mill story

The only surviving water wheel of 22 on the Angidy River

the best wireworks in the country

A historic working water wheel that powered 19th century local industries

black and white photograph of the working water wheel
abbey mills historic water wheel reinstated
crane moving the refurbished the old abbey mill water wheel

abbey mill history

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. Power came from this waterwheel to provide energy for the Valley’s industries. In the 1800s there were 22 waterwheels lining the banks of the Angidy river. The Abbey Mill wheel is the only one to survive.

Detail from a painting by Donald Floyd, courtesy of Newport Museum & Art Gallery.

mill story old saw mill illustration
volunteers for Overlooking the Wye heritage lottery project

the wheel

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.

 

The Angidy had the advantage of local iron mines and furnaces, nearby woodland producing charcoal and easy river access. Tintern was originally chosen as a brass making site and was soon producing some of the best wire in the country. It 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.

pen and ink of abbey mill and water wheel and Angidy Valley
Angidy Valley old industrial buildings and River Wye

water mill that comes on every hour or so

Some really pretty areas to sit and enjoy your surroundings with grass area for picnics, seating benches, pretty pond, water mill that comes on every hour or so and several craft and gift shops where you can find yourself a treat. There were also places to buy food and drinks that seemed popular with the tourists. Visit the gift shop dewn by the mill, the owner is really friendly and she sells some amazing glass art (look downstairs to see a huge range of gifts)

Google, a year ago