Dartmoor Explorations

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

Plym Consols Tin Mine

Plym Consols was a 19th century tin mine which is located on the north side of Newleycombe Lake adjacent to a very large old tin openwork. Newleycombe farm ruins lies to the north east. The mine appears largely undocumented and there is no known record of production.

Modern OS maps only label ‘Tinner’s Huts’ huts in the immediate area, which in all likelihood were part of the mine complex. There are numerous artefacts which remain at the mine, some of which are being encroached by gorse. The remains comprise a main shaft (with a possible 2nd), a wheel pit, a bob pit, a capstan pit, a leat embankment, a stone lined pit, a tailrace portal, a clapper, three buildings (with a possible 4th or small enclosure). The remains are about one hour’s stroll from Norsworthy Bridge and are worth exploring for those interested in industrial archaeology.

Bibliography

  1. Phil Newman, 2007, Cramber Tor Training Area Monument Baseline Condition Survey.
  2. R.G Haynes, 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 138 
0. Map
Sketch Map layout of the site of Plym Consols. Please note the Bob Pit and Portal for Waterwheel Tailrace are very overgrown and difficult to access and require extreme care if closer view required.
1. Building 1a
Building 1 was visited by the well known Dartmoor observer / writer R.G Haynes in May 1966. He described it as “A small stone house, partitioned lengthways with porch”. This building is labelled as a ‘Tinners Hut’ on modern OS maps. The author has spoken to a member of Dartmoor Tin Research Group (DTRG) who called it the ‘Main Office’
1. Building 1b
Building 1 is located in an area of older streamworks, around 70m south of the main mine working. The Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division in 1979 recorded it as measuring 5.5m by 5.1m. Entries in the Heritage Gateway suggest the building was associated with Plym Consols. To the author, it doesn’t look like a Tinners Hut from an earlier era.
1. Building 1c
Building 1 is located at SX58557 69824
1. Small Yard a
On the north east corner of Building 1 are the fragmentary remains of a wall, which some observers think might possibly define a small yard.
1. Small Yard b
The ‘Small Yard’ is at SX58564 69818
1. Small Yard c
The walls of the ‘Small Yard’ are about 0.5m high.
2. Clapper a
Heading north (ish) from Building 1 is a small clapper, which comprises 4 or 5 imposts. The clapper appears to have been constructed over the waterwheel tailrace and is part of a track between Building 1 and the main shaft of the mine. The clapper is located at SX58560 69844
2. Clapper b
View looking south of the clapper and Building 1
3. Building 2a
Near the track leading up to the main shaft from Building 1 is a second building, which is also labelled as a Tinners Hut on modern OS maps.
3. Building 2b
Building 2 is well preserved and looks like a shelter or a small store.
3. Building 2c
Building 2 is located at SX58553 69856. Like Building 1, this ruin doesn’t look like a Tinners Hut from an earlier era.
4. Track
The main shaft and the other artefacts associated with Plym Consols can easily be located by following the wide track from Building 1. The track leads directly to the main shaft. One assumes the material from the shaft was transported down this track ?
5. Main Shaft a
The main shaft is very overgrown with gorse encroaching from the north
5. Main Shaft b
The main shaft is located at SX58574 69890
5. Main Shaft c
The main shaft lies a few 10’s of metres to the east of a large earlier openwork. The 19th century miners must have believed there was still tin to be exploited in this area in spite of the large openwork worked by the ‘old men of the moor’
5. Main Shaft d
View of the main shaft looking west. The large boulder in the top / centre of the photograph is part of the west side of the large old openwork
6. Openworks a
The large old openwork looking north
6. Openworks b
The large old openwork looking south with Down Tor in the distance.
7. Building Small Enclosure a
Next to the large old openwork are a series of walls, which at the point in the photograph look like they had been constructed into a small enclosure or possibly a crude building.
7. Building Small Enclosure b
The small enclosure / crude building is located at SX58571 69903
8. Main Shaft from the North
The main shaft as viewed from the north, emphasising how overgrown it is becoming.
9. Whim (or part of) Bob Mechanism a
To the west of the main shaft is a circular ‘cut out’, which looks like a location where there was a Capstan Wheel. It looks too small to have been a whim.
9. Whim (or part of) Bob Mechanism b
The circular Capstan Wheel cut out is located at SX58568 69889
9. Whim (or part of) Bob Mechanism c
The circular cut out for Capstan Wheel looking west across the very large old openwork
10. Masonry Lined Bob Pit a
To the east of the main shaft is a masonry lined bob pit. It is very overgrown.
10. Masonry Lined Bob Pit b
Climbing carefully down the wall lining of the bob pit can be seen. It is very well constructed.
10. Masonry Lined Bob Pit c
The balance-bob helped to “balance” to the waterwheel in its operation. The bob pit is located at SX58581 69889
10. Masonry Lined Bob Pit d
The masonry lined bob pit can easily be missed when walking along the small path seen in the photograph, which links the main shaft and the wheelpit. It is engulfed by gorse.
10. Masonry Lined Bob Pit e
The granite wall within the pit cannot be easily seen from the path. Care should be taken if climbing down to investigate further
11. Wheelpit a
About 10-15 metres east of the main shaft is a ruined wheelpit. It is now filled in and turfed over. The end of the leat embankment can be seen above (and behind) an old drystone wall.
11. Wheelpit b
The wheelpit is located at SX58600 69893
12. Stone Lined Pit a
To the east of the wheelpit is a stone lined pit.
12. Stone Lined Pit b
The purpose of the stone lined pit is unknown
12. Stone Lined Pit c
The stone lined pit is located at SX58607 69887
13. Waterwheel Tailrace a
The tailrace leading from the waterwheel is located in a deep overgrown gully running north to south.
13. Waterwheel Tailrace b
The waterwheel tailrace as viewed from above
14. Waterwheel Tailrace Portal a
An tailrace emerges through a portal, having been underground for around 8 metres from the wheelpit.
14. Waterwheel Tailrace Portal b
Carefully climbing down into the gully, the author took a few shots of the portal
14. Waterwheel Tailrace Portal c
The portal exit is located at SX58590 69878
14. Waterwheel Tailrace Portal d
The waterwheel tailrace and the portal are heavily overgrown and as with the balance-bob pit if a closer inspection / view is taken, the author would advise extreme care if climbing down
15. Leat Embankment a
Climbing to the top of the mine complex, superb views can be gained from the leat embankment
15. Leat Embankment b
The course of the leat along the leat embankment can easily be imagined. The author recorded the leat embankment at SX58616 69899
15. Leat Embankment c
The leat embankment as viewed from north west
15. Leat Embankment d
The leat embankment was constructed with large granite blocks
16. General Mine View
View across the mine complex from the end of the leat embankment
17. Building 3a
Between the leat embankment and the very large openwork is a third building (Building 3)
17. Building 3b
Building 3 lies on the very edge of the deep openwork
17. Building 3c
Building 3 is located at SX58610 69910
17. Building 3d
Building 3 (as Buildings 1 & 2) was most likely associated with the mine
17. Building 3e
Contextual view of Building 3 in relation to the Leat Embankment
18. Launder
This spot alongside a drystone wall was a lunchspot for the author. It would have been the location where a wooden launder was located connecting the leat embankment and the waterwheel
19. Waterwheel Tailrace a
Heading towards the southern end of the mine complex, the waterwheel tailrace can be followed from the portal down towards the clapper shown at the start of this post. The picture shows where the tailrace turned 90 degrees from north-south to east-west orientation.
19. Waterwheel Tailrace b
The waterwheel tailrace as it exits the deep gully onto more open moorland
20. Possible Shaft
The is a possible (exploratory?) shaft located at SX58619 69886

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