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The Brunel Saw Mill

A Grade I Listed Building in Gillingham, Medway

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Latitude: 51.3954 / 51°23'43"N

Longitude: 0.531 / 0°31'51"E

OS Eastings: 576172

OS Northings: 169302

OS Grid: TQ761693

Mapcode National: GBR PPP.H1H

Mapcode Global: VHJLV.5613

Plus Code: 9F329GWJ+59

Entry Name: The Brunel Saw Mill

Listing Date: 24 May 1971

Last Amended: 13 August 1999

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1268231

English Heritage Legacy ID: 462089

Location: River, Medway, ME4

County: Medway

Electoral Ward/Division: River

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Gillingham

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Gillingham St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

Tagged with: Mill building

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(East side) Chatham Dockyard
The Brunel Saw Mills


Sawmill. 1810-1814, designed by Marc Brunel, with Jeremy Bentham and Edward Holl; later extensions mid C19. Brick with stone dressings and a hipped slate and corrugated-iron valley roof.
PLAN: I-shaped plan with central saw mill, W engine house and chimney, E workshop, and mid C19 NW offices; a ramp leads N from the mill.
EXTERIOR: single-storey saw mill; 9-window range, with 2-storey; 3-window blocks at each end, and 3-storey, 4-window range to the NW end. Saw mill has a matching front and back, with cornice and parapet and coped end gables to the valley roof. Round-arched end doorways with radial fanlights, and continuous central ranges of 7 bays with cast-iron posts and mid C20 glazing with central double doors. End blocks have parapets and string course, with first-floor central doorways and flanking 8/8-pane sashes. At the S end of the engine house is a notably large battered square chimney in 3 stepped stages, each with sunken panels divided by ashlar bands, clasping buttresses to the base and a round opening extending through. A domed iron pressure vessel is just to the S. Tall, narrow former offices attached to the engine house have round-arched windows with C20 casements, flat-headed 12-pane second floor windows with similar windows to 1-bay N end.
INTERIOR: a remarkably unaltered and complete interior for an industrial building of this period. The mill has timber queen post trusses with prince posts, those on the N side strengthened by later iron trussing. Cast-iron posts in the basement support a timber floor. The cast-iron frames of the reciprocating saws rise up from the basement, some inscribed JOHN MCDOWALL AND SONS, JOHNSTONE. The E section has a complete 2-storey fireproof frame with columns to bridging beams, fishbelly joists and a flagstone floor, and a water tank forming the roof of cast-iron plates bolted together. Similar tank in the W section, over the engine house with similar fireproof details.
HISTORY: the sawmill was powered by a Maudslay, Sons and Field beam engine. It was connected by a canal and tunnel 550 feet long to the mast pond. The timber was lifted by a floating platform up an oval shaft N of the E block. An overhead rail carried it to long ranges of timber stores extending N of the mill, from where it could be retrieved in the same way. Logs were delivered to the mill and converted to planks by 8 reciprocating saws in cast-iron frames, the planks being then transported to the Timber Seasoning Sheds (qqv) situated in front and behind the existing Mould Loft (qv).
The first use of steam at Chatham, and the earliest fireproof construction in the dockyards, using the same frame which Holl afterwards employed at the Devonport spinning house and Chatham lead mill (qqv). The whole works is a notable early example of mechanisation.
Part of a fine assemblage of Georgian naval buildings. (Sources: Coad J: Historic Architecture of Chatham Dockyard 1700-1850: London: 1982: 175 ; Coad J: The Royal Dockyards 1690-1850: Aldershot: 1989: 236-239; The Buildings of England: Newman J: West Kent and the Weald: London: 1976: 206; Holl E: 1814: ADM 140/19).

Listing NGR: TQ7617169302

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