Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Flax / Wool Drying Tower (The Lyme Round House), Lyme Regis, Dorset

I first noticed this whilst on a visit with some friends during early 2009. We speculated on what it's original use was and when I returned home I tried to find out online, without success. It wasn't until later that I saw it labelled as a flax drying tower on a delightfully illustrated tourist map that I'd picked up from a shop...yet still unable to find anything else about it.

Fast forward to June 2011, and another visit to Lyme brought me near to the tower again, when I took these photos...yet still unable to find anything about this particular building. However, further searches provided rather a lot of background information about the flax industry in the area. And two and a half years later I found the actual name and possible use of the tower. More below...

Some of the history of flax in relation to the area is as follows. It is assumed that flax was grown locally for small-scale production of linen or twine. Loom House, near Cannington Viaduct in Uplyme, was found to have flax in it's attic and, along with hemp, they are both known to have been grown in West Dorset for twine and cordage during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Another local need was that of sailcloth, ropes and netting for boatbuilding and fishing. Twine and cordage produced from flax is indicated by the names of fields in the area, such as Spinning Yard and Line Walk, which refers to long, narrow and open walkways lined with trees to afford shade and support for holding the yarns off the ground.

After researching the flax industry in the area, I still had no idea about this particular building. However, another fast forward to December 2013, when I received an email from a gentleman who was researching a tower in Ireland. After a few emails back and forth, and further research, I found an item on the Lyme Regis Museum website indicating that this one in Lyme is actually a wool drying tower, and is called The Lyme Round House, which I have now added to the title.

Apparently, wool was quite an extensive production in the Lim Valley, involving families, farms, watermills and, later on, two small factories alongside the River Lim; the various processes contributed by the people of Lyme Regis and Uplyme just over the border in Devon. However, there still remains an historical link to flax, therefore I'm hedging my bets by keeping both wool and flax in the title. ;)

No album as yet in the Photo Gallery, as I only have these three photos. I will add more if I have the opportunity to visit more closely.


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