A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
May 5, 2023
Stormsdown Mine is located a few miles to the north east of Ashburton on private land in the Owlacombe Valley. The Dartmoor Tin Mining Research Group (DTRG) held an ‘Ashburton Parish’ event in late April 2023 which included a visit to the mine. The author was fortunate enough to attend these events and is grateful to Stephen Holley (DTRG Chairman), who led a walk to the mine and who provided a fabulous insight into its history and its operation. As well as DTRG information provided on the walk and from their website, further information on the mine used in this post was gleaned from the Hamilton Jenkin, Mines of Devon publication.
Mining is believed to have started in this area as early as the 16th century. The next documentary evidence of mining in the area came just before the 1840’s when some shallow exploratory adits were driven at Stormsdown, to trial the lodes previously worked in the medieval period. The main (significant) period of mining at Stormsdown appeared in the early 20th century. Stephen Holley of DTRG explained that financing of the mine in this period was unusual, insofar as it came solely from a private individual – namely a Mr Edward Herbert Bayldon. Mr Bayldon had retired (at the age of 36) and moved to Dawlish, having made his fortune as a stockbroker in London. The DTRG information suggests that the purchase on the lease / land took place at the end of the 19th century (1899) and that it was not until 1905 that work started on sinking the main shaft. (Note: Hamilton Jenkin suggests that it wasn’t until 1906 that a company took over the Owlacombe Sett including Stormsdown Mine). By 1906, the construction of the processing plant and dressing floors had started and at this time the main shaft had reached a depth of 30 fathoms (180 feet) from the surface and was drained by an adit. There were three levels (adit level, level 1 (12.5 fathoms below adit) and level 2 (15 fathoms below adit)). By January 1907, the main processing infrastructure was in place and a mine manager was appointed (an Ernest Terrell).
By July 1907, the production of tin concentrate and arsenic had commenced. The main shaft was deepened to 15 fathoms (90 feet) below the adit level and a new pumping engine was installed. The shaft finally reached a depth of 60 fathoms (360ft) in 1909 with the three levels thus: adit level at 30 fathoms (180ft), level 1 at 42.5 fathoms (255 feet) and level 2 at 57.5 fathoms (345 feet). Work was suspended at the mine in July 1909 and the majority of the workforce were laid off. At that time, pumping continued whilst attempts were made to sell the mine. In 1911, once again financed by Edward Herbert Bayldon underground works re-commenced with ore extracted being stock-piled at the shaft head. A year later, in July 1912 a new company was formed – Sigford Mines Ltd with one of the directors being Edward Herbert Bayldon. In December 1912, Bayldon died which effectively was the beginning of the end of the operation. The end of the mine saw stockpiles of ore processed in 1913 after which the materials from the mine and mill being auctioned in March 1914.