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British Industrial History

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Trew's Weir Paper Mills

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Date stone and unusual window at the former mill

of Exeter

1836 To be Let. 'TREW'S WEIR MILLS, or COTTON FACTORY, Adjoining the City of Exeter. WITH NEVER FAILING SUPPLY OF WATER. TO be LET, Auction, at the Swan Tavern, in Exeter, on Tuesday, the 24th day of January, 1837, at 12 o'Clock Noon, for a Term of 21 Years absolute, from Lady-day, 1837, subject to such conditions as shall be then produced, all those extensive BUILDINGS, situate in the Parish St Leonard, adjoining the City of Exeter, heretofore used as a COTTON FACTORY, but now used as a PAPER MILL, with a never failing supply of Water. The Mill House is 87 feet by 33 feet, and 6 3/4 feet height, with Four Stories over, on each which are extensive Work and Ware-rooms, now let in Tenements. Also, a good DWELLING-HOUSE, fit for the residence of respectable Family, with a productive Garden attached. The whole of these Premises adjoin, and form an extensive range 200 feet in length, any part which may attached to the Mill Building at a trifling expense. The stream of Water which drives the Mills may estimated at from thirty to Forty Horse power in the Summer, at other seasons the power is unlimited. Together with all those TWO extensive RANGES of COTTAGES LOFTS, WAREROOMS, and STABLING behind the same, suitable for Workmen's Residences and Stores. Also, all that DWELLING HOUSE and MILL BUILDING, in front of the said Factory, and divided therefrom by the public footway; together with the Parcel of LAND adjoining the water's edge. This Mill also commands a constant supply of water, which my be estimated from six to eight horse power, but which can increased if required. The whole Premises include an area of about One Acre and a Half. The contiguity of the whole of the above Premises to the Exeter Canal affords great advantages in receiving and transmitting Goods and Materials, and thereby reducing considerably the expense of carriage. The above Premises will be offered in Two Lots, unless at the time of the Survey it shall be agreed to let the same as whole. The Rates and Taxes are moderate. The Taker will be required find sufficient sureties for payment of the Rent and performance the Covenants Lease.'[1]

1837 Bankrupt. Thomas Westcott of Trew's Weir Mills

1849 Bankrupt. John Underhill of Trew's Weir, Saint Leonard, Devon, Millwright.[2]

1850 To be let. 'TO be SOLD or LET, the Plant and Lease for 10 or 20 Years of that powerful, substantial, and convenient PAPER MILL, known as TREWS WEIR MILLS, Situated close to Exeter, and supplied by a never-failing stream of water. The Premises consist of a spacious Engine-house, Machine-house, Soll, Rag Dressing-rooms, Ware-rooms, &c, also a respectable Dwelling-house, Garden, and several Cottages. The Plant comprises a powerful Water Wheel, 18 feet high by 17feet wide; 5 Rag Engines of 2ft. 9in. roll, driven by 2 fly wheels an excellent 60 inch Paper Machine, with Drying Cylinders and Glazing Rools, complete; also Fourdrinier's Cutting Machine, Presses, Steam Boilers, Rag Boilers, and Bleaching Apparatus, and every other article for carrying on an extensive trade. The whole of the Machinery is nearly equal to new, having been planted by the present proprietors, within a few years. The above Mill presents many local advantages, being situate very near the Quay, and but a short distance from the Exeter Railway Station. The premises may be viewed, and any further particulars and terms maybe known, on application to Messrs. EASTON & AMOS, Engineers, Grove, Southwark, London or Mr. C. HARRIS, Countess Wear Mills, or to Mr. E. N. TREMLETT, Head Weir Mills, Exeter.'[3]

1860 'Monsieur Mellier, the inventor of the straw paper, who was formerly at Trew's Weir Mills, visited this city, at the end of the week, to make his adieus to his friends. The action-at-law, which he had against the Company, has been settled by arbitration: Mr. Mellier was awarded a sum of money, and the restoration of his patent. The Company have the right work it, but he recovers the right of licensing other persons to use it.'[4]

1863 Advertisement: '.....Lot 3. All that important Freehold Property, known as Trew's Weir Paper Mills, in the occupation of the Patent Paper Manufactory Company, as tenants. This property is held for the remainder of a lease of thirty years, commencing from Christmas, 1838. The tenant keeping and leaving the promises in repair. This lot has a frontage towards the river Exe of about 450 feet, and comprises an extensive range of four storey paper manufactory, with water wheels, &c, finishing rooms, warehouses, office, yard, engineer's shop, machine house, sheds, stabling, smithery, seven three-storey workmens' houses; also, comfortable dwelling-house, with pleasure ground and garden, the whole having a back entrance from the Topsham-road. Detached is a brick and stone building, with water wheel, drying plot, &c. The whole supplied with water power from the river Exe.'[5]

1888 'These Mills were erected after the "Exeter Canal," or as it called old documents, "the Haven" was made. I have not yet been able trace out the early history these mills, but in the latter part of the last century and the early part of this, they were used in the manufacture of cotton, by a firm of the name of "Tayleur," who I have been informed were French refugees, whose ancestors were expelled from France during the persecution the Protectants. Ostensibly the cause which impelled this weir to be built, was the purpose of damming up the water of the river Exe to supply and maintain the water at its proper and necessary height to keep the canal or haven fully charged with water, and to prevent flood waters in the river from washing away the marsh on the south side the river, and that portion of the entrance the canal above "King's Arms Gates." An embankment has been raised on the boundary indicated. This is palpable to any ordinary observer who will take the trouble visit the site. When or by whom done I am unable to say. The mills lay unused and in a dilapidated condition, but were leased by the Town Council to a firm of paper manufacturers about 1838, who took out the old narrow water wheel, and substituted a very much wider one. It was intended by this firm to manufacture white printing paper to compete with the Kentish paper makers. Wells were sunk and borings made by an old Cornish minor of the name of "Opie". The water contained matters which were unsuitable for making the kind of paper originally intended, and the mill was continued in use by them as what known in the trade as "printing mill," i.e , for the making of paper for printers use. The freehold of this mill with the right and use of the surplus water beyond that necessary for supplying the Exeter Canal, with certain other restrictions, were sold by the Exeter Town Council, about or 25 years since, for a sum of money it is unnecessary for me to mention. '[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 31 December 1836
  2. The London Gazette Publication date:7 September 1841 Issue:20015 Page:2267
  3. Western Times - Saturday 10 August 1850
  4. Western Times, 7 April 1860
  5. Western Times, 27 November 1863
  6. Western Times - Tuesday 27 March 1888