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HER Number:MDV115950
Name:Shillamill Leat


Course of leat which served the former Manganese Mill at Shillamill.


Grid Reference:SX 465 721
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Structures, earthworks and below-ground mining features associated with Wheal Crebor Mine including a former canal and railway, east of Buctor Farm

Other References/Statuses

  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (Constructed, XIX - 1840 AD to 1875 AD (Between))

Full description

Andrew Brown, 1998, Monuments Protection Programme The Non-Ferrous Metals (Tin, Copper, Arsenic and Minor Metals) Industries: Appendix III, Step 4 Report (Report - non-specific). SDV357940.

Probably mid 15th century leat illustrative of the scale of water engineering associated with mining but of regional rather than national significance.

Linear monument including rock-cut tunnels and open sections, the whole length vulnerable to disruption of linearity but unsuitable for public enjoyment and education and manageable under existing regime.

Buck, C., 2015, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Report - Assessment). SDV359746.

This study was commissioned by the landowner on behalf of Natural England as part of a Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Agreement Scheme and produced by Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall Council.

The 1765 map shows the leat supply. However, given the nature of the drawn feature it appears that this is another later addition to the map. Shillamil mill appears to post-date the 1803 Tavistock canal, and in fact its leat supply appears to have come from the canal (possibly via the primary site of the water engine water wheel.
The documentary evidence (Section 4.2.5, 1815 date), mentions Manganese mine exports; ‘From this year there were shipments of manganese from mines around Brentor and Milton Abbot carried by the canal. An additional plan of the water supply shows it taken from the tailrace of a wheel which served the Wheal Crebor ore crusher, contradicting the Estate Map, the 1842 Tithe Map and Symons’ 1848 map’. The site is also shown on the 1842 (Fig 6) and 1848 (Fig 7), but the building is not shown on the 1859 (Fig 8) or later maps, although the leat is shown up to 1867 (Fig 9). It is quite possible that the Manganese mill at Morwellham (working from 1826; Patrick, 1989, 30), took away much of its trade via the Tavistock Canal.
There is no evidence of the mill at ground level. The landowner (D Hutchins pers comm) levelled the site and excavated a large pond nearby (Site 57). It may be possible that any site foundations are in situ, as part of the mill ‘footprint’ ground level has been artificially raised by approximately 1m – presumably from material excavated to form the adjacent pond. The original mill tail race running under the adjacent road and thence to the River Tavy is still in situ. The line of the original leat supply from the canal to the manganese mill is close to the western valley bottom hedge line – but visual evidence has now been lost, although parts may have been reused to site the later pump house leat


There may be foundation remains of the mill building under the build of material near the pond. It is recommended that no further excavation within or adjacent to the building’s former site is undertaken.

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 240, fig 2.10, (Monograph). SDV361789.

Shillamill Leat (1840-c.1875) took its water from the tailrace of the roller crusher house at Wheal Crebor, which in turn had taken it off the Canal. It drove an approximately 28 foot diameter by c.4 foot breast (8.5 by 1.2 metres) water engine at Shillamill Manganese Mill, which crushed manganese ores brought by road from mines in the Brentor area, 15 miles to the north.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV357940Report - non-specific: Andrew Brown. 1998. Monuments Protection Programme The Non-Ferrous Metals (Tin, Copper, Arsenic and Minor Metals) Industries: Appendix III, Step 4 Report. Monument Protection Programme. A4 Unbound.
SDV359746Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2015. Buctor Farm, Tavistock. Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2015R055. Digital.
SDV361789Monograph: Waterhouse, R.. 2017. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. Paperback Volume. 240, fig 2.10,. [Mapped feature: #114531 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV124308Related to: Shillamill Manganese Mill (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)

Date Last Edited:May 9 2019 5:49PM