Dartmoor Explorations

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

RIVER WALKHAM BLOWING HOUSES

Steve Grigg

This post is an exploration of three Tin Blowing Houses upstream from Merrivale Bridge. The Lower and Middle Blowing Houses are on the Eastern side of the River Walkham, whilst the Upper Blowing House is on the Western side. I make due reference to the excellent Jeremy Butler Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Volume 2 (The North), first published in 1991, which provides an excellent background and lovely sketches of the three Blowing Houses.

LBH Plan
Plan of the Lower Blowing House. Sketch adapted from the Jeremy Butler version. This Blowing House can be found at SX55258 75349 approx 300m north of Merrivale Bridge.
LBH 1
Mould Stone lying close to the door entrance. Note, there is a small rectangular sample mould on the stone
LBH 2
The overgrown Furnace area with room for Bellows behind
LBH 3
Furnace close up. Behind the ferns in the foreground is a Float Stone
LBH 4
Mould Stone and Furnace in relation to the Blowing House entrance, below which are the fallen door posts
LBH 5
Emphasising the walls of the Blowing House
LBH 6
After clearing the ferns, the Float Stone appeared by the Furnace. The Float Stone would have originally been in the horizontal position. The Float was to receive the molten metal. The Mould Stone has a groove to accommodate a lifting bar, which was used to move the solidified metal
LBH 7
After clearing the ferns, the Float Stone is very obvious
LBH 8
The Mould Stone, Float and Furnace from above
LBH 9
Jeremy Butler comments that there is no wheel pit on this site and also no “sandy waste”, which suggests the site was solely used as a Blowing House.
MBH Plan
Plan of the Middle Blowing House, based on the Jeremy Butler sketch. Unlike the Lower Blowing House, this one has the distinction of having a Wheel Pit
MBH 1
Location of the Blowing House in relation to River Walkham.
MBH 2
Nice Mould Stone near the Blowing House entrance
MBH 3
The entrance
MBH 4
The entrance is at SX55264 76223
MBH 5
Entrance and Mould Stone are adjacent to one another.
MBH 6
Opposite the entrance side of the Blowing House is a Wheel Pit
MBH 7
The Wheel Pit is located at SX55267 76236. It is believed the wheel would have been 0.3m across and 3.5m in diameter. A leat which fed the wheel is easily discernable
MBH 8
Great Mis Tor in background
MBH 9
River Walkham in relation to the Blowing House
UBH Plan
Plan of the Upper Blowing House, based on the Jeremy Butler sketch. This has been subject to a major survey since the Jeremy Butler publication and is the largest of the three Blowing Houses.
UBH 1
General site looking from near the river
UBH 2
Small alcove between the main part of the Blowing House and the river
UBH 3
Another general view
UBH 4
As the main part of the Blowing House is approached the features become more obvious.
UBH 5
By the entrance is a huge Mould Stone. SX55192 76634
UBH 6
The sample mould is very discernable from this picture
UBH 7
The site has rather a magnifcent wheel pit, which I assume was cleared during the survey
UBH 8
The leat feeding this wheel pit is easily followed. SX55192 76640.
UBH 9
Picture taken from the Wheel Pit
UBH 10
A Mortar Stone found outside the Blowing House. SX55184 76642
UBH 11
Location of the Mortar Stone in relation to the river.
UBH 12
Location of the Mould Stone in relation to the Blowing House entrance
UBH 13
View of the Blowing House from above. From this angle the proximity of the river is more obvious
UBH 14
View of the Blowing House from where the leat would have fed the wheel.

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