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Saltford Brass Mill Project
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Restoration and Sustainability
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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:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
English 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.
 
In 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.
Click to open the First Consultative Report on Saltford Brass Mill - Dec 1992
Click to open the Second Report on Saltford Brass Battery Mill - Sept 1994
Click here to read the List Entry for the 'Old Brass Mill', Saltford - Jun 1975
Click to read the Ancient Monument entry for Saltford Brass Mill - Feb 1986
Click to read the Pastscape entry for Saltford Brass Mill
Click to open the Third Report on Saltford Brass Battery Mill - Sept 1994
Click to open the 2018 Watercourse Survey and Penstock Repair Report
Click to read about the 2014 Renovation work
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.