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HER Number:MDV6156
Name:Yeo Farm Mill, Chagford


There may have been a mill at Yeo Farm as early as 1540. The present mill has a 17th or 18th century core, refurbished in the mid-19th century. The building is three storeys high of granite stone rubble construction with granite dressings and large quoins. It now has a corrugated iron roof, but was formally a thatched. The mill was originally used for threshing and grinding corn, but was subsequently adapted for a variety of purposes. Besides crushing oats and working mechanical devices for the farm and smithy, power from this wheel drove a circular saw, a lathe, and other equipment associated with saw milling and the wheel used for for generating electricity from 1893. As such it is one of the earliest electrical power plants on record.


Grid Reference:SX 678 865
Map Sheet:SX68NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NE/34/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 94624

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (XVI to XX - 1545 AD to 1980 AD (Between))

Full description

Laithwaite, J. M. W., Yeo Farm, Chagford (Plan - measured). SDV274812.

Other details: Parish file scan.

Griffiths, D., 10/01/1989, Yeo Farm, Chagford, 10-11 (Report - Interim). SDV351692.

1840, Tithe Map (Cartographic). SDV339770.

Occupies the site of a building shown on the Tithe Map (approximately 1840 in date).

Bagenal, H., 1956 - 1958, Early farming at Yeo Farm, Chagford, 263 (Article in Serial). SDV274809.

Most of the present machinery was installed in 1854, old wooden wheel said to be original. It was used to grind wheat, barley, millet and bone.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 192 (Monograph). SDV149229.

(Site visited in 1967 - estimated) Yeo Mill is still operating. The wheel is worked by water from the South Teign. The mill was probably built at about the time that the ancestors of the present occupier, Mr Wallace Perryman, came to live and farm at Yeo, which was in 1545. In its early days, the mill was used for threshing and grinding corn, though now it has been adapted for a variety of purposes. The present overshot wheel (diameter 4.0 meters, 1.0 meter wide) replaced an earlier all-wood one, which was removed in 1877. The wheel in use now has wrought iron buckets a wooden belly and arms, metal rims and a metal shaft, and has a capacity of 600 cubic feet per minute.
Besides crushing oats and working mechanical devices for the farm and smithy, power from this wheel drives a circular saw, a lathe, and other equipment associated with saw milling. Also the wheel has been used for over 70 years for generating electricity. The original plant producing 100 volts was installed and the house, farm buildings and mill lit, Mr Perryman remembers, on the evening of the 4th January 1893. As such it was one of the earliest electrical power plants on record. Since that date larger generators have necessarily been installed to deal with an ever increasing load, which today includes a motor to drive the electric water pump, a cream separator, a blower at the forge, an electric drill and domestic appliances, 110 volts directional current.

Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 2 (Monograph). SDV7016.

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

Griffith, F. M., 1986, Yeo Farm, Chagford (Worksheet). SDV347516.

In 1980 the mill was still operating, driving a generator and a saw mill, according to a conversation with the then owner. Other details: Parish file scan.

Laithwaite, J. M. W., 1988, Yeo Farm, Chagford, 9-11 (Un-published). SDV226613.

The mill complex of buildings occupies the site of a range of buildings already there when the Tithe Map was drawn up in approximately 1840, although Laithwaite believes it is doubtful whether any of the existing structures except the shippon are as old as that.
The mill building is constructed of granite rubble and is taller than the shippon, being built up against the latter’s south gable wall. The heightened top section is clad with corrugated iron. The plan is two-celled with a stone wall dividing off the southern corn-milling section from that on the north, which latterly contained the thresher and was known to the family as the barn.
The milling section has three floors. On the ground floor the northern part is boarded off to enclose the two upright iron shafts which, with a variety of wood and iron pulleys, turn the grindstones on the first floor; there are fittings for a third shaft at the western end. The whole mechanism is driven by a waterwheel fixed to the outside of the east wall, the sluice gate which controls the supply of the water to it being worked by a wooden lever on the ground floor inside. A variety of other wood and iron pulleys hang from the ground floor ceiling, their function at present unknown. On the first floor are two sets of grinding stones, laid horizontally in wooden cases; the case for a third lies nearby. Against the east wall is a large iron pulley and a smaller wooden one, their function is also unknown. External access to this room was by loading doors in the south and west walls; the present south loading door replaces an earlier window, the original door having been slightly further east. The third floor, now without its timbers, lay in the roofspace; the remains of a small wooden shute can be seen in the north wall, apparently intended to carry some kind of cereal down to the first floor of the barn. The 1933 diary refers to ‘mending corn hutch top of mill’.
The barn never seems to have had more than two floors. At the north end it has a wide doorway, rising from ground to eaves, in each of the east and west walls. That on the west (facing the farmyard) has double doors at each floor level; there must originally have been similar doors on the east, but the opening has been blocked in a rather makeshift fashion, no doubt as more machinery was introduced. There must have been water- driven machinery on the ground floor from the first, since there is an original narrow slit at the east end of the south wall, presumably designed for a belt linked to the main shaft of the waterwheel. The only machinery surviving in the ground floor room is the winnower, which is probably of mid-20th century date (a winnower is mentioned in the 1931 diary). The ceiling barn has actually been cut through to insert it, and the casing is jammed up against an earlier pulley. A whole series of pulleys of wood and iron hang from iron bars, and longest of these extending through a hole cut in the gable wall of the shippon. Mr and Mrs Loram say there were also a gutting machine, a band saw and a turning machine in this room, although not all capable of working at the same time; one belt could alternate between several machines. One the upper floor, as has already been mentioned, was the threshing machine.
The Waterwheel. A 13 foot overshot iron wheel with wooden arms and iron buckets, is moulded with the inscription POLYBANK NEWTON 1877. This was Polybank and Company of Newton Abbot, who provided the castings (12 segments, 6 spur segments and 36 plate iron buckets). The Perryman ledger records that the cost was £60 9s 8 1/2d, including £27 18s to Dickers, a local firm for fitting and fixing. The wheel is enclosed in a stone rubble wheelhouse with a lean-to roof, structurally independent of the mill and probably a latter addition. The water is carried away northwards by a stone-lined underground tunnel. The wheel still generates electricity.
Around the wheelhouse on the east and nnorth sides is an outer compartment with a floor level much lower than the surrounding ground. It may be the ‘cog pit’ referred to in the diaries; in 1944, for example, an entry says ‘put stops right going in the cog pit’. The eastern section held the turbine, which took water from a diversion from the main leat at the top of the south wall. The northern section has no obvious use, and indeed is now unstable as the rack saw bench runs right over it.
The sawing equipment consists of the rack saw bench, which runs northwards 45 feet 7 inches from the wheelhouse past the mill, barn and halfway along the shippon wall, and a smaller iron saw table beside it, just north of the outer compartment of the wheelhouse. The north wall of this compartment has been considerably cut into to insert the elaborate series of belts and pulleys needed to work this equipment; none of it can be closely dated at present. The rack saw bench has wooden sides and rollers with iron-bound wooden runners on top; between two runners is a circular saw blade, with an alternative blade hanging on the shippon wall beside it. Above it is a wooden canopy, from which hangs a hoist with wooden roller, iron chain and hook. The metal saw table is moulded with the inscription of C M TAYLOR, Exeter. Over the rack saw bench, high up, is a rather precarious wooden floor carrying a grindstone in a wooden frame, this, with a wooden pulley to work off the waterwheel.

Bodman, M., 2003, Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 295-6 (Report - Interim). SDV325576.

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

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Yeo Mill approximately 10.0 metres south-east of Yeo Farmhouse (Decmber 1986).
Water mill and adjoining shippon and linhay. 17th and 18th century core refurbished in mid 19th century. Granite stone rubble with granite dressings and large quoins; corrugated iron roof (formerly thatch).
Plan: the mill is a tall block with its gable end facing south-south-west, say south, onto the road. The wheel house and a saw mill are attached to the right (east) side. There is a linhay at an oblique angle facing backwards into a farmyard and shippon with hayloft over at the back on the same axis as the mill but a lower block. The mill is three storeys high.
Exterior: the gable front has 19th century fixed pane windows with glazing bars to the upper and lower floors and a central loading hatch. Alongside the hatch is a blocked doorway. On the farmyard (western) side behind the linhay there is a large doorway containing double doors with a loading hatch above protected by a large hood made by carrying down the roof. On the other side the wheel house and saw mill have leanto roofs. The linhay is two bays and open-fronted with the tallet crossbeam carried on a granite post. A timber post rises from this to carry the roof (Alcock's type S2). The tallet continues to right over a granite walled byre with a door near the right end. The end wall contains a ground floor window and first floor loading hatch. The shippon has a through passage next to the mill and three slit windows each side, a hayloft loading hatch on the farmyard side and a dung hatch in the end wall with a boarded cover hung on rollers on an iron rail. All the roofs are gable-ended.
Interior: The structural carpentry is all exposed. It is consistently plainly finished and the roofs are made up of A-frame trusses with pegged and sometimes spiked lap-jointed collars. Such detail cannot be accurately dated and can be 18th or 19th century. However it is the working mill machinery which is of most interest. A leat from the South Teign feeds an overshot wheel. The present wheel dates from 1877. It has wrought iron buckets, a wooden belly and arms, metal rims and metal shaft and has a capacity of 600 cubic feet per minute. It works an ingenious Heath Robinson-looking collection of belt-driven machinery. Originally used for threshing and grinding corn it has been adapted for a variety of purposes. Besides crushing oats and working mechanical devices for the farm and smithy, it drives a circular saw, a lathe, and other equipment associated with saw milling. The wheel also generates electricity. The original plant was first used on the evening of 4th January 1893. As such it was one of the earliest electrical power plants on record. The original plant has been replaced but it is still working although the house was put on mains electricity in 1986. Most of the saw mill machinery still survives. A secondary cow byre in front of the original and a shelter to rear of the linhay are not included in the listing.
Yeo Mill is one of an important and well-preserved group of listed buildings including the farmhouse (q.v.), office and garden railings (q.v.)., the Old School House (q.v.)., smithy and cartshed (q.v.) and barn (q.v.). The Perryman family have lived on the site since circa 1450. Source: Devon Sites and Monuments Record. Other details: LB UID: 94624.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 192.
SDV226613Un-published: Laithwaite, J. M. W.. 1988. Yeo Farm, Chagford. A4 Comb Bound. 9-11.
SDV274809Article in Serial: Bagenal, H.. 1956 - 1958. Early farming at Yeo Farm, Chagford. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 27. Unknown. 263.
SDV274812Plan - measured: Laithwaite, J. M. W.. Yeo Farm, Chagford. Digital.
SDV325576Report - Interim: Bodman, M.. 2003. Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 295-6.
SDV339770Cartographic: 1840. Tithe Map. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #96840 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347516Worksheet: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. Yeo Farm, Chagford. Digital.
SDV351692Report - Interim: Griffiths, D.. 10/01/1989. Yeo Farm, Chagford. Dartmoor National Park Authority. A4 Stapled. 10-11.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 2.
SDV83967Report - Survey: Devon County Council. 1974. Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer. Devon County Council Report. Unknown. A4 Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV49493Part of: Yeo Farmstead, Chagford (Monument)
MDV49466Related to: Linhay at Yeo Farm, Chagford (Building)
MDV49465Related to: Shippon adjoining Yeo Corn Mill, Chagford (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Oct 22 2014 9:14AM