Bourton Mill, nr Gillingham, Dorset

On the second day of our Devon & Dorset camping trip, we stopped at Bourton in North Dorset near Gillingham to check out Bourton Mill. Having only seen one report online of a fairly battered and near-ruin state we weren’t holding out for much.

With the graffiti and sheer carnage aside, there’s still some nice features and machinery in place at Bourton. The mill was actually mentioned in the Doomsday Book and has operated under many different guises. From supplying canvas to the Royal Navy it also produced boilers, steam lorries and gas engines. During the First World War, Mills Bombs (hand grenades to you and me) were also made here until a flood destroyed the machinery. In 1933 Bourton Mill re-opened as a dried milk plant and continued to produce throughout WW2 until it’s closure in 1998.

My favourite part was the water feature running through the centre of the mill. We all heard running water but assumed the rain was coming down hard outside, we didn’t think we’d find such a diamond in the rough of this dereliction!

The mill has clearly been left to the elements and vandals. We walked around the site for over an hour without any trouble or seeing anyone else at all.


32 responses to “Bourton Mill, nr Gillingham, Dorset”

  1. Olivia says:

    Is this place still around?! I’m local and would love to go see it. Can anyone help with directions coming from Motcombe? (Love this website :))

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      If you’re local you should know where Bourton is, Olivia? It’s a small village you can’t miss this factory site when you’re there. As far as I’m aware it’s still standing, but there’s only one way to find out.

    • Beth says:

      It’s definitely still standing as I went there just a few weeks ago! Your best bet would probably be to head towards Wincanton and go out via that way? (Follow signs for Zeals/Bourton) and you should see it once you arrive in the village :) It’s amazing although slightly difficult to get into now! Feel free to email me if you need any help getting further directions/info getting in:

  2. Corey collins says:

    How would I find this place, I live down in Devon and I can find Gillingham easily by Google maps but where is this mill?

    • Alice says:

      Head from Stourhead. A friend and I came across this completely by chance, what a great find this was!

  3. Beth says:

    Hi :)
    So, as you know from some of my other comments I’m currently doing an exam paper on ruins and rephotography, I was wondering if I could possibly use some of your photos for a rephotography shoot at Bourton next week to mark how much it’s changed since you’ve been there to now as your photos are really good? (All credits will be mentioned in my project and it’s only for my college exam)
    Thank you for your time,

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Sure thing, Beth. Good luck with the project. Could you not find any historical photos of the factory? Surely that would serve your project better than my photos though?

      • Beth says:

        I’ve looked everywhere and am struggling to find some actually of the factory that are inside and close shots/areas I can get to. I’d also like to note the use of rephotography to mark the steady deterioration of the building before it gets demolished. Could you possibly tell me an average (if possible, the specific) date you shot here so I can add it to the notes in my project please?
        Thank you so so much!
        – B :)

        • The Urban Explorer says:

          Well, annoyingly for you, the photos here are of two separate trips to Bourton. Some images are from July 2011, and others November 2012. Once you’re done, if you want me to clarify the date of the photo you’ve used I can.

  4. Jack says:

    Visited today with a friend as our first ever ‘Urban Exploration’ thanks to this site. Got some really good pictures, a big new wooden fence has been put all the way around it now though. Even managed to get right to the top of the main building, and got some decent shots from above looking down at what’s left of the site.

  5. Beth says:

    Went there yesterday (Sunday October 25th) with some friends and have to say, it’s absolutely amazing! The photos I got came out great! It’s a great place for any photographers. However, while we were in there, 3 guys did come in and were damaging the place (sadly) so we left earlier that desired, but we were there for a good hour or so. Best to wear thick boots though as glass and debree on the floor. Would definitely recommend going there and shall most definitely be going back myself! :)

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      That’s a real shame that some feel the need to destroy our history, even though Bourton Mill is far beyond repair it still holds a massive historical significance in my opinion.

      • Beth says:

        Yeah, we believed they were trying to get to an area that was possibly bricked off near the top of the building which we didn’t get a chance to explore! However the site itself is very easy to get in to which was useful! Definitely would say never to go in there alone however as you never know who will walk in. We were lucky that one of my friends went to school with one of them so they did not bother us. But it should most definitely be checked out by anyone in the area! :)

  6. Ox Snowdon says:

    Been here a few times as I live pretty close by. First time I went I was with my mate and we explored with flaming torches made of old t-shirt and sticks. Explored a lot in daylight since and pretty well acquainted with the place now; I know the safe spots to freeclimb and there’s a cool extractor fan vent on the roof which you can crawl through (wear boots though – there’s a few inches of water inside it) never seen anybody else there but does seem like a prime spot for drug users. There are plenty of hazards but providing you’re alert you’ll be fine.

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      flaming torches made of old t-shirt and sticks

      Haha! That’s great. Indiana Jones style!

      • Ox Snowdon says:

        Yeah… don’t use deodrant as lighter fuel on the rag though… burns up too quick. They lasted like 15 minutes and then we had to navigate with a crappy flashlight and phone torch.

  7. Rich says:

    Amazing photos, but clearly full of asbestos and it’s the really dangerous stuff as well… be very, very careful.

  8. Inigo says:

    Being local I have visited this site multiple times and I extremely enjoyed visiting this site however BEWARE: there may be drug users in this factory, once I was ceded out of it by a pair of drug users and me being on my own had to run however in the process I dropped my vintage Polaroid camera and I believe it to be there still

  9. Laurence Basset says:

    I’m adding to the electrical failure reports here! :-D Visited Saturday afternoon/eve.

    Thought nothing of it at the time but halfway in my phone made a high pitched beep and died, wouldnt turn on again for about 10 mins.

    Headlight failed twice and even the Lenser flickered a few times + intermittant problems with cam. I put it down to temps, but been out in colder before. Possibly electromagnetic interference or something? Weird!

    Warning!: A few innocent looking doorways lead to big unexpected drops. Another big thank you to Adam for yet another excellent bit of coverage and publishing this site!

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Must be all them ghosts… ;) Haha!

      It’s a nice explore. Trashed yeah, but still plenty to see and take photos of. That’s a very good point with the big drops, there’s definitely plenty of hazards in there!

  10. Sam says:

    Went here January 2015 for a school project and it really is a great place. It’s clear to say it’s seen better days but all in all the building is holding strong. Apparently they’re demolishing it in around 3 months so I’d advise anyone who lives near the area to pop in and take a quick explore. You won’t regret it.

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Oh that is sad news, although I expect the residents of Bourton will be happy to see it gone. It is now a bit of an eyesore in their pretty village!

  11. Jim Mann says:

    Great images and a fascinating place but you need to be aware Bourton Mill is full of asbestos much of in in a poor state.

    So although it’s a great location I’d skip it if were you and just look at the images already taken.


    • Thanks Jim,

      I couldn’t agree more. The place is a death trap for anyone not taking the correct care and attention visiting it. Although I think the precarious state of the roof in some areas is worth mentioning too!

  12. Sam Rushton says:

    Went there a weekend ago for a photoshoot ! amazing place Did you happen to stumble past a set of 3 rooms and the middle one was blacked out ? while in there all or electrical equipment went dead on two different occasions ! creepy Huh ?

    • Yeh it’s a great little explore and I’ve found new things every time I visit! I’m not sure I know where you’re talking about but I don’t really buy in to the whole paranormal thing though ;)

    • Rob Spencer says:

      I worked at Bourton Mill for about ten years until just before it finally closed. The room I think you must be referring to was called the “Hot Room”. It had banks of steam radiators and the walls were cork lined. Machinery that had been washed was placed in there to ensure it dried quickly.
      My father worked at the factory before me until retirement and I don’t recall any paranormal tales about the place.

      • The Urban Explorer says:

        Thanks for the interesting insight Rob! I was just looking at your Bourton set on Flickr and its amazing to see how much it’s changed in the last few years! Fantastic!

    • neil says:

      Funny you should say that I visited the place one night about a year ago and upon exploring I was videoing with my Phone and it died on me with over 60 percent battery and wouldn’t turn back on, when we left it was fine, very creepy place but great to explore,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PLEASE NOTE: Your comment will be held in a queue until it's been approved. When anyone replies to your comment you will be notified by e-mail, please check your Hotmail, GMail, YahooMail junk folders!