The sawmill and twenty acres of riverside meadows was bought from the Fortescue Estate by Exmoor National Park Authority in 1996 thanks to generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


A few years earlier, in 1991, Exmoor National Park Authority bought a large area of moorland in the centre of Exmoor National Park from the Fortescue Estate. The purchase was made possible by funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.  At the same time the Authority also secured a five year option to buy the buildings at Simonsbath Sawmill and about 20 acres of riverside meadow. (The Option Agreement, dated 9 September 1991, was between the honourable Martin Denzel Fortescue and Lionel Geoffrey Stopford Sackville and Somerset County Council - which was, at that time, the National Park Authority).

Bewteen 1991 and 1996 the National Park Authority carried out detailed studies of the sawmill and the surrounding land.  This included commissioning a detailed survey report on the mill (Jones, M.H. (1994) Simonsbath Sawmill Survey for Exmoor National Park Authority) and an ecological survey of the meadows (Boyce, D. (1994) Ecological Survey of the Bale Water Meadows, Simonsbath.  Exmoor National Park Authority).  

On 22 December 1995 the National Park Authority submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of 50% towards the cost of purchasing the sawmill.  On 25 September 1996 the Heritage Lottery Fund wrote to the National Park Authority to offer a grant of £38,500 towards the acquisition of the mill and the possibility of providing further funding for restoration.  On 2 October 1996 the Rural Development Commission offered the Authrity a further capital grant of £23,700.  On 10 October 1996 purchase of the sawmill and the surrounding land by Somerset Councty Council,as National Park Authority, was completed.

The overall aim of acquistion was "to safeguard the character of the mill in its setting."

The mill was restored to working condition in 2002/03, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It was used by National Park Authority until 2010 to prepare timber for conversion at the Exford workshops into signs, gates, stiles, bridge, steps and fence posts.  A group of enthusiastic volunteers - the Friends of Simonsbath Sawmill - cared for the building until July 2019 when the National Park Authority granted a licence to a commercial forestry firm.

The sawmill in the mid 1990s, before restoration.



 and after