Rolling pins, candlesticks, skittles and wooden coconut shy balls
were just some of the products made at Abbey Mill during the 20th century when the upper floor was a thriving wood turnery. Skilled craftsmen worked oak, alder and sycamore into chair legs and spindles
, until WW 2 forced the turnery to close.
Downstairs a saw mill processed local timber until the 1970s
There was no emergency stop on the waterwheel which powered the saws, so men working here were in constant danger of cutting off hands or fingers! Inside you can still see the remains of the wheels and belts which drove the saws.
Detail from a painting by Donald Floyd,
courtesy of Newport Museum & Art Gallery.
Power came from this waterwheel, one of 22 waterwheels which lined the banks of the Angidy river in the 1800s, providing energy for the Valley's industries. The Abbey Mill wheel is the only one to survive.
The Old Water Wheel and Workings were taken away to be restored with TLC back in November 2008.
The Old Water Wheel was made in the 1870's and turned until Thursday 22nd March 1951 - after the Easter Holidays the men returned to work to find that the machines were now powered by Electricity.
April 2009 saw the wheel come back home and turn again at Abbey Mill.
The restoration was a part of an "Overlooking the Wye" project, part funded by the Heritage Lottery.
The Angidy Valley
Why were the wireworks built here?
Making Britain less dependent on imported goods was government policy during Elizabeth 1's reign. Riverside locations, where there was sufficient water power for a mill, were much sought after. The fast flowing Angidy was ideal. It could drive the waterwheels which powered furnaces, forges and wireworks.
Local iron mines and furnaces, nearby woodland to produce charcoal, and easy river access added to the advantages of the Angidy. Originally chosen as a site where brass could be made, Tintern was soon producing some of the best wire in the country and was the first wireworks in Britain to use waterpower to assist the 'wire drawing' process.
By the early 19th century there were 22 waterwheels along a two mile stretch of the Angidy.
Mill at Tintern in 1800
Abbey Mill is the building on the far left. The dam for the mill pond was covered by the main road.
British tourism was born in the Wye Valley when in late 18th century the Reverend Gilpin, pioneer of the 'Picturesque' movement put the Wye Tour firmly on the map. The Wye Valley was then immortalised by the Romantic poets and became a favourite area of the 18th century English landscape painters. The stunning landscape of the Wye Valley which follows the path of the River Wye through a breathtaking scene of limestone gorge and woodland ravine is still today a favourite area straddling the Welsh/English border for riverside walking and outdoor activities.
Did you know?
in Tintern, in the year 1568, brass was first made by alloying copper with zinc.