Newsletter 90, Autumn 2010 © Hampshire Mills Group
Golden Valley of Gloucestershire Textiles
Photos and text by Alan Cullen
In the spring edition of the HMG newsletter, I noticed the Stroud trip
advert. This caught my imagination, so, after due consideration about such
things as: is it too far considering where I live,
and, can I fit it in at the busiest time for my garden machinery
business, I gave John Silman a quick call and he fitted us in, just.
My wife was not allowed a day off, so my brother was offered the outing
instead. As he is retired I suggested it
could be an early start and duly collected him at 5.30 a.m. and we set off for
the 100 mile journey to Winchester. One
and a half hours on the road got us to our first destination, Winchester Park
and Ride. A short wait and along came the
minibus which whisked us off to the Stroud Valley region.
As all journeys go, there was plenty to see and listen to the remarks
from other like-minded people. A brief
comfort stop and on to Stroud.
We drove over one of only a handful of remaining manned level crossings
on the rail network and into the site of St. Mary’s Mill.
A mill had stood here since 1338 and the current building houses a
magnificent Tangye horizontal mill engine dating back to 1904, which even then
was secondhand from a mill in Rochdale, Lancashire.
This engine is well kept and looks superb.
Outside we saw the building that, thanks to the ash and clinker
being constantly emptied in front of it, is now one storey lower than
when originally built – and seen in the early photographs.
The allotted 45 minutes passed far too quickly and we all boarded the
minibus for our next stop, which was to be Stanley Mill, fairly nearby in
St Mary's Mill
Tangye Horizontal Mill
Stanley Mill is a stupendous building, well not just a building more an
absolutely superb piece of engineering.
The main mill is five storeys high, brick built, and is iron framed with brick
arched floors; all supported by cast iron columns.
An amazing structure, it was built in 1812 and is an early fireproof
Stanley Mill machinery
for educational demonstrations
Cast iron arches at
Egypt Mill was next on the list for lunch.
An idyllic setting, whether inside or outside in the sunshine.
I opted out of lunch altogether so as to take a stroll around the town
which had some very interesting buildings to be seen.
Along the road from Egypt, to
the eastern end of Nailsworth, we went to Gig Mill, interestingly different.
A little cramped, nevertheless some excellent demonstrations of weaving
were given on old and new machinery.
With time ticking by, we were treated to a chance to see the largest
working waterwheel in Gloucestershire; this being in the Dunkirk Mill.
Previously, we were taught about the weaving process, this time we saw
the processes of fulling , teasel knap-raising and cross cutting.
To round off an incredibly interesting day, we returned to Egypt Mill
for a drink by the mill pond where we had a chance to reflect on a marvellous
time and catch one’s breath. Some
wonderful scenery was enjoyed via Minchinhampton Common on our return journey.
Safely returned to Winchester, my brother and I motored homeward via
the A272, with a quick stop in Midhurst for a good old English fish and chip
supper which rounded the day off perfectly.
To the group’s organisers:
Thanks, we will be on the next trip. That
day was nothing short of excellent.
Alan C. Cullen