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HER Number:MDV124815
Name:The Copper Ore Road, Morwellham


Built in the early 19th century, running east from the Tavistock Canal incline to the eastern end of the quays at Morwellham, where a number of ore-chutes were located. Later in the 19th century, a cart track continued the route to Wheal George and Charlotte Mine, allowing for ores to be transported to Morwellham.


Grid Reference:SX 446 698
Map Sheet:SX46NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ORE CHUTE (Constructed, XIX - 1805 AD to 1806 AD (Pre))
  • PLATEWAY (Constructed, XIX - 1806 AD to 1817 AD (Between))

Full description

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 472-3, 483-485, fig 12.72-12.77, 12.82, 12.85 (Monograph). SDV361789.

The eastern line of the Tavistock Canal Incline (known as The Copper Ore Road during the working life of the system), curved abruptly away from the incline, running around the base f a stone-faced dam that retained a large pond in the Lobscombe Valley, which acted as a reservoir for Morwellham's leat system. It ran onwards in a south-easterly direction for a total of 300 metres and crossed the road just south of the Methodist Chapel built in 1858, winding through a rock cutting and continuing onto a terrace on the steeply sloping Tamar Valley. The retaining wall is substantial and a civil engineering masterpiece, measuring 60 metres long by 11 metres high, with pairs of arched openings from the ore-chutes, 2.5 and 5.0 metres above the quay. The wall and chutes were constructed by 1806, with the plateway complete by 1817.
A cart track appears to have been extended down river as far as New Quay before 1867, probably to bring processed ore from George and Charlotte Mine (MDV78701).
The top of one of the ore chutes was excavated in 1972 (fig 12.74, 12.75). Waterhouse provides a vertical reconstruction (fig 12.77) showing the arrangement of chutes and wall, as well as the receiving sheds (remains of which now lie under the access road to the 1933 hydro-electric power station.
Seems probable that the rear set of ore chutes (which emerged below the front set) were abandoned and blocked up in 1855, when the Copper Ore Road was repaired/replaced with edge rails, although this could have taken place earlier, as Lower Quay was extended eastwards in around 1846, with three more ore chutes of a different design being added to the new rear wall, 2.5 metres below the top.
A trence was cut across the Copper Ore Road in 2003 and the pieces of rail sampled; proving to have been made from white cast iron.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV361789Monograph: Waterhouse, R.. 2017. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. Paperback Volume. 472-3, 483-485, fig 12.72-12.77, 12.82, 12.85. [Mapped feature: #115225 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV78701Related to: Mine Track, Morwellham to New Quay (Monument)
MDV5449Related to: Tavistock Canal, Inclined Plane (Monument)
MDV123232Related to: Tavistock Canal, Main record (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 24 2019 1:44PM