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HER Number:MDV130687
Name:A wheelpit at East Brookwood Mine, West Buckfastleigh


A wheelpit at East Brookwood Mine (SX 76 NW 91), sited 255m south-east of the shaft.


Grid Reference:SX 720 682
Map Sheet:SX76NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishHolne
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKFASTLEIGH

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67NW99
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1468862

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WHEEL PIT (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 10/05/2021 (Website). SDV364039.

(21/11/2005) A wheelpit is sited 255m south east of the shaft at East Brookwood Mine, near the confluence of Holy Brook and the Shuttaford or Steart Brook at SX 7203 6825, oriented approximately NW - SE. The structure, as surviving, appears virtually intact, with only a few stones from the top courses having tumbled, though small trees are now growing from the walls. It is almost fully sunken with only the lower east end having been above ground. The internal dimensions are 13.2m long (43ft) by 1.5m wide (4ft 9") and it survives up to 3.3m deep with an approximately 0.3m depth of leaf mould in the bottom. There is no tailrace opening currently visible. On the interior faces of the side walls is a series of deep horizontal recesses which accommodated the nuts on the ends of the long studs to secure the timber axle bearers, and the axle blocks, onto the upper surface of the wheelpit. There are four recesses on each side along the length of the wall where the central two are arranged as a close pair for the axle blocks. All the recesses are approximately 0.4m wide by 0.68m deep but the heights vary between 0.28m and 0.57m. The upper surfaces are lined with 70mm thick timber planked lintels into which square iron plates were bedded as the nuts were tightened.
A mound of spoil to the south of the wheelpit is probably the material removed when the pit was dug and is not mine waste.
There is no obvious water supply to this wheel and is quite likely that it was never operational. Such a large wheel would have needed a substantial leat to supply water, which in turn would have left highly noticeable earthwork remains, but such evidence is lacking.
Among the items for sale at the mine in 1869 was a ‘waterwheel of 40ft diameter 4ft breast with iron axle ring and cog wheel attached with two bobs connected with the wheel’ (citing Exeter Flying Post, 24/02/1869). However, the shallowness of the wheelpit at only 3.6m (including 0.3m of silt) suggests that either the wheel was much smaller than the wheelpit was capable of housing, or the axle was raised at up to 3m above the upper surface of the walls for the rim of the wheel to clear the ends of the wheelpit. This seems unlikely. Alternative explanations could be that several courses of stone are missing from the top of the walls, having been robbed reinforcing the idea that the structure was never completed, or that the floor of the pit has been backfilled, though it doesn’t appear so. It is notable also that the paired fixture recesses, from where the axle blocks were secured, are not precisely in the centre of the wall (citing Newman, P., 21/11/2005, EH Archaeological Field Investigation).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 10/05/2021.

Associated Monuments

MDV130688Part of: East Brookwood Mine, West Buckfastleigh (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 10 2021 11:43AM