A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
January 12, 2023
Great and East Sortridge Consols Mine
The Plaster Down area at first glance seems to be devoid on any features of note, especially the area to the west of the road between Riland Plantation and Warren’s Cross. The area was however, a hive of activity in the mid-19th century with (at least) two major shafts and many trial pits being dug in relation to the Great and East Sortridge Consols Mine. Hamilton Jenkin wrote in his book on the mines of Devon (Southern Area) that “South of Whitchurch Down lie the Sortridge Mines – Great Sortridge, Great Sortridge United, Great West Sortridge, East Sortridge, North Sortridge – which sprang up like mushrooms in the 1850s”.
The Great Sortridge (or Plaister Down) Mine was once included in the Sortridge Consols sett (whose main workings were half a mile north of Horrabridge, near Sortridge Manor). The mine was originally set up to search for tin and by 1846 and adit had been driven 200 fathoms expecting to cut a lode at 12 fathoms from the surface. Records show that three shafts were initially sunk and small quantities of tin, native copper and spots of yellow ore were found. The position of the mine was formerly distinguished by a tall chimney stack (long since disappeared) which was adjacent to the main shaft.
By 1854, the mine is recorded as being named Great and East Sortridge Consols and was a copper mine (in spite deposits of tin having been found). It was at that time held under a lease for 21 years, at a royalty of 1-15th, granted by Colonel Harris, of Radford (Plymstock, near Plymouth). This post follows an exploration of the remaining features of these mine workings on Plaster Down and includes other notable features such as Higher Pennington Barn, two benchmarks, a milestone and aspects of Grimstone and Sortridge Leat.
Mines of Devon Volume – The Southern Area – A.K. Hamilton Jenkin