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Local accountants help to get the wheel turning! Vital work on East Devon waterwheel restoration project completed

July 24, 2019 | News

Restoration of the historic Clapperentale Waterwheel, set in the enchanting Tale Valley, East Devon, is a step closer thanks to staff from the Exeter office of Chartered Accountants Simpkins Edwards.

In a change from their normal day-to-day activities of keeping the business wheels turning, a team of 12 staff spent the day clearing a vital outflow tunnel that will enable the waterwheel, situated near Ottery St Mary, to turn for the first time in 80 years.

Working with the Tale Valley Trust, Simpkins Edwards donned gloves, wellies and waders to undertake the hot, dirty and exhausting job of clearing the outflow of mud and other debris built up since the 1940s. The Trust has set the completion of the restoration project as its flagship Clapperentale water meadows project, marking its 20th anniversary this year.

Split in to two teams, the group worked all day; with an underground team working in near-darkness, digging out and collecting the mud, passing the buckets back through the culvert to be extracted. The overground team worked in the fierce heat of the sun, lifting and emptying the buckets into a tipper.

Project Coordinator, Mish Kennaway of the Tale Valley Trust, applauded Simpkins Edwards for their hard work: “This is the second year in a row that the team from Simpkins Edwards has helped us with vital projects here at the Tale Valley Trust. They worked like Trojans and achieved a huge amount, clearing the entire 24m tunnel by the end of the day. This was no mean feat and helps us towards our goal of having the wheel turning again by this autumn.

“As a charity, we’re heavily reliant on volunteers who work on a variety of conservation projects. Help is always needed and much appreciated, and we welcome interest from other businesses looking to get involved with their local communities.”

Mark Simic, Partner at the Exeter office of Simpkins Edwards, commented: “It was a huge honour to be invited to work on this prestigious project for the Tale Valley Trust. Last year we helped to clear Himalayan Balsam from the River Tale, which we’ll be returning to do again later this month, but once we’d heard of the Trust’s flagship Jubilee project, we just had to get involved. It was hugely challenging as the 24m brick exit culvert was little more than 90cm in height. That meant that most of the extraction of the mud had to be done lying down, which was tough, but well worth it.”

Mark added: “Having been installed on site in 1868 and used to power a chaff cutter, among many other functions, the Clapperentale Water Wheel is truly iconic. The iron work is immaculate and the wheel itself is in good condition, with the wooden blades all being replaced. It will be quite a sight to see once all the work is complete, and we look forward to returning to see her back in full operation.”

The Clapperentale Waterwheel Project is just one of the many volunteering days that Simpkins Edwards is participating in over 2019. From litter picks and tree planting, to makeovers of the Museum of Dartmoor Life and the Scout and Guide hut in Okehampton, staff from Simpkins Edwards will be out and about across the county, making a positive difference to local communities.