Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Otter Mill Complex, Ottery St Mary, Devon

On the site of the old mill there was originally a corn mill, which had been there for 700 years. However, that mill was demolished in order to build a larger one during the 18th century. This was in conjunction with the building of a new carding and wool-spinning manufactory in an attempt to revive the cloth industry in the area (a major industry in Devon since mediaeval times), which had declined due to the production of cotton and cheaper Yorkshire yarns.

The water supplied by the leat was not sufficient for the new mill, the water level in the mill basin needing to be raised, therefore the fall along the leat was reduced and the water level maintained by a circular 'tumbling weir'. This discharged the overflow into the river via a short tunnel and the water for the factory was conveyed by an overhead aqueduct to the wheel inside, whereas another overshot water wheel powered the corn mill.

 

The manufacture was later converted to silk in 1824, employing up to 400 female workers, then in 1897 sold to brush manufacturers Keetch & Co. The corn mill continued operation until 1937, and is now unoccupied.

 

A small lane ran between the old corn mill and the factory. The photo below shows the front of the mill as seen on the lane.

The factory site, once belonging to Ottermill Switchgear then latterly Eaton Cutler & Hammer Ltd, was also unoccupied at the time of my visit in 2008, having been closed down in 2003. Left empty for many years, after failed attempts to lure new manufacturers, it was eventually demolished in 2016.

The original factory on the opposite side of the lane above. The long adjacent factory building, seen below, may have been added later to house the more modern factory floor and facilitate deliveries.

The album with many more photos can be seen in the Photo Gallery.

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