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HER Number:MDV4068
Name:Lumburn Aqueduct, Gulworthy


The aquaduct which carries the Tavistock canal across the river lumburn is intact. Completed in 1808, it required two massive borrow pits to be excavated at the ends to provide construction material.


Grid Reference:SX 462 726
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/28
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • AQUEDUCT (Constructed, XIX - 1803 AD to 1808 AD (Between))

Full description

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

Booker, F., 1967, Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley, (1974 edition; page 110) (Monograph). SDV240774.

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

Minchinton, W. E., 1976, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 30 (Monograph). SDV7016.

The aquaduct which carries the Tavistock Canal across the River Lumburn is intact.

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.
This site is outside the study area, but has been included for historical context reasons. The necessity of keeping the water at the correct level was important for the tunnel – the lock gate possibly forming this function also for the Lumburn Aqueduct (SX 46311 72632 to SX 46184 72581), which also had spillways at either ends, and its single arch (see Fig 9). This is approximately 6m wide and 4.5m high – testament perhaps to the large amount of water that cascades down the valley during severe rain. The embankment was built between 1803 and 1808 – at an early stage shallow boats bringing rock from the tunnel excavation to build up the base across the valley. In addition, a quarry at either end of the aqueduct (at the west end Site 20, and the east end now siting the Lock keeper’s and aqueduct manager’s house), may well have helped to form the foundations of this large imposing feature. This waste-rock engineered design effectively re-using a large amount of material from the tunnel excavation – a cheaper expedient than depositing it elsewhere.
This feature is not included in the stewardship landholding. The Lumburn aqueduct was not impacted nor repaired by the recent TVMHP conservation works. The aqueduct still conveys water, however it is not known how much is percolating down its centre. A detailed archaeological survey has been undertaken by R. Waterhouse.
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).
This 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, 49-52, 325, 351, figs 3.13, 10.17-10.18, 10.65-10.66 (Monograph). SDV361789.

The Lumburn Aqueduct is the most significant civil engineering structure on the Tavistock Canal, other than the Morwelldown Tunnel.
Construction of the aqueduct was being carried out in the early 19th century; by 1807 it was the only aspect of the canal from Tavistock to the Morwelldown Tunnel that had not been completed. Due to the reduced amount of rubble being extracted from the tunnel, the borrow pits at either end of the aqueduct were greatly expanded, particularly the western one., in order to provide construction material. It was completed in 1808.
The western pit is the larger of the two and must have provided at least half the material required for the 160 metre long by 18.30 metre high and 40 metre wide embankment across the valley of the River Lumburn. The river flowed through the embankment in a stone-built arched culvert of generous proportions and austere but attractive architecture. It was set in the lower half of the embankment but is now completely obscured by trees which have grown up the steeply sloping embankment sides, whose feet are revetted in stone rubble.
At the western end of the aqueduct, a T-junction was formed: the Main Line turned sharply to the south, while the Collateral Cut to Mill Hill headed northwards up the west side of the Lumburn Valley.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV240774Monograph: Booker, F.. 1967. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. A5 Hardback. (1974 edition; page 110).
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. 49-52, 325, 351, figs 3.13, 10.17-10.18, 10.65-10.66.
SDV58Monograph: Hadfield, C.. 1967. Canals of South West England. Canals of South West England. A5 Hardback. 127.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 30.

Associated Monuments

MDV123232Part of: Tavistock Canal (Monument)
MDV73904Related to: Canal aqueduct at Shillamill (Monument)
MDV123103Related to: Lock keepers cottage, Lumburn Aqueduct (Building)
MDV18721Related to: Mill Hill Cut Canal Branch to Millhill Quarry (Monument)
MDV130349Related to: Quarry east of Lumburn aqueduct, Gulworthy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)

Date Last Edited:Mar 31 2021 8:33AM