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Textile Mills of South West England

Front cover for Textile Mills of South West England

Hardback by Mike Williams


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Joint winner of the Association for Industrial Archaeology’s Peter Neaverson Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Industrial Archaeology (2014)

Textiles were the most widespread traditional industry in the South West, but the region's textile industries differed considerably from those in other parts of England. The wool, flax and hemp industries, for example, had exceptionally early origins, and influenced the development of towns and countryside for centuries before the factory building of the Industrial Revolution. Many of the surviving mills represent the last stage of building at sites that have remained in use for an exceptionally long period, with successive generations of building reflecting the ongoing development of techniques and machines. The textile industries were often combined with other types of business, such as farming or fishing, so the language of textiles has long been a part of the region's working communities.

In comparison with other regions, the diverse economy of the South West ensured less demolition of the textile heritage. The conversion of mills for new uses has itself become a traditional feature of the region's industries, ensuring the survival of rare and distinctive building types. Based on extensive investigation and research, this book concentrates on historical context to shed new light on the early origins of these industries. It celebrates the historical significance of the buildings, landscapes and townscapes by highlighting good examples of their preservation and re-use, along with many others that are still facing the challenge of conservation.


 1. Introduction
 2. The Gloucestershire woollen industry
 3. The Wiltshire and Somerset woollen industry
 4. The serge industry of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall
 5. The flax and hemp industry
 6. The silk Industry
 7. The lace, hosiery and cotton industries
 8. The legacy of the South West textile industry
 A selection of historic textile industry sites
Locations of sites mentioned in the text

Additional Information

  • Printed Price: £50.00
  • Series: Architectural History
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Format: Hardback
  • Physical Size: 276 x 219 mm
  • Pages: 256
  • Illustration: 357, Colour and b&w
  • Product Code: 51598
  • ISBN: 9781848020832


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Textile Mills of South West England

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • A self-acting mule at Stanley Mill in 2010
  • The very well-preserved New Mills, Kingswood, built 1806-11
  • Ham Mill.  The steam-powered wing retains a rare example of a well-preserved integral chimney
  • Avon Mills at Malmesbury, built from 1791
  • A late medieval shipping warehouse at Poole, Dorset - now a local studies library
  • A circular drying stove, built for the drying of washed raw wool and now the Frome Tourist Information Centre
  • The Handle House of the former Bridge Mills in Trowbridge, built across the River Biss for drying the teazles used in raising the nap of woollen cloth
  • A Noble combing machine in the restored combing shed at Coldharbour Mill Museum, Uffculme
  • The jacks for applying twist to twine at Dawe's Twine Walk, West Coker
  • Gant's Mill, Pitcombe, which was rebuilt as a woollen mill in the mid-18th century and extended for silk throwing in the early 19th century
  • The cast-iron roof trusses of Old Town Mill, Chard
  • The partly rebuilt exterior of the Perry Street Works

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