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HER Number:MDV3954
Name:Wheal Crebor Mine

Summary

Wheal Crebor produced copper and some arsenic, tin and iron. The lode was discovered during work on the Tavistock Canal tunnel, and between 1811 and 1817 this was one of Devon's leading copper mines. It was closed in 1902. Trackways, leats and possible shafts or extractive pits were visible on aerial photographs as earthworks and transcribed as part of the NMP survey of the Tamar Valley AONB.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 462 723
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
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/18
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MINE (XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

1867, Bedford Estates Map of Wheal Crebor Mine (Cartographic). SDV351517.

'Crebor Mine Sett' shown. Map object based on this source.


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

'Wheal Crebor (Copper)' marked. An extensive east-west site from Rundle's Shaft at SX4525 7206 to New Shaft at SX46487242. The main complex is located to the east of Buctor adjacent to the Tavistock Canal where the map shows numerous buildings, structures and tramways.


Bawden, M., 1914, Mines and Mining in the Tavistock Mining District, 256 (Article in Serial). SDV345748.


H. M. Stationary Office, 1929, Abandoned Mines (Monograph). SDV215700.


Finberg, H. P. R., 1945, Morwell, 169 (Article in Serial). SDV215737.

One of the richest copper mines in the Tavistock area.


Hicks, C. E., 1947, Tavistock: The Changing Scene in the Last Two Centuries, 166 (Article in Serial). SDV256401.

Opened in the course of making the Tavistock Canal. Large amounts of copper extracted between 1812 and 1817.


Ramsden, J. V., 1952, Notes on the Mines of Devonshire, 92 (Article in Serial). SDV60737.

Mine, Wheal Crebor produced copper, tin, iron and some arsenic. The mine is situated less than a mile from Wheal Crowndale, the lodes were found during work on the Tavistock Canal tunnel. Between the years 1811 and 1817 this was one of Devon's leading mines in copper, it was closed in 1902. From the north end of the canal tunnel can be seen the mouth of an incline shaft.


Hadfield, C., 1967, Canals of South West England, 127 (Monograph). SDV58.

The mine first had an entrance adjoining the tunnel opening of the canal. Its machinery was driven by a water-wheel from the canal's current. Mining rights had been granted to the canal company by the Duke of Bedford. After a slack period between 1821 and 1856, the mine revived somewhat between 1860 and 1894.


Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 29 (Monograph). SDV7016.

Wheal Crebor produced copper and some arsenic, tin and iron. The lode was discovered during work on the Tavistock Canal tunnel. Between 1811 and 1817 this was one of devon's leading copper mines. It was closed in 1902.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX47SE35 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV351520.

Wheal Crebor (Copper, disused) OS 6" 1971.

Wheal Crebor produced copper and some arsenic, tin and iron. The lode was discovered during working on the Tavistock canal tunnel. Between 1811 and 1817 this was one of Devon's leading copper mines. It closed in 1902. Industrial Archaeology in Devon 1976, 29 (Minchinton, W.)


Greeves, T. A. P., 1991, An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin) (Report - Assessment). SDV60709.


Richardson, P. H. G., 1992, The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913, 138 (Article in Serial). SDV323598.


Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 2001-2002, Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Transcriptions and Database Records, RAF/CPE/UK/2501/F20/4110-10 (Interpretation). SDV346287.

Transcriptions of numerous small circular pits, earthwork mounds and linear ditches visible as earthworks on aerial photographs RAF/CPE/UK/2501/F20/4110-10 correspond with a database records of post-medieval mine shafts, leats, trackways and spoil mounds at Wheal Crebor Mine. Some of the shafts have been recorded separately as child monuments (MDV79919).


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


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Map object based on this Source.


Newman, P., 2011, Mining in the Tavy Valley, West Devon. An Assessment of Archaeological Potential, 23, Fig 5, no 9 (Report - Assessment). SDV347105.

Wheal Crebor exploited a series of east-west lodes which extended for over three kilometres between the Devon side of the River Tamar and Whitchurch. The lodes also supported West and East Crebor mines and Wheal Crowndale. A un-named tin mine is shown in this location on Donn's map of 1765. Evidence for earlier surface mining, probably for tin, survives sporadically along the alignment of the lodes but 19th century copper mining commenced at Wheal Crebor shortly after 1803 when a copper lode was discovered during the cutting of the Tavistock Canal tunnel. Operations at the mine stopped after 1828 but recommenced in 1850 and the mine continued to be worked into the 1890s. The main lode was worked by seven shafts. Tin and arsenic were later exploited as well as copper. Remains potentially include backfilled wheelpits, an underground waterwheel chamber, capped shafts, flat rod channels, adits and spoil heaps and also features associated with the Tavistock Canal.


Waterhouse, R., 2012, Tavistock Canal: Surveying a Forgotten Marvel of the Industrial Age, 36-37 (Article in Serial). SDV351508.

One of the most productive copper mines on the canal was Wheal Crebor. Worked by the Canal Company from 1808-1828, this exploited a lode discovered during work in 1803 on the Morwelldown Tunnel. Studied in detail, this site is notable for the survival of the world’s second ever inclined railway shaft, completed in 1812. Designed to increase productivity by reducing the number of times ore needed to be handled between the working face and the surface, the upper 50ft of the shaft remains open. Alongside lay a rock-cut chamber that housed a 28ft diameter waterwheel, driven by canal water.


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 ore material was partially broken up underground and then brought to surface (either via the incline plane (Site 26), or via Cock’s Shaft: Site 24), then transported via the tramway (Site 25) to either be further broken up into smaller pieces in the spalling buildings (Site 37), or the waste rock transported to the mine’s waste heap via a surface tramway. It may be the case that some of the canal tunnel excavated material is also at the base of the heap.
Survey - This site is quite similar to the mapped profile shown on Figures 13 and 14. At the east end of this feature the spoil tip is approximately 12m above ground level – at its western end it is approximately 1.6m above ground level – with remnants of a stone lined revetment. Surface tramways were moved at a number of locations to dump the spoil either side. The deeper sides may well have been revetted with timber to keep the dump within the confines of the agreed land (leased) for this function.
Significance - Low
Given the fragmentary survey evidence of this site, it has a low significance rating.
Recommendation - This site should be retained, with a minimal amount of disturbance. CEC (2015, 33, Site 7) refers to the site’s potential for dormice and bats.


Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2016, Backlog Recording of the Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Survey (Personal Comment). SDV359374.

The aerial photograph reference given in the Tamar Valley NMP transcription attributes is incomplete; the date of the photograph is not included.


Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 150-163, 294, Figs 6.1-6.15 (Monograph). SDV361789.

Discovered in 1804 during the driving of the canal tunnel; this proved to be the western end of the Wheal Crowndale lode and was the Canal Company's most successful mining enterprise.
Much relating to the canal period of working (1804-1828) can still be seen at Wheal Crebor, making it a significant site; the survival of a number of detailed maps of various dates makes it possible to reconstruct surface features during the four main periods of working (figs 6.1-2, 6.10 and 6.14).
By 1805-6 the mining was progressing well, although development required the company to erect an 'engine' (i.e. a waterwheel) to drive the pumps required to sink the mine to a lower level than adits allowed. As the canal had yet to be completed, there was insufficient water to drive the wheel, but work continued at and above adit level, until the completion of the engine in 1807-8. During the following years, the Company invested heavily and between 1811-21 Wheal Crebor was one of the most successful Devon mines, rewarding the Canal Company with significant returns. Three main lodes (north, middle and south) were developed. During later years, returns diminished and by 1827 the mine was transferred to the newly set up organisation; the 'Tavistock Consolidated Mines Adventurers'.
Following this, Crebor was the subject of three further phases of re-working; 1828-36, the 1850s-70s and the 1880s-early 20th century and the author gives summarised detail. Work had apparently finished by 1903; ending a century of activity at this remarkable mine.


Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 44 (Monograph). SDV361789.

Discovery of lodes while driving Morwelldown Tunnel for Tavistock Canal led to the discovery of the main lode at Wheal Crebor, which was discovered at the northern end of the tunnel shortly after the start of construction and it was immediately investigated, driving what became known as Tunnel Level (and Cock's shaft a short distance to the north-east).


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

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV347105Report - Assessment: Newman, P.. 2011. Mining in the Tavy Valley, West Devon. An Assessment of Archaeological Potential. SW Landscape Investigations Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 23, Fig 5, no 9.
SDV351508Article in Serial: Waterhouse, R.. 2012. Tavistock Canal: Surveying a Forgotten Marvel of the Industrial Age. Current Archaeology. 273. Digital. 36-37.
SDV351517Cartographic: 1867. Bedford Estates Map of Wheal Crebor Mine. Digital.
SDV215737Article in Serial: Finberg, H. P. R.. 1945. Morwell. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 77. A5 Paperback. 169.
SDV256401Article in Serial: Hicks, C. E.. 1947. Tavistock: The Changing Scene in the Last Two Centuries. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 79. A5 Hardback. 166.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 29.
SDV58Monograph: Hadfield, C.. 1967. Canals of South West England. Canals of South West England. A5 Hardback. 127.
SDV60737Article in Serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1952. Notes on the Mines of Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. A5 Hardback. 92.
SDV60709Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin). A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV323598Article in Serial: Richardson, P. H. G.. 1992. The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913. British Mining. 44. A5 Paperback. 138.
SDV345748Article in Serial: Bawden, M.. 1914. Mines and Mining in the Tavistock Mining District. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 46. A5 Hardback. 256.
SDV215700Monograph: H. M. Stationary Office. 1929. Abandoned Mines. Abandoned Mines. Unknown.
SDV351520Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX47SE35. OSAD Card. Card Index + Digital.
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.
SDV346287Interpretation: Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2001-2002. Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Transcriptions and Database Records. National Mapping Programme. Map (Digital). RAF/CPE/UK/2501/F20/4110-10.
SDV359374Personal Comment: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2016. Backlog Recording of the Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme Survey. Not Applicable.
SDV359746Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2015. Buctor Farm, Tavistock. Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2015R055. Digital.
SDV361789Monograph: Waterhouse, R.. 2017. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. Paperback Volume. 44.

Associated Monuments

MDV79917Parent of: Gill's Shaft, Wheal Crebor Mine (Monument)
MDV116038Parent of: Inclined Plane, Wheal Crebor, Buctor (Monument)
MDV79918Parent of: Kelly's, 'Smith's and Cock's Shafts south-east of Buctor, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV12638Parent of: Rundle's Shaft, Wheal Crebor (Monument)
MDV79920Parent of: Shaft at Wheal Crebor, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV79919Parent of: Shafts at Wheal Crebor, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV18721Related to: Mill Hill Cut Canal Branch to Millhill Quarry (Monument)
MDV124675Related to: Tavistock Canal Wharf at Wheal Crebor (Monument)
MDV123232Related to: Tavistock Canal, Main record (Monument)
MDV3879Related to: Tavistock Canal, Western Section (Monument)
MDV12637Related to: West Crebor Mine, Gulworthy (Monument)
MDV116040Related to: Wheel Crebor House, Buctor Farm, (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6911 - Tamar Valley National Mapping Programme
  • 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