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Saltford Brass Mill, Saltford

#57 of 71 in Museums in Somerset
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
Saltford Brass Mill is a brass mill on the River Avon at Saltford, Somerset, England. It dates from the 1720s is listed as Grade II* and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
There was a watermill on the site at the time of the Domesday Book and it is the last surviving of over 30 mills which were once on this stretch of the Avon.
Local brass making was initiated in Bristol around 1700 by the family of Abraham Darby who later moved upstream because of the better water supply at Saltford and Keynsham. The brass was made from Cornish ores refined at Crew's Hole and then transported via the river. These were mixed with calamine from the Mendip Hills to make calamine brass. This changed as processes improved and local copper smelting was replaced by supplies from Swansea. By the 1850s zinc metal was used instead of calamine, using a process introduced by William Champion, who lived nearby.

The site includes a battery mill which was used for hollowing out brass sheet to make pans, bowls and vats, some of which are on display. There is also a complete annealing furnace, one of four originally installed, which were used to heat the brass to reduce the likelihood of it cracking while it was being worked. The furnace is claimed to be one of the best remaining examples of this technology. There are also the remains of the water wheels initially used to power the machinery, one of which is still in working order. The battery mills were supplemented by rolling mills between 1760 and 1830, as this produced more even sheets of metal than the original battery techniques. However battery ware was still produced at the site until 1908, the last mill in Britain to do so.
The mill ceased production in 1924. In 1995 it was restored and is now supported by a group of volunteers in conjunction with English Heritage and the owners Bath and North East Somerset Council.

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Saltford Brass Mill reviews

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7 reviews
  • We found this Mill purely by chance whilst exploring the area with friends visiting from the north of England. Sadly we only had around 10 minutes to look as it was closing. This was an open day and.....  more »
  • The Mill was open for the Heritage Weekends and I went along to admire the work of the volunteers who are restoring it. The whole area is very well presented with lots of boards giving clear...  more »
  • Great place full of history where the power of water is harnessed all explained by knowledgeable people, missed this when I was a kid as it was deralick, no entry fee, well recommend  more »
  • A really nice surprise a working watermill providing electricity for different processes many years old. Great place to take the children to see working interactive models. The volunteers were very knowledgeable and keen.
  • Fantastic place to visit. Don't miss the exhibition of the different types of waterwheel.
  • Historic Monument status and well worth a visit! Limited opening times, so check the website for details. Situated in a delightful setting on the banks of the river Avon just outside Salford, and in a prime location between two pubs - Bird in Hand, and the Riverside Inn
  • Great fishing
  • Good ambience and Good food menu.

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