We’ve had some dear friends from the States staying with us this past week. It was an incredibly special time, and we talked and laughed virtually non stop. I thought I would share with you one of the places that we visited: Coldharbour Mill, in Uffculme, Devon.
This is a working mill that has been situated in this Devon valley since 1799, and was in continuous wool and yarn production until 1981. It reopened the following year as a working museum and is now the only surviving woollen mill in the county.
It is one of the few mills in the country that has both of its original sources of power still in operation: a water wheel from the 1820s and a steam engine from 1910.
Taking a tour of the mill demonstrates the textile process from fleece to finished yarn.
A self-guided tour takes you through the different stages of making yarn into a finished woven cloth. You can see the original spinning and weaving machinery, some of which are still powered by the fully restored water wheel.
The mill continues to produce both worsted and woollen knitting yarns and is now home to John Arbon Textiles and their wonderful wool and alpaca yarn and products.
Dusty and smelling of engine oil, and with the constant clicking of machines, the mill is a fascinating insight into Victorian technology.
There are also glimpses into the lives of the people who worked at the mill.
Oh, and the yarn! I haven’t taken pictures yet of the yarn I bought there, but I’ll post them as soon as I do.