Members of Crewkerne & District U3A’s Local History group were the first customers to visit the new visitors centre at Dawes Twineworks in West Coker. The party of 37 group members who were greeted by a guide wearing a tall Victorian top hat were divided into three groups as they began a tour of the working relic of a bygone industry, once very important to that particular rural area of Somerset. Believed to be the last surviving rural twineworks that still has its original Victorian machinery and a 100 metre long main walk, the site closed in 1968 and its buildings were close to collapsing when it was rescued in 2005 with a compulsory purchase order by South Somerset District Council.
The historic twineworks is now run by the Coker Rope and Sail Trust which is continuing the restoration work. Their efforts were recently boosted by a £404,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Leader of the U3A’s Local History group, Eileen Mills said: “We were shown the engine working and how it has changed over the years, from being hand-powered to steam and then to diesel. We also saw many old books and documents relating to the old twineworks.” The outing finished with the group enjoying tea and cakes at the new visitors centre. Eileen said: “It was a fascinating visit and we were all so impressed by the work they are doing to preserve a unique piece of history. It was nice to be their first visitors and they made us very welcome.”