based in Ringwood, Hampshire. The Dulverton Electric Lighting Company merged with the Exe Valley Electric Company in 1930, and it was probably at this time that the two Armfield River Turbines were replaced with a single vertical-shafted Escher Wyss turbine. The plant continued to function until 1938, when the National Grid reached Dulverton, but the site was maintained as an emergency backup during World War Two. It was decommissioned in the early 1950s, and fish tanks were installed by the Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency). These remained in use until the 1980s, whereupon the site began its slow decline. The site comprised a rectangular steel framed corrugated iron ‘Dutch’ barn with mono pitch lean to to the south and pitched extension to the east, standing above a reinforced shuttered concrete turbine chamber. Water was directed into the chamber via a cast iron sluice gate in the north elevation. To the south there was a pair of rectangular concrete fish rearing tanks linked by a central passage, overlooked by a purpose built platform. Abutting the building to the southwest there was a deep square concrete tank of unknown purpose, linked by a large diameter pipe to a void beneath the main building. To the east and south there were a series of concrete or stone and concrete walls marking the location of leats that predated the fish tanks. The standing remains were relatively complex, with five main phases of alteration and adaptation.  This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project.  The hydroelectric station is mentioned in a publication on the industrial archaeology of Somerset. It states that the new scheme uses a 78kW Archimedes Screw turbine and a rebuilt power house. 
- <1> SMO5308 Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. D Warren, Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society, 25 December 1977.
- <2> SEM7326 Article in serial: Nash, J.. 1994. Plans to Re-Open Electricity Plant. Mid Devon Gazette.
- <3> SEM7521 Monograph: Binding, H. + Bonham-Carter, V.. 1986. Old Dulverton and Around: Dulverton - Bury - Brushford - Exebridge. The Exmoor Press. P.30, 68.
- <4> SEM7096 Article in monograph: Gathercole, C.. 2003. English Heritage Extensive Urban Survey: An Archaeological Assessment of Dulverton. The Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey. English Heritage. P.16.
- <5> SEM7523 Monograph: Dulverton and District Civic Society. 2002. The Book of Dulverton, Brushford, Bury and Exebridge. Halsgrove. P.101.
- <6> SEM8332 Report: Tabor, R.. 2011. Beasley Weir, Dulverton, Somerset: An historic building appraisal.
- <7> SEM8307 Report: Morris, B.. 2015. Beasley Weir, Dulverton, Exmoor National Park, West Somerset: Results of historic building recording.
- <8> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1114512, Extant 11 April 2022.
- <9> SEM8738 Monograph: Daniel, P. (Ed.). 2019. A guide to the industrial archaeology of Somerset. Association for Industrial Archaeology. 2nd Edition. p 67, W7.1.
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1114512 (Pastscape entry: 1114512)
- Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 92 NW27
- National Park
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1114512
- Somerset SMR PRN: 33551
|Grid reference||Centred SS 9203 2690 (84m by 59m) MasterMap|
|Civil Parish||DULVERTON, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (1)
Related Events/Activities (2)
Record last edited
Oct 11 2022 12:46PM
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