Saltford Brass Mill Project
Copyright (C) 2010 Saltford Brass Mill Project. All Rights Reserved
The site at Saltford Mill has been in use since the time of the Domesday record when two watermills were listed in Saltford. The mill is known to have been used for the manufacture of brass from 1721. From then many additions and alterations took place. Photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s show the mill stretching from the present roadside almost to the river.
At its height, Saltford Mill housed five undershot waterwheels: two driving battery hammers; two driving rolls; and a fifth driving a grinding wheel. One of these wheels remains functional, driving a dynamo installed in 1928 after the mill ceased operation as a brass mill.
The brass was worked 'cold' but repeated hammering caused the metal to become brittle, requiring annealing to restore its malleability. Annealing furnaces would have been a feature of the brass mills at Keynsham, Weston, Woollard, Bitton and Kelston, as well as at Saltford. The remains of these once common structures can be seen at Saltford and Kelston, with Saltford being the only one open to the public.
The brass Mill produced a range of products ranging from brass sheet to all types of hollow-ware vessels, including bowls, pans, kettles and vats.
Those parts of the mill converted to leisure activities after 1928 had concrete floors and in the small area near the main entrance he provided a concrete plinth (above flood level) for an Ediswan dynamo from which a cable was laid underfloor to a switchboard.
In the early 18th century, brass hollow-ware was produced by the hammering of slabs of cast brass using water-driven battery hammers. An eye-witness account of 1754 records their being 12 hammers at Saltford, driven by 4 waterwheels. This was later reduced to 6 hammers, two of the waterwheels being converted to drive rolls for the manufacture of copper and brass sheet.
Although initially a Battery Mill, two of the waterwheels were adapted to drive a Rolling Mill for the production of sheet copper and brass. The rolls continued in use until the mills closure as a brass mill in 1925.
(2). Annealing Furnace, Saltford Brass Mill, 2014.