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Report - Tone Mills, Wellington, Somerset, October 2012

GAJ

Mr Muscle
Regular User
#1
I was sent to Exeter with work and given the delightful news that I would have a morning away from the drudgery to explore the local area. Clearly they have no concept of what 'explore' actually means to me, however I'd worked out somewhere nearby I could do in a morning easily.

Firstly though, a little history to set the scene courtesy of seffy..

Tone Mills is a complete water-powered cloth finishing works, established by the Fox Brothers and Co at the confluence of the River Tone and the Back Stream and dates from 1830. The remains of the water wheel remain in-situ and so too do all the line shafting and gearing.

The Mill later had an electric motor installed to supplement the water-wheel during times of drought, although the water wheel continued to be used for many decades after.

Put simply the mill comprises of a number of key areas to accommodate the various stages of production: A Fulling area, where wet cloth was dried, scoured, cleaned and milled to the desired finish. A dying room, adjacent to the fulling area which specialised in producing an indigo colouring. Reservoirs and Sluice gates, to manage the flow of water into the wheel chamber. The wheel chamber and a later power house. The associated machinery for all the stages of production are all in-situ, making it an industrial archaeologists paradise.

The works finally closed in 2000 and production was moved to a more contemporary location. The buildings and machinery are Grade II* listed.

Tone Mill in Wellington is the last woollen mill in the West Country, with a priceless collection of original machinery still in place in the wet finishing works. The site is of European significance
So, on to the day. The South West had been hit by almost biblical levels of rain but this day seemed to be bucking the trend. Lovely. Until I actually got there and the drizzle started. Anyone who's been will attest to the roofs waterproof capability and also the ice rink like covering of moss one also finds on the floor throughout. This was going to be fun. Possibly.

I started well by submerging my left foot to above the ankle on the flooded path leading up to here and then proceeded to do exactly the same with my right foot seconds later. Hmmm, cold wet feet yet again and I'm not even in the bloody place. As such, I was a total child and explored here in a bit of a strop. I'm not particularly happy with what I took but I'm never going back so here are my shots from the day..

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Big thanks to Happyshopper and Styru for giving me a good heads up on this place. Go see it folks, it's a cracker :)
 

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