Luccombe Mill: millpond restoration project

Bratton’s last remaining millpond at Luccombe Mill is to be restored this autumn. The lake will be drained and silt removed, ensuring an important piece of Bratton’s industrial heritage is saved for future generations. It is the first time the lake has been dredged since it was built 200 years ago – an attempt in the 1990s was abandoned after the digger fell into the pond! The millpond downstream at Stradbrook silted up completely and is now a field used for children’s games.

River restoration specialists, Cain Bio-Engineering Ltd, will be acting as consultants during the work, which has been approved by all relevant authorities, including the Environment Agency. The draining of the lake will inevitably lead to some silt being released downstream but this will wash through once the winter rains return and the spring levels rise in late December. Removal of the silt from the lake begins in October, when it has had time to dry and a temporary footpath closure will be in place. Access to the springs will continue across land owned by Wessex Water. A photographic record of the project will be kept.

BACKGROUND NOTES                                          

“The most impressive remaining testimony to the former prosperity of Bratton’s woollen industry is Luccombe House.” (Bratton Mills by Jean Morrison; First published by Bratton History Association in 1992–1993 as ‘Bratton Woollen Mills’ Parts I and II)

The Stradbrook (or Millbourne), fed by Luccombe Springs, has powered mills in Bratton since Saxon times. The mills were used for grinding corn and later for making woollen cloth. Luccombe woollen mill and mill owner’s house were built by Thomas Jarvis c.1805-9, when the Napoleonic Wars led to an increase in demand for cloth. The lake was originally the millpond and supplied water to all four Bratton mills. In 1839 the mill was described as a ‘capital cloth factory or water mill, with overshot wheel and mill gear’. A steam engine was added in 1847, but the business collapsed in about 1890 and the mill and engine house were demolished.

For further information contact Tim Goode: Mob. 07970 948789

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