Saltford Brass Mill Project
Copyright (C) 2010 Saltford Brass Mill Project. All Rights Reserved
Restoration and Sustainability
Restoration - 1995
By the 1970s the brass mill was derelict and alternatives were being considered for use of the site. In
view of its potential re-development, English Heritage assessed the building and in 1975 listed the building Grade II* because
of its special historic interest.
The Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS) undertook a survey of the
mill and in 1976 the site was leased by the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT), a charitable trust formed in 1980 to
promote the conservation of industrial monuments.
As a Grade II* listed building, the Historic Buildings and
Monument Commission (HBMC, English Heritage) were a statutory consultee for any proposed development. HBMC
recognised that there were no preserved battery works comparable to Saltford and that it should be rated as the prime historical
monument of the brass industry in Europe. Because of the site's regional and national importance, the site was further Scheduled
as an Ancient Monument (Avon 185, dated 27th Feb 1986).
The conservation of a building
such as the the brass mill is a major undertaking, and one which was found to be beyond the means of the AIBT. Alternative developments
were considered which could provide an economic use for the site while being sympathetic to its archaeology, including the
creation of holiday flats or a restaurant within the mill. In 1986, consent was sought to adapt the buildings; but HBMC
ruled that approval could not be given without knowledge of the archaeological implications. Excavations were carried out
in 1986 followed by a public inquiry in 1987. In his report to the Secretary of State, the Inspector concluded that the
applications should not be allowed because they would be 'seriously damaging to the monument'.
A full archaeological investigation
was commissioned by English Heritage, the two reports produced being:
Heritage, with Treasury approval, funded the full cost of £170,000 (equivalent to £280,000 at 2014 prices) to conserve the mill
on condition that: (1) a new trust was established to take responsibility for the mill once conservation was complete; (2) there
was clear evidence of future public access to the mill; and (3) there was commitment from the owner for maintenance of the mill. Consideration
was given to national Guardianship, but it was considered that local commitment would be more effective; hence it was concluded that
the lease of the mill should be taken over by Wansdyke council. Major structural conservation commenced in 1995.
1996, the Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) unitary authority was created, subsuming Wansdyke, and as a consequence
inherited the mills 99-year lease, which had commenced in 1981.
Saltford Brass Mill, prior to the 1995 restoration.
Renovation - 2014
In 2012, a tree fell on the mill, causing damage to the roof. This was repaired but served
as a wake-up call to inspect the state of the mill. A structural survey identified that a number of tie-beams, rafters
and pillars which support the roof had weakened with age. It was also considered that the electrical system was not fit for
purpose considering the damp conditions which are prevalent in the mill.
In 2014, a major renovation programme was
undertaken to address the structural issues and re-wire the mill to modern standards.
Watercourse Survey and Penstock Repair - 2018
In 2012, the penstock gate controlling the supply of water to the working
waterwheel suffered a structural failure. A temporary repair was made to the gate to protect the waterwheel and the gate was
replaced in the summer of 2016.
The second penstock gate in the rolling mill was also deteriorating and in 2018 funding
was made available by B&NES to dam the upstream leat to enable the gate to be replaced and a full survey of the normally flooded
watercourses to be carried out.