Simonsbath Sawmill is an historic, water-powered sawmill and estate workshops lying in a beautiful riverside location in the heart of Exmoor National Park.
This group of 19th century stone and slate buildings was once the hub of agricultural and estate management operations for a huge country estate covering much of central Exmoor. The sawmill and carpenters' workshop survive but the threshing machine, chaff-cutter and mortar mill have long gone. The water-powered dynamo that generated electricity for much of the village has been replaced by modern equipment. A waterwheel no longer powers the mill but the water turbine that replaced it in 1898 is still working. When there is not enough water the machines at the mill can be driven by a diesel engine installed in 1952.
The whole site was bought in 1996 by Exmoor National Park Authority and restored, thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is no longer in regular operational use but is maintained in working condition and is used for demonstration purposes and as the venue for educational events and activities. It is cared for by a small team of volunteers who help with maintenance, lead tours and are researching the history of the mill. The volunteers have set up this website to provide information on the mill. The site does not necessarily represent the views of the Exmoor National Park Authority.
We would welcome any comments or suggestions and would love to hear from anybody with information on the mill or any connections with it.
The sawmill is open to the public on the third Monday of every month, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, when volunteers will be there to show people around. Tours are free but donations towards the upkeep of the mill are very welcome. The volunteers are happy to open the mill for visits on other occasions by arrangement.
When river levels are low we are only able to run the water turbine for very short bursts and so can't show you what it's like to operate the mill on full waterpower. You can get an idea of current river levels at:
but if you are particularly interested in waterpower it would be wise to contact us before travelling from afar.
The sawmill leat in summer.