Combe Mill

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Combe Mill
Work in Progress at Combe Mill - - 1013806.jpg
Type Sawmill
Location Long Hanborough
Coordinates 51°49′56.64″N 1°23′48.3″W / 51.8324000°N 1.396750°W / 51.8324000; -1.396750Coordinates: 51°49′56.64″N 1°23′48.3″W / 51.8324000°N 1.396750°W / 51.8324000; -1.396750
OS grid reference SP 41660 15041
Area Oxfordshire
Built 1852
Governing body Combe Mill Society
Owner Blenheim Palace Estate
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official name: Combe Mill
Designated 29 June 1988
Reference no. 1053004
Combe Mill is located in Oxfordshire
Combe Mill
Location of Combe Mill in Oxfordshire

Combe Mill is a historic sawmill situated adjacent to the River Evenlode close to Combe railway station, between the villages of Combe and Long Hanborough in Oxfordshire, England.[1] The Mill is a Grade II* listed building.[2]

The mill was restored in the early 1970s and is now open to the public.


The mill was built in 1852 as the workshop for the Blenheim Palace Estate and replaced an early 17th century flour mill on the site that was sold to George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1766.[3]

Originally powered by a waterwheel, a beam engine and Cornish boiler was installed in 1886 to allow operation even when the river flow was low. In about 1912 the engine ceased working, presumably because of a fault which either could not be repaired or was considered not worth repairing, and the beam engine then lay idle until its restoration. The waterwheel was replaced in 1934 with a metal one and the shaft replaced by the present timber one.[citation needed] It continued to function until the 1950s, when electric power was eventually brought to the mill. It was the principal source of power for the mill for about forty years, except for a time during the First World War when the government installed auxiliary stationary steam engines to cope with the war effort. The mill was commandeered by the War Office to produce props and duck-boards for use in the trenches When the wheel eventually ceased to be used the leat was filled in and the sluices buried in the mid 1960s.[3]


Beam engine at Combe Mill

In 1969, a working party from the City and County Museum (now the County Museum) at Woodstock surveyed the site and began negotiations with the Duke of Marlborough with a view to restoring the beam engine and its boiler. Three years later, in September 1972, the efforts of the volunteers were rewarded when the engine was successfully steamed for the first time in sixty years. The Combe Mill Society was formed and the mill first opened to the public in 1975. Since then restoration has progressed steadily and expanded to include other aspects of the mill in addition to the beam engine.[3]

The Mill still contains several historic trade catalogues from which hardware was once selected for use around the estate.[4] It also still has several day books dating from the mid-19th century which record the names of workers and details of their earnings and day-to-day jobs.


The Mill is open between March and October and in steam on the third Sunday of these months. Schools and community groups may book visits at any time. The Mill has a working forge, where visitors can have the opportunity to make their own poker.[4]


  1. ^ "Combe Mill". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "Combe Mill". Historic England. Retrieved 5 March 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c "History". Combe Mill. Retrieved 5 March 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Combe Mill". Steam Heritage Museums & Events Guide. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 

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