Tonedale Mills (East complex)


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


Ordnance survey map of Tonedale Mills (East complex)
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Statutory Address:
Tonedale Mills (East complex), Milverton Road

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

Taunton Deane (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


ST 1221 759/3/110

WELLINGTON Tonedale MILVERTON ROAD (West side) Tonedale Mills (East complex)


GV II* Integrated multi-component 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. Rubble stone, some rendered, with slate and C20 sheet roof coverings.

PLAN: The complex forms the eastern half of the extensive manufacturing site at Tonedale Works which is divided into two parts by a water course, the Back Stream, flowing from south to north. It is comprised of a central L-shaped early C19 SPINNING MILL and WAREHOUSE range, with an irregular L-plan OFFICE and CLOTH FINISHING complex to the north-east, which incorporates a small late C18 MILL, now warehouse to the west of the spinning mill, a former BEAM ENGINE HOUSE, and later C19 POWER HOUSE and CHIMNEY, MECHANICS, ENGINEERS and CARPENTERS SHOPS and WOOL CLEANING COMPLEX.

Early C19 multi-phase MILL and WAREHOUSE, the former originally water-powered, and retaining enclosed wheel chamber. MILL part aligned north-south, four storey and attics, the eight bay southern part of fireproof construction, including full-height stair tower to bay eight, mostly a rebuilding of 1821 after extensive fire damage. Northern section beyond stair tower of eleven bays of conventional wooden floor and roof construction. East elevation of fire-proof range with windows of varying height, originally with openings to alternate bays, now many openings blocked, others with three-light frames, some with glazing bars. Inserted taking-in doors to bay five. Northern section with alternate three- and four-light windows to east elevation, the later smaller openings blocked at first and third floor levels. West elevation and end walls are of rubble stone construction. West elevation of both phases with more extensive survival of early pattern of openings, suggesting similar functions and machinery for both parts. Fire-proof section with full-height three bay extension, and lower-lean to extensions at the junction of the two phases.

INTERIOR: Eight bay part of fire-proof construction with wide transverse brick vaults springing from cast- iron beams supported mid-span by pairs of cast-iron columns to each bay. The floor beams are connected by longitudinal iron rods, and are jointed vertically by bolted vertical end flanges. The roof is carried on two-piece lap-jointed cast iron trusses of arched, open-web form, each with an apex circle. The trusses support other cast iron components; two tiers of purlins and rafters rising from wall plates. The upper faces of the trusses and rafters are toothed to carry laths. The stair tower bay has a stone stair with cast-iron newels and balusters, and is separated from the body of the mill by a masonry cross wall. Wheel chamber of original mill, adapted to serve enlarged and re-built complex, with later 30-foot diameter wheel replaced c.1904 by water turbine. In situ cast-iron trough and masonry wheel pit breast. Northern eleven bays of timber floor construction, with two-piece floor beams supported by central cast-iron columns. M-profile roof with pegged timber trusses, later adapted to asymmetrical form. WAREHOUSE part, known latterly as 'wool rooms' extends eastwards from south end of mill, to the west wall of Tonedale House (item) 14 bays, three storeys and attics. Eastern part with five wide, four-light windows with glazing bars, five bays to west of fire-proof construction with smaller, multi-pane frames to window openings. Twin single-storeyed extensions to north elevation, formerly loading bay and store.

INTERIOR: Timber-floored part with timber posts with top pads supporting floor beams. Fire-proof part with brick -vaulted ceilings and tiled floors, the iron floor beams, the flanges of which have bolt holes for line-shafting, supported by cast-iron columns. Original M-profile roof now adapted to mansard form, enclosing pegged trusses of earlier roof slopes.

Late C19 and early C20 office and cloth finishing complex, incorporating early C19 multi-storeyed mill, with inspection and pattern rooms and company boardroom. North-west part formed by single storeyed OFFICE range, of rubble stone construction, partially rendered, and with soped gables and tall chimneys with moulded caps. West elevation with advanced gable to right, with paired sash windows, three matching windows to left and one to right. North elevation with a rendered two-bay link to an earlier rubble-stone stepped range, with a wide advanced gable, a set-back three-bay part with gable to left, and a further set- back wide, storeyed gable to the far left. Twin-gabled wings to left-hand end. The gables have decorative pierced barge boards, ashlar surrounds to openings and tall quoined chimneys. The offices retain fine interiors with half-glazed, and fully panelled doors, half-glazed corridor screens, shouldered doorcases with pulvinated cornice heads, dado wall panelling and tilework, original hearths and surrounds, semi-circular headed corridor doorways with moulded architraves, and a geometrically-patterned encaustic tile corridor floor. It incorporates a small counting house and strong room with panelled safe door. The principal interior is a little- altered company boardroom, with original joinery components throughout. To the left and rear of the offices, the CLOTH FINISHING complex, the long north front of two storeys with advanced three bay gable to centre, and flanking set back ranges to left and right, the latter with a lean-to frontage extension with almost wholly-glazed roof. Openings with quoined surrounds and shallow keyed segmental arch heads. Blocked taking-in door to gable, with occulus above. East elevation with narrower advanced gable to centre, the deep verges detailed as an open pediment. Occulus to gable apex Hipped roof replicates detail of nearby Tonedale House. To the side and rear, north light shed forms single storeyed finishing area, with inserted late C20 inspection windows to north wall. Interior with in-situ hydraulic presses and belt-driven rotary presses with associated line shafting.

To the west of the finishing complex, former MILL or warehouse, of five bays and three storeys with attics, and of stone rubble with brick dressings, later widened and heightened. Timber floors on substantial floor beams without intermediate supports. Mid-C19 queen post roof trusses, with extended collars, which support short king posts. The building was latterly used as a finished cloth store.

To the rear of the north part of the central spinning mill complex, former BEAM ENGINE HOUSE of c.1850, now workshop, representing the first phase of steam power on the site, and powering both parts of the spinning mill and a now-demolished storeyed workshop or loomshop to the north. Narrow, two storeyed brick structure aligned north-south, with later C19 roof structure and eaves and verge detailing. Tall semi-circular brick arch headed openings to gables, with new inserts into former sash frames. West side wall doorways, one central, one to north end, the former taller with a split overlight gave access to engine beds. Blind semi-circular headed openings to either end, that to the south full height. Side wall off-centre square ashlar surrounds to mountings for former entablature on which engine beam pivoted. First floor doorway to east side wall, at head of flight of stone steps gives access to former beam floor, now workshop area. Four heavy roof tie beams with pairs of lifting rings, that to south end with four rings, indicating engine cylinder position.

Further west, elongated range comprised of power house, chimney, engineers, mechanics and carpenters shops, and wool cleaning complex. POWER HOUSE, with boiler house, economiser house, fan engine house, and turbine house for generating electricity, with in-situ Lancashire boilers, diesel engine and 'Billis Morgan' type steam engine. Triple-gabled east frontage to boiler house, each gable with wide semi-circular arched doorway with multi-pane overlight. Cast and wrought-iron roof trusses. Flat-roofed, slightly set-back north bay, with narrow arched doorway with overlight, and eight tall arched openings to north side wall. This housed supply pumps for boiler water and an extant fire alarm system. Double- gabled range to rear of boiler house with overboarded semi-circular arched windows and ground floor doorway, formerly economiser house to pre-heat boiler water. At south end of economiser house, a lean-to fan engine house with in-situ fan and fan housing serving adjacent brick CHIMNEY, with square base supporting tapering octagonal stack with sub cornice and elaborate moulded oversailing cap.

To the south of the power house, on the east side, single storeyed range made up of MECHANICS, ENGINEERS and CARPENTERS SHOPS, latterly used for maintenance, but originally an important source of patterns and castings and machined components of both buildings and mill machinery. Narrow red brick range on same alignment as boiler house frontage with blind arched openings to front and south end, designated as 'tank iron store', with blacksmiths and mechanics shops to the rear. Further south, small set-back, lean-to office for works engineer, and then storeyed stone-fronted two bay carpenters shop, with double doors to both floors in left-hand bay, and wide twelve pane workshop window to left. The mechanics shop contains in situ metal-working machinery with belt drives from line shafting originally powered by a small waterwheel, the remains of which are located in the wheelpit to the rear of the carpenters shop.

WOOL CLEANING COMPLEX extends from south end of carpenters shop, with 13 bay north light roof, and red brick east wall with segmental arch headed openings housing deeply recessed frames. Facing this, to the east, a two storey building of red brick at ground floor level, and a weather-boarded louvred upper floor, possibly an earlier dry house adapted to wool cleaning usage during the later C19. The upper floor has an open timber bay storage structure.

A multi-phase and multi-function C19 wool textile mill site, forming the eastern 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 survivals representing successive phases of water, steam and electrical power generation. In addition, there are specialist buildings for metal and woodworking processes, required for the manufacture of both building and machinery components, needed in an extensive, 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: ST1286221363


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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: 05 Apr 2006
Reference: IOE01/15356/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John H. Sparkes. Source Historic England Archive
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