Monday, 18 May 2009

Cricklepit Mill

At the kind invitation of Devon Wildlife Trust I had a trip around Cricklepit Mill near the Quay and a fascinating visit it was.

My guide explained the history of the mill and the fulling industry. Fulling was a finishing process in which the woven or knitted cloth was subjected to moisture, heat and friction causing it to shrink considerably in both directions and become compact and solid.

The Mill dates from mediaeval times, though much of the present building is 19th century, and there are records of mills on the site from the 13th century.

The mills - of which there were a number here at one time - were also used for grinding corn and this wheel powered two millstones which can still be operated thanks to the restoration work done by the Trust and its partners.

All the mill wheels are undershot - that is, the water flows underneath them rather than dropping onto them from above.

Some of the magnificent machinery.

Martin, the millwright, was working on restoring a third mill wheel while I was there.

This was the drying house. It has been reconstructed in such a way that the shape of the former building can be seen. The brick pillars represent where the wooden ones would have been. Between the pillars would have been space for the air to go through. Inside the building the tenterhooks can still be seen.

The modern part of the Trust offices stand on the site of the Mill owners cottage and its adjacent tenements. The roof is covered with turves of Sedum.

The cottage had access on the ground floor from the mill and the upper floor from Cricklepit Lane - this medieval street.

More detail about Cricklepit Mill can be found on Exeter Memories.

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