History in Structure

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Bersham Mill including cast-iron feed pipe

A Grade II Listed Building in Esclusham, Wrexham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.036 / 53°2'9"N

Longitude: -3.0354 / 3°2'7"W

OS Eastings: 330669

OS Northings: 349243

OS Grid: SJ306492

Mapcode National: GBR 74.DM6J

Mapcode Global: WH88Y.BYTF

Entry Name: Bersham Mill including cast-iron feed pipe

Listing Date: 8 December 1995

Last Amended: 8 December 1995

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 16538

Building Class: Recreational

Location: At the centre of Bersham village, at the western end of the ironworks site

County: Wrexham

Community: Esclusham

Community: Esclusham

Locality: Bersham

Traditional County: Denbighshire

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History

The mill is a substantial component of the ironworks site at Bersham: a blast furnace was recorded in Esclusham by c1670, though it may not have been on the present site. The first recorded furnace on this site was operated from c1717 by Charles Lloyd of Dolobran, and in 1721, became the first Welsh furnace to use coke rather than charcoal as its fuel. The ironworks was leased by Isaac Wilkinson from c1753. From c1763, it was operated as the New Bersham Company by his sons John and William. In 1774, John patented a machine for the precision-boring of cannon, and in 1775, for boring out steam-engine cylinders for Boulton and Watt: there followed a major expansion of the works which became a highly successful venture playing a leading role in the development of iron-making in Britain. However, following an argument between John Wilkinson and his brother William, the works were partially destroyed in c1795, but continued to operate until their sale in 1812. The site was later used as part of a farm.

The mill building was originally built as a foundry adjacent to the site of the blast furnace, on a site previously occupied by other buildings. It probably dates from c1780-1800, after the blast-furnace had ceased to function, and at a time when the works was beginning to be run-down. In 1828, it was partly demolished and rebuilt as a cornmill for the Plas Power Estate: the water-wheel itself may be re-used from elsewhere on the ironworks site. The building continued to be used as a mill until 1947. It has now been restored as an industrial museum. The remains of the foundry are incorporated in the S end of the building, while the N end appears to have been newly built or rebuilt in 1828. Various mid C19 additions to the E side were removed in recent restoration work.

Exterior

Both principal phases have similar construction: rough rubble with angle quoins to lower storey, with brick above ashlar string course; dentilled eaves cornice; slate roof. 2 storeyed, 5-window range to W elevation (largely a single building phase of 1828 but incorporating parts of the earlier foundry building towards the S), which has double doors towards the left, with steeply arched cambered brick heads. The windows all have decorative cast-iron traceried glazing bars and rusticated stone lintels. The S gable end is largely a survivor from the earlier foundry building, and has doorway to left with double ring cambered head, and inserted window alongside, wider than the earlier single ring cambered head above it. Upper window is also an enlargement and the head and jambs of the earlier opening remain visible. The E wall exhibits both phases of construction, with a straight-joint roughly half-way along its length indicating the junction of the 2 phases. Blocked doorway towards the left, with 4-light window alongside beneath cambered relieving arch. Squared blocked window above.

Interior

The building comprises a wheel chamber to the N, the rest a single 2-storeyed space of 7 bays with king-post roof trusses. The cast-iron and wood wheel with a 6.41m diameter is fed by a cast-iron pipe and penstock tank; the gearing survives in the lower storey immediately S of the wheel chamber, and there are 4 stone beds above.

Reasons for Listing

One of the few extant buildings associated with John Wilkinson's highly important ironworks at Bersham, and of added interest for its later re-use as a cornmill.

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