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HER Number:MDV19902
Name:The Devonport Leat, Dartmoor

Summary

The Devonport Leat was constructed from 1795-1802 to supply water to Plymouth Dock (known as Devonport after 1824). The leat takes water from the West Dart, the Cowsic and the Blackabrook rivers to the north of Princetown and is over 43 kilometres in length. It is still a functional leat from the weir head intakes to the western end of Burrator Reservoir and beyond that remains as a feature in the historic landscape, which is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites. Surveyed and recorded in the Dartmoor Trust Leats Project.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 604 717
Map Sheet:SX67SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishBuckland Monachorum
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
Civil ParishMeavy
Civil ParishWalkhampton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDARTMOOR FOREST
Ecclesiastical ParishMEAVEY
Ecclesiastical ParishWALKHAMPTON
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKLAND MONACHORUM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1463454
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NW/130
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (XVIII to XXI - 1701 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Map object based on this Source.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.


Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/UK/879, 7023-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV269537.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190 3193-3195 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345540.

View of SX51006467.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190 3266 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345539.

View of SX55826942.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190/3245-3247 (Aerial Photograph). SDV269536.

View of SX54076855.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/249 3167 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345541.

View of SX59557677.


Ordnance Survey, 1954, Untitled Source (Cartographic). SDV345535.

The Devonport Leat takes its water from the West Dart River at SX60837797 and the course of the leat can be traced on the 1954 Ordnance Survey paper maps from this point to where it leaves the National Park at SX50376442.


Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 136 (Monograph). SDV149229.


National Monuments Record, 1982, NMR SF2112, 1272 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345548.


Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 382 (Monograph). SDV249702.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

The leat is clearly visible on the 1945 and 1946 aerial photographs and was recorded during the Aerial Photograph Project.


Hemery, E., 1986, Walking the Dartmoor Waterways, 17 (Monograph). SDV269544.


Hawkings, D. J., 1987, Water from the Moor: Illustrated History of the Plymouth, Stonehouse and De (Monograph). SDV345532.


Starkey, F. H., 1987-1981, The area around Nun’s Cross Farm, 103-104 (Article in Serial). SDV345533.

Part of the Devonport Leat runs from SX60947000 to 60006988 for a third of a mile. It runs through a tunnel (SX60736973 to SX60166988) constructed as an afterthought. There is an earlier, abandoned water course at a higher level at SX607-698-.


Fletcher, M. J., 1989, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV345537.

The Devonport Leat commences at an elaborate weir (at SX60847798) on the West Dart River at 417 meters ordnance datum and it traverses the side of a steep eastern slope as a slab-lined channel 1.5 meters to 2.0 meters wide and a maximum 1.0 meter deep. At SX60347563 the water drains into an underground pipe which crosses the Cowsic River via an aqueduct dated 1888 (SX60067539) and emerges as a fountain at 397 meters ordnance datum (SX60087532). Between the two points the leat channel crosses the Cowsic via a weir; the first section to the river is dry and abandoned, the section from the river to the fountain carries water collected at the weir. The leat follows a sinuous course to the Blackabrook aqueduct at 394 meters ordnance datum (SX58757457) and thence to the Nun's Cross tunnel at 392 meters ordnance datum (SX60726972). Between SX60736973 and SX60166988 it runs through a tunnel constructed as an afterthought. Earlier, abandoned water course at a higher level at SX607698. The abandoned `trench' lies between SX60887078 and SX60767041; a second abandoned section was identified above the leat between SX60896988 and SX60696978.
The contract for the Devonport Leat was placed in 1793 to supply Plymouth dock (Devonport) with water. It is 27 miles long and in places runs parallel with the Plymouth (Drake’s) Leat. It was completed in 1801. Under powers obtained in 1793, the Plymouth dock waterworks company erected weirs on the three main streams and diverted the water into leats, all three leats meeting at a point north of the Princetown convict prison. In 1794 J. Andrews wrote that water to go to dock is taken from Blackabrook about a mile west of Two Bridges, some miles of it are completed. So when the leat was first opened its headweir was at the point where it is now aqueducted across the Blackabrook. From here the leat contoured the hill via Tor Royal, Peat Cot and Whiteworks, then passed into the Meavy watershead through a tunnel about 648 yards long. It crossed the River Meavy in an iron shute or launder and then contoured the opposite hill via Dousland, Yelverton, Roborough and Crownhill to Devonport. At Sunny Corner, near Whiteworks a trench which extends for some distance is the original cutting for the leat abandoned because it was at a level too low for the tunnel.
The leat has not exceeded ten feet in breadth and is still in use as far as Dousland, a length of 17 miles; from here the water was conveyed in pipes. In 1898 the water from the upper section of the leat was diverted into Burrator reservoir.


Gerrard, S., 1992, 130635 (Site Visit). SDV345534.

A short length of the Devonport Leat was noted cutting through a hut circle at SX57547115.


Turton, S. D., 1993, Archaeological Assessment of SWW Dousland to Rundlestone Water Main, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV249910.

The Devonport Leat is now diverted to enter Burrator Reservoir. The original channel passes through the grounds of Dousland water works (at SX SX53976898). To the south of the sluice which once controlled the water supply to the old Dousland reservoir the channel is paved for a short distance (citing Hemery).


Otter, R. A., 1994, Southern England, Civil Engineering Series, 37 (Monograph). SDV269545.


Gerrard, S., 1997, Stanlake Prehistoric Settlement, 25 (Article in Serial). SDV345536.


Bone, M. + Stanier, P., 1998, A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Devon, 48 (Monograph). SDV269541.


Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.), 2000, Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4, 50 (Monograph). SDV339713.


Trueman, M., 2000, Water and Sewage Step 3 Assessment (Report - non-specific). SDV288012.

The Devonport Leat, also known as "Dock Leat". A 45 kilometer (28 mile) watercourse built for Plymouth Dock Waterworks Company, following approval by the Act of 1793. Part of the leat can be traced from Blackabrook to Nun's Cross running past Dartmoor Prison and passing through some disused tin mines at SX61007104. A stone embankment at Gill's Farm (SX56947101) carried the channel over Stean Lake Brook. At SX55116890 there is a channel from the lower tank to the terminal, which includes flood-relief sluice at above grid reference and a road bridge at SX55096877. At SX54986833 there is a terminal of the running leat near Yelverton Reservoir. The channel ends beside a low stone building. Water passes through a grating and a rotary screening device into a pipeline to Dousland treatment works. An overflow allows surplus water to cascade into Burrator Reservoir. Reportedly the overflow formerly operated an electricity generator at Burrator Lodge. A disused channel is part of a continuous section of the leat running from the terminus of the flowing leat to Yelverton. Runs along, and twice is crossed by, the disused Great Western Railway Princetown line and runs parallel to Drake's Leat as it approaches Yelverton. The final stretch within the National Park runs from Yelverton to Roborough. The disused channel reappears south of the former Harrowbeer airfield in a concrete duct (south of the run of former air raid shelters). It forms a continuous run to just short of Belliver Reservoir. Much of it runs close to Drake's Leat (the Plymouth Leat) and the earthwork of the former Plymouth and Dartmoor railway.


Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

The Devonport Leat was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument during the Monument Protection Programme. The programme ended before the entire list of sites was successfully scheduled so this is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites.


Levy, S., 2004, The Devonport Leat: an Archaeological Condition Survey, 57 (Report - Survey). SDV345550.

The functional, flowing section of the leat is generally in very good condition, requiring only small amounts of repair work. Most of the damage caused is by livestock and walkers. The non-functional section of the leat remains subject to some erosion, as well as stone robbing and burial.


Dartmoor Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2010, Dartmoor Trust Leats Project 2009-2010 (Report - Survey). SDV347530.

Major leat maintained by South West Water as part of the water supply system. Condition surveys undertaken by South West Water. Lots of public access, attractive walks along the leat, historic interest. Other details: T:\Dartmoor Leats Survey / Q:\MAPDATA\HISTORIC\LeatsProject.


Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Map object based on this Source.


National Monuments Record, 2010, PastScape (Website). SDV345549.

The Devonport Leat or Dock Leat was constructed for the Plymouth Dock Waterworks Company following Parilamentary approval in 1793. It is 28 miles long, although little survives within Plymouth. There are numerous surviving components, including weirs, aqueducts and tunnels. Other details: SX 46 SW 116.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 136.
  • Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 382.
  • Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D.. 1993. Archaeological Assessment of SWW Dousland to Rundlestone Water Main. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.06. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190/3245-3247. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1945. RAF/106G/UK/879. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7023-4.
  • Monograph: Bone, M. + Stanier, P.. 1998. A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Devon. A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Devon. Unknown. 48.
  • Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1986. Walking the Dartmoor Waterways. Walking the Dartmoor Waterways. Unknown. 17.
  • Monograph: Otter, R. A.. 1994. Southern England, Civil Engineering Series. Southern England, Civil Engineering Series. Unknown. 37.
  • Report - non-specific: Trueman, M.. 2000. Water and Sewage Step 3 Assessment. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Step 3 Report. Unknown.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
  • Monograph: Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.). 2000. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Sw. 4. Hardback Volume. 50.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
  • Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
  • Monograph: Hawkings, D. J.. 1987. Water from the Moor: Illustrated History of the Plymouth, Stonehouse and De. Water from the Moor: Illustrated History of the Plymouth, Stonehouse and De. Unknown.
  • Article in Serial: Starkey, F. H.. 1987-1981. The area around Nun’s Cross Farm. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 34. 103-104.
  • Site Visit: Gerrard, S.. 1992. 130635. Monument Protection Programme. Unknown.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1954. Ordnance Survey 1:10,560 Map. Map (Paper).
  • Article in Serial: Gerrard, S.. 1997. Stanlake Prehistoric Settlement. Meavy Valley Archaeology Report. 1. Paperback Volume. 25.
  • Site Visit: Fletcher, M. J.. 1989. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Unknown.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190 3266. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190 3193-3195. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/249 3167. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
  • Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1982. NMR SF2112. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1272.
  • Website: National Monuments Record. 2010. PastScape. Pastscape.English-Heritage.org.uk. Website.
  • Report - Survey: Levy, S.. 2004. The Devonport Leat: an Archaeological Condition Survey. A4 Comb Bound. 57.
  • Report - Survey: Dartmoor Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority. 2010. Dartmoor Trust Leats Project 2009-2010. Dartmoor Trust. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV51425Related to: AQUEDUCT in the Parish of Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV62523Related to: AQUEDUCT in the Parish of Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV51523Related to: AQUEDUCT in the Parish of Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV51524Related to: AQUEDUCT in the Parish of Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV51538Related to: Aqueduct related to Devonport Leat, north of Beardown Farm (Monument)
MDV4735Related to: Bachelors Hall Tin Mine (Monument)
MDV113177Related to: Bachelor's Hall, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV34224Related to: Bank on Roborough Down (Monument)
MDV32747Related to: Beardown Tin Mine adjacent to Devonport Leat on Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV5968Related to: Beardown Warren, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV51409Related to: Blackabrook Weir to north of Princetown (Monument)
MDV20605Related to: Blocked adit 100 metres north of Burrator Dam (Monument)
MDV105686Related to: Building south of Beardown Warren (Building)
MDV48941Related to: Burrator Inn, Dousland (Building)
MDV62583Related to: Burrator Lodge, Meavy (Building)
MDV12967Related to: Cairn and cist 593 meters north-east of Nun's Cross (Monument)
MDV62528Related to: CLAPPER BRIDGE in the Parish of Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV62522Related to: Cowsic Weir, Holming Beam to north-east of Princetown (Monument)
MDV45596Related to: Crossgate West Bridge, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV49015Related to: Disused quarry on Roborough Down (Monument)
MDV69263Related to: Field system on Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV69264Related to: Field system on Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV27244Related to: Field system surrounding Beardown Farm (Monument)
MDV26101Related to: Granite quarries east of South Plantation (Monument)
MDV20614Related to: Higher Lowery deserted farm, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV45589Related to: Hillcrest bridge, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV50174Related to: HUT CIRCLE in the Parish of Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV5897Related to: Hut circle settlement on Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV5851Related to: Hut circle settlement west of Wistman's Wood (Monument)
MDV51522Related to: 'Iron Bridge' aqueduct, Raddick Hill (Monument)
MDV62521Related to: Leat on Beardown Hill, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV105293Related to: Leat on Roborough Down (Monument)
MDV42458Related to: Leat supplying Wheal Chance (Monument)
MDV123108Related to: Milestone west of Roughways, Buckland Monochorum (Monument)
MDV20622Related to: Mullacroft Farmstead, west of Burrator Reservoir (Monument)
MDV113773Related to: Nun's Cross Farmstead, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV62525Related to: Nun's Cross tunnel (Monument)
MDV19108Related to: Plymouth Leat (Dartmoor section) (Monument)
MDV123080Related to: Prison boundary stone by leat (Monument)
MDV42844Related to: Prison sewage aqueduct, Princetown (Monument)
MDV57561Related to: Ridge and furrow north of Beardown Farm (Monument)
MDV57560Related to: Ridge and furrow west of Beardown Farm (Monument)
MDV48943Related to: Roadside milestone south-west of Douseland, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV27091Related to: Single pillow mound north of the Devonport Leat at Beardown Warren (Monument)
MDV62533Related to: SLUICE GATE in the Parish of Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV57148Related to: Stanlake field barn, Walkhampton (Building)
MDV57149Related to: Stanlake field barn, Walkhampton (Building)
MDV2341Related to: The Rock Hotel, Roborough Down (Building)
MDV25990Related to: Trial pits north-west of Nun's Cross Farm (Monument)
MDV25991Related to: Trial Pits north-west of Nun's Cross Farm (Monument)
MDV27093Related to: Trial pits visible south-west of Beardown Warren (Monument)
MDV27092Related to: Trial tin working pits on Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV62535Related to: Tunnel carrying the Devonport Leat near Chubb Tor (Monument)
MDV51539Related to: Weir on Devonport Leat to north-east of Beardown Farm, north-east of Princetown (Monument)
MDV102930Related to: Weir on Devonport Leat, north of Beardown Farm (Monument)
MDV51516Related to: Weir on the Devonport Leat north-west of Beardown (Monument)
MDV62518Related to: Weir on West Dart on north-east side of Beardown Hill (Monument)
MDV62526Related to: Weir south of Cranber Tor, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV45623Related to: Whiteworks Bridge (Monument)
MDV6286Related to: Whiteworks Tin Mine (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5460 - DOLL (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV4939 - Condition survey of Devonport Leat
  • EDV7375 - Archaeological recording during construction of the Dousland to Rundlestone water main (Ref: 94.40)
  • EDV7382 - Condition Survey of the Cramber Tor Training Area
  • EDV7431 - Woodland Survey (1989-90) at Bellever, Soussons and other woodland parcels
  • EDV7441 - Condition survey of the archaeological sites of Merrivale Training Area
  • EDV7518 - Survey of the Stanlake Prehistoric Settlement
  • EDV7519 - Survey of Stanlake Farmstead
  • EDV7523 - Survey of Stanlake alluvial streamwork
  • EDV7570 - Condition survey of Merrivale Range training area

Date Last Edited:Oct 5 2018 10:06AM