You are on page 1of 18

An Archaeological Impact Assessment for

New Housing

at

Beckery Old Road,
Glastonbury

The Mill at Gillingham, Dorset 1825

Carried out for: Beckery Island Regeneration Trust
by:

C& N Hollinrake Ltd.,
Consultant Archaeologists,
12 Bove Town,
Glastonbury,
Somerset BA6 8JE
Telephone/Fax: 01458 833332

Report Number 488
1

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
Table of Contents.
Paragraph .... Contents ......................................................................... Page
1.0.................. Background ..................................................................... 1
2.0.................. Archaeological and Historical Background .................... 2
2.1.................. Glastonbury Archaeology ............................................... 2
2.2.................. Transport and communications ....................................... 3
2.3.................. Beckery Chapel ............................................................... 4
2.4.................. Industry............................................................................ 5
2.5.................. The mill stream................................................................ 6
2.6.................. Historic maps................................................................... 8
3.0.................. Archaeological Potential ................................................. 12
4.0.................. The new housing scheme ................................................ 13
5.0.................. Archaeological Mitigation............................................... 14
Appendix....... Project Summary ............................................................. 15

Figure ........... Contents ......................................................................... Page
....................... The mill at Gillingham, Dorset ....................................... frontispiece
1..................... Location of application site ............................................. 1
2..................... Map of early medievalBeckery ....................................... 2
3..................... Map of late medieval Beckery ........................................ 3
4..................... HER map of Beckery Mill .............................................. 6
5..................... The mill stream from Clyce Hole to Beckery Mill ......... 7
6..................... The mill stream at Beckery Mill ..................................... 7
7..................... The Senior map ca. 610................................................... 8
8..................... Cox Survey 1799 ............................................................. 8
9..................... The Rates map 1821 ........................................................ 9
10................... The Rates map 1821 detail .............................................. 9
11................... O.S. map 1886................................................................. 10
12................... O.S. map 1904................................................................. 10
13................... O.S. map 1931................................................................. 11
14................... Plan of proposed development ........................................ 13

2

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment

1.0

BACKGROUND

In 2011 the Baily’s tanneries on the Morland site, Glastonbury, Somerset, were
acquired by the Beckery Island Regeneration Trust (BIRT) from the South West
Regional Development Agency (see Figure 1 below; the areas outlined in red and
blue). BIRT is a conservation trust and a registered charity with a not-for-profit
company established to renovate historic industrial buildings for future employment
use. Having completed the renovation of Northover Mill, Glastonbury, BIRT are
now engaged on a long-term project to renovate the Baily’s tanneries. Please see the
Appendix for more information about this project and the Trust.1
The application for new housing is to the northeast of the western factory, in the area
outlined in blue. Any profits arising from the sale of the houses will stand as match
funding for the benefit of any grant applications for the renovations of the factories.

Figure 1. Location of planning application for new housing outlined in blue, to the
northeast of the factories, outlined in red.

1

Please refer to the Design and Access Statement prepared by Architecton to accompany this planning
application for location plans, etc.

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
2.0

ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

2.1
Glastonbury archaeology
Glastonbury is home to archaeological sites of international importance. The Lake
Village, discovered, excavated and published in Glastonbury over a century ago, is
still the best preserved Iron Age settlement ever found in Europe. The medieval
abbey developed into the greatest monastery in Britain, thanks to its close affiliation
with the Saxon royal house of Wessex. Legend and folklore give Glastonbury an
importance in the Dark Ages between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Saxon
incursions of the 7th and 8th centuries. Archaeology has provided some support for the
folklore in the form of pottery imported from Byzantium in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Of the Somerset finds of these rare imports, Glastonbury alone has multiple entries in
the same parish.
The 19th century industrial complex created by the Morland and Bailey companies
were therefore located on an industrial site of some antiquity.
The sites discussed in more detail below are accompanied by their record numbers in
the Somerset County Council Historic Environment Records (HER).

Figure 2. Early medieval Glastonbury with the lines of communication highlighted.
The find spots of prehistoric, Roman and Dark Age finds are also shown.

2

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment

d co
urs e
)

W
ell
s

Glas tonbury, Somerset
later medieval river channels and feat ures

Wick

ue (
ol
er B
r

Wirral Park
Abbot’s deer park

MOORS

St. James

STONE
DOWN

St. John
GLASTONBURY
St. Benedict

R iv

River Brue (new course)

land below 10m

Ma idload
Br idge

St. Michael
Be ckery
mill

Glastonbury Abbey

TOR
Abbey
Barn

BECKERY
fishery

N

Pilton

St. Br idget

wate r &
wind mills

Northover
mill

m ills
tream
Pomparles
Bridge

rra
Wi

Cly ce
Hole

ston e bridge

Bretasche
Manor House

Riv
er
Br
ue

R iver

Brue

(ol

dc
ou

rs e
)

caus eway

St. Dunstan

ill
lH

Co
xb
r

id

ge
Br
oo
k

Holy Trinity
0

STREET

1

2km

CNH

Figure 3. The Beckery area of Glastonbury as it looked in the late-medieval period
showing the sites mentioned in the text. The Morland site is outlined in black.
2.2
Transport and communications
Figure 2 shows the water road to Glastonbury along which these imports will have
travelled (river transport was preferred to road until the introduction of the railroads in
the mid-19th century). Although the River Brue now leaves Glastonbury and heads
west to Highbridge on the Somerset coast, this is a 13th century diversion from its
original course to avoid paying dues for using the portion of the river that passed
through the lands of the Bishop of Wells.2 Figure 2 shows that the Lias clay island of
Beckery would have been the first landfall for visitors and goods travelling the River
Brue to Glastonbury until the Abbey diverted the river.
The River Brue continued to be navigable as far upriver as Bruton, another town
centred on a pre-Conquest monastery. Lines of communication are continued from
Beckery in the form of roads to the north and south. The southern road was, and still
is, approached via Pomparles Bridge (HER 23577), mentioned in Mallory as the
location where the wounded King Arthur commanded Sir Bedivere to cast his sword
Excalibur. This bridge connects with a causeway to Street (HER 25522), excavated
by John Morland in the 1920s. This causeway is thought to date back at least to
Roman times, if not before, and to have continued in use until it was replaced by the
present road in the 13th century. At the other end of the causeway is the parish church
of Street (HER 1588, 24705), now dedicated to All Saints but referred to in medieval
documents as Llantokai, using the 5th century Welsh llan place-name element (usually
interpreted as "churchyard").
2

Williams, M., 1970, Draining of the Somerset Levels, Cambridge.

3

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
The road to this part of Glastonbury was called Madelode Street in the Middle Ages, a
similar name to Northload Street, which is still in use. The meaning of the "lode"
element, although obscure, implies access to water roads, with "made" meaning
"middle". The names imply the existence of another lode to the south, but its location
is unknown.
By the late-medieval period the Saxon canal (HER 23313) was no longer active,
being used only as a drain for the watercourse emerging from the Abbey precinct.
2.3
Beckery Chapel (HER 23570; Scheduled Monument 427)
Beckery Island now appears as a low hill rising from the surrounding flood plain. The
eastern part of the island carries the Wessex Water sewage plant. The crest of the
island carries the small monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. The chapel of this
monastery was discovered by John Morland in the 1880s and re-excavated by Philip
Rahtz in the 1960s. Prehistoric flints and pottery, Iron Age and Romano-British
pottery were found but the chapel and its cemetery were dated to the centuries
preceding the Norman Conquest. The decline of the monastery coincides with the
construction of the Saxon canal in the 10th century, at which time the focus of
transport would have moved to Northover3. The monastery's buildings and the full
extent of the cemetery await definition. Finds of Iron Age and Roman pottery and an
Iron Age coin point to earlier activity in the vicinity.
Beckery Island and the surrounding moors were recorded as the district called ‘Bride’
(see Figure 9). This parcel of land would have been the main land holding of the
monastery; the name ‘Bride’ would have come from the much visited chapel to St.
Brigit in the monastic church. William of Malmesbury provides the first record of the
relics of St. Brigit being treasured at Beckery in Glastonbury4. By the 14th century the
chapel to St. Mary at Beckery had been re-dedicated to Brigit5.
The Irish in Glastonbury
Considering the monastery's location on the water road of the river Brue, it comes as
little surprise to find it at the centre of evidence of the Irish connection in
Glastonbury. Irish scholars are mentioned in Glastonbury in Asser's Life of King
Alfred, the two lives of St. Dunstan (by "B" and William of Malmesbury) and
Malmesbury's Antiquity of Glastonbury.6
"There were Irish pilgrims who with great fervour also joined the other crowds of
faithful people at the place of which I have already spoken - namely Glastonia; they
came to pay especial honour on account of the Blessed Patrick the Younger, who had
the distinction, it was said, of lying asleep in the Lord in that place..."7
St. Dunstan, who was born in the early 10th century in the nearby village of
Baltonsborough and rose to become Abbot of Glastonbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
3

Hollinrake, C. & N., 1992, "The Abbey Enclosure Ditch and a Late-Saxon Canal: Rescue Excavations
at Glastonbury, 1984-1988", PSANHS, vol. 136, pp. 73-94.
4
HG §12; Scott ed. , The Early History of Glastonbury, An Edition, Translation and Study of William
of Malmesbury De Antiquitate Glastonie Ecclesie, Woodbridge, 61
5
Carley 1985, The Chronicle of Glastonbury Abbey, Woodbridge, 67
6
Kenney, 1929, The sources for the early History of Ireland, New York, p. 607-8.
7
Dales, Rev. Douglas, trans., Vita Dunstani by the priest "B"

4

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
and the greatest English statesman of his age, was taught in Glastonbury Abbey by
Irish clerics. Cormac's Gossary refers to "Glastonbury of the Gael" before 900AD.8
William of Malmesbury provides the first record of the relics of St. Brigit being
treasured at Beckery in Glastonbury.
[William of Malmesbury] comments that because Patrick was said to have been at
Glastonbury 'it became a fixed habit with the Irish to visit the place to kiss the
patron's relics'. He continues, possibly ironically, 'whence it comes about that the
legend concerning St. Indract and the Blessed Bridget - prominent inhabitants in
yonder land - coming hither together is a great favourite'.9
The Irish connection extends even to the place-name itself, for there are two islands
called Beckery: one in Wexford Harbour and one at Glastonbury. It would appear
that Beckery is a rare example of an Irish place-name in England10. The name is often
interpreted as deriving from becc-eriu, meaning "little Ireland"11. The Wexford
Beckery (or Beggary) contains the ruins of a small 6th century monastery founded by
St. Ibar. Pilgrims leaving Wexford would have travelled from one Beckery to
another.
There is no record of a Viking attack on Glastonbury in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
This may explain the context in which Irish scholars were prominent in Glastonbury
Abbey in the 10th century.
2.4
Industry
Beckery became the main industrial zone of medieval Glastonbury. A mill and a fish
weir on the Brue near Pomparles Bridge are mentioned in the Glastonbury chartulary
as already old by 119312. Industrial activity was recovered during rescue excavations
at The Mount (HER 23576), which is within the district known as "Brides", named
after the Brigit chapel at Beckery (see Figure 4). Roman and Dark Age pottery finds
may indicate a landing stage existed here at this period, but it is also possible that iron
working on the site dated to the 10th to 12th centuries began in earlier centuries.13
By the early 14th century two mills are mentioned at Beckery, indicating that the
millstream (HER 28694) was in place by this time. Northover fulling mill, listed
Grade II, (HER 23598) is still in existence and historic maps suggest that Beckery
mill (HER 23594) was immediately adjacent to the Bailey's factory, also listed Grade
II (HER 16432). The original course of the River Brue is generally taken to follow
the millstream along Dyehouse Lane, the road name being another testament to the
importance of the cloth trade in this area. There is also documentary evidence for
medieval tanning and a medieval blade mill (where metal would be beaten flat) in the
area14. The sites of these activities have not yet been located.
8

Rahtz, Philip, and Hirst, Sue, 1974, Beckery Chapel, Glastonbury,1967-8, Glastonbury, p. 10.
Rahtz and Hirst, p. 11.
10
Abrams, Lesley, 1996, Anglo-Saxon Glastonbury: Church and Endowment, Woodbridge p. 56.
11
Breandan O’Coibhan, Ordnance Survey Ireland, pers. comm..
12
Watkin, Dom Aelred, ed. 1956, The Great Chartulary of Glastonbury, vol. III, Somerset Record
Society, entry 1301, p. ccxxxv.
13
Carr, J., 1985, Excavations on the Mound, Glastonbury, Somerset, 1971, PSANHS vol. 129, p.37.
14
Dunning, Robert, 1994, Glastonbury, Stroud, p19, 32
9

5

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
Beckery Mill (HER 23594)
The full text of the HER entry for Beckery flour mill is shown below along with the
HER map:

Figure 4. HER map of Beckery Mill.
Grid Ref.: ST 4871 3842
‘Beckery Flour mill’ shown on 1904 OS 6” map. Also had malthouse attached.
2.5
The mill stream (HER 28694)
By the time the mill stream was constructed, Glastonbury already had extensive
experience of hydraulic engineering, having successfully completed the Saxon canal
as well as drainage works at Dunstan’s Dyke, Baltonsborough15. Nevertheless, the
creation of the mill stream represents a major accomplishment for its time. It would
have cut through the Saxon canal, harnessing its water supply, and it would have
rendered the Saxon mill on the Brue redundant: the mill stream would have provided
a constant source of water power as opposed to the Brue, which is tidal as far as
Glastonbury and would have only been of use intermittently unless it was
accompanied by a mill pond. It is unknown whether the fishery could have continued
operating without the mill pond. In other words, the creation of the mill stream would
have had a major impact on the landscape and the arrangement of various industrial
installations.
The mill stream was constructed to follow a line just below the 10m contour (Figure
5). This is a zone where the builders could be assured of finding sufficient depth of
hard clay to ensure that the channel would be water tight16. The clay could also
provided a firm foundation for any industrial buildings which would be able to use the
water power to drive wooden wheels to power machinery17. The mill stream also
provided a steady stream of fresh water for other industrial processes such as tanning,
dying and the finishing of woven cloth. For these reasons, a variety of industries were
located along the mill stream. The main part of the Morland site lies on a bowl in the
Lias clay geology which is filled with soft alluvium and peat.
The mill stream is bifurcated at the location of Beckery mill to allow the miller to
divert the water away from the wheel when it was necessary to keep the wheel
15

Hollinrake, C. and N., 2007 The Water Roads of Somerset in Blair, John, ed. Waterways and Canal
Building in Medieval England, OUP, 228-34.
2007 Glastonbury's Anglo-Saxon Canal and Dunstan's Dyke in Blair, ed., 235-43.
16
The mill stream is lined with puddled clay where it leaves the Lias clay geology. Pip Curry, Baily’s
tanneries, pers.comm.
17
confirmed by boreholes.

6

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
stationary. Figure 6 shows the location of two sluices in this area to help control the
flow of the water. This section of the mill stream has been revetted with stone walls
of indeterminate date. A spur to the south has recently been excavated by the
Environment Agency to carry storm water from the Morland site into the mill stream.

Figure 5. The mill
stream from its origin
in Clyce Hole to the
bifurcation just past
Beckery Mill.
The
original course of the
river Brue is fossilized
in the sinuous form of
the drainage rhynes to
the north of the sewage
works (HER 28913).
From Magic Maps
website.

Figure 6. The mill
stream where it passes
through the Baily’s
site. From the Magic
Maps website.

7

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
2.6

HISTORIC MAPS

A review of the historic maps is useful for the insight it can provide for the later
development of the buildings associated with Beckery mill.

Figure 7. The Senior map ca. 1610 shows buildings in the area of the mill and the
bifurcated mill stream. (From the Glastonbury Antiquarian Society website.)

Figure 8. Cox Survey 1799. Beckery Mill is called Brides Mill, from the district
known as ‘Brides’ which belonged to the chapel at Beckery. (From the Glastonbury
Antiquarian Society website.)

8

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment

Figure 9. Tracing from the 1821 Rates map. This map was made before Street Road
was built. The river Brue is on the left of the map. The road went along the western
side of the mill stream directly to Beckery Mill and no further. North is to the right.

Figure 10. Detail of Figure 4 showing the array of the Beckery mill buildings in
relation to the mill stream. It is impossible to be confident about which of the small
enclosures represents buildings and which are enclosed yards, with the exception of
the wheel housing of the mill, which must have been in or next to the millstream. The
millstream splits into two channels just before the wheel house; the southern channel
would have been a relief channel for use when it was necessary to avoid driving the
wheel. North is now to the top of the image.

9

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment

Figure 11. O.S. map 1886. Identifiable buildings have been marked in orange. By
1886 a spur road had been taken across the millstream to follow its eastern side past
Beckery Mill. The western Baily’s building was built in the resulting triangle.
Beckery Mill had been extended across the main branch of the millstream to the bank
of the relief channel. Another extension follows the western bank of the main
channel. These extensions go some way to pointing out the earlier parts of the mill as
shown in Figure 5. A small detached cottage lay further to the north, now
demolished, and further still was built a row of 6 cottages, still in use today.

Figure 12. O.S. map 1904. The shading on this map makes it easier to identify the
buildings. The eastern Baily’s factories have been built by this time and the row of
cottages extended.

10

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment

Figure 13. OS map 1931. Part of Beckery Mill was demolished, exposing more
length of the mill stream and the details of the mill pond appear more detailed than in
previous maps. The water wheel was probably out of use by this time if not earlier.
Two rows of cottages have been built on the eastern side of Beckery Road. A sewage
works has been installed. By 1968 the rest of Beckery Mill had been demolished.

11

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
3.0

ARCHAEOLOGICAL POTENTIAL

3.1
The northern edge of the Lias clay where the river Brue skirted the solid clay
has attracted settlement and activity from the earliest days. This has led to the site
being included within the Area of High Archaeological Potential for Glastonbury.
3.2
The principal known archaeological feature/s on the site of the proposed
development is the mill stream, which is bifurcated and reconnected within the
development area. This is largely intact and in reasonably good condition (see the
Design and Access Statement) apart from the spur recently excavated to allow storm
water drainage from the rest of the site into the eastern channel – the relief channel of the mill stream. This Wessex Water service trench has formed a breach in the
revetment wall and destroyed any archaeological deposits along its course. The relief
channel now carries all of the water flowing through the mill stream, with the western
channel, containing the mill pond, currently lying stagnant. Formerly, the water
normally flowed through the western channel.
Of the two known sluices on the western channel, the southern sluice is now carrying
the water of the mill stream through a passage clad in concrete. It is unknown
whether previous sluice structures are buried within this concrete but this is likely.
This sluice lies outside of the development area.
The northern sluice cannot be seen among the undergrowth but it is likely that
elements of the sluice - used to control the flow of water when the mill was still in
operation - are still intact. Some structure is holding back a small pond of stagnant
water, which will ensure that any wooden structures will be preserved by
waterlogging. The damp soil around the pond and the relief leat is also likely to
preserve organic remains which may be used to reconstruct past environmental data.
3.3
Study of the historic maps suggests that buildings associated with Beckery
Mill did not extend east of the relief channel. The earliest maps – the Senior, the Cox
and the 1821 rates map - appear to indicate that the earliest elements of the mill lay to
the west of the western channel with the mill wheel being uncovered – i.e. attached to
the outside of the mill building. The extension beyond the west channel to the edge of
the relief channel would appear to have happened between 1812 and 1886. However,
there could easily have been earlier associated activities in this zone which escaped
recording.
Be that as it may, there is no know evidence of any activity between the relief leat and
the road apart from a small cottage to the north east of the site, which was demolished
by the Regional Development Agency during their clearance of the site.
Mills were very common features of the landscape in the medieval period and there
have been many excavations of the remains of mills throughout the country. Less
attention has been paid to the mill streams, however. They do not seem to be
recognized as a category of archaeological site. Features such as the relief channel at
Beckery Mill are also commonly seen but seldom given the attention they deserve.

12

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
4.0

THE NEW HOUSING SCHEME

Figure 14. Plan of the proposed development. (courtesy of Architecton)
The Design and Access Statement details the proposed treatment of the mill stream
and diversion of the Wessex Water storm water drain. A considerable quantity of
water flows through the mill stream and it is important that the channel flows freely to
avoid flooding upstream and to ensure the delivery of the water to the South Moor for
the use of those grazing these fields and to maintain the high water table at the
Glastonbury Lake Village. Fortunately, a lively flow of water promotes a scouring
effect in the watercourse, preventing the build-up of silts and keeping the channel
clear. There is not normally enough water to keep both channels clear without regular
diversion of the flow from one channel to another, which is now impossible to
maintain due to the nature of the sluice.

13

New Housing at Beckery Old Road, Glastonbury
Archaeological Impact Assessment
5.0

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MITIGATION

Beckery Island Regeneration Trust is a heritage conservation charity. As such, the
preservation of the archaeological deposits and features is a high priority in all their
projects and has informed the plans for the new development throughout their
evolution. For example, the known footprint of Beckery Mill has been incorporated
into the site plans to ensure that the new route of the Wessex Water storm drain
avoids the area of potential archaeology outlined in the HER map (Figures 4 and 14).
The execution of the construction of the houses will be compliant with the following
broad policy guidelines designed to enhance the conservation of the archaeological
heritage:
1. Preservation of the archaeological deposits in situ.
In practice this means that disturbance of areas of known archaeological potential will
be avoided where possible. It is principally for this reason that the new houses will be
constructed on piled foundations. The sluice holding back the mill pond is to be
retained without disturbance, with the water being allowed to overtop the sluice
structure.
2. Preservation of the archaeological deposits on record.
All ground disturbance, including works to the mill pond and mill stream to clear
accumulated silts and rubbish, is to be monitored by professional archaeologists using
methods compliant with the Somerset County Council guidelines laid down in the
manual General Specifications for Archaeological Work in Somerset.
3. Publication of the results of archaeological investigations.
Publication, including this report, will be in a variety of forms, from scholarly and
technical papers to non-technical leaflets and pamphlets. A story board next to the
site would make the heritage of this part of Beckery available to the passer-by.
Finally, the profits from the new housing will be diverted into the renovation of the
Baily’s Buildings, which are designed to incorporate an archive centre and exhibitions
for public use where all of the information relating to the heritage of Beckery will be
curated.

Nancy Hollinrake
Consultant Archaeologist
Trustee, Beckery Island Regeneration Trust
29th October 2014

14

APPENDIX

BECKERY ISLAND REGENERATION TRUST
Baily’s Tannery and
Glove Factory,
Glastonbury
Project Summary
Objective
To conserve, reuse and regenerate these historic
industrial buildings for the benefit of the local
community, in the process creating a catalyst to
stimulate growth and employment by the
provision of workshops and studio spaces, and to
provide a learning and display facility for
visitors and local residents alike.

Baily’s West after millstream works.
.
Current Position
The two Baily’s Factories were
granted to BIRT by the South West Regional
Development Agency in July 2011 after many years of
negotiations.
Along with the buildings came a
responsibility to clean and re-model the millstream under
the supervision of the Environment Agency, which is now
completed. During these operations the opportunity was
taken to install corrugated steel shoring to consolidate the
foundations of the building.
The roof has been waterproofed, parts of the
building have been supported by scaffolding, access
doorways have been blocked and the building has been
mothballed while BIRT consult with their partners
towards the production of a business plan to present to
potential funders.

The Building Baily's - a 19th century tannery,
sheepskin, rug and glove manufactory - developed in
the 20th century into the making of sporting goods;
Henry Cooper, Mohammad Ali and Floyd Patterson
wore Baily’s gloves made in Glastonbury.i ii Baily’s
factories (listed Grade II) dominate Beckery Island,
the industrial site of Glastonbury for over 1,000 years,
which lies on the southern approach to Glastonbury’s
medieval market, abbey and High Street. This
industrial zone was also until recently occupied by
Bailey’s and the Morland sheepskin factory, many of
whose buildings have now been demolished.
Northover Mill (listed Grade II), which was
Glastonbury Abbey's fulling mill has been renovated
by the Trust. The chimney showing on our logo is
part of Baily’s East factory.
Beckery Island Regeneration Trust
Glastonbury Town Hall, Glastonbury?
Somerset BA6 9EL
01458 831769

(co mpany registration no. 5518679; charity no. 1120490)
glastonburytownhall@ukonline.co.uk
www.hollinrake.org.uk/b irt

15

APPENDIX
The Project
Since closure in the 1980s, the factories have been abandoned, slipping into
dereliction and contributing to Somerset’s worst eyesore. After losing some 2,000 skilled
jobs, Glastonbury has declined from prosperity into deprivation. BIRT’s mission is to reverse
this trend.
BIRT’s architects, Architecton, have presented plans for renovations of Baily’s with
adaptations for modern use, and commissioned quantity surveyors Press and Starkey to
produce costings for both buildings. They estimate that full renovation will cost just under
£5,000,000. It is anticipated that the project will be carried out in 2 or 3 phases with the first
phase costing up to £2,500,000 to complete.
Baily’s will provide 305.8 m/sq of residential space for a caretaker and student
accommodation, 1,500 m/sq. of employment space and 138 m/sq. of heritage space, for which
there is a demonstrable demand. A basic business plan suggests rental income of £126,537 pa.
An integral aspect of the employment space will be a business nursery, designed to nurture
new businesses through mutual support, shared access to office infrastructure and personnel,
and guidance and support from external business experts with expertise in various different
fields.
Funding and support Glastonbury Town Council supports BIRT through the provision of
meeting space, hospitality for guests and office and secretarial facilities. BIRT has enjoyed
participation and support from a wide variety of local societies and individuals too numerous
to list. Somerset County Council Market Towns Regeneration Fund provided a grant of
£10,000 towards re-roofing Northover Mill. The county council also supports our heritage
and learning objectives through guidance and direction in applications for grants. The
Architectural Heritage Fund has provided support for the creation of the business plan for
Northover Mill and the Bailey’s Factories and the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the
drawing up of feasibility studies by Architecton. The Somerset Levels and Moors Local
Action for Rural Communities provided grants for renovation of Northover Mill. We have
also had funding from anonymous private donors.
Beckery Island Regeneration Trust (BIRT)
A not-for-profit company (company registration no. 5518679; charity no. 1120490)
Objective
The Beckery Island Regeneration Trust look forward to a vibrant,
sustainable economy in Glastonbury based upon a wide range of jobs - skilled, semi-skilled
and unskilled – offered by business of various types – traditional and innovatory; small and
large; manufacturing and service-based – housed in historic buildings in communal ownership
run for the benefit of the local community.
Track Record BIRT was founded in 2005 with the guidance and support of The Prince’s
Regeneration Trust, specifically to acquire and manage the heritage buildings on the
Morland site. The membership is drawn from participants in a series of public and private
meetings held since 2000.
Northover Mill is now being offered for rent as a commercial property, and we have a
prospective industrial tenant for Bailey’s East, once it has been renovated.
Future plans An application has been granted to fund a project called
‘Sport and Life: The Baily’s Story;, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery
Fund. This project is intended to draw together information from all
available sources to write the story of the Bailey’s Tanneries and Glove
Factories. Everybody who worked at Bailey’s will be able to record their
memories of the industry and an archive of photos, documents, tools and
equipment and products will be collected to store and display in the in-house
museum and visitor centre.
i
ii

www.somersettimeline.org.uk, a Somerset County Council Heritage Service website.
www.Bonhams.com

Related Interests