Portrait of a Parish - Page 17

Monkton Combe Mill

Down at the bottom of Mill Lane beside the Midford Brook there are sluice gates and a millpond, serving a group of buildings that comprise the last mill on this site, which was owned by the Freeman family, who also had mills at Freshford and Avoncliffe, equipped to manufacture flock. There is also a substantial house, much altered since the 16th century, but then described as being a "messuage" with pools, warrens, gardens and orchards. These no doubt contributed to the income of Humphrey Colles who received the land after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In time, it became the mill-owner's house.

The Monkton Combe mill was by the station and in the early 1900's was well placed to import its rather insalubrious raw material, old clothes from the rag and bone trade and old uniforms from Holland, to turn into flock for use in the upholstery trade. Waterpower drove the turbine operating the heavy beaters which broke up the old clothes into fibres. These were then sterilised in ovens heated by a steam engine and the chimney of this engine is still standing. But by the end of World War 11, "Dunlopillo" had replaced flock for mattresses and in 1951 the mill was up for sale. It remained empty for many years until it, and its surrounding weaving sheds were sold.

Part of the Mill as it is today
The Mill as it is today, showing chimney

Although the industry is different, nowadays the closed down weaving sheds have become a mini enterprise zone. The sheds are packed with furniture and carpets offered for sale by Critchcraft Furniture, who employ several part-time and casual staff, who come and go, moving around and transporting large stocks of furniture which is sold at discounts to individuals and businesses over a wide area. Next door there is a discount carpet warehouse, Remnant City. Continuing the household theme, behind those are the workshops and showrooms of the Mendip Fireplace Centre supplying and installing fireplaces made by local craftsmen, from local stone, for architects and individual clients. Yet another is used for the care and restoration of Morris Minor cars. The mill-owner's house has had several owners and currently offers bed and breakfast accommodation.

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