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HER Number:MDV37342
Name:Northern Portal to the Tavistock Canal Tunnel


North portal to the Tavistock Canal tunnel, dated 1803. The portal is cut into the rock face, and has a round arch with voussoirs and keystone, with large datestone over.


Grid Reference:SX 461 723
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SE/252
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CANAL TUNNEL PORTAL (XIX - 1803 AD to 1803 AD (Throughout))

Full description

Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 30 (Monograph). SDV7016.

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

Department of Environment, 1987, Tavistock Hamlets, 81a (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV221830.

North portal to the Tavistock Canal tunnel. Dated 1803. The Tavistock Canal was built 1803-17 by John Taylor. Slatestone rubble will limestone datestone. The Tavistock Canal connected the Tavy to the Tamar over a distance of 4½ miles. For nearly 2 miles it runs in a tunnel under Morwell Down. The north portal has a lock to one side to regulate the water flow. The portal is cut into the rock face, and has a round arch with voussoirs and keystone, with large datestone over. The rubble walling rises about 3 metres above the archway, with coping. The south portal at Morwellham (q.v.) is of the same design. (Sources: Booker, F.: Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. Hedges, C,: The Tavistock Canal. 1975)

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

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.

The Morwelldown tunnel portal (see Fig 26), attempts to create an impressive façade with a granite portal stone and the date stone 1803 in raised letters incised in granite over the tunnel opening. The lintel is approximately 1.2 by 0.8m with two supporting stones. The ground level above the crown of the tunnel is approximately 3.2m high and 5.8m wide. Perhaps of more visual significance is the rock cut channel that has been excavated, approximately 90m long and 5.5m high at its portal end. This was originally faced with stone, but in places has collapsed. The tunnel opening is approximately 2.75 m high from water level to its crown and 1.8m wide at water level.

This site has a High significance rating, given its site history, its impact upon the landscape and its designation as being part of the Cornwall and West Devon World Heritage Site. The tunnel portal and tunnel itself are Listed Buildings (Grade II).

Site should be retained after any obscuring vegetation clearance. If there is to a site interpretation strategy for this higher stewardship scheme, this could include the provision of an interpretation panel, for example near Site 52.1, (near the towpath and overlooking the site of the Wheal Crebor water wheel), a viewpoint perhaps towards Wheal Crebor mine across the Lumburn Valley. The provision of occasional guided tours around Wheal Crebor Mine could also visit this impressive feature.

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology (Monograph). SDV361789.

Waterhouse, R., Unknown, Wheal Crebor, Inclined Shaft and Canal Cutting Survey Plans (Plan - measured). SDV355823.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV221830List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Tavistock Hamlets. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 81a.
SDV355823Plan - measured: Waterhouse, R.. Unknown. Wheal Crebor, Inclined Shaft and Canal Cutting Survey Plans. Digital.
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.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 30.

Associated Monuments

MDV4069Part of: Tavistock Canal Tunnel (Monument)
MDV4067Related to: Tavistock Canal, Northern Section (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)
  • EDV8013 - Survey of the Tavistock Canal Tunnel on Morwelldown

Date Last Edited:May 9 2019 5:49PM