The ancient stone on Buckfast Moor is known by many as the Harbourne Man, standing as it does at the source of the Harbourne River, which flows from here through ‘Harbourne Country’… Redcleave Brakes and Dockwell then under the Clapper Bridge at Harbourneford and on through Harberton and Harbertonford – where many of us catch only a fleeting glimpse of the river before it ends its short journey in Bow Creek at Tuckenhay. 

  • Grade 2 listed water mill.
  • Removal and use of original slates.
  • Specialist ‘diminishing size’ slate laying.
  • Skilled work shaping slates around.


A quiet river now, but not so long ago this powerful river roared to the sound of several giant mills; Harbertonford with the wool mill manufacturing serge cloth for the military, Bow Creek with the paper mill making bank notes for the world and in between these giants were many smaller mills for the grinding of flour. Crowdy Mill is one such mill; now a Grade 2 listed building its origins date back to 1297 and with the roof of the mill house being over 100 years old it was in need of repair.

 “Having a listed building does have an impact on how restoration and renovation projects are approached and this was the case for the work on the roof. We had used South Hams Roofing for a small project some time ago and we chose them for this work.”

With the scaffolding in place the first step was to remove the old slates, clean and sort them for re-use where possible, taking great care to organise the slates in the correct order as this roof has random width and diminishing size of slate where the smaller slates are attached at the top of the roof with the size gradually increasing with the largest slates at the edge of the roof.

 Pete Scoble: “South Hams Roofing has many years experience working on historic and listed buildings and we work closely with the National Trust and English Heritage, so this kind of specialist heritage roofing work is very much part of what we offer in Devon and the South Hams in particular. The work has to be approached in the right way; we remove, clean, sort and stack the slates before re fitting in the original order and cutting to fit the many edges and drainage gullies.”

The finish and overall effect is worth all the effort as the aged texture of the slates creates a roof which is new, but one that sits comfortably within its historical setting as if it had not been touched for years, blending perfectly with the surrounding mill buildings and the early summer green of the deep Harbourne valley.

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