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HER Number:MDV21305
Name:Upper Mill; Chagford Woollen Mill


Upper Mill. Site of Chagford Woollen Factory at Factory Cross, established by John Berry after 1800. The site housed a tucking-mill and power looms and drying shed. In the early-mid 19th century the mill was a major employer but the industry declined and finally ceased operations around 1880. Site was used after 1890 by Mr Reed who set up as an agricultural merchant, threshing and haulage contractor, millwright and engineer. It now houses the kennels of the mid-Devon Hunt.


Grid Reference:SX 269 087
Map Sheet:SX20NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX68NE182
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1305484
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NE/134

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • INDUSTRIAL BUILDING (Built, XVIII - 1800 AD (Between) to 1800 AD (Between))
  • WATER WHEEL (Constructed, XVIII to Mid 20th Century - 1800 AD (Between) to 1960 AD? (Between))
  • WATERMILL (Built, XVIII - 1800 AD (Between) to 1800 AD (Between))
  • WOOLLEN MILL (Built, XVIII to XIX - 1800 AD (Between) to 1882 AD (Between))
  • SAW MILL (XIX - 1882 AD (Between) to 1890 AD (Between))
  • KENNELS (XIX to Late 20th Century - 1900 AD? to 1999 AD?)

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

‘Chagford Woollen Factory (Disused)’ depicted on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map (approximately 1880s in date).

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 119-20 (Monograph). SDV149229.

The overgrown rubble ruins of the mill span the watercourse, with a narrow arch to the south and a wide arch to the north. It is probable that the mill was of more than one storey. Some distance to the north is a long rubble shell of a building of more than 1 phase, though apparently not powered. The buildings are probably of late 18th to early 19th century date.

Devon County Council, 1974, Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer (Report - Survey). SDV83967.

Site visited in 1973 (estimate). Building in ruins. Tail-race remains. Leat still visible.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 39.40 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Rice, I., 2002, The Book of Chagford. A Town Apart, 68-9 (Monograph). SDV356605.

Mr Berry of Ashburton arrived in Chagford in 1800 and created a woollen manufactory to rival that in Buckfast. After building the Mill Street site (now Moorlands) and the fulling-mill on Padley Brook, Berry constructed his main mill on a site adjacent to Chagford Bridge (now the kennels of the mid-Devon hunt). It was fed by a substantial leat from a weir at Holy Street. The complex included a tucking-mill and power looms, driven by a 14 feet diameter by 14 feet breast. There were two large structures on the site, housing the main looms and associated machinery, with a further large wooden drying shed or 'rack' in the field on the opposite side of the road, now known as Rack Park, which fell into disuse and collapsed after a storm in 1861.
The products of this mill were yarn, felt and serges and were taken by road to Ashburton for further finishing or sale onwards. The Lower or Blanket Factory was built around 1820 and between this time and mid-19th century, the mill complex was a major employer for the town, swelling the population to over 1800.
The Dartmoor woollen industry went into decline in the mid-19th century, as war, political unrest and the growth of the competing woollen industry in Yorkshire made it unviable to continue. The Chagford operation first closed in 1848 but was taken over by a Mr Vicary from North Tawton, who was very active in the town over the next 30 years. The factory finally ceased production in about 1880 and lay empty for a considerable period.
The site was taken over in around 1890 by Mr G. H. Reed to set up as an agricultural merchant, threshing and haulage contractor, millwright and engineer. He also took over Rushford Mill to use as a sawmill and for producing agricultural implements and his business prospered greatly.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Bodman, M., 2015, Mills on the Teign. A gazetteer of water-powered sites on the Teign and Bovey and their tributaries, 62-63 (Monograph). SDV360401.

Woolen Mills, Chagford - Higher Factory / Factory Cross SX 6938 8783. Established in 1800 or slightly earlier as a woollen mill (a fulling mill had existed nearby previously), served by a leat on the Teign, along with the Lower Factory (MDV21306), operational by 1820. In the early 19th century, long ells or serges were produced, creating blankets and miner's cloths. Closure was forced in 1848 due to competition from Yorkshire and the introduction of cheap cottons.
The mills were taken over and a gas works (MDV114190) was established in 1869 to provide light for the new enterprise while new power looms were introduced, again producing blankets and serges. The venture did well during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 but production declined in the late 19th century and closed in 1882 or earlier.
Higher Factory was later used as a saw mill and the waterwheel was also used to generate electricity; from 1891 Chagford benefitted from street lighting - one of the first places in Devon to have night time lighting. In 1914 the waterwheel was replaced by a turbine. From 1930 the enterprise was absorbed into The West Devon Electricity Sup[ply Company, with upgrades in 1940 and 1948. In 1967, the Chagford unit was connected to the national grid.
Ruins of the old mill buildings remain; a newer structure now houses a modern crossflow turbine installed in 2014.

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 18/03/2022 (Website). SDV364039.

[South West Textile Mills Project Number: 357]

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 119-20.
SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 39.40.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #83071 ]
SDV356605Monograph: Rice, I.. 2002. The Book of Chagford. A Town Apart. The Book of Chagford. Hardback Volume. 68-9.
SDV360401Monograph: Bodman, M.. 2015. Mills on the Teign. A gazetteer of water-powered sites on the Teign and Bovey and their tributaries. Mills on the Teign. A gazetteer of water-powered sites on the Teign and Bovey and their tributaries. Paperback Volume. 62-63.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 18/03/2022.
SDV83967Report - Survey: Devon County Council. 1974. Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer. Devon County Council Report. Unknown. A4 Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV62963Parent of: Chagford Hydro Electric Power Station (Monument)
MDV114190Related to: Chagford Gasworks south of the River Teign, Chagford (Monument)
MDV80475Related to: Leat, Chagford (Monument)
MDV21306Related to: Lower Mill; Chagford Woollen Mill (Building)
MDV21306Related to: Lower Mill; Chagford Woollen Mill (Building)
MDV21306Related to: Lower Mill; Chagford Woollen Mill (Building)
MDV21306Related to: Lower Mill; Chagford Woollen Mill (Building)
MDV33318Related to: Millpond, Chagford (Building)
MDV33261Related to: Moorlands Hotel (the old Town Mill), Chagford (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8699 - RCHME South West Textile Mills Project (Ref: RCH01/063)

Date Last Edited:Feb 27 2024 2:24PM