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HER Number:MDV3138
Name:The Redlake China Clay Railway, Harford & Dratmoor Forest Parishes

Summary

The Redlake China Clay Railway. Had one inclined plane and was opened in 1911 to transport workers, supplies and coal from Bittaford to the china clay works at Redlake. The clay was then piped down to Bittaford on the main line. The company closed in 1932. Parts of the track can be followed. The turntable can be seen above the incline. Also known as the 'Puffing Billy' track.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 646 636
Map Sheet:SX66SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
Civil ParishHarford
Civil ParishUgborough
DistrictSouth Hams
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHARFORD
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD
Ecclesiastical ParishUGBOROUGH

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of the early 20th century China Clay works at Redlake Mine and the associated railway, as well as prehistoric remains on Ugborough Moor

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 441241
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX65NE/223
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66NW/5
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RAILWAY (Early 20th Century - 1911 AD to 1932 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX65NE67 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV166647.

The Ordnance Survey gives the location as SX64636680 to SX65635712.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 1207-1230, (10/12/1946) (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2105, 3054-3059, (28/5/1947) (Aerial Photograph). SDV176920.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 96 (Monograph). SDV149229.

The Redlake Mineral Railway was completed in 1911 for carrying men, coal for the steam-pumping engines, iron and general supplies from Bittaford to the works – not for clay. Seven and half miles long, and of a three foot gauge, the railway terminated on the southern slopes of Western Beacon, where connection with the clay-drying plant down at Cantrell, close to the Great Western Railway, was made by cable incline.
The railway took a general northwards direction from Bittaford to Redlake, but wound around according to the contours of the hills. First going around the western slopes of Western Beacon and Weatherdon Hill it took a slight eastwards turn, to continue north again east of Piles Hill and between Sharp Tor and Three Barrows. Passing Leftlake, the line wound over Quickbeam Hill, across Brown Heath, and eventually reached the clay works. Steam locomotives were used on the line, the three passenger vehicles, each capable of carrying thirty people, resembled mobile hen-houses in appearance. There were no ordinary brakes, but a centre buffer and coupling.
About a hundred men were employed in the industry, many of whom used to stay out at the works for weeks on end during the summer, and even in the winter when the weather was not too severe. They used to supplement their food supply by trapping rabbits, the remains of which warren can still be seen at several places alongside the course of the old railway.
By 1932 the enterprise came to an end and the railway was dismantled, the engines were blown up and sold for scrap and other equipment sold by public auction.

National Monuments Record, 1969, NMR SX6463, 2, (12/04/1969) (Aerial Photograph). SDV165976.

National Monument Record, 1969, SX6657, 1/1-3, 2/7-9 (12/4/1969) (Aerial Photograph). SDV166652.

Gill, C. (ed.), 1970, Dartmoor: a New Study, 222 (Monograph). SDV161800.

Gaskell-Brown, C. + Hankin, C., 1974 -1978, Ugborough Parish Checklist (Worksheet). SDV161354.

Built in 1911 to serve the China Clay Corporation's clay works at Red Lake, the railway runs for 7.5 miles into Dartmoor from Cantrell in the south to Red Lake Mires in the north. About 4.5 miles of the route are in Ugborough, following an easy gradient round the west slope of Western Beacon into Harford parish, across Ugborough Moor to the western slopes of Three Barrows and to Left Lake, across Quickbeam Hill and finally curving round between Brown Heath and Western Whitebarrows to the marshy and relatively flat ground at Red Lake. See worksheet for further detail.

Minchinton, W. E., 1976, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 27 (Monograph). SDV7016.

The Redlake China Clay Railway. Had one inclined plane and was opened in 1911 to transport workers, supplies and coal from Bittaford to the china clay works at Redlake. The clay was then piped down to Bittaford on the main line. The company closed in 1932. Parts of the track can be followed. The turntable can be seen above the incline.

National Monuments Record, 1976, NMR SX6460, 2, (12/04/1969) (Aerial Photograph). SDV157244.

National Monument Record, 1976, SX6558, 1/233-234, (22/4/1976) (Aerial Photograph). SDV166651.

Hankin, C. F., 1977-1979, Harford Parish Checklist (Worksheet). SDV149931.

The track was surveyed by R. H. Worth. Taking an easy contour round the hills the mean gradient over the whole length measured on Ordnance Survey 6 inch maps, was between 1:45 and 1:50. The track was ballasted to a width of about 3 metres, some of the granite coming from the clitter on the western slope of Three Barrows.
A steam locomotive was used on a single track, 3 feet gauge, of iron rails on wooden sleepers, some of the timber for which came from a wood near Corringdon in South Brent parish. After the business failed in 1932, the rails were torn up, and only the ballasted track and a few rotted sleepers remain. In recent years it has become a popular track for walking, for the children of Ivybridge. (Source date estimated 1977)

Hankin, C. F., 1980, An Archaeological Check-List for Harford (Un-published). SDV361875.

The track was surveyed by R. H. Worth. Taking an easy contour round the hills the mean gradient over the whole length measured on Ordnance Survey 6 inch maps, was between 1:45 and 1:50. The track was ballasted to a width of about 3 metres, some of the granite coming from the clitter on the western slope of Three Barrows.
A steam locomotive was used on a single track, 3 feet gauge, of iron rails on wooden sleepers, some of the timber for which came from a wood near Corringdon in South Brent parish. After the business failed in 1932, the rails were torn up, and only the ballasted track and a few rotted sleepers remain. In recent years it has become a popular track for walking, for the children of Ivybridge. (Source date estimated 1977)

National Monuments Record, 1980, NMR SF1743, 080, (9/4/1980) (Aerial Photograph). SDV161746.

Thomas, D. St. J., 1981, A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain, 91 (Monograph). SDV168.

The tramway opened on 11/9/1911 and was of three foot gauge and 7.5 miles long. Above the incline, locomotives were used taking workmen and coal up to the works and men and sand down. Apart from one break, traffic was steady until the company failed in 1932.

Wade, E. A, 1982, The Redlake Tramway and China Clay Works (Monograph). SDV166649.

The Redlake China Clay Railway. Built in 1911 to transport workers, supplies and coal from Cantrell in the south to Red Lake in the north, a distance of some 7.5 miles. The line of the track follows an easy gradient round the west slope of Western Beacon into Harford parish, across Ugborough Moor to the west slopes of Three Barrows and to Left Lake, across Quickbeam Hill and finally curving around between Brown Heath and Western Whitebarrows to the marshy and relatively flat ground at Red Lake.
Average gradient 1 in 48. The track was cut and ballasted to a width of approximately 4.27 metres with stones for the ballast taken from the clitter of small rocks on the west slope of Three Barrows. A crushing mill built in concrete stood beside the track here, and some of the debris can still be seen.
The railway was single track, with iron rails bolted to sleepers, some of the latter still being in situ in the Harford section of the track near Western Beacon.
At Cantrell there was a reservoir for supplying water to the locomotive: the site can still be seen, and also that of a turntable for the locomotive. An engine shed built in brick and iron stands in ruins in enclosed land at Cantrell.
In the 1920's the railway was used to serve the clay works at Left Lake revived at that time, and here the track was widened for a short length. It still crosses the stream at Left Lake by a brick single arch bridge. The railway did not carry the china clay which was piped down to Bittaford on the main line. The corporation ceased operations in 1932, and unsaleable equipment went for scrap. (Unattributed source author but thought to be Wade).

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

Tramway extends from SX6505905 to SX65005856 for 700 metres and from SX65005804 to SX65005732 for 850 metres. Visible on Royal Air Force1946 and 1947 aerial photographs.
Also visible on various aerial photographs dating to 1980, 1976 and 1969. Recorded (runs SX66005735 to SX65005722, SX65005805 to SX65005855, SX65005905 to SX65816000).

Knights, R., 2014, Dartmoor Walks (Website). SDV356909.

Redlake railway was used for moving people and basic materials and is popularly known as the 'Puffing Billy' track (although on the map it is named as The Two Moors way).

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Line of the railway indicated on the modern map by a track running from the Redlake China Clay Works in the north to Bittaford in the south.

Perrin, R., 2016, Ugborough Parish Heritage Appraisal Second Edition, UG 567 (Report - Assessment). SDV360390.

SX 6570 5715 to SX 6460 6683. The designed length was 8 miles and 17 chains (13.2 km), the journey taking about half an hour. The track of 3ft (914mm) gauge was cut and ballasted to about 4.3m wide, the stones for ballast being taken from the clitter on the slope of Three Barrows, and the debris of a crushing mill for the purpose can still be seen (SX 6501 6263). Granite for construction was probably also obtained from a quarry (UG 543) via a short siding. Iron rails were bolted to about 16,000 oak sleepers, some still in situ in the Harford section. Remains of a reservoir for the engine, and of carriage and engine sheds (SX 6693 5731 and SX 6699 5734) can still be seen above Cantrell.
In the 1920’s, the railway also served the clay workings at Left Lake and a brick bridge crosses the stream there. It did not convey the china clay, which was piped down (UG 568) to the drying beds at Cantrell. Passengers were not carried officially but the daughters of the warrener at Huntingdon Warren were allowed to use it weekly to attend school at Ugborough. Large sections of the track were re-laid by George Bartlett and Son of Ugborough in 1930 but the Ivybridge Clay Company went bankrupt in 1932. From SX 6512 5822 to The Crossways (UG 605) the line is now a section of the Two Moors Way. For full details and illustrations see Wade, 1982.

Newman, P., 2018, Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet) (Cartographic). SDV361913.

Newman, P., 2018, The Upper Erme Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, Appendix 1 (Report - Survey). SDV362921.

The single-track Redlake Railway, completed in 1912, was the main transport artery serving the Erme valley clay industry between the source of the clay at Redlake and Leftlake pits and the drying sheds at Bittaford, over 12.7 kilometres to the south. Within the survey area, the trackbed of the disused railway survives intact, retaining much of its ballast. In the circa 5 kilometres between the western slope of Three Barrows and the Redlake Pit, the track rises 45 metres, but clings mostly to the contours. Engineering works were limited to the long embankment and underpass bridge at Leftlake, a deep cutting just to the north of Leftlake, and a 900 metre-long embankment along the steep western slope of Three Barrows. Where passing through areas of peat beds, the track was cut into the peat. This particularly notable as the track approaches Redlake Pit where a long cutting of up to 3 metres deep was necessary. An historical account of the railway has been provided by E. A. Wade (1982).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 96.
SDV149931Worksheet: Hankin, C. F.. 1977-1979. Harford Parish Checklist. Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV157244Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1976. NMR SX6460. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. 2, (12/04/1969).
SDV161354Worksheet: Gaskell-Brown, C. + Hankin, C.. 1974 -1978. Ugborough Parish Checklist. Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV161746Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. NMR SF1743. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 080, (9/4/1980).
SDV161800Monograph: Gill, C. (ed.). 1970. Dartmoor: a New Study. Dartmoor: a New Study. Hardback Volume. 222.
SDV165976Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1969. NMR SX6463. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2, (12/04/1969).
SDV166647Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX65NE67. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV166649Monograph: Wade, E. A. 1982. The Redlake Tramway and China Clay Works. The Redlake Tramway and China Clay Works. Unknown.
SDV166651Aerial Photograph: National Monument Record. 1976. SX6558. National Monument Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1/233-234, (22/4/1976).
SDV166652Aerial Photograph: National Monument Record. 1969. SX6657. National Monument Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1/1-3, 2/7-9 (12/4/1969).
SDV168Monograph: Thomas, D. St. J.. 1981. A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain. A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain. 1. Unknown. 91.
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1207-1230, (10/12/1946).
SDV176920Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2105. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 3054-3059, (28/5/1947).
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.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #87136 ]
SDV356909Website: Knights, R.. 2014. Dartmoor Walks. http://www.richkni.co.uk/dartmoor/redlake.htm. Website.
SDV360390Report - Assessment: Perrin, R.. 2016. Ugborough Parish Heritage Appraisal Second Edition. Ugborough Local History Group. A4 Bound. UG 567.
SDV361875Un-published: Hankin, C. F.. 1980. An Archaeological Check-List for Harford. Devon Archaeological Society Publication. 11. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV361913Cartographic: Newman, P.. 2018. Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet). GIS ShapeFile. Digital.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 27.

Associated Monuments

MDV107445Part of: Redlake China Clay works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV3066Related to: Blackwood Path, Ugborough Moor (Monument)
MDV25061Related to: Building at Red Lake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV2988Related to: Butterdon Hill stone row (Monument)
MDV3133Related to: Cairn 340 metres east of Addicombe (Monument)
MDV5159Related to: China clay settling tanks west of Western Whitebarrow, Ugborough (Monument)
MDV27897Related to: Clay working spoil heap at Left Lake clay works, Harford (Monument)
MDV25058Related to: Claypit at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV122902Related to: Demolished buildings at Redlake Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV122911Related to: Drains on the western side of Red Lake Mire, dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV3117Related to: Enclosure and hut circles east of Addicombe, Harford (Monument)
MDV114612Related to: Foundations of a shelter on Piles Hill (Monument)
MDV4234Related to: Left Lake China clay works, Harford and Ugborough Parishes (Monument)
MDV25031Related to: Mine shafts on the edge of Ugborough Moor (Monument)
MDV128267Related to: Northern hut circle in prehistoric enclosure east of Addicombe, Harford (Monument)
MDV3098Related to: Quarry south of Western Beacon (Monument)
MDV14154Related to: RABBIT WARREN in the Parish of Harford (Monument)
MDV122889Related to: Redlake Cottage, Ugborough (Building)
MDV24806Related to: Remains of a building at Redlake clay pit, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV122901Related to: Remains of winding house at Redlake, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV5693Related to: Rifle range near Piles Hill, Harford Moor (Monument)
MDV128268Related to: Southern hut circle in prehistoric enclosure east of Addicombe, Harford (Monument)
MDV5662Related to: Stone alignment on Piles Hill (Monument)
MDV2889Related to: Stone row 400 meters south-east of Western Beacon (Monument)
MDV2890Related to: Stone row near Spurrell's Cross (Monument)
MDV5659Related to: Stone row on Ugborough Moor, near Glasscombe Ball (Monument)
MDV123441Related to: Trial pit near Crossways, Ugborough (Monument)
MDV25059Related to: Two shallow reservoirs at Red Lake China Clay Works, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV25679Related to: VERMIN TRAP in the Parish of Ugborough (Monument)
MDV25680Related to: VERMIN TRAP in the Parish of Ugborough (Monument)
MDV24985Related to: Western Beacon south-east enclosure, Ugborough Moor (Monument)
MDV5158Related to: Zeal Tor or Redlake peat tramway, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley

Date Last Edited:Oct 13 2020 10:49AM