Presumably James was delighted when the work to create the new sawmill and associated buildings was completed. He was given the task of operating the water-powered dynamo to generate electricity for the village. How much of the village was served by this plant is not known but, according to Roger Burton, Simonsbath House and stables, the Exmoor Forest Hotel, the Parsonage and Rose Cottage were connected.
James Welch applied for an increase of wages of 4/- for looking after the Dynamo during the evening and on Sundays. It was arranged after consultation with Lord Ebrington that he should have 3/- per week.
In 1906 the Welch family moved back into Simonsbath House and George Smyth-Richards’ records in his diary on 31 March 1906 that “I also made enquiries as to the Welch’s going into the house and Molland [the Bailiff] is to let me hear as to this. On 16 April 1906 he records that “I saw Mrs Welch as to taking charge of the house and I suggested she should have 8/- a week for this and I so reported to her Ladyship who afterwards saw Mrs Welch and it is arranged she should take charge of the place for a time.”
There is a photograph of the Welch family standing by the main door to Simonsbath House. It is not known when the photograph was taken. Could it have been in April 1906 when Mrs Welch took charge of Simonsbath House? The boys would have been 15, 13 and 11 at this time, which seems to fit their appearance in the photograph.
James Welch kept a daybook in which he recorded his tasks. The book covering the period from 27 August 1906 – 17 November 1911 still exists and is held by James’ great nephew, Thomas Welch of Braunton. This provides an invaluable insight into the day to day activities of the estate carpenter. It has been transcribed and analysed elsewhere.
Typically during this period Mr Welch records “charging” – generating electricity for the to be stored in the accumulator batteries - for 4 hours each day ,with "attendance" for 1 or 2 hours. Presumably this was operating and supervising the water turbine-powered dynamo.
Later, "stoke hole fire and water" became a routine daily task. Typically Saturdays were spent doing "barn work". Sunday's seem to have been an issue. Until 3 February 1907 Mr Welch regularly recorded "charging" on Sundays. There was then a gap until Sunday 18 August 1907.
Among the interesting work recorded is preparing planks for the iron mines being opened/re-opened during this period.
However, generating electricity became an increasingly significant part of James Welch's role. Presumably increasing demand led to the Agent deciding in February 1911 that "some check must be put on the use of [the Electric Light at Simonsbath]" and he thought that “meters should be put up at the Rectory and at the Hotel."
The following week he had a long talk with James Welch about working of the turbine and it was agreed that the Electric Lighting "shall be done when wanted and ordered by Mr Molland."