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The New Somerset Heritage Centre and its Site History
The Somerset Heritage Centre was built in 2010 on a huge brownfield site in the Silk Mills area of Taunton in the parish of Norton Fitzwarren. The site is bounded by the main West Country railway line on the south, the present main Taunton to Wiveliscombe and Bampton road on the north, the Back Brook on the east and the former Taunton Cider Works, now being redeveloped for housing, on the west.
Until the 20th century this was a largely agricultural area but the Back Brook, ancient boundary between the parishes of Norton Fitzwarren west and Staplegrove east was an ideal source of power for mills. Flowing down from the Quantock hills and fed by many tributaries it has a good flow of water even in draught stricken 2010.
The best known mill on the watercourse was the Back Brook silk mill later the Staplegrove factory, which despite many changes of use, was popularly known as the silk mills, and gave that name to the adjoining road and the area around. The name survives although the mill buildings were demolished and the site now lies under the embankment