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HER Number:MDV18721
Name:Mill Hill Cut Canal Branch to Millhill Quarry


A two mile branch of the Tavistock Canal built in the 19th century to Mill Hill Quarry. Described as the Collateral Cut.


Grid Reference:SX 457 736
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
Civil ParishLamerton
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

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SE/87
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CANAL (XIX - 1819 AD to 1844 AD (Between))

Full description

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica, CCLX (Monograph). SDV323771.

Act of Parliament for the canal passed in 1803.

Unknown, 1842, Tavistock (Cartographic). SDV342557.

Tithe Map of 1842 shows watercourse following same route as later road between SX45397422 and the basin at SX45307452.

Hadfield, C., 1967, Canals of South West England, 131-2 (Monograph). SDV58.

A branch of the Tavistock Canal leading to the Millhill Slate Quarries was finished by January 1819. It was two miles long, and rose 5.9 metres to Millhill with an inclined plane instead of locks as water was scarce on the upper level. It was closed sometime after 1831, and reopened in 1844 as a railroad.

Booker, F., 1967, Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley, 104,116,121,123-6 (Monograph). SDV240774.

The Mill Hill 'cut' which tapped the waters of the River Lumburn at Mill Hill was completed in 1819 had the same dimensions as the Tavistock Canal and joined it on the south side of the aqueduct two miles to the south of Millhill Quarry. The cut was never particularly successful, as water was scarce and often taken by a local mill. A lime kiln and a wharf were constructed at Mill Hill to encourage use of the canal branch but in 1846 a horse tramway was opened on the canal embankment and the 'cut' was abandoned. Most of the length of the canal is easily identifiable on the ground. North of the inclined plane, its course is now taken up by mid 19th century road. Other details: Photograph.

Hedges, C., 1975, The Tavistock Canal. A Short History (Monograph). SDV361772.

Griffiths, D. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV342554.

Site visited.

Exeter Archaeology, 1998, Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal: Artiscombe Farm, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV342538.

The canal ran southwards from Millhill Quarry on the east side of the road, continuing in a south-easterly direction from Middle Lumburn Bridge.

Greeves, T., 2003, The Tavistock Canal: A Review, 14 (Report - non-specific). SDV356552.

Buck, C., 2009, Tavistock Canal Devon: Interim Archaeological Report, 5 (Report - Interim). SDV345014.

Repairs took place on the section of the canal between the swing bridge at Tavistock and the lock gates at the Lumburn Valley. With reduced water level in the canal many stones that had fallen out were found on the canal bed not far from their original bank location. When the canal was constructed the stones were originally set on edge, a minimum of two/three stones height (approximately 0.6-0.8 metres above water level). Where there was insufficient stone to replace the collapsed sections, a similar stone was imported from Trebarwith Quarry, North Cornwall. The new or original stone was reset on edge, following the original profile of the canal bank, and earth was backfilled into the top sides of the stone to reform the edge of the towpath, which was then re-seeded. Other details: Figures 5-6.

Richards, A., 2009, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV342565.

Possible line of Mill Hill 'Cut' digitised from a sketch by F Booker.

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.
Background: This site is adjacent to the stewardship landholding, but is outside the study area. It has been included for historical context reasons. The additional Millhill branch was constructed in 1819 to serve the Millhill slate quarry to the north. It was 2 miles long, and cost £8000. It rose by 19.5ft to Millhill (from the western end of the Lumburn aqueduct – Site 18.3), with an inclined plane for the final section due to the scarcity of water (double tracked with two cradles counterbalanced; loaded boats going down pulling the empty ones up, with the help of three horses).
Survey: The towpath is on the eastern side of the canal (near the aqueduct) and is used as a road track until the settlement of Lumburn is reached (see Fig 9, the 1867 map). The canal still exists but without any water, as an obscured, vegetation filled feature.
Significance: Not applicable.
Recommendation: Not applicable.

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 79-83, 325, 332-351, figs 10.30-10.55 (Monograph). SDV361789.

The Collateral Cut was discussed around this time, and thought to be likely to only be of moderate expense (presumably as it was planned to be narrower than the main line). Construction was started shortly after and was completed in 1818 and in January 1819 it was announced that a wharf and limekilns had been erected at Mill Hill and trade was already commencing on this line. By late 1819, concerns were already being expressed about the inadequacy of the water supply in the Collateral Cut; the summer had been particularly dry and very little income from tolls had been received as this section had been unfit for use. This was a clear indication of the problems to come.
The Collateral Cut headed northwards from a T-junction at the western end of the Lumburn up the west side of the Lumburn Valley to the Mill Hill quarries. This section of the canal is now only occasionally in water for a short distance, being blocked off from the Main Line by a stone dam.
Waterhouse examins the course of the canal branch in detail, including detail numerous sections and plans of assicated features, such as the lifting bridge at the west end of the Lumburn Aqueduct.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV240774Monograph: Booker, F.. 1967. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. A5 Hardback. 104,116,121,123-6.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. CCLX.
SDV342538Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1998. Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal: Artiscombe Farm. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.21. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV342554Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1983.
SDV342557Cartographic: Unknown. 1842. Tavistock. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV342565Personal Comment: Richards, A.. 2009.
SDV345014Report - Interim: Buck, C.. 2009. Tavistock Canal Devon: Interim Archaeological Report. Cornwall County Council Report. A4 Ring Bound + Digital. 5.
SDV356552Report - non-specific: Greeves, T.. 2003. The Tavistock Canal: A Review. Digital. 14.
SDV359746Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2015. Buctor Farm, Tavistock. Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2015R055. Digital.
SDV361772Monograph: Hedges, C.. 1975. The Tavistock Canal. A Short History. The Tavistock Canal. A5 Paperback.
SDV361789Monograph: Waterhouse, R.. 2017. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. Paperback Volume. 79-83, 325, 332-351, figs 10.30-10.55.
SDV58Monograph: Hadfield, C.. 1967. Canals of South West England. Canals of South West England. A5 Hardback. 131-2.

Associated Monuments

MDV21607Parent of: Canal Basin and Wharf, south of Millhill Quarry (Monument)
MDV123191Parent of: Canal plateway on the Collateral Cut, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV123191Related to: Canal plateway on the Collateral Cut, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV123232Part of: Tavistock Canal, Main record (Monument)
MDV123285Related to: Adits associated with Wheal Crease Mine (Monument)
MDV124532Related to: Artiscombe Road Bridge (Monument)
MDV37343Related to: Bridge South of Wheal Crebor House (Monument)
MDV123191Parent of: Canal plateway on the Collateral Cut, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV123191Related to: Canal plateway on the Collateral Cut, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV37337Related to: Higher Lumburn Bridge (Monument)
MDV21606Related to: Horse Tramway south of Millhill Quarry (Monument)
MDV18723Related to: Limekiln southwest of Mole End at Mill Hill (Monument)
MDV123151Related to: Line of the pre-Turnpike Callington Road at Lumburn (Monument)
MDV123150Related to: Lower Lumburn Bridge (Monument)
MDV4068Related to: Lumburn Aqueduct, Gulworthy (Monument)
MDV106271Related to: Lumburn lock and lock gate, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV21283Related to: Lumburn Mill, Gulworthy (Monument)
MDV123149Related to: Middle Lumburn Bridge (Monument)
MDV21611Related to: Mill Hill Cottages south of Higher Lumburn Bridge (Monument)
MDV124672Related to: Mill Hill Wharf, Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV3957Related to: Millhill Quarry north of Higher Lumburn Bridge (Monument)
MDV123286Related to: North Crebor Mine Adit (Monument)
MDV114356Related to: Shaft Pit West of Lumburn (Monument)
MDV3879Related to: Tavistock Canal, Western Section (Monument)
MDV124648Related to: The Mission House, Mill Hill Wharf, Exeter (Monument)
MDV124673Related to: Wharf Keepers house, Mill Hill Wharf (Building)
MDV3954Related to: Wheal Crebor Mine (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1445 - Lower Tamar Valley Heritage Appraisal: Artiscombe Farm
  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)

Date Last Edited:May 9 2019 5:49PM