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HER Number:MDV16980
Name:Silverbrook Mine, Ilsington


Worked for silver, lead and zinc ores, this mine was already old when working in the mid-19th century; records indicate it having been worked 200 years earlier. In 1857, 60 people were employed and the mine was reasonably successful but 1861 it had closed. Ruined building remains and the ivy-covered pumping-engine house with its separate stack were still standing in 1967.


Grid Reference:SX 789 758
Map Sheet:SX77NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishIlsington
Ecclesiastical ParishILSINGTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77NE/25
  • Pastscape: 1433449

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAD MINE (XVII to XIX - 1650 AD to 1861 AD (Between))
  • SILVER MINE (XVII to XIX - 1650 AD to 1861 AD (Between))
  • ZINC MINE (XVII to XIX - 1650 AD to 1861 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Silverbrook Mine (Silverlead, disused)' is depicted on the late 19th century historic map.

Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 1967, Silver Brook Mine, Ilsington (Photograph). SDV299604.

Site of Silver Brook Mine. A photograph from 1967 shows the overgrown site with a disintegrating stack.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 36 (plate), 65-7, Plan (Monograph). SDV149229.

Silverbrook Mine, half a mile from Ilsington village has interesting remains and is said to be 200 years old when working in the mid-19th century (see plate). Produced silver, lead and zinc ores. Silverbrook employed 60 people in 1857 but was closed by 1861. considerable dumps still remain at the mine, as well as the remains of some buildings and a stack. Section of mine buildings shown.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Not visible on Royal Air Force 1946 aerial photographs.

Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D., 1996, A Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon, 114, figure 9 (Article in Serial). SDV241746.

Silver Brook Mine plan (from an unscaled field sketch) included. Brief description of the standing remains.

Nance, R. D., 1996, Project Design for a Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon (Report - Assessment). SDV222663.

Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D., 1996, Wheal Druid and the Engine Houses of Dartmoor, 4-6, (August 1996) (Article in Serial). SDV340907.

Ruins that housed the 20-inch cylinder pumping engine and 10-inch cylinder whim and crusher. Of the pumping engine house, only north-west and boiler house walls remain standing above level of cylinder loadings. Site of hot well clearly evident. Stack, separate and standing behind pumping engine house, survives and was fed by a flue visible in rear wall of boiler house. Of the house of the 10-inch whim that wound from the same (engine) shaft and also drove a crusher, only crankshaft loadings, winding drum pit and footings of crusher house remain. A field now covers the site of the whim house.

Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 2005, Mines of Devon, 124-5 (Monograph). SDV282410.

Silver Brook Mine was located half a mile south-east of Ilsington Church and worked two lead-zinc lodes trending north-east. The lodes at surface lay 35 yards apart and were developed by an adit 2000 feet long and by two shafts.
Engine Shaft, about 550 yards west-north-west of Lenda Farm, was vertical for the first 16 fathoms and thence followed the hanging-wall of the lode to a depth of just over 80 fathoms from surface. From it levels were driven on the lode at 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, and 66 fathoms below adit. The other shaft, 120 yards south-west of Engine Shaft, lay on higher ground and was sunk to about 11 fathoms under adit (here 16 fathoms from surface).
The mine is an old one. In the middle of the last century deeds were in existence to show that work had been carried out here and in nearby Silver Wood, at least 200 years earlier. Operations were resumed about 1757 the lodes on that occasion being exploited to a depth of 15.5 fathoms below adit, with a ‘sink’ in one place extending 7 fathoms deeper. Apparently this working was abandoned in a hurry. In 1852 an old man living in the district had heard his grandfather say that the miners left behind them all their tools (which he enumerated) and that these would be found if the mine was ever worked again. He added that in the bottom of the sink there was a course of lead ore as ‘big as a hogshead’.
The most recent working started about 1851 and continued for seven years. In November 1852 a 20 inch cylinder pumping engine was installed being the ‘first steam engine ever erected in the Ashburton area’. On forking (draining) the mine, the tools were found exactly where the old man had predicted. Clearing the ‘sink’ also brought to light two sets of wooden hand-pumps, accurately bored and with their leather valves almost as hard as the oak from which the pump columns were constructed. During 1853 the lode was cut through in several places, 80 fathoms south of Woodley’s Engine Shaft, where it was reported to be 2 feet to 8 feet wide. Similar widths were recorded in the adit level north of the shaft. (Records of the ores produced and how the shafts were developed included).
In October 1859 the 20 inch pumping engine and 10 inch rotary for hoisting and crushing were still standing on the mine but the pitwork had been drawn up and the rest of the plant sold.
In 1967 the ivy-covered pumping-engine house with its separate stack still remained intact but the whim house had been largely demolished. Below these lay the dressing floors adjoining the stream, and nearby some fairly extensive tailings dumps containing lode material. Two interesting water-colours of the mine were formerly in the possession of the late Sir Arthur Russell. Said to have been painted by the purser of the company shortly before the mine was stopped, the whereabouts of these pictures is now unknown.

Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.

Modern map shows 'Silverbrook Mine (disused)', with remains of buildings indicated.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 36 (plate), 65-7, Plan.
SDV222663Report - Assessment: Nance, R. D.. 1996. Project Design for a Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon. Project Design for a Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon. Unknown.
SDV241746Article in Serial: Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D.. 1996. A Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South-West Britain. 13, Number 2. A4 Paperback. 114, figure 9.
SDV282410Monograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 2005. Mines of Devon. Mines of Devon. Paperback Volume. 124-5.
SDV299604Photograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 1967. Silver Brook Mine, Ilsington. Digital.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV340907Article in Serial: Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D.. 1996. Wheal Druid and the Engine Houses of Dartmoor. Dartmoor Tin Working Research Group Newsletter. 10. A4 Stapled. 4-6, (August 1996).
SDV359962Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #81952 ]

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8574 - Hidden Dartmoor: Peripheral Mines (Phase 1 Pilot)

Date Last Edited:Feb 9 2021 2:35PM