Tonedale Mills (west complex)


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Tonedale Mills (west complex), Milverton Road


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Statutory Address:
Tonedale Mills (west complex), Milverton Road

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Somerset West and Taunton (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 4 March 2021 to reformat the text to current standards

ST 1221 759/3/10000

WELLINGTON Tonedale MILVERTON ROAD Tonedale Mills (west complex)


GV II* Western complex of integrated multi-component wool textile factory, now partially in use as small industrial estate, with the remaining component structures empty at the time of inspection (August 2000). Late C18, continuously enlarged and re-modelled between c.1800 and c.1920, with late C20 alterations and changes of use to individual components. Coursed rubble sandstone, with ashlar and red brick dressings, and red brick, with slate and C20 sheet roof coverings.

PLAN: the complex forms the western half of the extensive wool textile manufacturing site at Tonedale Mills, which is divided into two parts by a water course, the Back Stream. The site housed wool and yarn preparation processes in a complex of functionally-related buildings, identified as mills 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and combing shed sited in rectangular configurations to the north and west of the site, with a multi function range, housing boiler repair, power generation, wool mixing and cleaning and tin smithing facilities to the east side.

Mills 2 and 3 represent the phased development between 1861 and 1871 of a twenty-one bay steam-powered, and subsequently electrically-powered worsted spinning mill. Early phase to east, eleven bays of four storeys and attics, of rubble sandstone, with keyed semi-circular arch-headed windows up to second floor level, and similar window openings to attic floor. Fourth floor with flat-headed openings. Entrance to mill within fire-proof stair tower at east end, within six-bay return elevation. Doorway with plank double doors with adjacent shaft box for entry of horizontal shaft associated with vertical drive shaft, now removed, within stair well. Later 17 bay phase of c.1871 to the west, constructed to a slightly wider plan, but of matching materials and detailing externally, with a fire-proof stair and water tower and a large engine house at the junction of the two phases. INTERIOR: both phases are of non-fire proof construction, with timber floors supported on substantial cross beams. Cast-iron columns with compression plates and bolting faces on north side for line shaft cradles. M-profile collared roof with principals carried on cast-iron brackets bolted to floor beams. Collars set within cast-iron shoes support short king posts. Roof valley column supports with rectangular eyed heads. Later phase shares constructional characteristics, but with heavier columns with four-way bolting faces, and the upper floors retain evidence of multiple line shafts. Both phases retain internal metal fire doors. Stair tower with brick jack arch fire-proofing. Adjacent engine house, with brick vaulted ceiling at third floor level retaining lifting rings. The engine house, thought to have housed a double beam engine designed to power both sides of the mill, retains the engine entablature support stonework in the internal cross walls, and cast-iron shaft boxes for the vertical power shaft, now removed. To the north of mills 2 and 3, single storeyed combing shed for sorting and combing worsted fibre prior to spinning. Narrow rectangular brick building with projecting bays to the south frontage facing the spinning mill formerly housing combing machinery. To the south of the spinning mill, mills no.4 and 6. Mill no.4 of red brick with a slated roof, two storeys, fourteen bays, aligned east-west, with a narrow five-bay storeyed crosswing at the east end. Main range with stacked basket arch-headed windows to each bay, with double doors to both floors at the east end. Hipped west end to roof, which has a deep eaves supported on paired brackets. Narrow gabled crosswing, the gable detailed as an open pediment, with ground floor doorway beneath multi-pane overlight. East side wall with stacked windows and single doorway to bay two. The mill was used for blending coloured wool fibres, with carding machines on the first floor. The narrow end bay was a storeyed motor room, used to power the upper floor machinery. To the east, no.6 mill, of rubble stone with red brick dressings. Ten bays, three storeys, with four bay returns, and a narrow two bay upper floor with horizontally-boarded cheeks above short roof slopes to outer bays. The west gable has windows arranged vertically 4:4:2, the east gable has an infilled double doorway to the centre, four first floor openings and two upper floor openings, one a window, one with boarded shutter. The boarded flanks, originally louvred, now house casement frames. The building was originally multi-functional, with baskets, used for wool transportation on site, made on the upper two floors, and machines for puttee (military leggings) knitting on the ground floor. This building appears to have been powered by a horizontal shaft from the spinning mill to the north. To the south of no.4 mill, no.5 mill. Massive, rectangular building of fourteen bays, with a narrow storeyed frontage, aligned north-south and a north-light shed extending westwards to the site boundary. Late C19, of smooth red brick rising from a deep plinth, with narrow storeyed range forming east front, with hipped slated roof and semi-circular arch-headed window and door openings. Single storeyed half-hip roofed porches to bays one and two, and bays eleven and twelve, each with three blind semi-circular arched openings and a wide doorway. Closely-spaced tall window openings to ground floor and a smaller number of first floor openings, some detailed as taking-in doors. A single pivoting wall crane survives towards the centre of the range. Three bay returns to each end, with single storey shed side walls extending to the west.

INTERIOR: floored frontage range with chute openings in ceiling for carded wool processed at first floor level. Arcaded shed interior with cast-iron columns supporting transverse arcade plates, with straight timber braces mounted in sockets in the columns, which are widely spaced, each bay accommodating two sections of half-glazed north light roof. The shed was used for manual wool sorting after washing and carding processes had taken place.

West of no.5 mill, multi-function range, with twin gabled, red brick boiler repair house to the north with wide semi-circular arched openings to centre of ground floors, and twin upper floor openings. Northern part with interior lifting gear, southern part adapted for storage. Further south, low, single storeyed rubble stone L-shaped cross range, formerly power house to provide alternating and direct current electricity from diesel generators. Further south, on west side, hipped roof red brick range with long and short wings extending eastwards, which accommodated a tin smithing shop, associated with the other metal-working shops on site, and wool mixing and cleaning processes required prior to carding and sorting in the shed opposite.

A multi phase and multi-function C19 wool textile mill site, forming the western part of the Tonedale Mills complex. The site retains a full complement of buildings which housed the wool preparation and yarn spinning processes required in the manufacture of woollen and worsted cloths, together with power generation and ancillary processes such as basket making and metal working needed in a complex, geographically-dispersed manufacturing complex. Tonedale Mills is thought to be the largest and most comprehensively -representative textile manufacturing site in the south-west, with a range of surviving structures unparalleled in England.

Listing NGR: ST1275521349


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 19 Aug 2003
Reference: IOE01/11218/20
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Terry Abbiss. Source Historic England Archive
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