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Lyme Regis, Dorset

The fast-flowing river Lim rises to the north-west of Hatcombe Bottom in Devon and, passing the village to the north, turns southwards to pass through the heart of Lyme Regis in Dorset to meet the English Channel on the beach, only a few hundred yards south of Lyme's medieval Buddle Bridge  The Medieval Buddle Bridge, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph . For a considerable portion of it's southerly course, the river forms the boundary between the two counties.

The River Lim was once the focus of life in the valley occupied by the town of Lyme Regis and at least nine (but there may have been as many as eleven) mills are recorded working on the river in by-gone days. Although Town Mill is the only example of a mill in working order, the buildings of four mills can still be seen between it and Horn Bridge to the north-east. At various times, the mills ground corn into flour, processed wool and silk and crushed linseed to produce oil. Traces of the mill leats - the water channels which fed the mills - may also still be discerned.

a praty market town set in the rootes of a high rokky hille down to the hard shore; there cometh a shalow broke from the hilles about three-miles by north, and cumnith fleting on great stones through a stone bridge in the botom

John Leland's 'Itinerary' (1535-40)

    The Lime above the Bridge carrying Woodmead Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset   
    The Lim looking S-E from the Bridge carrying Woodmead Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset   
Just above the bridge which carries Woodmead Road  Woodmead Road looking up from the bridge over the river Lim, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph over the Lim, the river spills over a weir which is furnished with a 'fish ladder'  Weir with Fish Ladder over the Lin above Woodmead Road Bridge, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph .

From the bridge the Lim continues for a short distance to the south-east before turning abruptly to the south-west to avoid the Lymbrook Cottages  Lynbrook Cottages, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph which might have been built on the site of one of the town's mills.

Having circumvented the cottages, the river continues along it's south-easterly path towards Mill Green where stands Jordan's Flats  Jordan's Flats, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph , another of the
town's former mills.

    Wier at Mill Green / Coombe Street Junction, Lyme Regis, Dorset  The Medieval Buddle Bridge, Lyme Regis, Dorset   

The tower of the silk mill where the Lim turns southwards just to the north of Lym Close, has lost its conical roof but is still a landmark on the river. It was used for drying woollen and silk cloth.

The building which now houses the flats was a laundry in the early 20th century, before its conversion into residential units. Previously, it had been a storey higher than at present and was a cloth mill. The mill wheel was at the eastern end of the building.

The Lymbrook Cottages  Lynbrook Cottages, Lyme Regis, Dorset - Click to show photograph may have been built on the site of a former mill.

 Plan of the Town Mill Complex, Lyme Regis, Dorset - CLICK ON THE AREA OF INTEREST FOR A PHOTOGRAPH

 Town Mill (from Mill Lane), Lyme Regis, Dorset  The Mill House & part of the Malt House, Town Mill, Lyme Regis, Dorset  The Victorian Bakehouse (now the Caf� and Gallery), Town Mill, Lyme Regis, Dorset  The Stable, Town Mill, Lyme Regis, Dorset

A mill has stood on bank of the river Lim in the centre of Lyme Regis since before the Domesday Survey of 1087 (althought the present mill house  Click to show photograph dates from 1340) and the present mill complex is the culmination of ten years' restoration by the Town Mill Trust, ending in 2001. Now restored to full working order it is open to visitors throughout the year thanks to a team of volunteers. The waterwheel operates daily and there are also regular milling demonstrations to produce stone ground flour. The complex houses art galleries, a caf�/restaurant, craft studios, the Miller's garden, an Environmental Exhibition and a Mill Shop which offers a wide selection of gifts.

A watermill on this site was recorded in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1087 and the present mill building dates from 1340. The courtyard which we see today, with the stable  Click to show photograph , pig-sty and stone tower, was created after the Seige of Lyme in 1647. Major repairs were also carried out to the mill building  Click to show photograph itself at the time. The garden has been part of the mill for centuries. The building which now houses the gallery and café was built in the 1830's as a bakehouse  Click to show photograph .

As with many Dorset mills at the begining of the 20th century, the milling of corn ceased here in 1926 and the complex became the Town Council's Depot until 1974. After many years of neglect, the property was transferred to a registered charity, the Town Mill Trust, by West Dorset District Council in 1994 and the huge task of restoring and developing the site was started.

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The Philpot Museum, Lyme Regis
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