Tonedale Mill, nr Wellington, Somerset

Tonedale Mill was definitely my favourite explore of our Dorset & Devon camping trip (OK, so it’s technically in Somerset!). It came on day 2 and didn’t disappoint.

Tonedale Mills prior to redevelopment Source: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society, Photo: Frank Hawtin
Tonedale Mills prior to redevelopment
Source: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society, Photo: Frank Hawtin

After a few dead ends, near-misses with Police and nosey neighbours we finally found our way in – once again, staring right at us, so easy!

Dodging vans, security cameras & nosey neighbours (again) we found ourselves squeezing in to the main mill building fairly quickly.

The structure is quite magnificent, vast in fact. We made our way to the top floor and found the Tonedale Mill piéce de résistance, the winding machines and other remaining equipment.

The Tonedale Mill site is in a kind of “limbo” state. The previous developers ran out of money and the work has just stopped.

Security are still present on site and they make frequent patrols, as we found on our way out! We were spotted and escorted kindly off the land by one of the most charming and friendly security guards I’ve ever met! (Even if he did threaten to call the police at first!)

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Important, noteworthy & interesting comments are highlighted below

  1. Kung says:

    Just sneaked in yesterday through some open fencing and a wooden door that can be squeezed through. The place is surreal as if time stopped, broken glass from what seemed like half-finished window frames dotted around the place. Sadly, there seems to have been some evidence of others kind of ruining the place as empty cider cans and even 2 single beds were out in the open.

    I only explored about 5% of the site due to time constraints; I will have another round in exploration when I can!

  2. Kate says:

    There is no access to the site, it’s all fenced off. There are security cameras and apparently guard dogs.

    Still beautiful to look at from the outside…

  3. Chris says:

    What’s this place like now, have heard it’s possible site for photographers

    1. Niall Haysom says:

      I believe it’s a lot harder to gain access now… the houses that are near by are always busy and cameras everywhere. Possibly back way entrance but still trying to work it out!

      I plan on looking in a weeks time to see what it’s looking like! Will let you know

      1. Chris says:

        I’ve heard a mill in Wellington gets used to shoot in so assume it’s this but not sure. Will be interesting to hear how you get on.

      2. Susan says:

        Me and my sister went a couple of years ago was a good place to look around, just ask if you want to look around that’s what we did and it was unlocked for us (not saying who by though in case they wasn’t meant to lol). Do you know if the antiques shop is still there in part of the building?

  4. Oli says:

    Went to have another look today and found that lots of large caravans have been moved in and a more established site is now in the mill. The people staying there have re-built all the fences around the mill and boarded up the windows that were easy to get in. I’m sure there are still ways in but you have to find them.

  5. Rich says:

    Just been to visit this place, so easy to access via the playing field. There was 5 caravans on site full of Polish men sat drinking and smoking none of them even bothered us. We spent a good hour walking around the site nothing really exciting going off here everything has been removed.

  6. Camilla Hall says:

    10th March 2016 – walked around today taking photos, everything was accessable although on the upper floors there is a lot of rotten wood on the flooring. (sewing room) – incredible site!

  7. JAB1a says:

    Feb 25th 2017 – This site is still there and accessible. While there we met several photographers there getting some amazing shots, the place is pure art, the buildings are amazing with a mix of worked stone and red fired brick in some amazing patterns, the effort and detail that went into making the site is breath taking and well worth the trip. Access is ***removed by admin***, there are cameras on site but none seem to be functional (smashed or dirty). We avoided going up any stairs due to strong winds and rain but there is access to the upper levels of the big building.
    Here is a quick video of the site as it stands today (Feb 2017)…

    1. The Ghost of Somerset says:

      This place has been gutted but you can still climb the main tower to the top. Unfortunately the floors are all fucked and rotten to hell however the glass roofed building with a mini forest in the centre is wicked and the art all over the walls in the building is pretty sweet. All of the cameras have had the wires cut by thieves. The neighbours are nosy AF.

  8. finn says:

    I’ve been to this mill recently and was just wondering where the other one is? Obviously has to be on the same stream or close by?

    1. Dylan says:

      Is the place still standing? Is it worth the drive over tonight? Anyones help would be massively appreciated I went to Blobby Land the other night only to find it was demolished

    2. Bradley says:

      I went there yesterday all still standing you just have to be careful of nosey neighbours!

    3. The Ghost of Somerset says:

      The Foxes mill is right by the road heading to Wiveliscombe/Bishops Lydeard across from the new site the access is round the back be careful though it’s the same score with the floors as this one.

      Most of the machinery is still in there. There are cameras so wear a mask or something to cover your face when inside all is good I dunno if there is any asbestos present or not so you might need a particulate mask, good luck!

  9. Kate says:

    These photos are fantastic – we live really closeby and regularly walk around the perimeter and have occasionally snuck a peek inside. It’s a crying shame the buildings are deteriorating so much and I’d dearly love to be part of some kind of renovation – but I’m just a local nobody with sadly no influence on anyone who has the power to sort things out. It’s a truly beautiful building. As far as I can tell a company called sheikholdings have something to do with it – but I worry now the roof is off that the building will slowly crumble away :(

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Thank you. I did see that the developers had changed. Didn’t know the roof was off though. The floorboards were a little sketchy back when I visited the site, they’ll soon be extremely dangerous exposed to the elements, especially if they still have the heavy machinery on the top levels.

      You should check out the mill next door. Much more to see inside.

      1. Kate says:

        Will try and check it out – did you see the large single storey building at the back (accessible via the field) the perimeter fences are blown or knocked down, you can climb through the windows and there’s a huge graffiti alien on one wall. Really weird – but cool!! My other half took some incredible pics of the building – it’s stunning. I love your pics of the drawer full of old spools. I see some local MP is the latest to cry out in protest of the deterioration of the mill – but it’s such a huge project!

    2. Ben says:

      Is this mill still worth a visit? Looks like a great site but wondering how much of it is left standing as the Google image StreetView of it is very old. Great pictures by the way.

      1. Jimbo says:

        Went the day after Christmas and all is still open. Cameras appear to be live but no one comes. Was on site for 3 hours. Still plenty to see nice site…

    3. T says:

      Kate, if you’re serious about doing something about the site, please get in touch with the Princes Regeneration Trust. They’re currently on the look-out for interested locals to get a fresh project off the ground to rescue the site.

  10. Jay says:

    The sensors definitely have power going to them. I decided to play with them yesterday and see how many times I could set them off before someone came… No one did! But it was a bank holiday Sunday. All stuff in photos are still present and what a view from the top! The mill itself (big metal round thing) is in much better condition than toneworks mill, if you can find it.

  11. Jay says:

    Wasn’t the best day to go here as there was a fun run on with marshals at front gate, still made it in and there is white security cameras everywhere after a few hours of being stealthy we ignored everything and wondered happily undisturbed. Easy to locate, easy to get in and well worth a visit

  12. Tom says:

    Went there yesterday with a few friends, only managed to explore 1 big room in the building as we were unsure about crossing motion sensors.

    Amazing photo opportunities, does anyone know if there’s a “trick” to passing the sensors or just run by as quick as possible and hope it counts you as a cat?

  13. liam says:

    Visited today in the night, other than a few infrared cameras it was quite quiet. Still standing strong, most floors empty apart from the machine room which still has a small array of dated items. Its an amazing place, just wish it was easier to explore in the day because it has so many amazing photo opportunities

    1. Tina says:

      I worked there in my school holidays before going to college using a huge double-ended steaming machine to shrink the woolen cloth: a wonderful atmosphere in the place and the sort of employer that would shame today’s greedy entrepreneurs with all their middle-men investors.
      I decorated a wool-truck as the front of a Rolls-Royce and it was still there 25 years later. Years earlier my father had a contract to supply food to Foxes and I used to go there with him as a child too…

      There was an ambitious development planned but I am not sure that there is development going on there now – the owners are land banking it while it deteriorates and the Princes Trust promotes the company as a patron!!!

  14. Natasha Moss says:

    Went today, its all still standing

  15. Jake says:

    Does anyone know if the building is still standing? Or has it been knocked down, have read many different things!

    Many Thanks

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      If you’re only up the road I’d go see for yourself, Jake. Although, it won’t be knocked down – they’re developing it. The Fox Brothers mill is worth the trip to the area even if Tonedale isn’t accessible.

  16. Joe Batty says:

    I worked for a short time in the combing and later in the bleding of tops and I would have liked to remain there but the boss didm’t like Linden House and we returned to Queensbury and later split up.

  17. Stu says:

    Brilliant pix, I’d also like to see more.
    I left Fox Bros in “89 to live in Australia, I loved that place, so many happy memories and some great local people.
    One clear day I risked life and limb (seriously) and made my way to the top of the mill. You can see across the Bristol Channel, I think one of the locals said I would have seen 7 counties from up there. I found some old newspapers from the ’40s and hundreds of gas masks. Great stuff.

  18. louise says:

    Would love to see more photos of the inside of the building before they change it all

    1. It’s been over two years since I was last at Tonedale Mill. I suspect the interior has changed even more since then!

      1. louise says:

        They still haven’t really done anything to it except part of taking roof off. Was meant to be turned to apartments but think they have money troubles.

  19. josh says:

    Extremely useful fo my GCSE’s. I am a boarder at Wellington school thanks 5*

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