Saltford Brass Mill Project
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Restoration and Sustainability
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Sustainability - 2014
 
Saltford Brass Mill is currently closed to visitors (April 2014) while essential repair and maintenance is carried out to the structure and services, in particular repair to the damaged roof to make the building watertight and re-wiring of the electrical system to meet modern standards.
 
The work is being carried out by B&NES.  The expenditure, which will be in the region of £50,000, was approved at a cabinet meeting held in the Guildhall, Bath, in April 2014.  The work is planned to be complete by the end of the summer 2014, following which the mill will be, once again, opened to visitors.
 
The brass mill has attracted significant interest from local politicions, including: Sir Graham Watson (MEP), who toured the mill in January 2014; Cllr Paul Crossley, the leader of B&NES council who visited the mill in 2012; Cllr Neil Butters, the Chairman of B&NES council who visited the mill in March 2014; Cllr David Bellotti, B&NES Cabinet member for community resources; and Duncan Hounsell, the Lib Dem organiser for Saltford and community campaigner.      
 
This is the biggest investment in Saltford Brass Mill since 1995 when English Heritage carried out the major restoration and highlights the work this is necessary to sustain an Ancient Monument such as Saltford Brass Mill.
Restoration - 1995
 
By the 1970s the brass mill was derelict and alternatives were being considered for use of the site.  In view of its potential re-development, English Heritage assessed the building and in 1975 listed the building Grade II* because of its special historic interest.
 
 
 
The Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS) undertook a survey of the mill and in 1981 the site was leased by the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT), a charitable trust formed in 1980 to promote the conservation of industrial monuments.  
 
As a Grade II* listed building, the Historic Buildings and Monument Commission (HBMC, English Heritage) were a statutory consultee for any proposed development.  HBMC  recognised that there were no preserved battery works comparable to Saltford and that it should be rated as the prime historical monument of the brass industry in Europe.  Because of the site's regional and national importance, the site was further Scheduled as an Ancient Monument (Avon 185, dated 27th Feb 1986).
 
 
 
 
 
 
The conservation of a building such as the the brass mill is a major undertaking, and one which was found to be beyond the means of the AIBT.  Alternative developments were considered which could provide an economic use for the site while being sympathetic to its archaeology, including the creation of holiday flats or a restaurant within the mill.  In 1986, consent was sought to adapt the buildings; but HBMC ruled that approval could not be given without knowledge of the archaeological implications.  Excavations were carried out in 1986 followed by a public inquiry in 1987.  In his report to the Secretary of State, the Inspector concluded that the applications should not be allowed because they would be 'seriously damaging to the monument'.
 
A full archaeological investigation was commissioned by English Heritage, the two reports produced being:
 
 
 
 
 
 
English Heritage, with Treasury approval, funded the full cost of £170,000 (equivalent to £280,000 at 2014 prices) to conserve the mill on condition that: (1) a new trust was established to take responsibility for the mill once conservation was complete; (2) there was clear evidence of future public access to the mill; and (3) there was commitment from the owner for maintenance of the mill.  Consideration was given to national Guardianship, but it was considered that local commitment would be more effective; hence it was concluded that the lease of the mill should be taken over by Wansdyke council.  Major structural  conservation commenced in 1995.
 
In 1996, the Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) unitary authority was created, subsuming Wansdyke, and as a consequence inherited the mills  99-year lease, which had commenced in 1981. 
   
 
 
 
 
 
  
Saltford Brass Mill, prior to the 1995 restoration.
Click to open the First Consultative Report on Saltford Brass Mill - Dec 1992
Click to open the Second Report on Saltford Brass Battery Mill - Sept 1994
Click here to read the List Entry for the 'Old Brass Mill', Saltford - Jun 1975
Click to read the Ancient Monument entry for Saltford Brass Mill - Feb 1986
Click to read the Pastscape entry for Saltford Brass Mill
Click to open the Third Report on Saltford Brass Battery Mill - Sept 1994