HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV20768
Name:Rackfield Tannery, Barnstaple

Summary

Site of Rackfield Tannery in Barnstaple built in the 19th century and demolished before 1958.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 558 336
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/251

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TANNERY (Built, XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Griffiths, D. M., 11/04/1984, Rackfield Tannery (Personal Comment). SDV344435.

Wood's plan makes actual extent of tannery unclear. Most of the buildings shown by Wood's and the 1912 map have since disappeared, except the large stone-built building at SS55833357 and the range of buildings along the southern edge of the mill leat which may or may not have belonged to the tannery. Rackfield Cottages, sited at SS55833357 now demolished, were built for the tannery employees.

Wood, J., 1843, Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey (Cartographic). SDV91852.

Unknown, 1845, 1148M/ADD/1/T2/7 (Record Office Collection). SDV91848.

Described in a document of 1845 as a tanyard with warehouses sheds and buildings.

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

Tannery marked, comprising numerous small buildings in an irregular shaped plot on the north side of the road. Map object based on this Source.

Chanter, J. R., 1882, Memorials of the Church of St. Peter, Barnstaple (Unknown). SDV91853.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Rackfield Tannery marked, comprising a large irregular shaped building between the road and the railway. Map object based on this Source.

Bone, M., 1973, Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology, 20 (Monograph). SDV78228.

Rackfield tannery was owned by William Sanders. A William Sanders, tanner, was the first person to die in the Barnstaple cholera outbreak of 1849. This is hardly surprising when one recalls that the report to the General Board of Health in 1850 describes this as 'one of the most filthy and unwholesome spots in the whole town'. Later in the century the tannery passed to Messrs Smyth who possessed a more extensive works at Swimbridge and were responsible for installing the town's first telephone (in 1886) to link these premises. The only surviving evidence of the Rackfield tannery is the large rubble- built building now used by the motor trade. The tan-pits were on the site of the later GPO building. The Swimbridge Tannery continued to work into the 1960's and is still substantially intact.

Griffiths, D. M., 1984, An Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Route of the Barnstaple Urban Relief Road Stages II and III, 8-9 (Report - Assessment). SDV74017.

There is a record of a leather dresser leasing land in Maudlin Rackclose in 1759 which included a 'lately erected' dyehouse. There are further documentary references in 1784 and 1789 to a wash or dye house.
A tanyard is first mentioned in a document of 1845 which also states that one dyehouse had become a workshop allied to a dwelling house, courtilage and timberyard. It is presumed that this tanyard is the one mentioned as being under construction in 1819, in an account in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1826 of the remains of the Priory being found, and also marked on Woods map of 1843.
The tannery was still in use in 1850 when it was reported to be 'one of the most filthy and unwholesome spots in the whole town'.
Most of the buildings shown on Woods map have now gone, although it is not clear which buildings were actually part of the tannery.
Some of the 19th century or possibly earlier industrial buildings on the south side of the mill leat still survive including the 'Mission Hall' and the warehouse and old bakery adjoining to the west, which lie along the route of the relief road. It is possible though that the tanyard was situated on the north side of the leat; the siting of one of the dyehouse mentioned in 1845 suggests that it was north of the leat.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1990, Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90, 22 (Report - non-specific). SDV342524.

18th century tannery at Rackfield.

Lovatt, A. M. + Lee, E. S., 1990, Excavations at Rackfield Lane, Barnstaple, 1987, 6 (Report - Excavation). SDV76387.

Henderson, C. G., 1997, Archaeological Assessment of a Development Site at Rackfield, Barnstaple, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV78641.

Bayer, O. J., 1998, Archaeological Recording at a Development Site at Rackfield, Barnstaple (Report - non-specific). SDV336402.

Excavations during the development of a site adjacent to the inner relief road at Rackfield/Boutport street revealed a series of walls and surfaces in the central and eastern part of the site. These probably relate to the former tannery structures and 19th century workers cottages. All deposits in the northwest and west parts of the site had been removed during the 1987 excavations. No evidence for the 12th century priory was recovered.

Timms, S. C., 21/06/1983, Worksheet (Worksheet). SDV91847.

The discovery of foundations of the medieval priory in May 1819 was made during the construction of a tanyard. Chanter and others have identified this tanyard as being the Rackfield one, but Wood's plan of 1843 shows another tanyard to the north of the mill leat beside Pilton causeway. Rackfield Tannery is shown on 1912 map but had been demolished prior to 1953. Tanpits were excavated during construction of telephone repeater station in 1958.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336402Report - non-specific: Bayer, O. J.. 1998. Archaeological Recording at a Development Site at Rackfield, Barnstaple. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.49. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV342524Report - non-specific: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1990. Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 22.
SDV344435Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 11/04/1984. Rackfield Tannery. Not Applicable.
SDV74017Report - Assessment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1984. An Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Route of the Barnstaple Urban Relief Road Stages II and III. Devon County Council Report. A4 + Digital. 8-9.
SDV76387Report - Excavation: Lovatt, A. M. + Lee, E. S.. 1990. Excavations at Rackfield Lane, Barnstaple, 1987. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6.
SDV78228Monograph: Bone, M.. 1973. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. A5 Paperback. 20.
SDV78641Report - Assessment: Henderson, C. G.. 1997. Archaeological Assessment of a Development Site at Rackfield, Barnstaple. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.16. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV91847Worksheet: Timms, S. C.. 21/06/1983. Worksheet. Worksheet.
SDV91848Record Office Collection: Unknown. 1845. 1148M/ADD/1/T2/7. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown.
SDV91852Cartographic: Wood, J.. 1843. Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey. Unknown.
SDV91853Unknown: Chanter, J. R.. 1882. Memorials of the Church of St. Peter, Barnstaple. Memorials of the Church of St. Peter, Barnstaple. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV58920Parent of: Tanpit at Rackfield Tannery, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV20693Related to: 10 Cross Street, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV5341Related to: Fellmongery at Pilton, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV38759Related to: Medieval Buildings in Rackford Lane, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV12506Related to: Priory Building off Rackfield Court, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV4488Related to: Priory of St Mary Magdalene, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV23048Related to: Rackfield Mission Hall, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV105597Related to: Tanpit, Rackfield Court, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV63404Related to: Workers Cottages at Rackfield, Barnstaple (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8187 - Archaeological assessment of proposed route of the Barnstaple Relief Road, Stages II and III

Date Last Edited:Nov 13 2019 10:55AM