Dartmoor Explorations

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


Steve Grigg and Frank Collinson

Wheal Mary Emma was named after the mine captains wife and is located on both sides of the River Lyd a short distance downstream from the Black Rock memorial. The mine was operational from about 1849 to 1852 but the output by all accounts wasn’t that significant. It is conjectured that the mine may well have been little more than a prospect. There are no records of the output but it has been noted that there were some fine casserite specimens. Mindat.org website states: “Cassiterite can be found in a granite hosted matrix on one side of the stream (River Lyd) and in a dark metamorphosed tourmaline rich killas on the the other side”. There were various attempts to restart the mine as part of North Dartmoor Consols before it was finally abandoned around 1880. My thanks go to Mindat.org, PlymouthU3A and a plan in Dr Phil Newmans thesis in assisting in the construction of this post.

The location and layout of the mine as depicted by OS Map 1888 – 1913
WME Plan
Wheal Mary Emma plan based on the Dr Newman original with additional items depicted
The story of the mine starts with the leat take off, which was around 2km upstream heading towards Great Nodden
The leat crosses the High Down track, which leads down to the ford and stepping stones at SX53086 85702
From the track, the leat can be seen snaking its was southwards high above the River Lyd
Following the leat
The Engine Shaft (now capped) is a rather non descript grassy area now. SX53042 85251
View from the Engine Shaft looking towards Brat Tor
Looking from the slopes of Brat Tor, the Engine Shaft and leat can easily be picked out
Just downhill from the Engine Shaft the openwork of the mine can be picked up.
Descending the openworks
WME 10
Looking back up the openworks
WME 11
Next to the path / track is the foundations of a building
WME 12
It is conjectured (Plymouth U3A), that this building was either a counting house or a miners dry. The path can be seen in this picture. SX53238 85189
WME 13
A short distance from the main building it what looks like a two roomed building. This is not referred to in any information I have found. a = SX53266 85200, b = SX53266 85203
WME 14
View of the 2nd building, looking back towards the path and the first building
WME 15
There is an adit, between the two buildings. The adit is below the openwork which is in line up the hill to the Engine Shaft. SX53249 85194
WME 16
Next to the adit, showing the location of the openwork
WME 17
Crossing the path, heading in a southwards direction, two circular depressions can be found, These are Buddles, where rotating heather brushes stirred the crushed ore allowing a feed of water to carry away rock sand leaving behind the heavier casserite tin ore.
WME 18
Buddle 1 at SX 53229 85160.
WME 19
Buddle 2 at SX53233 85160
WME 20
The wheelpit where a 40 foot wheel would have stood. The leat can be traced at the head of the pit (the water of course came from the Lyd nearly 2km upstream)
WME 21
The wheelpit is at SX53227 85156
WME 22
Between the wheelpit and the Lyd is what is shown on the Dr Newman plan as the Dressing Floor. This is at SX53214 85140
WME 23
Between the two Buddles and the Lyd are two settling pits. This one is at SX53244 85160
WME 24
Settling Pit location in relation to the Buddle. SX53239 85158
WME 25
Settling Pit detail, sometimes with these things the reeds are a giveaway
WME 26
Bridge crossing from East side to the West side of the Lyd, circa 1920
WME 27
2020 view of the former bridge crossing. It is now a ford
WME 28
Combining the 1920 and 2020 pictures. The location of the bridge is approx SX53277 85181
WME 29
Across the Lyd (east side) there are two prominent workings and adits.
WME 30
Adit 2 at SX53338 85206
WME 31
The second of the prominent workings on the east side of the Lyd
WME 32
Adit at SX53335 85218
WME 33
Looking back at the west side of Wheal Mary Emma from the east side. Disappointingly, due to the gorse and bracken at the time of this visit the line of where the flat rods where located
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