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Riverside Mill

Bovey Tracey, Devon, England

MAKE Southwest (formally known as the Devon Guild of Craftsmen)

Green education with historic technology

Riverside Mill was constructed in 1854 by John Divett as stables and an outhouse for his home. A large iron waterwheel pumped water from the River Bovey to the top of the building, which was then distributed through pipes to the main house and horses. The Grade II-listed building, situated in the Bovey Tracey Conservation Area, was later used as a telephone and cable factory.

MAKE Southwest purchased Riverside Mill in 1986, converting the space into a crafts centre with a shop, gallery, and café. Their overarching vision is to inspire creative excellence and increase the understanding and appreciation of contemporary craft. The aim of the Riverside Mill project is to bring redundant rooms back to life as educational facilities, workspace for arts and craft businesses and, significantly, to restore the historic waterwheel to act as a source of renewable energy.

The power generated from the wheel will assist the running of an interactive display and artist piece centred on sustainability issues. MAKE Southwest attracts approximately 160,000 tourists to the town annually, and they see this venture as an opportunity to educate those visitors on environmental sustainability within the heritage and cultural sector.

In 2020, the Architectural Heritage Fund awarded MAKE Southwest with a Project Viability Grant of £13,000 to carry out a viability study. This included an investigation of the wheel and its potential to generate power, and further, how the project could act as a catalyst for other renewable energy developments in the future.

MAKE Southwest are bringing the historic waterwheel back into use for the benefit of the Bovey Tracey community and tourists alike, bringing much-needed environmental education to a wide range of people, and proving that old technology can also be green technology.

Laura Wasley, Chief Executive Officer of MAKE Southwest, said:

“The restoration of the historic and much-loved waterwheel at Riverside Mill will showcase an important link between heritage, the environment, and arts and craft. We hope that the installation of the interactive display, powered by the wheel, will educate and inspire visitors to think more deeply about sustainability issues in the heritage sector.”

MAKE Southwest


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