There was a traditional water corn mill on the River Evenlode in the Oxfordshire village of Combe for many centuries. In 1766 it was became part of the Blenheim estate of the Dukes of Marlborough, given by the nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) in recognition of his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, whose centrepiece is Blenheim Palace on the edge of the town of Woodstock, designed by Sir John Vanburgh (1664-1726). Corn milling appears to have ceased at Combe in the 1840s and for a short time it may have been used to work flax. Subsequently it was adapted as the sawmill and workshops complex for the Blenheim estate, with its machinery powered by a double-acting, condensing beam engine installed, with a Cornish boiler, in 1852. Nine men were employed at the mill in 1881. About 1910 a fault developed in the engine which was abandoned, and from 1912 until electric power was installed in the 1950s the machinery was powered by a breast shot waterwheel, which was replaced in 1934 by the iron wheel that remains in situ. When the mill passed out of use it was examined by the Oxfordshire Museum Service. The engine was restored and steamed in 1972. The Combe Mill Society was formed and the engine worked for the first time in public in 1975. Since then the mill has gradually been developed into an industrial museum. There are demonstrations of blacksmithing , wheelwrighting and wood turning and a collection of small steam engines is displayed in one of the workshops. Visitors are able to see both the steam engine and the waterwheel driving line shafting that operates a band saw, lathes, and a whetstone for sharpening tools.
Blenheim Palace Saw Mill |Combe Mill
OX29 8EJ Long Hanborough
+44 (0) 1993 - 358694
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