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Historic England Research Records

Exmoor And Porlock Railway

Hob Uid: 36303
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Porlock, Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS8000040860
Summary : Proposed 19th century iron ore railway extending from Simonsbath to Porlock Weir. The project was agreed in 1855, but abandoned before completion. Sections of the trackbed are still visible as an earthwork.
More information : The Exmoor and Porlock Railway was proposed to transport iron ore from Simonsbath (SS 7739) to Porlock Weir (SS 8647) for shipment to South Wales. An agreement to construct the line was signed in 1855, but mining activity on Exmoor ceased shortly after. Construction contracts were let out in 1860 and substantial diggings were made before the project was abandoned. Sections of the line can still be detected.

There is some evidence to suggest that a plan existed to build a standard gauge railway along the same lines about 1826 to open up access to Exmoor. The 'Pinkery Canal' (SS 74 SW 64) was possibly linked to this scheme to work inclines down to Simonsbath and Cornham (SS 7439). (1-3)

The track bed of the Simonsbath to Porlock Weir railways survives as an intermittent earthwork in the RCHME East Exmoor Project area. A length of track bed follows the contour (at c. 425m) from the Forest boundary at SS 8331 4360, around the headwaters of Weir Water, to the Porlock-Exford road at SS 8445 4404. On the eastern side of the road, the earthwork is well-preserved. It runs from SS 8460 4420 to SS 8455 4514. The earthwork comprises a levelled portion 6m wide, with a bank 1m wide and 0.7m high on its eastern edge. A further length of track bed runs from SS 8440 4583 to just above the A39 at SS 8495 4629. This part of the line was surveyed using differential GPS as part of the RCHME East Exmoor project (4).

A plan of part of the proposed route shows three inclines to take the railway down to Porlock Weir. (5)

According to the SMR, part of the western most of these three inclines was excavated between Westcott and the Toll Road. This was noted by M Jones as visible between SS 8506 4655 and SS 8508 4667. (6)

A well preserved section of the track bed, from SS 8272 4212 to SS 8221 4161, was recorded at 1:2500 scale using differential GPS as part of an archaeological survey of the Larkbarrow area. The survey was carried out by the Exeter office of English Heritage at the request of the Exmoor National Park Authority. A client report was produced as part of the survey and is available from the NMRC, Swindon. (7-8)

The route of the Simonsbath-Porlock railway is clearly visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs, running from approximately SS 8496 4629 (SS 84 NW) to SS 7676 4160 (SS 74 SE). Some sections are better preserved than others, and the track appears to fade from view east of Blackpitts Farm, Exmoor (9-13).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Orwin, C.S. 1929 "The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest" London, Oxford University Press page(s) 144-151
Page(s) : 144-151
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Railways Round Exmoor 1975 73-7 map (R Madge)
Page(s) : 64-5
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Source Number : 12
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 3164-65 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 13
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/73109 942-43 29-APR-1973
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Source Number : 14
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72314 260-61 17-APR-1972
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Batsford guide to the industrial archaeology of central southern England : Avon County, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 147
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Riley H 1998 RCHME Field Investigation
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Source Number : 5
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : D/DG PLAN 79 Plan of Inlines at Porlock (part of Dowlais Iron Company Papers, Glamorgan Record Office)
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Source Number : 6
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Jones, M 1998 Correspondence to RCHME
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Jameson, E 2001. Larkbarrow Farm, Exmoor. English Heritage Survey Report.
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Source Number : 9
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1501 3069-70 13-MAY-1946
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Source Number : 10
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1501 4194-5 13-MAY-1946
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Source Number : 11
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1501 4067-68 13-MAY-1946
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Circa 1855-1865
Monument End Date : 1865
Monument Start Date : 1855
Monument Type : Mineral Railway
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33046
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO7906
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : LINEAR 1692
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 974870
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 974884
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 974874
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 36285
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01