Easter Steam Up! Sunday 27th March

Enjoy a cracking Easter at Coldharbour!

Good Friday marks the grand reopening of Coldharbour Mill, Uffculme. After months of hard work over the winter the Mill come and see the new  new welcome centre funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over the weekend there will be Easter themed childrens activities and a special Easter Steam Day where all the machinery will not only be powered by the waterwheel but by our very own Lancashire Boiler. – see the steam pages for more information on steam at Coldharbour. Our popular pop up cafe will be also on hand for refreshments throughout the whole weekend while the builders finish our exciting new cafe.


The new shop will also be open where a large range of gifts and items made at the Mill will be available to purchase

…. and don’t panic if you don’t see everything, from Easter the Mill will now open weekends!



Bus tours a big success on Steam Days!

New Year Success at Coldharbour

A record number of visitors to Coldharbour Mill’s New Year’s Steam Day kick-started its exciting plans for 2016. Despite the rain, visitors were treated to the sights and sounds of a working Mill taking wool to yarn and cloth exactly as it was in Victorian times.

Steam Curator John Jasper was delighted to see so many people:   “it was fantastic to see so many people at the Mill on such a cold and wet day – needless to say the Lancashire Boiler proved very popular not only demonstrating the making of steam to power the Mill but also to warm up cold and wet visitors.”

New for 2016 are the free historic bus tours organised by WHOTT (West Country Omnibus and Transport Trust) who are now based at the Mill. The 40 minute round trip also connects with the trains at Tiverton Parkway carrying those who come by train to and from the Mill.

The bus tours were repeated at the February Steam Day, and will be available again at the Easter Steam Day on Sunday 27th March. See the WHOTT website for timetable.

On Steam Days, local Jazz musician Charlie Hearnshaw provides a musical tour at 1pm,  using the sounds of the machines to compose imaginative improvised pieces with the various looms, line-shafting and spinning machines providing a percussive element to the pieces.

Also at Steam Days, the Culm Valley Model Railway Club displays its ‘SOLDOR’ layout, which can be operated by chidlren of all ages!

The Mill, recently awarded a Heritage Lottery grant to invest in its facilities, has been closed to the public since last November (except for Steam Days and pre-booked group tours) in order to carry out refurbishments. It will reopen to the public on Friday 25th March (Good Friday).

Coldharbour Mill proudly supporting the Tivvy Bumper Sculpture Trail

Coldharbour Mill is delighted to be one of the first sponsors of the Tivvy Bumper Sculpture Trail for 2016.

As one of the stops on the original line the Tivvy Bumper was a crucial link for the Mill to the rest of the country and beyond to transport both raw and finished material.

The trail presents an excellent opportunity to explore the local area and enjoy it’s unique history.

The trail runs between July and October 2016.

Friends of Coldharbour Mill

Join us and help to support Coldharbour Mill!

The Friends of Coldharbour Mill is an association of people who support the Mill, chiefly by raising funds for projects.

As a separate registered charity (No: 289991) the Friends are also able to provide third-party support funding to the Trust for grant applications.

Your support can be as simple as paying the annual subscription, especially if you live a distance from the Mill. Members who live close by can also help with fundraising activities, including coffee mornings, quizzes and other events, and by serving as members of the committee of trustees.

We welcome everyone – membership is unrestricted and simply requires payment of the appropriate annual subscription, as agreed at the AGM held each March.

The current annual subscription is £15 per person or £37 for a family of four (children under 5 can be included at no cost).

Members receive a quarterly Newsletter and other updates about the Mill.

Other benefits, on production of a valid membership card at the Mill Reception:

  • 20% discount on standard day entry price.
  • 20% discount on Steam Day entry price.
  • 10% discount on in the Mill Shop

For a small additional fee, Friends can also take advantage of extra benefits of Mill Membership instead of paying the full £20 fee for this.

These benefits include unlimited FREE entry to the Mill, including Steam Days.

Fee information is shown on the Membership Application Form.

So come on in and help us to support this precious heritage treasure!To join, please email friendsofmill@btinternet.com to request an Application Form to be sent by post, or download and print a form below

The Friends of Coldharbour Mill are looking for new Trustees to join our committee, and aid us with raising funds for Coldharbour Mill.
No qualifications or previous experience necessary, though we are keen to involve persons with a background in Fundraising and Marketing.

If you – or someone you know – is interested in getting involved, please email your enquiry to friendsofmill@btinternet.com

Get Involved


Get Involved

Why not join the team at Coldharbour – whether you are looking to join our steam team, work in the Mill gardens or become a tour guide – we’d love to hear from you.


Steam Team

With a wide range of ages and skills from computing to engineering to farming our group of volunteers have one thing in common – enthusiasm and commitment.
The Steam Team meet every Tuesday, from 19.00 to about 21.00 to maintain and improve the rare collection of steam exhibits at Coldharbour Mill Museum… but you will also find some of us with our engines on other days too!

Tour Guides

Do you love talking to people? Our visitors love an enthusiastic guide who can make their visit into a day to remember.
20 Blue weave


Join Ian our weaver in weaving the Devon tartan and bespoke rugs.

Friends of Coldharbour Mill

This is a group of like-minded people who have an interest in supporting the Mill and its activities.


tourcoachSet just 5 minutes drive from the M5, Coldharbour Mill is a convenient, informative and unique destination for group visits.

We cater for a wide range of interests from steam and water power,  industrial and military history, to weaving, spinning and wool craft. Visitors can discover the Mill at their own pace or we can arrange a tailored tour with one of our trained tour guides. We also welcome coaches to our waterside cafe which offers a delicious selection of hot and cold snacks, traditional Devon cream teas and delicious home-made cake.

The Mill is open 10am – 4pm daily  for pre-booked tours throughout the year and group organisers are welcome to make a free preliminary visit to discuss your individual needs.

A visit takes approximately 3 hours.

Minimum numbers apply.

Pricing 2018:
Entrance and self-guided visit                         £9.00 Adult
Entrance and self-guided visit                         £4.50 Junior
Entrance and Guided Tour                             £11.00 Adult
Entrance and Guided Tour                             £5.05 Junior

(Min group size 16 adults)

Please contact us on 01884 840960, by email info@coldharbourmill.org.uk



The Mill Chimney

The Mill Chimney

At 38.4 metres this is the second chimney at the site.

The lower section is double skinned to give it strength and stability. Bonding the brickwork with lime mortar gives it flexibility enabling it to withstand high winds.

Two lightening conductors have been fitted.

Lancashire Boiler

Lancashire Boiler

Our working boiler is a 1910 Galloway boiler installed at the same time as the Pollit and Wigzell engine. This is a prime example with plain furnace tubes. We also have a secondary boiler in preservation.

In each of the two furnace tubes is a grate that extends six feet back to a brick wall with a gap at the top to allow the hot gasses to be drawn along the tube to the back of the boiler. At the far end of the boiler there is a brickwork chamber which directs the gasses down to a flue which brings them under the middle of the boiler to the front behind the brown glazed brick wall. At this point the gasses are split and sent down a flue at either side of the boiler shell to the dampers and the outside flue down to the chimney. This “three pass” system of flues ensures that the majority of the boiler surface area is exposed to the heat generated by the fires thus increasing efficiency.

The large weights suspended on wire ropes at the front of the boiler counterbalance the large plate dampers at the far ends of the side flues. These are raised and lowered to control the rate of combustion of the two fires. The most important factor in boiler management is knowing and controlling the water level within the vessel. In the two vertical brass gauge frames on the front plate there are thick glass tubes which show the operator the current water level. The pressure gauge at the top of the front plate indicates the steam pressure within the boiler.

Behind the pressure gauge on the top of the vessel is the deadweight safety valve which releases excess steam to prevent damage to the boiler and the resulting danger.

The crown valve isolates the boiler from the steam pipework supplying the engines and pumps on the site. Further along the boiler is the water level alarm which is a float operated device that automatically gives warning of too high or too low water level and also acts as a second pressure safety valve. The large round manhole provides access to the inside of the boiler from the top. You will notice a smaller oval access manhole at the bottom of the front plate of the boiler as well.

Kittoe and Brotherhood Steam Engine

Kittoe and Brotherhood Steam Engine

Built for the Albion Brewery and saved from scrap it now brings life to the once empty Beam Engine House.

Through the doorway from the boiler house you will see the beam engine. This engine built in 1867 by Kittoe and Brotherhood is a fine example contemporary with the first steam engine on this site dated 1865.

The design employs several concepts used in early engines, the most obvious is the sway beam and upright cylinder. Early designers thought that the weight of the piston would wear its way through the bottom of a horizontal cylinder, this may not be too far from reality as early lubrication methods and materials were very crude.

This engine employs a throttle valve to control its speed whereas later engines varied the point at which the steam was cut off along the stroke of the piston. In the Pollit and Wigzell engine the inlet and exhaust valves are separate and run at different temperatures but in this engine the steam goes in and out of the cylinder through the same passages and valve thus trying to heat it up and cool it down constantly, leading to inefficiency.

This engine has an excellent example of a watt type governor controlling its speed and his very elegant parallel motion keeping the piston rod moving in a straight line while the end of the sway beam moves in an arc. Bearing lubrication is by sight glasses and siphon pots while the piston is fed with heavier oil by a “Beddoes” displacement lubricator with a hydrostatic sight glass. Unlike the original engine this is not a condensing engine as the exhaust steam used to be used in the brewery to heat products in the brewing process.


More Steam

Wider Steam Collection

There are also a number of other steam items of interest – including an Ashworth Fire Pump, Marshall Engine and Tangy Engine as well as drive pulleys throughout the Mill.

The Ashworth Fire Pump

This duplex steam pump housed in its own building outside the boiler house has a “banjo” type rod mechanism, It drew water from the leat by the water wheel and pumped it into the hydrant main around the mill site, also up the rising main in the main stair of the mill building.

Although it is badly frost damaged it has been reassembled to appear to be in working order.

The Marshal Engine

The inverted vertical engine at the far end of the beam engine house was built by Marshals of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire and features a Pickering governor making it suitable for generating.

It has been connected to a converted DC electric motor used as a generator and demonstrates the conversion of steam pressure to electricity.

Tangye Engine

No history is known of this small horizontal engine built in Birmingham. It seems to have been in its present location for a long time and is assumed to have driven the carpenter`s lathe, drill and grindstone.

Beam House Engine Drive Pulleys

You will notice various flat belt pulleys above the beam engine, these were installed after the original beam engine was scrapped. The twin pulleys above the sway beam against the side wall were driven by the Pollit and Wigzell engine next door and drove the overhead shaft by the cylinder. Flat belts then transmitted the power down to two generators on the floor where the beam engine is now.

The Three Cylinder Feed Pump

In the corner of the boiler house is the original Pollit and Wigzell boiler feed water pump that was supplied with the engine and boiler as a complete installation. It is driven by a “fast and loose” flat belt pulley system from the compound mill engine. It has suffered frost damage at some time but we have patched it up enough to be able to pump cold water from the condenser waste up to a header tank in the roof This tank then supplies the water heating tank on top of the wall beside the 1910 boiler by gravity.

Pollit and Wigzell

One of the few surviving examples in the country.

It is a cross compound condensing engine supplied new to the mill for £1,810 in 1910, (£218,000 at 2019 prices).

Originally developing 240 HP at 88 revs per minute the engine was later up rated to 300 HP and was the main power source for the mill until closure.

High pressure cylinder 14.5” diameter x 42” stroke. Low pressure cylinder 27” diameter x 42” stroke.

Working principle

Steam from the boiler next door is admitted into the right hand cylinder and expands pushing the piston to and fro powering the rig
ht hand crank next to the flywheel.

The lower pressure steam is then exhausted through a large pipe under the floor to the left hand cylinder where more expansion pushes the piston and crank to the left of the flywheel.

This cylinder exhausts into the jet condenser by the engine house door where a vacuum is produced providing a 12% increase in the efficiency of the engine.

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The pistons and valves are lubricated with steam cylinder oil, a heavy oil that is fed into the steam supply to each cylinder, atomised by the heat and carried around the moving parts. Attached to the low pressure cylinder is the brass twin cylinder steam cylinder oil pump driven by a leaver and ratchet from the exhaust valve eccentric rod.

All other moving parts are lubricated by various types of oiler positioned around the engine that are topped up by the engine driver. The crankshaft bearings are each supplied with oil pumped from a small tank into the “aquarium” above each main bearing from where it drops into the bearing

Flywheel and crankshaft

The cranks are set at 90 degrees to each other on either side of the flywheel which weighs about 12 tonnes. The spokes of the flywheel have been boarded in to reduce windage in the engine house.

Grooves machined in the outer rim carry cotton drive ropes which transmit all the power developed by the engine to different size pulleys on each floor of the mill.

This drive system is housed in what is called a “rope race” built on the end of the mill building. (This rope race is a rare surviving example).

Valve gear

The inlet valves on top of the cylinders are known as drop piston valves. These are pistons working in a cylinder with ports around the bottom which are uncovered by lifting the piston, thus allowing steam into the cylinder.


Inside the hollow casing of the condenser there is a single acting piston connected to the low pressure piston.

It works in a cylinder with non-return valves at the outer end (by the engine house door) and a ring of ports at the low pressure cylinder end.

Barring Engine

One side of the flywheel has gear teeth around the edge. Engaging into these with a sliding pinion enables a small single cylinder inverted vertical engine to turn the flywheel to the starting position or for engine maintenance, valve adjustment, or the like.

It is called a barring engine because it replaces the use of a long bar inserted in holes around the flywheel to turn the engine by hand.