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HER Number:MDV9510
Name:Iron Mills, Dunsford


Edge-tool mill at Steps Bridge, Dunsford which may date to the mid-18th century. Formerly known as Iron Mills. The waterwheel which operated two tilt hammers is still in position and can be seen from the road (B3212). A. Morris and Sons Limited still operate a tools business from the modernised site.


Grid Reference:SX 280 088
Map Sheet:SX20NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDunsford
Ecclesiastical ParishDUNSFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX88NW23
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 447193
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX88NW/33
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 399420

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FORGE (XVII to XVIII - 1700 AD (Between) to 1799 AD (Between))
  • MILL (XVII to XVIII - 1700 AD (Between) to 1799 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map, (1906) (Cartographic). SDV325644.

(SX 80708844). Iron Mills. (NAT).

Fielder, M. E., 1934, Old Time Survivals in Devon, 362 (Article in Serial). SDV336455.

Waterwheel drives the great wooden hammer shaped like a long beam and which is bound with iron at the point of impact. A second waterwheel drives the fan which takes the place of bellows at the mill.

Department of Environment, 1949, St. Thomas RD, 48 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV340887.

Iron Mill, an 18th century building partly of stone, is one of the few hammer mills left in Devon.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 124-126, 195 (Monograph). SDV149229.

The edge-tool mill at SX 807884 near Steps Bridge, Dunsford was probably founded about 200 years ago, though its origins may be even earlier. The place was formerly known as Iron Mills, and some halberds dug up on the site may indicate that these were originally made here. Active business in the manufacturing of a wide range of horticultural and agricultural tools still continues under Messrs A. Morris and Sons Limited, in the modernised premises on the south side of the Exeter-Moretonhampstead road, east of the river. The waterwheel which formerly operated two tilt hammers is still in position and can be seen from the road. It was installed in 1826 and last used in 1937. Other details: Photograph.

Minchinton, W. E., 1976, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 21 (Monograph). SDV7016.

Edge tool factory, still in production, near steps bridge. Has been modernised. The water-wheel was last used in 1937.

Griffith, F. M., 1982, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV300273.

(Site visited 25/4/1982) The skeleton of an iron wheel, without paddles, still stands outside the face of the building nearest the B3212 road.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 38.32 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Other details: 38.32.

Google, 2011, Google Maps UK (Website). SDV347607.

The waterwheel at Iron Mills can still be seen in in position (modern photography thought to be taken in 2009). Other details: StreetView image.

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

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

(Listing description 1986) Mill building at Iron Mills – dates to the early 19th century with 20th cenury extension. Granite rubble with corrugated iron and tile roof, gabled at ends. Mill building with water wheel on the north side, facing the road. The iron and timber undershot wheel is no longer in use but until 1937 powered trip hammers for a tool-making industry. Single storey. The building has probably been extended at the left (west) end, which is rendered. The elm and iron wheel is in the centre with a doorway under a timber lintel to the right. Interior Roof trusses replaced circa early 20th century.
Although the building is modest it has considerable industrial archaeological importance: the tool-making industry at Iron Mills is said to have been established in about 1820 and continued to use the water wheel for power until circa 1937. Two trip hammers, one late 19th century, one pre-First World War, powered by electricity, are still in use at Iron Mill, sited in the 20th century extension and are possibly the only trip hammers still in use in the country. There are plans to restore the mill wheel to working order. Other details: LB UID: 399420.

Bodman, M., 2015, Mills on the Teign. A gazetteer of water-powered sites on the Teign and Bovey and their tributaries, 47-48 (Monograph). SDV360401.

Iron Mills, Dunsford SX 8072 8845. Undershot waterwheel at Iron Mills is visible from the road near Steps Bridge. Powered by the same leat as Dunsford Mills (MDV13804). Out of use by 1937, it was restored by 1992 and until 1937 had been used to power two tilt hammers. An iron forge may have existed here from the late 18th century; building is thought to date from the early 19th century. Details of leases given. Since 1931, business has been owned by the Morris family who produce products made from Sheffield carbon steel. One of the old tilt hammers survives, now powered electrically alongside a drop-hammer.

Ordnance Survey, 2024, Mastermap 2024 (Cartographic). SDV365834.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 124-126, 195.
SDV300273Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1982. Unknown.
SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 38.32.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). (1906).
SDV336455Article in Serial: Fielder, M. E.. 1934. Old Time Survivals in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 66. A5 Paperback. 362.
SDV340887List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1949. St. Thomas RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 48.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #109793 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347607Website: Google. 2011. Google Maps UK. Website.
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. 47-48.
SDV365834Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2024. Mastermap 2024. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 21.

Associated Monuments

MDV134760Related to: Dunsford Baptist Church (Building)
MDV13804Related to: Dunsford Corn Mill (Monument)
MDV80476Related to: Dunsford Mills Leat (Monument)
MDV57884Related to: Enclosure south of Whidley Lane, Dunsford (Monument)
MDV37139Related to: House at Iron Mills, Dunsford (Building)
MDV21668Related to: Weir at Steps Bridge (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Feb 20 2024 2:27PM