A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
February 7, 2022
Shaugh Bridge Mica Pits
The Shaugh Bridge Clay Works near Shaugh Bridge are the most visible evidence of clay processing in the area, having been purpose built between 1870 and 1895 in three different phases before finally closing down in 1952. It is recorded that extraction of china clay had began around 1860, therefore a question is raised regarding how did the claymen processes their clay between 1860 and 1870. Looking at old 19th Century Maps, some old Mica Pits are shown between West Down Piles / Clay Pipe Path and the River Plym. With no record of these Mica Pits existing on the Dartmoor Historic Environment Record (HER), the author speculates that these pits most likely pre-dated the Shaugh Bridge Clay Works and were operational between 1860 and 1870.
Clay was first found in the area by John Warrick at Whitehill Tor in 1827. The china clay extraction expanded around 1860 in the Shaugh Moor area. Clay (before the pipeline) was initially transported using an open leat, so the supposition of the date of the Mica Pits seems reasonable. When extracted, the quarrymen would have had a mixture of water, kaolin (China Clay), sand and mica in the form of a slurry which flowed to the lowest point in the pit(s). The quarrymen would then have removed the unwanted sand and mica.