Tone Works (Fox Brothers & Co.)


Somerset West and Taunton Council & Historic England


Wellington, Somerset


Asbestos Survey

Casa Environmental Services recently undertook a major surveying project of the Heritage site Tone Works in Wellington Somerset on behalf of Somerset West and Taunton Council and Historic England.

The grade II* listed asset comprises the former wet finishing and dye works of the former Fox’s textile factory. The site has recently been acquired by Somerset West and Taunton Council to preserve the heritage asset for future safeguarding and community use.

The largely decommissioned and now derelict factory began textile production in the middle of the eighteenth century and became the largest woollen mill in South West England most famous for the production of ” Taunton serge” and the khaki dye used by the British Army.

At its peak the factory produced around 6500 metres of material each day. The cheap cost of foreign imports however contributed to the site mostly closing during the 1980’s.

 The large site features a number of mills, warehouses, workshops and engine houses. Like the north site, evidence of water wheels as well as steam and electric power generation remains. The complex features factories for the preparation of the wool, including a combing shed and a wool cleaning complex all of which are of considerable historic interest.

The condition of the buildings and their contents presented considerable challenges to the Surveying team that undertook the works with many areas being unsafe to access due to the poor condition of the building structure and the presence of hazardous chemicals. This did not prevent however the discovery of considerable quantities of asbestos in various forms throughout the accessible areas of the site.

Asbestos was present in the form of Thermal Insulation to pipework and plant, Asbestos Insulating Board, Rope and Gaskets, Asbestos Cement based products and textiles. Most significantly due to the deterioration of the buildings and their contents over a large number of years asbestos based dust and debris was discovered throughout contaminating both the building structures and the historical items of plant and machinery.

Despite the challenges the site presented the Asbestos Survey was completed within the agreed programme of works and to the entire satisfaction of the client.

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