Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine (and miners)

The Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine was originally separate mines on opposite sides of the Redwater Valley, with Vitifer on the west side and Birch Tor on the east side. That said, they were mostly worked together. The mine was the most profitable mine on Dartmoor with 1177 tons of Black Tin extracted between 1852 & around 1928. However, total production may have been around 2000 tons if unrecorded successful operations from the 18th and early 19th century are included.

The deep open workings on the backs of lodes in this area were extensively worked in the late Medieval period around the 16th and 17th centuries, after which the mine was worked from the mid-18th century (Burch Tor bounds recorded in 1757). The mine was then worked by the Dartmoor Mining and Smelting Company in the 1780s. By 1796, it is recorded that 13 shafts had been sunk and that 40 men were employed. The mine was profitable until 1820s when there was a slump in the tin price. Shortly after this (around 1834), Captain John Paull (or Palk) acquired the lease at a knock down price having reputed to have kept his knowledge of the most profitable lodes from the owners.

In the early 1860s the mine had a revival with 150 people employed following a change of ownership. The peak of production appears to be around 1864 with 150 tons of black tin being sold. The mine declined after the peak and closed in 1882. There was a mini-revival in the early 20th century between 1903 and 1913 and was moderately successful employing 35 people. After the first world war there was a small amount of both surface work and underground work until the mine was finally abandoned around 1939.

This post and information contained herein has made reference to The Dartmoor Historic Environment Record (HER), two superb books, namely: “Tin Mines and Miners of Dartmoor” by Dr Tom Greeves and “Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities – The North” by Jeremy Butler and finally a 1883-84 map, which the author was given with most of the lode and shaft names annotated to it . To add to the post, the author has added a few letterboxing stamps, which his father created in the 1990s.

0. Map
This sketch map shows all the key features covered in this post.
1. Bennetts Cross a
Bennett’s Cross is oddly misshapen and is probably one of the most photographed crosses on the moor. It is a good starting point for exploring Birch Tor and Vitifer mine workings in the Redwater Valley.
2. Bennetts Cross b
Bennett’s Cross is also a boundary stone between Chagford and North Bovey parishes.
3. Bennetts Cross c
Bennett’s Cross has been used as a boundary stone for Headland Warren as it has “WB” (Warren Bounds) inscribed on its north face, which is evident in the above (right) photograph taken on a night walk by the author.
Map 2
The dotted red arrowed line shows the route (photographs) shown in this post. The photographs are from visits to the area by the author at various times of the year, hence the variation in light conditions and the apparent change in vegetation seen.
4. Hamblys Lode east a
Top of Hamblys Lode (East) where footpath crosses before passing the field known as Jan Reynolds Ace (Diamond). The path then crosses Birch Tor Lode en-route to the granite outcrops of Birch Tor.
5. Hamblys Lode east b
Looking down Hamblys Lode (East)
6. Hamblys lode east c
Looking up Hamblys Lode (East) from the footpath
6a. Jan Reynolds Diamond b
Jan Reynolds Ace – Diamond as viewed from the path between Bennett’s Cross and Birch Tor. There is a further description of the “Jan Reynolds Aces” later in the post.
7. Birch Tor Lode - Adit a
Birch Tor Lode Adit. This can be found at SX68458 81555, near the highest point of the lode and close (20m up) from where the modern footpath between Bennett’s Cross and Birch Tor crosses the workings.
8. Birch Tor Lode - Adit b
Birch Tor Lode Adit on closer inspection (and at a different time of year than the first picture) shows access today is still possible (albeit not recommended unless with an experienced group). The adit descends at a steep angle into the hillside. There are great views looking west (down the lode) towards Warren House Inn
9. Birch Tor Lode a
Looking down Birch Tor Lode (in winter)
10. Birch Tor Lode b
Birch Tor Lode in Spring
11. Birch Tor Lode shaft above Prideaux
Descending Birch Tor Lode from the footpath, the explorer will pass two old shafts en-route to Prideaux Shaft.
12. Birch Tor Lode Prideaux Shaft 1
Prideaux Shaft can be located about one third the way down Birch Tor Lode from the footpath to Redwater Valley.
13. Birch Tor Lode Prideaux Shaft 2
Prideaux Shaft was recorded at SX68329 81422.
14. John (Jack) Webb
The picture showing miner John (Jack) Webb shows the method of hand drilling c1912, where miners would work in pairs, one would hold the drill and the second would hammer it. Alongside John (Jack Webb) is Freddy Warne. John (Jack) Webb is recorded in “Tin Mines and Tin Miners of Dartmoor” (by Dr Tom Greeves) as coming from Postbridge and who was killed during the First World War The letterbox stamp was designed by the authors father with “hh” being his nom-de-plume.
15. Birch Tor Lode Guppies Shaft 1
Guppies Shaft lies in Birch Tor Lode between Prideaux Shaft and the Redwater Valley floor. Guppies Shaft is now engulfed by a fir tree and can be found at SX68286 81364.
16. Birch Tor Lode - Wall a
Further down Birch Tor Lode from Guppies Shaft is a quite spectacular retaining wall. It is located at SX68285 81342. Ore from Birch Tor Lode was transported up the south side of the gully on a tramway, which was buttressed at its lower end. The author surmises that the picture is the aforementioned buttress.
17. Birch Tor Lode Wall b
Looking back up Birch Tor Lode with the retaining wall in shadow (just to the right of the area of rubble). The “line” towards the top right hand side of the picture could be the tramway location previously described.
18. Birch Tor Lode - Pond
Pond at the bottom of Birch Tor Lode. The author is unaware of the use of this – it could be a flooded shaft or possibly a tinners’ reservoir used provide supplementary water to a waterwheel further down the valley.
19. Birch Tor Lode shaft at bottom
Next to the pond at the bottom of Birch Tor Lode amongst some trees is another shaft. This shaft is at SX68230 81271.
A10. Tramway Chair
Found in February 2024 near the bottom of Birch Tor Lode where it meets Redwater Valley. This piece of ironwork looks like a ‘chair’ used to secure a rail, which probably was used on a tramway at the mine.
20. Main Gully shaft a
Shaft in main Redwater Valley at SX68165 81173.
21. Wheelpit (3) - Redwater Valley
Site of large wheel pit (number 3 on map) in centre of Redwater Valley at SX68175 81220. The wheel would have been 38ft in diameter and used to help pump out the New Shaft at North Lode and Hambly Shaft at Hambly Lode using flat rods. The wheel would have been supplied by the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine leat and supplemented by a branch of the Redwater spring.
A4a. Wheelpit 3 leat 1
Bottom end of Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat leading to waterwheel 3
A4a. Wheelpit 3 leat 2
Another angle of the bottom end of the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine Leat looking west. The footpath leading down into the valley from the Warren House Inn area can be seen near the centre / top of the photograph. Soussons Plantation can be seen in the distance.
A4a. Wheelpit 3
Close up (Winter view) of wheelpit 3
A4b. Structure near Wheelpit 3
Stone structure near wheelpit 3 at SX68183 81228 is possibly part of the two flat rod systems which turned near this point from the water wheel up to Hambly’s Shaft and New Shaft respectively.
A6a. Flat Rod Channels from wheelpit 3
Just north east of wheelpit 3, two ‘V’ channels where flat rods leading to Hambly’s Shaft and New Shaft would have been located. It is unlikely the two flat rod systems would have been operational at the same period in time.
A6b. Flat Rod Channels from wheelpit 3
Flat rod ‘V’ channel leading to New Shaft
A6c. Flat Rod Channels from wheelpit 3
Flat rod ‘V’ channel leading to Hambly’s Shaft
A4c. Gully runoff from Wheelpit 3
Leading away (west) from wheelpit 3 is a deep gully which has a bridge constructed over the top (SX68152 81207). The conjecture is that the gully was either a tailrace or was for a third set of flatrods leading away from the wheelpit.
A4d. Gully runoff from Wheelpit 3
Contextual view of the gully leading westwards from wheelpit 3 – used as either a tail race or possibly flat rods
A4e. Gully runoff from Wheelpit 3
Continuation of the gully from wheelpit 3 from beyond the small bridge. It would seem strange to have made such an effort to build these walls (at SX68146 81201) simply for a tailrace, which leads thoughts to perhaps this was for flat rods. If so, there is no obvious shaft they would have lead to and shortly after this point the gully makes a right angled bend.
A5 Adit near Wheelpit 3
Adit to the west of Wheelpit 3
A11. Leat tunnel below Wheelpit 3
Leat tunnel below Wheelpit 3, which would have fed water further down the valley towards the buildings. This is located at SX68210 81230
A12. Old Tramway
Remains of the course of an old tramway in Redwater Valley
22. Buildings in 1950s
In the centre of the Redwater Valley is the “mining village” complex. Most of the buildings today are now reduced to their foundations. The photo from c1950 showing some of the mine buildings ruins. 1 = Blacksmiths shop and miners dry, 2 = Carpenters shop, 3 = Birch Tor.
23. Redwater valley - clapper
Redwater valley clapper looking west towards the blacksmiths shop and miners dry. The carpenters shop is just visible to the left (and behind) the tree.
24. Blacksmiths shop a
The ruins of the Blacksmiths Shop and Miners Dry. The building was over 40m long and was subdivided into five or six compartments.
25. Blacksmiths shop b
20th Century miners superimposed outside the 21st Century ruins of the Blacksmiths Shop and Miners Dry.
26. Blacksmiths shop c
John Sowden was known as “Captain” Sowden and is recorded as being a regular chapel man at Postbridge, ref : “Tin Mines and Tin Miners of Dartmoor” (by Dr Tom Greeves). The letterbox stamp was designed by the authors father with “hh” being his nom-de-plume.
27. Blacksmiths shop d
Blacksmiths shop and miners dry can be found at SX68175 80956
28. Blacksmiths shop e
General views of the Blacksmiths Shop and Miners Dry.
29. Blacksmiths shop f
Part of Blacksmiths shop and miners dry. The piece of iron with the hole can be found at SX68175 80956
30. Blacksmiths shop g
The remains of the chimney at the Blacksmiths Shop and Miners Dry
31. Blacksmiths shop h
Remains of chimney stack at Blacksmiths shop and miners dry at SX68175 80956
32. Carpenters shop a
Ruins of the Carpenters Shop, as recorded following an archaeological field survey in 2001 is 4.6 metes wide, comprising two compartments. The two compartments are 9.8 metres long and 3.2 metres long. ref Dartmoor HER.
33. Carpenters shop b
Carpenters Shop wall with “Johny Rose” plaque attached to the remaining south wall. A modern addition whose history the author is unaware of.
34. Buildings in 1912
Another general view of the Redwater valley “mining village” complex, with all buildings intact, taken c1912. 1 = Dormitory, kitchen, canteen, mine captains house and a cottage, 2 = Mine offices, 3 = Bungalow for miners families, 4 = Managers House, 5 = Birch Tor, 6 = Garden Lodes
35. General buildings in 2022
Jan Reynold’s Ace – club (field) from Redwater Valley with the ruins of the miners dormitories complex.
36. Dormitory a
Remains of the miners dormitory, kitchen, canteen, mine captains house and cottage next to one of Jan Reynolds aces (the “club”). The building was constructed in the early 20th century at the time of the 1903-1913 period of operation of the mine.
37. Dormitory b
The complex of buildings included a dormitory. The upper floor had a central corridor divided into cubicles.
A13. Hostel
Looking down onto the ruins of the dormitories (which once housed 16 men) and across to the miners dry, blacksmiths shop and the carpenters shop.
38. Dormitory c
The complex of buildings included a dormitory where the miners would have lodged for the week having walked from villages from around the edges of the moor. The ground floor had a kitchen range and a canteen. Behind the dormitory were two buildings, comprising the Mine Captains house and another cottage where a mining family lived.
39. Dormitory d
The Mine Captains House is the oldest building in the area and is believed to date from the late 18th century. It had four bedrooms upstairs and 3 rooms downstairs, when occupied by Captain Richard and Anna Jory in the late 19th century. It had a small garden. There was a kitchen, sitting room and a pantry but no toilet (which was in the garden).
40. Mine Offices a
These foundations are the remains of the mine office building, where the accounts were kept and wages were paid. Between 1896 and 1906 it was also the home of John Coaker and his family.
41. Mine Offices b
The dimensions of the mine office is recorded on the Dartmoor HER as 13.5 metres by 5.3 metres. 
42. Mine Offices c
The mine office had two main compartments and a lean-to structure on the rear east side.
43. Mine Offices d
The mine office can be found at SX68271 80992
44. Mine Offices e
The mine office was constructed from mortared stone.
45. Bungalow
This building foundation is the remains of a single-storey timber bungalow. It was L-shaped on plan.
46. Bungalow b
The miners bungalow is recorded on the Dartmoor HER thus: “The main building plinth measures 10 metres by 3.5 metres and the smaller section, which may include the entrance is approximately 5.3 metres by 2.8 metres”.
47. Bungalow c
The miners bungalow is located at SX68277 80970
48. Garden Lode
Bottom of the Garden Lode with Birch Tor in the background.
49. Garden Lode b
The Garden Lode is the smallest in the area and is located near the Managers House.
50. Managers House
Outline of Managers House slightly above the track heading towards Headand Warren. Challacombe Down on the horizon on the other side of Chaw Gully.
51. Managers House b
The Managers / Directors house is recorded as having been rather an imposing bungalow with a veranda of wood and glass. It was built for a Mr. W.A. Padfield (Mine Director). The building was burnt down before the first world war.
52. Jan Reynolds Aces Spade b
Corner of Jan Reynold’s Ace (4) – spade (field). Challacombe Down in the background.
53. Vermin Trap
Part of Vermin Trap found at the corner of the Jan Reynold’s Ace- spade (field)
54. Vermin Trap b
The part vermin trap comprises three individual stones each with a linear slot. Vermin traps were constructed out of granite with slate shutters to catch weasels and stoats and so to protect the warrened rabbits (at Headland Warren). Vermin traps can be found around the moor predominantly in the area of upper River Plym.
55. Vermin Trap c
The vermin trap is located in the corner of one of the Headland Warren enclosures (aka Jan Reynolds Ace – spade)
56. Vermin Trap d
This part vermin trap can be found at SX68382 80896.
57. Vermin Trap e
This vermin trap was probably associated with Headland Warren.
58. Benchmark a
Benchmark on the outside of the wall of the spade field. As seen on the phone this benchmark can be found at SX68420 80893.
59. Benchmark b
The benchmark reference is B.M 1249.1
60. Benchmark c
The benchmark can be seen from the footpath alongside the wall which is en-route to Headland Warren from Redwater Valley
A14a. Leat to Tinners Mill
Leat to the 20th century Tinner’s Mill
A14b. Leat to Tinners Mill
The leat to the Tinner’s Mill taking a 90 degree bend before passing over an embankment from which a launder would have taken the water over an overshot waterwheel
A14c. Leat to Tinners Mill
Leat embankment leading to the Tinner’s Mill
A14d. Leat to Tinners Mill
Top of leat embankment (at SX68390 80751)
A15a. Tramway to Tinners Mill
Tramway to Tinner’s Mill, which seems to have originated close to Dunstan’s Shaft
A15b. Tramway to Tinners Mill
Tramway to Tinner’s Mill taken from near the main track leading to the Golden Dagger Mine
A15c. Tinners Mill Map
Tinner’s Mill Map showing leat, tramway, buddles and nearby adit
A16a. Tinners Mill
The site of the 20th century Tinner’s Mill is extremely overgrown and is barely discernible. The edge of the mill was recorded at SX68456 80728. The Tinner’s Mill was destroyed when unexploded WWII bombs were brought from Plymouth to be detonated here.
A16b. Tinners Mill possible stamps
Within the Tinner’s Mill are some old metal posts which might represent part of an old stamps area. This is located at SX68335 80714
A17a. Buddle #1
The Tinner’s Mill appears to have had at least four buddles. Buddle #1 is located at SX68331 80700
A17b. Buddle #2
Buddle #2 is located at SX68321 80706
A17c. Buddle #3
Buddle #3 is located at SX68335 80774
A17d. Buddle #4
Buddle #4 is located at SX68339 80669
A17e. Adit
A short distance from the Tinner’s Mill at SX68456 80728 is an adit (collapsed), which was driven over 1300 feet east on D lode with cross-cuts to other lodes. This was dug near the end of the life of the mine not long before the company suspended operations in 1914 due to a lack of labour.
61. Wheelpit (5) Redwater Valley
Wheelpit (number 5 on sketch map) can be found in the centre of the Redwater Valley close to the buildings. It is quite hard to discern and is at SX68254 80918
62. Wheelpit (4) end of South Lode a
View from the bottom of the South lodes overlooking the wheelpit (Dunstan’s) at SX68166 80917 and part of the Redwater Valley complex. The wheelpit is labelled as number 4 on the sketch map in this post.
63. Wheelpit (4) end South Lode b
Turbine House at SX68166 80917.
A19. Turbine House
The Turbine House would have held a pelton wheel where electricity had been generated to light the mill and to run a magnetic separator.
64. Wheelpit (4) end South Lode c
Dunstan’s Wheelpit at SX68166 80917
A18. Dunstans Wheelpit
Dunstan’s Wheelpit had a 45ft wheel
A20a. Vitifer Miners 1860s
Photograph from 1860s of miners believed to be the oldest in existence of miners alongside a waterwheel (Dunstan’s)
A20b. DTRG 180224
The Dartmoor Tin Research Group (DTRG) recreating the 1860’s picture
A20c. Vitifer Miners 1860s vs DTRG 2024
Combining photographs taken 160 years apart
A21a. Telegraph Pole a
Close to Dunstan’s Wheelpit on the main track is an old telegraph pole, which once carried wires across the valley to Headland Warren Farm
A21b. Telegraph Pole b
The telegraph pole has two ‘1’ metal tags on it. It is located at SX68092 80932
A21c. Telegraph Pole c
A possible cut off telegraph pole is located at SX68142 80935
65. Dunstans Shaft a
Most probable location of Dunstans Shaft at bottom of South Lodes at SX68134 80899 located near to a wheel pit (pictured in previous photographs). This shaft was named after the mine captain and was started in 1846 reaching 40 fathoms. It is difficult to photograph with the tree now in situ.
66. South Lodes k
Looking up South lodes from near Dunstans shaft.
67. South Lodes from 1913
South Lodes from c. 1913
68. South Lodes j
South Lodes provide a very interesting exploration. The lodes are 0.5km long and up to 80m wide.
69. South Lodes i
Looking east down South lodes with Birch Tor on the horizon.
A22. Great South Lode
Great South Lode
70. South lodes (bottom)
Narrowing point of South lodes
71. South Lodes h
Just over half way up South Lodes – Birch Tor prominent on hillside opposite. The lode getting narrower as the hill is ascended
72. South lodes g
South lodes becomes more like a canyon as the hill is ascended and is characterised by large granite outcrops. The medieval miners had to work hard for their tin.
73. South Lodes f
South lodes were excavated by the “old men”, probably from the 16th century.
74. South Lodes e
More views of South lodes looking west (uphill)
75. South Lodes d
Nearing the summit point of South lodes
76. South Lodes c
South Lodes just down from Lances Shaft. The South Lodes have marooned “islands of rock” along its length.
77. South lodes shaft
Shaft close to Lance’s Shaft – was this an air shaft ?
78. Lances Shaft a
Lance’s Shaft (ref Butler – Dartmoor Antiquities North) at SX67830 80768. Pump (flat) rods for draining the shaft ran back to the small water wheel (28ft), located at the wheel pit at SX67885 80829. Date shaft dug believed to be late 1840s.
A2e. Lances Shaft
Lances Shaft
79. Sidney French
Sidney French (1889-1976) came from a farming family (Middle Merripit) and had 8 brothers and sisters. He began working Vitifer Mine when he was just 13 years old, initially as a “buddle boy” on the surface before going underground at the age of 17. ref : “Tin Mines and Tin Miners of Dartmoor” (by Dr Tom Greeves). The letterbox stamp was designed by the authors father with “hh” being his nom-de-plume.
80. Lances Shaft b
Providing some scale for Lances Shaft.
81. South Lodes b
South Lodes above Lance’s shaft close to modern footpath
82. South Lodes (top)
Paths crossing the top of South lodes
83. Shaft in Millman's Lode
Millman’s Shaft in Millman’s Lode at SX67736 80747
A2d. Millmans Shaft
Millmans Shaft is located by the Fir Tree
84. Vitifer Leat a
Vitifer and Birch Tor mine leat. Its source is taken from the East Dart and North Teign rivers and is 12.2km in length with slope average of around 1 in 150.
85. Vitifer Leat b
Vitifer and Birch Tor mine leat approaching South Lodes
A1 Golden Dagger Leat a
The ‘col’ between the Great South Lode and Millman’s Lode is where there once was a spur of the main Birch Tor and Vitifer Leat, which crossed over an aqueduct / launder and continued across an old raised embankment, which can still be seen taking water onwards towards Golden Dagger Mine.
A1 Golden Dagger Leat b
Location of spur which fed water across the launder is located at SX67777 80777
A1 Golden Dagger Leat c
Promontory on the ‘col’ between Great South Lode and Millnan’s Lode where launder carried water across to an embankment and onwards to Golden Dagger Mine. The promontory is located at SX67780 80761
A1 Golden Dagger Leat d
Another view of the ‘Golden Dagger’ leat branch off the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mine leat
A2 1b. Wheelpit
The Birch Tor and Vitifer Leat had a short branch (which fed the water which provided the power for the flat rods for Lance’s and Millman’s shafts). The branch was dug slightly to the north before crossing back across the main leat (by a short launder). The photograph illustrates how the branch was dug.
86. Wheelpit (1) South lodes
Wheelpit (labelled 1 on map) fed by Birch Tor and Vitifer mine leat at SX67885 80829. The wheel fed two flat rod systems for pumping Lances Shaft and Millman’s Shaft, albeit unlikely at the same period of time
A2 1b. Wheelpit
Wheelpit for 28ft wheel which powered flat rods for Lance’s and Millman’s shafts
A2 1c. Wheelpit
The tailrace from the water wheel and the main Birch Tor and Vitifer leat continued downhill to the next water wheel near Wall’s shaft (where another set of flat rods were located)
A2 2a. Flat Rods
The two ‘V’ channels leading to the west from the 28ft wheel (number 1 on sketch map) allowing the course of the flat rods
A2 2b. Flat Rods
Flat Rod channel to Millman’s Shaft
A2 2c. Flat Rods
Flat Rod channel to Lance’s Shaft
87. Jan Reynolds Aces a
View of the Jan Reynolds Aces. The Dartmoor myth involves a heavy drinking and gambling tin miner who had a brush with the devil in the 17th century. The enclosures are supposed to resemble four aces from Jan Reynolds card hand he had. The enclosures were first recorded on a map of the warren in 1797. In the authors opinion : 1 = diamond, 2 = heart, 3 = clubs, 4 = spade.
88. Jan Reynolds Aces b
Jan Reynold’s Aces from Google earth
89. Jan Reynolds Diamond
Jan Reynold’s Ace (1) – diamond. The purpose of these field is presumed to relate to the trapping and harvesting of rabbits as part of Headland Warren,
90. Jan Reynolds Heart
Jan Reynold’s Ace (2) – heart.
91. Jan Reynolds Aces Clubs
Jan Reynold’s Ace (2) – club.
92. Jan Reynolds Aces Spade
Jan Reynold’s Ace (4) – spade.
93. Pauls Lode
Paulls Lode looking across at Birch Tor Lode
94. Walled Shaft a
The Wall’s shaft (ref Butler) around the area between Wall’s Lode and Paul’s Lode can be found at SX67984 81040
A3a. Walls Shaft
DTRG visit to Wall’s shaft. This was possibly Engine Shaft from 1846 sunk to 84 fms
95. Walled Shaft b
Close up of Wall’s shaft
96. Wheelpit (2) Pauls Lode a
Wheelpit (labelled 2 on map) in Paull’s Lode at SX68076 81114.
A3b. Walls Shaft Wheelpit 42ft
Walls Shaft water wheelpit (42ft) would have had flat rods used to provide power to pump the shaft
97. Wheelpit (2) Pauls Lode b
Close up of wheelpit in Paull’s lode
98. Wheelpit (2) Pauls Lode c
Another view of wheelpit in Paull’s lode
A3c. Walls Shaft Wheelpit 42ft
The area to the right (north) of the wheelpit (number 2) would have been where the flat rod drive mechanism (crank) would have been located
A3c. Walls Shaft Wheelpit 42ft
Exit ‘tail race’ portal from Wall’s shaft wheelpit
A3e. Walls Shaft Wheelpit 42ft
The exit portal from Wall’s shaft wheelpit is located at SX68077 81114
A3f. Walls Shaft Wheelpit 42ft
Close up of Wall’s shaft wheelpit tail race portal
99. Hamblys Lode West
Hambly’s Lode (West) from near Hambly’s Shaft. Birch Tor and Vitifer Mining Company worked Hambly’s Lode between 1845 and 1858. At this time, the mine operation employed no more than 20 (Greeves).
A9b. Shafts near Hambleys Shaft
Winter view of flooded shafts near Hambly’s Shaft
A9c. Shafts near Hambleys Shaft
Flooded shafts near Hambly’s Shaft. The water was disturbed by a dog just before the photograph was taken.
100. Hamblys Lode West b
Another view of Hambly’s Lode (West).
101. Hamblys Shaft a
Hambly’s Shaft at SX68067 81322 with Birch Tor behind
102. Hamblys Shaft b
Hambly’s Shaft was operational during the most prosperous period of the mine, in the 1860’s and 1870’s.
A6d. Flat Rod Channels from wheelpit 3
Flat rod ‘V’ channel leading to Hambly’s shaft from wheelpit 3
A6e. Flat Rod Channels from wheelpit 3
Another view of the flat rod ‘V’ channel leading to Hambly’s shaft from wheelpit 3
A9a. Hambleys Shaft
Close up of Hambly’s shaft in Winter
103. Hamblys Shaft c
Looking down Hambly’s Shaft (Summer) which, in particular proved to be a rich source of ore.
104. New Shaft
Shaft at junction of Hambly’s Lode and North Lode at SX68084 81424, is the probable location of New Shaft.
A8a. New Shaft
Fenced off New Shaft – February 2024
A8b. New Shaft
New shaft and North Lode area
A8c. Structure above New Shaft
Unknown structure above North Lode and New Shaft at SX68047 81347.
105. North Lode Shaft
Possible shaft in North Lode at SX68132 81470
A7a. Revetment wall near New Shaft
Dug our section and revetment wall near New Shaft
A7b. Revetment wall near New Shaft
Close up of the revetment wall near New Shaft
A7c. Revetment wall near New Shaft
Close up of the revetment wall near New Shaft at SX68127 81433
106. Harry Westcott and Lewis Evely
Harry Westcott (b.1861) wasn’t a local man having come from North Molton. It is interesting that he originally was a cobbler and harness maker before becoming a miner. Lewis Evely (b.1884), was one of 15 or possibly 16 children and came from Whiddon Down before moving to Shilstone Farm for a period. He was also a local preacher. ref : “Tin Mines and Tin Miners of Dartmoor” (by Dr Tom Greeves).The letterbox stamp was designed by the authors father with “hh” being his nom-de-plume.

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  1. Mike Jeffery December 16, 2022

    This is a brilliant study of Vitifer and Birch Tor, and area I am very interested in

  2. Andrew Knight August 21, 2023

    Just came across this page. I spent many hours when I was younger exploring the mines at Birch Tor and Vifter looking for rocks and minerals (I spent a lot of time at Challacombe Farm) but never really understood where everything was and what it was for. Thank for this. Now it all makes sense and I will definitely have to take a trip back there.

    I spent a lot of time searching for mines o Dartmoor (without much success most f the time) so this is really nice to find.

    Thank you

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