A look inside the former Bourton Mill in Dorset, Once hosting a famous 60 foot diameter waterwheel which to powered the flax mill.
in 1821 It became Maggs & Hindley. At this time 140 workers were employed across the two arms of the business. In 1837 the famous 60 foot diameter waterwheel was built to power the flax mill while a year later in 1838, a new foundry was built and was powered by two more, smaller, waterwheels.
Towards the end of the 19th century the flax mill closed down and the buildings were used to expand the foundry. At the same time the waterwheels became redundant as the entire works was powered by steam.
From 1890 to 1910 the foundry was at its peak and is said to have employed over 200 men and boys. Stationary (i.e. not self-propelled) steam engines up to 100hp were being sold world-wide.
During the First World War the production was changed to munitions, mainly casings for Mills Bombs, a type of hand grenade. In the valley above the mill site there are three 18th century dams.
On the afternoon of the 28th June 1917 a violent thunderstorm and extremely heavy rain led to the failure of New Lake dam in the early morning of Friday 29th June. There was no loss of life but the damage was considerable.
The foundry was wrecked, walls were demolished and heavy machinery uprooted and moved. Over 200 tons of coal was washed away and to all intents and purposes disappeared. In 1918 the big water wheel was scrapped and the metal probably used for munitions
After the war work continued with the production of small specialised units for the shipbuilding industry but in 1927 the business was taken over by Dodmans of King’s Lynn and the Hindleys and some of the workforce also moved there.
After Hindley’s closed the factory was taken over by the Farma Cream Co. which established a plant for processing and drying milk. This later became United Dairies, then Cow & Gate and finally Unigate. In 1984 Unigate announced its intention of closing the factory at which point there was a management buy-out under the name of the Summit Food Group. In 1992 the Summit Food group went into receivership and the factory was taken over and operated by Freeman Foods which itself went out of business in 2002.
Thanks to https://www.bourtondorset.org/history/ for the history of the mill
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