Dunkirk Mill Engine

Dunkirk Mill Engine

Gigg Mill Slide

Gigg Mill Slide

 

Nailsworth owed its development almost entirely to the cloth industry; the steep hillsides, which were thickly wooded, offered little scope for agricultural settlement. In 1608 in the Avening part of the parish agricultural activity was represented only by a single husbandman. Dunkirk Mill, was said in 1833 to have been a fulling-mill for 200 years, but no record of it has been found before 1741 when it was called New Mills. Samuel Yeats worked it before 1784. In 1798 it was rebuilt as a large five-storey mill by John Cooper, and in 1804 it included 4 stocks, a gig-mill, dye-house, scouring-house, shearshops, press-house, and picking-house. John was in partnership with Joseph Cooper when they went bankrupt in 1815 and by 1818 Peter Playne was working the mill. William Playne was then the owner but in 1822 he exchanged it with Peter for the latter's share of Longfords Mill. The firm of Playne and Smith was working Dunkirk Mill in 1834, when steam-power had been installed, and in 1838 the firm had 71 handlooms and 2 power-looms; the Playne family continued to make cloth there until the 1880s.

 

The Dunkirk Mill Centre offers a wonderful opportunity to see a see a massive working water wheel directly powering a rare piece of historic textile machinery. The overshot wheel, twelve feet wide and thirteen feet in diameter, was installed in the mill in 1855 as part of the last major re-building programme carried out during its time as a woollen mill. It was made and installed by James Ferrabee of Stroud having a mainly cast iron frame with forty steel buckets. The wheel is operated regularly on opening days, (subject to water supply), and the sight of the wheel starting to move in a powerful cascade of water is unforgettable. There is also the chance to see a large working model pair of fulling stocks in operation, a display of locally made woollen cloth and a rare, working, mid c.19th teazle raising gig. An early C19th mechanical cloth shearing machine known as a cross-cutter has been added to the display, this machine spent its working life at Wallbridge Mill down the valley near Stroud. There is an exhibition showing the historic development of the Dunkirk Mills site during the c.18th and c.19th’s on display. It is fully accessible for wheelchair users. Toilet and Disabled Toilet are available. Assistance dogs are welcome.

 

Location : Dunkirk Mill, Nailsworth, GL5 5HH

Transport: Stroud (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 35, 40, 63, 131 and Stagecoach stops outside.

Opening Times : Link for opening days.

Tickets : Adults £3.00;  Children £1.50

Tel: 01453 766273

Gigg Mill is built on the Horsley brook at a spot where the stream plunges down in to the Nailsworth Valley. In the early 1900s power was still provided by a 17 foot diameter waterwheel. The small mill is unpretentious, however this is a historic mill-site. Its origins are uncertain but it was part of the estate of a clothier which he bought in 1559. When the Castleman family inherited the estate in 1751 Gigg was mentioned. John Remmington bought the estate in the 1790s. He probably rebuilt the mill to house the new carding and spinning machinery, just as he did further up the valley at Horsley Mill. Gigg, nowadays so small and tucked away, was part of the Industrial Revolution. Remmington prospered, adding a sumptuous front to his house up the hill. His cloth was bought by the East India Company for sale to China.

 

At this mill you can visit the Weaving Shed containing historic and modern looms, including a power loom. The machinery is demonstrated by the expert guides and you can try your hand at weaving; know your warp from your weft; discover how to put a pattern into the cloth; see the flying shuttle; find out about the origins of Dobby on the 1830’s handloom and how everything just got faster. On your way out look for woad in the dye plant garden. Allow at least an hour for your visit. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Assistance dogs are welcome. Parking is nearby but there is a short footpath beside the building and there are two railway sleeper steps up into the dye plant garden in front of the door. Walk up the road a little and on the left, you will find Ruskin Mill, Education Centre where toilets, a coffee shop, exhibition gallery and splendid lakeside walk can be found.

 

Location : Gigg Mill, Bristol Old Road, Nailsworth, GL6 0JF

Transport: Stroud (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 40 and Stagecoach stops outside.

Opening Times : Link for opening days.

Tickets : Adults £3.00;  Children £1.50

Tel: 01453 766273

A domestic industry had grown up in the countryside, wool being spun and woven in cottages for local use. To make it warmer and also more weatherproof, some of the woven cloth was thickened by being walked on in tubs or troughs, with fullers earth and water. This was the fulling process. By the early middle ages, the woollen industry had developed significantly in major towns, including Gloucester and Bristol, both of which had craft guilds. The mechanisation of fulling in the 11th century led to the woollen industry migrating to the countryside – to faster flowing streams and rivers which could generate the waterpower required for fulling mills – and away from the controlling craft guilds.

 

By Tudor times Stroudwater and the two major river systems south of the Frome, had many mills clustered along them. Much of Gloucestershire’s broadcloth was exported in its undressed, white, state from London and was recognised as a significant source of income for the Crown – and a subject of state regulation. Gloucestershire clothiers were ambivalent on state intervention: petitioning for controls during recession and ignoring them when times were good (usually getting away with it). One of the pieces of state legislation consistently ignored in Gloucestershire, was the adoption of the powered gig mill to raise the nap or surface of the cloth with teazles.

 

The years 1790 to 1835, were characterised by innovation and risk-taking; optimism and expansion – and business failure. In these years, the Gloucestershire woollen industry was transformed from one when reasonably prosperous broad weavers could join the ranks of the smaller clothiers to one in which the capital required for setting up in business was too great for this to happen. Business success demanded organisational skills, knowledge of new processes and machinery, besides a knowledge of markets. In all, nearly 200 mills, from small single-function premises to larger more complex ones, were in operation for some years of the early Industrial Revolution. St.Marys Mill is an opportunity to visit one of the regions most attractive mill sites. This beautifully situated c.1820 mill houses a large waterwheel and a powerful Tangye Steam engine, which can be seen in action (although not by steam as its boiler has long gone). A fascinating and historic site, beside the canal and railway. Disabled access can be accommodated by driving down via the level crossing. The ground is somewhat uneven as is the brick floor within the mill. There is a step down into the steam engine room.

 

Location : St. Mary's Mill, Chalford, GL6 8PX

Transport: Stroud (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 54, 128, 154, and 502 Stagecoach stops close by.

Opening Times : Link for opening days.

Tickets : Adults £3.00;  Children £1.50

Tel: 01453 766273