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HER Number:MDV107445
Name:Redlake China Clay works, Dartmoor Forest


China clay working took place at Redlake between 1910 and 1932 and the remains of the site comprise the water filled pits, massive spoil heap, and ruined remains of buildings and some machinery, as well as the route of the railway that carried workers and supplies to the site.


Grid Reference:SX 646 668
Map Sheet:SX66NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of the early 20th century China Clay works at Redlake Mine and the associated railway, as well as prehistoric remains on Ugborough Moor

Other References/Statuses

  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CLAY WORKINGS (Edwardian to Early 20th Century - 1910 AD to 1932 AD (Between))

Full description

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 95-97 (Monograph). SDV149229.

The China Clay workings at Redlake were started in 1910, in spite of local opposition, on land leased from the Duchy of Cornwall. R Handsford Worth was the appointed engineer. In the following year the Redlake Mineral Railway was completed to carry men, coal, iron and general supplies to the site. About one hundred men were employed in the industry, many of whom stayed on site for weeks on end during the summer months. In a few years the clay has been worked out and the enterprise came to an end in 1932, and the following year the railway was dismantled and equipment and engines blown up or sold off as scrap.

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 112-3 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Leftlake and Redlake clay workings shown (1987/8 aerial photographs).

GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Remains of the industry can be seen on the aerial photograph, including the clay pits, which are now filled up as artificially lakes, the massive spoil tip comprising the material removed from the pits, remains of some buildings and the tramway.

Knights, R., 2014, Dartmoor Walks (Website). SDV356909.

Red Lake China Clay works. Clay was hosed out from a deep pit and the slurry was transported via pumps to settling beds at Greenhill about a mile away. After a week or so of settling the sluices were opened and the clay in suspension flowed down pipes some 7 miles to the clay processing works near Ivybridge. The unwanted sand and gravel was loaded into trucks at Red Lake which were then tipped onto the waste tip that can be seen today.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Lakes, spoil heap and route of the railway are depicted on the modern mapping.

Newman, P., 2018, Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet) (Cartographic). SDV361913.

Newman, P., 2018, The Upper Erme Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, Appendix 1 (Report - Survey). SDV362921.

Redlake China Clay pits were active between 1910 and 1932, operated by the China Clay Corporation Ltd and later by the Ivybridge Clay Company. The extractive site and the processing works are at several different locations, all served by the Redlake Railway which runs from Cantrell at Bittaford, to the Redlake pits, a distance of 12.7 kilometres. The primary processing plant (MDV5159) was on Ugborough Moor, while the drying sheds and distribution facility was at Bittaford. Clay was transported between the two via a twin ceramic pipeline (MDV5167) running approximately parallel with the railway. The clay pit is located on flattish ground at the head of Red Lake, an eastern tributary of the River Erme, from which the name of the clay works was derived, and which had previously been heavily worked for tin using streamworking methods. The clayworking remains comprise a very deep pit, though this is now completely water filled with a surface area of 1.4 hectares. A large overburden heap (MDV122909) in the form of finger dumps is 120 metres south-west of the pit, where the waste was delivered via a tramway. The earthwork cutting through which the tramway passed survives though now disguised by rushes. The main, cone-shaped waste heap (MDV 26060) is adjacent to the north-east side of the pit. This was a sky tip of 20 metres high, which in later years of operation was fed by an inclined tramway leading directly from the bottom of the pit to the summit of the cone. The ridge on which the incline travelled survives running up the south-west arc of the heap. Evidence of flat-topped finger dumps on thesouth-east slope of the mound suggest that an earlier phase of dumping used horizontal trams to distribute the waste. Two shallow reservoirs (MDV 25059) are sited to the south-east of the sky tip covering an area totalling 0.5 hectares. These probably supplied water to the monitors to wash the clay out of the pit, as well as the boilers in the engine house. Both still retain water. The remains of several buildings survive as either stone foundations or demolished rubble. A number of timber-framed buildings, described by E. A. Wade (1982), including a peat store, locomotive shed and others, have left no trace other than the levelled ground on which they once stood. The engine/boiler house (see MDV 24806) was the most substantial building at the clay works, constructed from stone, brick and re-enforced concrete. Remains of the winding house (see MDV122901) sit on the pit edge and occupied an area of approximately 9.7 metres by 7.6 metres. Of the range of buildings to the south depicted by E A Wade, fragments of only the two masonry structures survive (MDV122902), built from stone and brick and totally demolished, leaving a few short lengths of in-situ wall bases and a section of a chimney breast to the south. The northern of these was probably the Blacksmith’s shop which has the concrete base of an anvil with fixing studs in situ. The southernmost building at Redlake was the barracks (MDV25061). This was a rectangular, timber and corrugated iron structure built onto shuttered concrete foundation walls. Only the foundations survive, which have overall dimensions of 19.3 by 12.5 metres, standing to a maximum of 0.4 metres high.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 95-97.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #66890 ]
SDV356909Website: Knights, R.. 2014. Dartmoor Walks. http://www.richkni.co.uk/dartmoor/redlake.htm. Website.
SDV361913Cartographic: Newman, P.. 2018. Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet). GIS ShapeFile. Digital.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 112-3.

Associated Monuments

MDV25061Parent of: Building at Red Lake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV5159Parent of: China clay settling tanks west of Western Whitebarrow, Ugborough (Monument)
MDV25058Parent of: Claypit at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV122902Parent of: Demolished buildings at Redlake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV5169Parent of: Deserted buildings 1.2 kilometres south-east of Red Lake, Ugborough (Monument)
MDV28956Parent of: Ditch at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV24807Parent of: Ditch north of Redlake clay pit, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV122907Parent of: Explosives store for Redlake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV122910Parent of: Mica dams on the northern side of Greenhill clay works, Ugborough Moor (Monument)
MDV5167Parent of: Redlake Clay works pipeline, Harford and Ugborough parishes (Monument)
MDV24806Parent of: Remains of a building at Redlake clay pit, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV122901Parent of: Remains of winding house at Redlake, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV123445Parent of: Settling pits at Red Lake Mire, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV25060Parent of: Spoilheap at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV3138Parent of: The Redlake China Clay Railway, Harford & Dratmoor Forest Parishes (Monument)
MDV25059Parent of: Two shallow reservoirs at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV25036Related to: Boundary of Huntingdon Warren (Monument)
MDV4234Related to: Left Lake China clay works, Harford and Ugborough Parishes (Monument)
MDV122909Related to: Overburden heap at Redlake Pit, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV25699Related to: Stone quarry on Ugborough Moor, Ugborough (Monument)
MDV122903Related to: Tinners' building south of Redlake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley

Date Last Edited:May 15 2020 11:26AM