Glastonbury Mill Stream

Glastonbury Mill Stream

Constructed circa 12th century by Glastonbury Abbey, the mill stream, which is approximately 2.6 miles in length, starts at Clyse Hole or Prior's Weir as it is known locally. The flow of the stream from the River Brue is today controlled by a throttle pipe. From Prior's Weir the stream, which at this point is 9metres higher than the Brue, runs in generally a western direction for a distance of approximately 750 metres to Northover Mill House. During this part of its journey the stream is crossed by three bridges, the first a single stone arch bridge which carries The Roman Way, the second bridge is also a single stone arch bridge which carries a cul de sac, and the third is Northover Bridge which carries the main A39, this bridge is an early 20th century concrete reinforced structure and was once called Bumbaley Bridge1.

Northover Mill is a late medieval mill built circa 1517 during the tenure of Richard Beere (1493 -1524 )the last but one Abbot of Glastonbury. At that time the fulling mill had an annual incomeof £10 of which 10 shillings was used to support the poor women in the hospital also built by Abbot Richard

Northover Mill Plan
Northover Mill Plan
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Laterly the mill was used by Morlands and has been empty for 20 years. The existing building retains certain 16th century features mainly to the south east gable including the parapets, kneelers, chimney stack and two mullion windows. The building is a grade II listed.

Northover Mill
Northover Mill
Northover Mill
Northover Mill
Upstream from Northover Mill
Upstream from Northover Mill

After a short distance the mill stream turns in a north easterly direction and runs for a distance of approximately 500 metres. It passes on its eastern side a derelict 1930's factory built in the Bauhaus style (probably one of the earliest Bauhaus-style building in England) and on through the now cleared industrial area that was once the home of Morlands Tannery, to Beckery Mill. Beckery Mill is also the site of a medieval mill linked to the abbey2. It later became Bailys Flour Mill and the existing tannery buildings were constructed during the 19th century for Bailys sheepskin, rugs, and glove manufacture. These buildings are now listed structures. This section of the stream between Northover Mill and Beckery Mill is crossed by two modern flat arched bridges, the second of which is known as Beckery Bridge.

Beckery Mill
Beckery Mill

From Beckery Mill the stream continues in a north easterly direction for a distance of approximately 600 metres, following the line of Beckery Old Road, first passing behind a row of 19th century factory cottages

Victorian Cottages above Bailys Tannery
Victorian Cottages above Bailys Tannery

and then a modern industrial estate on its eastern side and a timber yard on the western side until it reaches the bridge ( Benedict Bridge ? ) which carries Porchestall Drove. At this, or close to this point the stream begins to follow the course of the old River Brue. After approximately 300 metres on this course the stream is crossed by an unusual iron girder bridge which carries Dyehouse Lane. After a further 500 metres, passing a balancing pond on its western side, it reaches Northload Bridge. A short distance past the bridge the stream turns west and travels for a further 400 metres approximately to Cooks Corner where there is a single arch stone bridge close to collapse.

The final part of the streams journey is a 1200 metre stretch between Cooks Corner and Cold Harbour Bridge where it rejoins the river Brue. Just before its join with the Brue the stream is crossed by a single arch stone bridge providing access to Coldharbour Farm.

For a full selection of images for this mill stream visit the streams Image Gallery.

See also: Archaeological Assessment Beckery Old Road

References: 1 John Morland - The Brue at Glastonbury 1922, 2 The History & Antiquities of the County of Somerset by Revd. John Collinson 1791 Vol II page 268