One of the main projects at this time was the refurbishment of the estate buildings by Simonsbath Bridge. This is covered in more detail elsewhere but in summary, George Smyth-Richards had become increasingly concerned about the condition of the water wheel at the old workshops and sawmill. A few months after Sir Frederic died and Viscount Ebrington took over the management of the estate, Mr Smyth-Richards contacted Messrs Garnish and Lemon, the well-known Millwrights and Engineers of Pilton, near Barnstaple for their advice.
In October 1897 Mr Smyth-Richards wrote to Viscount Ebrington saying that “I think the water wheel must be repaired or we shall be unable to do anything this autumn to sawing or chaff cutting” but it was recognised that more fundamental changes were necessary to make the equipment adequate for the needs of the estate. Some remedial work must have been carried out because in February the following year Mr Smyth-Richards told Viscount Ebrington that the saw and water wheel were working very well. However he was concerned that, despite the fact that they had some excellent timber available, the saw and water wheel would break down under the strain of cutting the joists needed for new cottages under construction in the village.