Date for the Diary: National Mills Weekend 10/11 May 2014



National Mills Weekend – this weekend

Saturday 10 May and Sunday 11 May 2014

Until the advent of the steam engine, wind and watermills provided the only source of power for many different processes – from making flour, paper, and cloth to hammering metal and extracting oils.   Some of these mills have been restored to working order, some are derelict, some still working commercially.  National Mills Weekend is the annual festival of our milling heritage and affords a great opportunity to explore mills, many of which are not usually open to the public.  At least a dozen Devon watermills will be open during the weekend.  A similar number, plus two windmills, will be open in Somerset.

For further information see which list all the mills open by County.

Both of Exmoor’s restored water-powered sawmills – at Simonsbath and Timberscombe – will be specially open over the weekend

Simonsbath Sawmill

Simonsbath Sawmill is an historic, water-powered sawmill and estate workshops lying in a beautiful riverside location in the heart of Exmoor National Park.  It was built for John Knight (1767 – 1850) who bought much of central Exmoor in the early years of the 19th century, and was refurbished for Viscount Ebrington in 1898. It was bought by Exmoor National Park Authority in 1996 and restored over 2002/03 – with Heritage Lottery Funding.  It is a nationally significant building – one of very few estate sawmills with evidence of systems of power and contemporary sawbenches. The sawmill is no longer in regular operational use but is maintained in working condition and is used for demonstration purposes and as the venue for educational events and activities.  It is cared for by a small team of volunteers who help with maintenance, lead tours and are researching the history of the mill.  Further information:

There will be live music at the mill on Sunday 11 May in the afternoon..


Just4Jazz are a four piece band of alto saxophone, electric keyboard, electric bass and drums.  They play an eclectic range of ‘lazy’ music with a jazz bias.  Numbers range from classic pieces from the 1930s/40s such as ‘Summertime’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’ to film scores and pop from the 60s through to present day.   Their music is strong on melody but is intended to be gentle on the ear and easy listening.

Cowbridge Sawmill

Cowbridge Sawmill is situated in the village of Timberscombe, set in the midst of the beautiful Exmoor countryside. The first Mill on this site dates from at least the 14th Century when it produced flour for the local people.  In 1904 the Mill was converted to a sawmill which continued to serve the local community.  By the end of the 20th century the Mill was in urgent need of renovation.  This renovation has been driven by the vision and determination of  Mr Owen Rush, who together with his wife Angela purchased the Mill in a derelict state in 1995. The old mill has been reroofed and the floors rebuilt, while the dilapidated workshop and forge have been demolished and replaced by an attractive two storey building of local stone with a slate roof.  As well as enhancing the appearance of the Mill, the  new building contains a forge, workshop and museum providing an interesting attraction for the village of Timberscombe and the Exmoor region.

The most ambitious aspect of the project has been hidden from the view of passers-by. This is the restoration of the 14 ft. water wheel which used water from the Mill Leat to power the Mill for over 700 years. The wheel is now turning again with the aim of producing Hydro Electric Power. The project is one of 5 schemes currently being developed by the Exmoor Renewable Energy Group to provide sustainable energy for local use.    Further information: