Our History

Our History

Coldharbour_Mill_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1139116Coldharbour Mill is referenced in the Doomsday book and was originally a mill for corn or grist set in 15 acres of land within the village of Uffculme, Devon.

The name “Coldharbour” is said to be derived from the Anglo Saxon “Columb” meaning “Cold Shelter” or “Cold Valley”.

The area had plenty of resources, such as an ample supply of sheep, and therefore fleeces, and also easy access to the River Culm for a continuous supply of water.

Seeing an opportunity for developing his woollen textile business, the land, complete with buildings and its own water wheel was bought by Thomas Fox in 1797 for 1100 guineas.

Thomas Fox a large wool-spinning mill on the site, to serve his weaving factories in Somerset and opened it in 1799. His sons Thomas and Edward formed the company the Fox Brothers and continued their father’s work.

Originally the mill was powered by the waterwheel, with a new one installed in 1821, however the Fox Brothers were keen innovators and making use of new technology they installed the steam engines in 1865 to power the looms and keep up with production demands.

At this point the Fox Brothers changed their business from woollen to worsted spinning enabling a larger range of products with a higher quality finish.

Coldharbour Mill played a key part in the Industrial Revolution as it developed from domestic or cottage industry to large scale factory production, distributing products throughout the world.

We are proud to be one of the oldest working woollen textile mills in the world. Coldharbour Mill opened as a museum in 1982 and is a rare surviving example of Georgian architecture, industry and enterprise.