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Historic England Research Records

Great Wheal Eleanor

Hob Uid: 445649
Location :
North Bovey
Grid Ref : SX7334908333
Summary : A tin mine situated on the northeast slope of Easdon Down, operated by the Great Wheal Eleanor Tin Mining Company from 1874 re-working a large 15th-17th century openwork. The mine had closed by 1884 but the 1886 Ordnance Survey 25-inch map depicts the mine layout including Engine Shaft, the waterwheel, spoil heaps, reservoir, a dressing floor with three round buddles, the engine house, and various ancillary buildings. In 2007 an archaeological field survey of the mine recorded the openwork as comprising a linear, V-shaped trench approximately 350 metres long, aligned east-north-east to west-south-west. Shafts sunk within the floor and a deep adit level represent the 1874 reworking of the openwork. A 40-foot water wheel powered the pumping of the mine. The wheel house and wheel pit survive, and was supplied by water from a reservoir 70 metres southwest of the wheel pit. A flat rod system extended from the north of the wheel alond the openwork to Engine Shaft. Power for the 16 head of stamps was provided by a 24-inch beam engine. The engine house survives, measuring 4.2 metres by 3.9 metres with a chimney within the southern corner. A dressing area was situated to the northeast and was documented as containing three round buddles and a building. The site is now marked by dressing waste.Surviving mine buildings include remains of the office and building platforms of the smithy, drying house, carpenter's shop, and stables.
More information : Tin Workings at SX 732832. (1)

Has been worked within living memory and is relatively modern. (2)

Great Wheal Eleanor tin mine. This mine is located on the north-east slope of Easdon Down, approximately 0.5km south-west of North Bovey. The 19th century remains are contained within an area of access land, now covered by woodland and scrub. Parts of the site are extremely boggy where water issuing from the abandoned adits has soaked into the hillside and some elements of the remains are inaccessible as a result. The date of abandonment in the early 1880s has meant that much of the site was still in existence when the OS 25-inch map, published 1886, was surveyed. The map shows Engine Shaft, the waterwheel, a large spoil heap, a reservoir, a dressing floor with three round buddles, the engine house, and various ancillary buildings.

Great Wheal Eleanor Tin Mining Company was formed in 1874 to work the site, probably attracted by the prospects of re-working the large openwork which already existed and may date from the 15th-17th century. This company was unusual in that it is the only one known to have worked the mine in the 19th century, without name changes or reorganizations. Following a complete lack of success the mine had closed by 1884.

The openwork consists of a linear V-shaped trench following an ENE-WSW alignment centered SX 7325 8323, approximately 350m long. The 1870s activity followed the same lode: shafts were sunk into the floor of the openwork and a deep adit level was driven westward from a point approximately 100m east of the openwork at SX 7346 8332. According to a contemporary section drawing which accompanies the abandoned mine plan of Great Wheal Eleanor (3a), this adit extended for over 200m beneath the openwork. The adit portal is now blocked and a copious stream of water issues from it, however, there is a large spoil heap extending from it of 20-30m long and up to 3m high.

Engine shaft is marked by a conical pit surrounded by spoil contained within the openwork at SX 7329 8325. Additional shafts exist within the openwork both west and east of Engine Shaft.

Pumping was powered by a 40ft waterwheel housed in a wheelhouse at SX 7351 8341. The walls are robustly built in granite and 0.8m thick. The internal length is 12.8m (41.6ft) which would easily house the 40ft waterwheel recorded in the sale particulars of 1884 (3b). The wheelhouse widens in the centre, being 1.4m at the ends and approximately 2m at centre. The north side wall has survived slightly better than the south, though both have lost a proportion of stone. The south wall stands to height of 3.3m at its lower end, however the highest point of the structure is the north-east end, in which the exit lobby is housed, wall remaining to 4.5m in height. The lobby, at the base of the wall consists of neatly built arch with an opening of 1.3m wide and 1m high. Although some scrub is growing from the walls, the interior of the wheelpit is completely free of vegetation except for one tree, probably because it is permanently wet with a stream of peaty water running through it.

On the Abandoned Mine Plan (3a) a flat rod system is depicted running from the north side of the waterwheel, south west to an angle bob at the lower end of the openwork. It then ran straight up the openwork to the Engine Shaft. A dressed granite slab at approximately SX 7340 8327 marks the position of the angle bob. It seems unlikely that the waterwheel or pumping system saw a great deal of action as the section drawing accompanying the mine plan shows that a short level running off Engine Shaft was all that lay beneath the drainage adit and in need of pumping.

On the north side of the wheelpit a 1m-high revetment wall runs at right angles from it and meets with the end of the engine house. The revetment contained the stamps area behind it, the stamps being powered by the steam engine. The engine specification, as recorded on the sale particulars of 1884, was: `a 24-inch vertical beam stamping-engine with boiler and 16 heads of stamps' (3b).

The engine house which was built from large pieces of dressed granite, has completely collapsed but the stump, which probably represents the cylinder loading or platform on which the cylinder was mounted, has some set stones remaining in place and is measurable at 4.2m wide by 3.9m. The chimney was built into the south corner where the arc of its base may be seen protruding from one side. A 9m by 4m stone-edged platform extends from the front of the loading and is likely to have been the position of the flywheels which rotated the stamps axles.

An engine pond is depicted on the Abandoned Mine Plan, to the rear of the engine house but this has become completely silted and difficult to trace. However, its source of water was a portal just up slope to the west. Behind the portal is a short rock-cut adit which fills with water overflowing down the hill.

Water to turn the waterwheel was stored in a very large reservoir 70m south-west and uphill from the wheelpit. The reservoir has been formed by digging a hollow into the hillside and using the removed material to form a massive L-shape dam on the downslope side. The hollow is now heavily silted and the whole feature is covered by dense undergrowth. The surface of the water was approximately 30m long by 8m at the narrow end but much wider at the other, currently covered by undergrowth. The dam is approximately 2.5m high. Water was diverted via an outlet in the bank along a timber launder, directly on to the waterwheel. The source of water appears to have been only the spring issuing from the Deep Adit to the south.

A range of buildings are depicted on both the 1st edition OS maps and the Abandoned Mine Plan. The ruined office is located to the north of the reservoir and is the only one of the ancillary buildings to be constructed from stone. This was a rectangular structure set obliquely against the slope with internal dimensions of 7.6 by 1.8m. The current height of the walls is 0.8m and although the interior contains some tumbled stone, it seems likely that the upper portion of the walls may have been built from timber. The position of the entrance is currently obscured.

North of the office (SX 7243 8343) is a range of roughly rectangular earthwork platforms on which a range of fully timbered buildings once stood. The smithy and the drying house were on the upper platform of 16m long, and just below was the carpenter's shop and stables.

A number of addition features are known to have existed at the site including a range of three round buddles, just below and north-east of the stamping mill, with a building attached. This area is now totally overwhelmed by boggy ground but a pile of dressing waste which stands above the bog is all that remains (1)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (R H Worth 9 12 48)
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Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 VM 06-MAY-1953
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Source Number : 2a
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Oral Dr Frazer Farmer Moorgate Farm
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Newman P 16-DEC-2007 EH Archaeological Field Investigation
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Source Number : 3A
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Devon Record Office AMP R220C
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Source Number : 3B
Source details : Mining J. 04-MAY-1884
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Operational 1874-84
Monument End Date : 1884
Monument Start Date : 1874
Monument Type : Tin Mine, Mine Shaft, Adit, Extractive Pit, Wheel Pit, Dressing Floor, Reservoir, Dam, Wheel House, Beam Engine House, Stamping Mill, Watermill, Office, Building Platform, Blacksmiths Workshop, Carpenters Workshop, Stable, Chimney, Buddle, Mine Building, Water Wheel, Transmission Rods
Evidence : Earthwork, Subterranean Feature, Ruined Building, Structure, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 78 SW 23
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 78 SW 23
Start Date : 1953-05-06
End Date : 1953-05-06