Downton, Wiltshire History

The closure of the tannery at Downton in 1998 ended an association with that industry which had lasted many hundreds of years. A tanner is recorded here in 1606 and the most recent research has revealed one in 1215. Although production may not have been continuous throughout all this time, it seems likely the work was always carried out at or near to the present site. Here a diversion of the River Avon flows alongside the tannery site before turning under the Mill Bridge to serve the mills on the opposite side of the road.

The mills and some of their associated industries also have a long history here; the owner of a fulling mill at Downton is recorded as dying in the Great Plague (the Black Death) of 1348/49.

The last tannery building was erected in 1919 by the Southern Tanning Company who demolished the Old Tannery House to accommodate the new front block. A new and larger Tannery House was built on the opposite side of the road. This company failed in 1930, and the tannery was then taken over by the Downton Tanning Company Ltd.

Acknowledgement: South Wiltshire Industrial Archaeology Society