A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
March 17, 2020
Brentmoor China Clay Works Exploration
Steve Grigg & Frank Collinson
With the fabulous work the Dartmoor Rangers and their volunteers have done at Shipley Bridge, the old Brentmoor China Clay Works have really come to life now and make for an easier explore, rather than get hooked up in all gorse.
Using the excellent survey by Dr Phil Newman (2002) from English Heritage on behalf of the DNP, this site is now well worth a visit and right next to the car park.
Taken from the Dr Phil Newman (English Heritage) paper:
“Historical aspects of industrial activity on Brent Moor and the works at Shipley Bridge have been researched by Robinson (1980, 3-5), Wade (1984) and Brewer (1989), though all have revealed that documentary evidence is somewhat fragmentary. The earliest recorded activity at the site was the naphtha distillation works and peat charcoal plant which was set up in 1847 by Tomes businessmen Davy and Wilkin. This aim of this venture was to cut peat from the moors near Redlake and transport it via the Zeal Tor Tramroad to a refining works at Shipley Bridge. The partnership was short-lived and was dissolved in 1850 (Wade 1984, 15). The major surviving field evidence associated with this episode is the tramway though it is also believed that buildings constructed by this concern were later adapted for clay drying purposes. Robinson’s research also revealed that by 1858 a company known as ‘The Clay Company Ltd’ was working clay deposits on Brent Moor near the head of the Bala Brook. Clay was washed from the extraction site and transported as a liquid in open channels to the processing works at Shipley Bridge. A surviving map of 1855, shows that an area of the Shipley Bridge site had been designated as ‘ground reserved for clay works’, and delineated by boundary stones. This company was apparently short-lived due mainly to the poor quality of the product (Robinson 1980, 4). A further flurry of activity here commenced in 1872, under the Brent Moor Clay Co. and continued until 1880 when the company was forced to close due to the depressed price of clay (Wade 1984, IS). A final attempt at working the Brent Moor deposits occurred in 1923 when it was stated in a newspaper article that the promoters were reusing the existing facilities installed by the 1872 concern (Robinson 1980, 4).”
Brewer D 1989 ‘Brent Moor’ Dartmoor Magazine 16.
Robinson R 1980 ‘The Early China Clay Industry on Brent Moor’ PMMCJ, 2.1, 3-5.
Robinson R 1984 Plan of Brent Moor Clayworks – Shipley Bridge (unpub).
Wade E H 1984 The Redlake Tramway and China clay war/cc.