Dartmoor Explorations

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

Gutter Tor Vermin Trap – A DEMONSTRATION

Steve Grigg and Frank Collinson

Recreating what an 18th century vermin trap would have looked like when it was in full working order and demonstrating a full scale and fully operational model trap.This is my personal tribute to Ted Birkett-Dixon, who was a DPA / WEA guide and took over antiquity recording from Richard Hansford-Worth in the 1950’s. The reason for the connection between Ted and this trap is detailed within the post.

Gutter 1
This is picture of Ted, from issue 67 of Dartmoor Magazine. I was lucky enough to have been out on Ted’s guided walks (day and night) for a number of years in the 90s and early 00s. So what is the connection with Vermin Traps? On his night walks Ted often went to the Gutter Tor trap and would tell us of his half scale trap he had at home. Little did I realise that 25 years later, I’d built a full scale version of the trap.
Gutter 2
This is the Vermin Trap, Ted would guide us to. Its between Gutter Tor and the track leading to Ditsworthy Warren House. Having measured it pre-lockdown, I decided I’d attempt to make a full scale version of this taking up the mantle from Ted.
Gutter 3
By happen chance, I managed to track down Ted’s Vermin Trap, which is at Parke. I managed to photograph it and had a copy of the RG Haynes publication on Vermin Traps from 1970, which showed how one worked. The result was this one.
Gutter 4
The full scale model in the “V” section of the trap, next to the original.
Gutter 5
Another view of the “V” leading to the original trap.
Gutter 6
A weasel at the entrance of the trap.
Gutter 7
The trip mechanism (as per the RG Haynes publication). Inside is a pivoted plate, which when stepped on pushes the dark brown lever down, thus releasing the block.

https://youtu.be/CvZOv5EwEIc

Vermin Trap Video 1

Demonstrating how the trap shutters work. You can see the block fly out of the trip mechanism in this YouTube video

Gutter 8
This is the original trap, with shutters, posts and levers fitted. NOTE: I would just like to point out that the original trap was not damaged, altered, moved or changed in any way whatsoever (just in case anyone was wondering!)
Gutter 9
Another view of the trap
Gutter 10
End on view
Gutter 11
Weasel approaching the trap…..
Gutter 12
The Vermin Trap in relation to Gutter Tor. There is an old cross and apple crusher very nearby.

https://youtu.be/yD0nzigne7s

Vermin Trap Video 2

Probably, the first time this trap has been operational (even if it’s only partial) since the 18th Century. Watch YouTube video to the end…..

Gutter 13
The trap put back into it’s original condition. I’m sure Ted would have been amused seeing these pictures and videos. Not sure what the 18th Century warreners would have thought ?

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