Pictured in 2010
Tonedale Mills, together with the neighbouring Tone Works, is a large textile mill in Wellington, Somerset, and the largest in South West England. Owned for over 200 years by members of the Fox family (see Fox Brothers), it was most famous for the production of 'Taunton serge', and later the khaki cloth and puttees used by the British Army. The mill was established in the middle of the eighteenth century, and thrived during the industrial revolution. At its peak, around 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) of material was produced at the factory each day. The cheap cost of producing fabric in third-world countries contributed to the factory mostly closing during the 1980s, but small-scale production continues on part of the site.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the Were family of Wellington began producing serge as a cottage industry. Edward Fox married Anna Were, and their son Thomas Fox (1747-1821) soon took over the company.The wool industry thrived in areas used for sheep farming, like Somerset, and Taunton serge was particularly popular due to its balance between being light-weight and yet sufficiently thick. The Were family had a fulling mill at the site of Tone Works by 1750 , and over the next seventeen years, the family's assets quadrupled as the industry thrived. Thomas Fox, after learning the trade in Germany and the Netherlands for three years, entered the business in 1768, became a partner in 1772 and sole proprietor in 1796, renaming the company and introduced the 'FOX' cloth mark. It was renamed Fox Brothers in 1826. The technological breakthroughs of the late 18th century revolutionised textile manufacture. In the 1790s, Thomas Fox purchased a complex of buildings in Tonedale known variously as the 'Old Town Mills' or the 'Old Flour Mills' to centralise their processes. This move facilitated an increase in both quality and quantity, while cutting costs as other production was brought in-house; basket weaving, joinery, book binding and metalworking was all carried out on the site.
The site is notable for having remains of each phase of power generation: water, steam and electricity, 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) of material each day. At the Tonedale complex, dyers working for Fox Brothers developed a khaki dye which was worn by the British soldiers in the Second Boer War. The complex was the largest woollen mill in South West England, and was rare in integrating ancillary processes on the same site. The mill continued to produce cloth on a large scale until it downsized in the 1980s. Most of the site is now abandoned, though parts are still used for small-scale production, and others have been sold off and converted into a small industrial estate. In 1994 the last Fox family house in Wellington Tone Dale House of 1807 was fully restored by Ben and Victoria Fox; Ben is the great-great-great-great-grandson of Thomas Fox. Tone Dale House (since 1996) is now run as an events and hire venue, for house parties, weddings and corporate events, through their company The Big House Co. In 2009, Deborah Meaden and Douglas Cordeaux invested in Fox Brothers, allowing production to continue at Tonedale, after the company had been in danger of falling into bankruptcy.as when steam power was introduced, Fox Brothers opted to retain their water management system as it might prove useful. The site was continually growing through the nineteenth century, and at its peak employed around 3,600 people around Wellington, and produced
Tone Works, a few hundred metres further north from Tonedale Mills, was developed as the cloth finishing works and dye works.Sitting on the banks of the River Tone, the mills originally used water wheels on the river for power generation, the housing for which are still in place. Later with the introduction of steam and then electric power, the water was used as part of the cloth finishing process, and was managed more carefully with the introduction of a reservoir and sluice gates. Within the reservoir, the water was treated before its use. The finishing works and dye works were both on this site. The former had a boiler house attached, while the latter had an engine house added.
While the Tone Works site was able to use water wheels on the River Tone for power generation, Tonedale Mills initially used smaller watercourses, Westford Brook and Rockwell Green Stream. In order to ensure that they had a constant supply of water, and that it was used as efficiently as possible, Thomas Fox had water basins excavated between 1801 and 1803, establishing a series of waterways, weirs and sluices to manage the water supply.The original timber mill burned down in 1821, and was replaced by a brick mill, which remains today. The large site features a number of mills, warehouses, workshops and engine houses. Like the north site, evidence of water wheels as well as steam and electric power generation remains. The complex features factories for the preparation of the wool, including a combing shed and a wool cleaning complex.
Plans to convert some of the site into housing were abandoned in 2008, during the global financial crisis, due to low levels of interest.Development on the site was later supported by The Prince's Regeneration Trust, and the site was listed on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2010, while the Tone Works site was identified in 2014 as being among the top ten Heritage at Risk "priority" sites in the South West. Most of the site has been grade II* listed, granting it a level of preservation by Historic England, though the organisation accept that "comprehensive restoration and reuse would not prove commercially viable" due to the size and state of disrepair of the site.
Somerset is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon. Somerset's county town is Taunton.
The River Parrett flows through the counties of Dorset and Somerset in South West England, from its source in the Thorney Mills springs in the hills around Chedington in Dorset. Flowing northwest through Somerset and the Somerset Levels to its mouth at Burnham-on-Sea, into the Bridgwater Bay nature reserve on the Bristol Channel, the Parrett and its tributaries drain an area of 660 square miles (1,700 km2) – about 50 per cent of Somerset's land area, with a population of 300,000.
The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal is a canal in the south-west of England between Bridgwater and Taunton, opened in 1827 and linking the River Tone to the River Parrett. There were a number of abortive schemes to link the Bristol Channel to the English Channel by waterway in the 18th and early 19th centuries. These schemes followed the approximate route eventually taken by the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, but the canal was instead built as part of a plan to link Bristol to Taunton by waterway.
Taunton is a town in Somerset, England, with a 2011 population of 69,570. Its 1,000 years of religious and military history includes a 10th-century monastery. Taunton Castle originated in the Anglo Saxon period and was later the site of a priory. The Normans built a stone castle that belonged to the Bishops of Winchester. Today's reconstructed parts are the inner ward, housing the Museum of Somerset and Somerset Military Museum. Events include the Second Cornish uprising of 1497, when Perkin Warbeck marched a 6,000-strong army to Taunton, most of which surrendered to Henry VII on 4 October 1497. On 20 June 1685 the Duke of Monmouth crowned himself King of England at Taunton in a rebellion that culminated in the Battle of Sedgemoor. Judge Jeffreys lived in the town during the Bloody Assizes held in the Great Hall of the Castle. The Grand Western Canal reached Taunton in 1839 and the railway in 1842. Today it includes Musgrove Park Hospital, the Somerset County Cricket Club's County Ground and the headquarters of 40 Commando, Royal Marines. The Taunton flower show has been held in Vivary Park since 1866. The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office is in Admiralty Way.
The River Tone is a river in the English county of Somerset. The river is about 33 kilometres (21 mi) long. Its source is at Beverton Pond near Huish Champflower in the Brendon Hills, and is dammed at Clatworthy Reservoir. The reservoir outfall continues through Taunton and Curry and Hay Moors, which are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Finally, it flows into the River Parrett at Burrowbridge.
The Grand Western Canal ran between Taunton in Somerset and Tiverton in Devon in the United Kingdom. The canal had its origins in various plans, going back to 1796, to link the Bristol Channel and the English Channel by a canal, bypassing Lands End. An additional purpose of the canal was the supply of limestone and coal to lime kilns along with the removal of the resulting quicklime, which was used as a fertiliser and for building houses. This intended canal-link was never completed as planned, as the coming of the railways removed the need for its existence.
Wellington is a small market town in rural Somerset, a county in the west of England, situated 7 miles (11 km) south west of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district, near the border with Devon, which runs along the Blackdown Hills to the south of the town. The town has a population of 14,549, which includes the residents of the parish of Wellington Without, and the villages of Tone and Tonedale.
Milverton is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated in the valley of the River Tone 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The village has a population of 1,438. The parish includes the hamlet of Preston Bowyer.
Bradford-on-Tone is a village and civil parish in Wellington, Somerset, England, situated on the River Tone 4 miles (6.4 km) south west of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The parish, which includes Tone Green and Hele, has a population of 622.
Langford Budville is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated near the River Tone 2 miles (3.2 km) north-west of Wellington, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Wiveliscombe and 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The parish includes the hamlets of Bindon, Lower Chipley, Lower Wellisford, Ramsey and Runnington. The parish has a population of 535.
Oake is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The village has a population of 765.
West Monkton is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated 2 miles (3.2 km) north east of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The parish includes the hamlets of Monkton Heathfield, Bathpool, and Burlinch and the western parts of Coombe and Walford, and had a population of 2,787 at the 2011 census.
Hestercombe House is a historic country house in the parish of West Monkton in the Quantock Hills, near Taunton in Somerset, England. The house is a Grade II* listed building and the estate is Grade I listed on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.
The Old Colony Iron Works-Nemasket Mills Complex is a historic industrial site located on Old Colony Avenue in the East Taunton section of Taunton, Massachusetts, United States, adjacent to the Taunton River at the Raynham town line. The site was first occupied by the Old Colony Iron Company, which had originally been established in the 1820s as Horatio Leonard & Company. The western part of the complex was sold to Nemasket Mills in 1889. The eastern part was acquired by the Standard Oil Cloth Company. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Francis Fox of St Germans was the progenitor of a vast clan of people called "Fox", notable in many fields of enterprise, science and the arts. He was an early convert to the Quaker faith, to which many of later generations were also true.
Fox Brothers & Co is a clothmaker based in Wellington, Somerset, England. The company is one of the few working cloth mills still producing cloth entirely in England since 1772.
Tone Dale House is a Grade II listed country house built in 1801 or 1807 by Thomas Fox in Wellington, Somerset, England. Wellington lies 7 miles (11 km) west of Taunton in the vale of Taunton Deane, 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Devon border. Tone Dale House, also known as House of Fox, offers views of Somerset which include the Quantock hills to the north and the Blackdown Hills to the south.
Taunton Deane is a local government district with borough status in the English county of Somerset. In the United Kingdom, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance; Grade II* structures are those considered to be "particularly significant buildings of more than local interest". Listing was begun by a provision in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Once listed, severe restrictions are imposed on the modifications allowed to a building's structure or its fittings. In England, the authority for listing under the Planning Act 1990 rests with Historic England, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; local authorities have a responsibility to regulate and enforce the planning regulations.
Coldharbour Mill, near the village of Uffculme in Devon, England, is one of the oldest woollen textile mills in the world, having been in continuous production since 1797. The mill was one of a number owned by Fox Brothers, and is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.
Taunton Deane was a local government district with borough status in Somerset, England. It merged with West Somerset to form Somerset West and Taunton on 1 April 2019. Its council was based in Taunton. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the Municipal Borough of Taunton, Wellington Urban District, Taunton Rural District, and Wellington Rural District. Taunton Deane was granted borough status in 1975, enabling the mayoralty of Taunton to be continued, when other districts did not have mayors. The district was given the name of an alternate form of the Taunton Deane Hundred.
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