Darshill factories

Around 1820 there were three factories or mills at Darshill: two rented by William Gaite from the Pippett family and another occupied by John Rossiter, the property of William Serle.

Gaite probably occupied the factory formerly run by Jenkins and Green, which was by far the largest concern in Shepton, whose trade in 1810 was rated three times larger than its nearest rival. That factory in 1793 occupied buildings which were insured for ¬£2000. The firm gave up in 1811 and the factory was offered for sale including machinery and two wheels, one nearly 30 feet in diameter and the other, an overshot wheel, 20 feet. The fall of water for the latter was 23 feet.

By the 1830’s, all three factories were owned by Nalder and Hardisty, silk cloth and silk crape manufacturers. Their evidence to the 1833 Commission (see last post) says that they had four factories at Darshill: one at Lower Darshill in Pilton parish, one at middle Darshill and two at Upper Darshill. The Lower (ex-Jenkins and Green/Gaite) was located on the site of the present-day water treatment works and burnt down in 1843; the Middle is repurposed today as Silk Mill Barn adjacent to Darshill House; and the first of the two at Upper Darshill is today repurposed as Lower Silk Mill housing and the second – pictured on the blog home page – remained in operation until 1913. Derelict, it was demolished in the 1970’s and is today housing with a reminiscent external appearance.

At the Lower Darshill and Lower Silk Mill sites, water power was supplemented in summer by steam engines of ten and four horse power respectively. The other two mills used water power only.

Sources: Kenneth Rogers, Wiltshire & Somerset Woollen Mills and Turnpike Map 1852 (shows buildings, the river and mill leats in preparation for the construction of the new Shepton to Wells road)

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