Dartmoor Explorations

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

Wembley Walk – Burrator Arches

The ‘Wembley Walk’ folly, also known as Burrator Arches can be accessed from the Burrator Discovery Centre, which is located from the road running close to the west shore of Burrator Reservoir. This folly comprises two “arches” (with various artefacts), which were built between 1928 and 1934 in a section of lane which was once part of the access road to Sheepstor and Longstone Manor. The original reservoir dams (Burrator and Sheepstor) had been built between 1893 and 1898 (opening ceremony on 21st September). However, from 1923 through 1928 the dams were raised by 10 feet enlarge the capacity to enlarge the reservoir from 668 million to 1,026 million gallons. The enlarged reservoir was opened on Wednesday September 12th 1928. During the reservoir expansion works of the 1920’s, Plymouth Corporation Water Works and George Shillabeer the resident reservoir caretaker saved a number of artefacts (mostly from Longstone Manor) and many of these have been built into the folly we see today.

The folly takes its name from the Empire exhibition at Wembley, London which was visited as a celebratory trip to the capital by many workmen and their wives who were involved in the enhanced constructions of the dams. Information for this post has been obtained from the Burrator Discovery Centre and from ‘Dartmoor Follies’ by Philip Knowling.

0. Map
This sketch map shows the location of ‘Wembley Walk’ and how it was once the start of the road network to Sheepstor and Longstone Manor. The reservoir flooded part of the original Plymouth Leat and Essworthy Farm.
1. Discovery Centre
The Burrator Discovery Centre is run by south west lakes trust. More information can be found on their website at: https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/burrator
2. Discovery Centre
The Burrator Discovery Centre has an eclectic mix of artefacts relating to the area. These include: a section of pipe, a collection of granite troughs and a mill stone which has been constructed into a table.
3. Wembley Walk
The entrance to Wembley Walk is not obvious as it is located behind the main building at the Dartmoor Discovery Centre. The gateway leading to Wembley Walk is located by two PCWW (Plymouth Corporation Water Works) boundary markers; one granite inscribed ‘PCWW 1917’ and one cast iron marker with ‘PCWW’ embossed on it. More information on these markers can be found here: https://dartmoorexplorations.co.uk/plymouth-corporation-water-works-pcww-granite-boundary-posts-and-cast-iron-markers/
4. Wembley Walk
The back of the cast iron PCWW marker reads “Ellacott and Son / Plymouth Foundry”. Just behind the marker is another granite trough.
5. Arch 1
The first of the two arches lead the explorer into the Wembley Walk. The first arch is flat topped, has an inscription over the entrance and has two millstones (one of which has an inscription embedded into it).
6. Arch 1
The features of the first arch are as follows: 1. Top Left picture shows the initials “R C 1668”, which was originally part of the doorway from the old Roundy Farm, which in 1673 was known to be tenanted by Ralph Cockle. William Crossing considered that the initials “RC” were those of Richard Crymes, whose family were long seated at Crapstone, 2. Top Right picture is an old millstone with the inscription “P C W W – MILLSTONES REMOVED FROM – OLD LONGSTONE MANOR HOUSE – DOORWAY FROM ROUNDY FARM – RE-ERECTED 1934 BY GEO. SHILLIBEER”, 3. Bottom Left picture shows another old millstone, 4. Bottom Right picture shows plaque which reads; “1871 / R C SERPELL / MAYOR / PLYMOUTH CORPORATION / WATER WORKS / JAMES KING / CHAIRMAN” (the author speculates that this plaque probably relates to maintenance of Plymouth Leat was lined with granite slabs in 1871). Stephen Barrow contacted the author and states: “1871 plaque is thought to be the foundation stone for Headweir cottage which was the home of Amos Shillabeer – Plymouth Leat foreman. The cottage was demolished 1897 as it would be under the new reservoir opened 1898. The cottage was replaced by Burrator Lodge 1896 which included office and Boardroom for Plymouth Corporation Water Works”.
7. Arch 1
Views of either side of arch 1
8. Massey Lopes
Between the two arches is a stone with the inscription in relief which reads: “M.L. / 1858”. It relates to Sir Massey Lopes a local landowner and Alderman of Plymouth. It is possible, that this stone relates to East Deancombe Farm, when in 1858 Sir Massey Lopes had the farmhouse built. 
9. Lecturn
The ‘Lectern’ from Longstone Manor can be found between the two arches.
10. Arch 2
The second of the two arches has a crenellated top. It has an inscription over the entrance and has other various inscribed stones embedded into it.
11. Arch 2
The features of the first arch are as follows: 1. Top Left picture shows an inscribed tablet which reads “P. C. W. W. / DOORWAY AND / TABLETS REMOVED / FROM OLD / LONGSTONE MANOR / HOUSE / RE-ERECTED 1928 / BY / GEO. SHILLIBEER”, 2. Bottom Left picture shows centrally placed a a simple tablet inscribed with an “E” for Elford, 3. Top Right picture “1633 / W. E. / *8* ”, this refers to Walter Elford who rebuilt Longstone Manor around about this date, 4. Bottom Right picture is another tablet, this carries the letters; “I E A E / 1637.” and relates to John and Anna Elford and is believed to have been taken from the windstrew at Longstone Manor.
12. Arch 2
Second arch (left) and the serpentine walk (right) between the arches with raised rockeries. Wembley Walk was neglected for many years until it was restored around 2014.
13. Wembley Walk old picture
This picture was taken in the Burrator Discovery Centre and is presumably from the 1920’s when Wembley Walk was being constructed.  One wonders if George Shillibeer who had the foresight to save the artefacts in Wembley Walk is in this picture.

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2 Comments

  1. Stephen Barrow March 26, 2023

    1871 plaque is thought to be the foundation stone for Headweir cottage which was the home of Amos Shillabeer – Plymouth Leat foreman. The cottage was demolished 1897 as it would be under the new reservoir opened 1898. The cottage was replaced by Burrator Lodge 1896 which included office and Boardroom for Plymouth Corporation Water Works

    • SteveGriggDartmoor March 26, 2023 — Post author

      Dear Stephen,

      Thank you very much for the additional information, which I will add to the post, acknowledging you.

      Kind Regards,

      Dartmoor Explorations (Steve)

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