The waterwheel is thought to have measured 22ft diameter by 4ft wide and
this powered machinery producing bobbins of
spun thread to be sold on for weaving.
The Routh brothers had already established themselves in the hosiery
trade, not only making stockings, but woollen caps and large woollen smocks
called Guernsey Frocks, so capital was invested in this exciting new enterprise.
Villagers, already in the Routh’s employ as hand knitters, became mill
workers instead. Thirty years of cotton
spinning was followed by flax then wool spinning until 1878 when the waterwheel
was replaced by a Thompson double-vortex turbine and the industry changed from
spinning to sawing. The turbine driven
Victorian woodworking machinery was operated continuously (apart from WWII when
it was requisitioned as a billet) until 1988.
Now once again turbine driven and restored to its last used state as a sawmill,
complete with belt driven saws with vicious looking teeth, woodturning machines
and bandsaws, the active Friends of Gayle
Mill run programmes of art workshops and
other events ensuring that the mill provides an educational and practical
resource; it is also in business providing timber services and traditionally
crafted products made from local, sustainably grown wood just as it once
provided a huge variety of items for the Gayle villagers befitting every
occasion in life, from cradle to coffin.
Mike Thomson, Vice Chairman of the Gayle
Mill Trust, guided us visitors through
the building with highly illuminating and fascinating tales along with lots of
information about the watercourse, the changes of industry and ownership through
to decline and restoration . He and his wife Janet are just two of several
volunteers eagerly guiding and demonstrating this unique Grade II* listed mill.
For further information see
or telephone: 01969 667320.