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HER Number:MDV43340
Name:Engine house and shaft complex at Gawton Mine


Engine Shaft complex at Gawton Mine. This seems to have been the focus of copper mining activity from 1852 and was the site of the main engine that provided power for the mine. Also known as Kings Shaft.


Grid Reference:SX 450 688
Map Sheet:SX46NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX46NE/527/18

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENGINE HOUSE (Built, XIX - 1840 AD to 1899 AD (Between))
  • MINE SHAFT (Built, XIX - 1840 AD to 1899 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880s, Ordnance Survey (Cartographic). SDV848.

Shown as 'King's Shaft' on 1880s 25" OS map.

Timms, S., 1985, An Archaeological Assessment of the Remains of the Quay, Mine and Arsenic Works at Gawton, Tavistock Hamlets, 5.1-5.2, appendix (Report - Assessment). SDV352213.

5.1 - Engine house. Noted on sources dated 1895, 1906, 1953, 1984. Condition fair. Stack survives.
5.2 - Shaft noted on sources dated 1895-1984. Visible. Probably the King's Shaft as shown in 1906.

Dixon, T. + Matthews, A. + Pye A. R. + Slater, W. D., 1988, Gawton Mine and Arsenic Works. The Field Survey. 1988, 22-25 (Report - Survey). SDV222516.

The Engine Shaft complex appears to have been the focus of copper mining activity from 1852 onwards. It was the site of the main engine providing power for the mine. In 1863 the engine was a recently installed 40" one with a 12 ton boiler. By 1868 there was also a 22" engine employed in capstan winding and powering crushing machinery. The shaft was also known as king's shaft. Complex consists of six main components (a-f).

Unit (a): function uncertain. Possibly office/domestic. Two phase structure adjoining south west of engine-house (b). May have been flat roofed or with roof sloping north east to south west. Phase 1 consists of long narrow rectangular building with doorways at north west and south east ends where the walls adjoin those of the engine-house. Fireplace and stack adjoin north west doorway. Evidence of ceiling rafters at first floor level. In phase 2 the original south west wall was demolished and whole structure extended 2-2.5m to south west. Built in style of 1897 calciners (PRN 43325). Function remains unclear.

Unit (b): Engine House. Largely collapsed or demolished. Collapsed stack at north east corner survives to c10m high. South east wall to south of stack may have contained a door. At north west end of south west wall is a doorway blocked with brickwork. This may have been blocked when (a) was constructed. Facing this opening is another, not blocked, but partly obscured by rubble. This, and another small rectangular opening in this wall may represent sockets for machinery. Shillet lined setting for beam engine runs out through north west wall towards shaft.
Shaft largely rubble-filled, but some timber lining and iron bolt fittings survive at a lower level.

Unit (c): probable boiler house. Only south east and south west (shared with (b)) walls survive. Located immediately north west of engine house, and seems of two phases. Originally a long narrow building, whose north west wall has since been demolished. Brick arch in south west wall blocked with shillet and brick. Doorway between this wall and stack of engine house at south corner. At some point north west wall was demolished and whole structure extended 4-5m to north west. North west corner of this later structure does not survive. Wall of balance box setting for beam engine probably constituted north west wall.

Unit (d): consists of Engine Shaft itself, and balance box setting. Also small semi-circular shillet-lined shaft immediately to south. May represent access into shaft. Wooden shear-leg of machinery survives, as does beam to which balance box beam bearings were attached.

Unit (e): small, apparently single storey building of shillet with brick inclusions. Located immediately north west of shaft (d) and west of balance box setting. Seems to survive to full height. Two windows in east wall, and at least one in west. Rectilinear hollow c1m wide runs along inside of east wall. Central spine of shillet masonry. Wide central openings in north and south walls, since partially blocked. Possibly an engine house for crushers (f) to north. This may have been the 22" engine mentioned in 1868.

Unit (f): crushers. Much of north and south walls may have been demolished when machinery removed. Comprises three blocks of shillet masonry at 4-5m height aligned north-south. They now form two chambers opening out to north. Originally machinery probably sat atop these chambers and disgorged crushed ore into trucks beneath. Westernmost of these blocks now largely demolished, although two structural timbers remain. Central shillet foundation remains intact. Easternmost block intact with curved north end.
Shillet revetment wall runs parallel to north wall of (e) - probably a foundation for machinery and engine house at a higher level.
Immediately west of (e) is a setting perhaps for a small winding engine. Four upright iron bolts and a small masonry and timber foundation survive. Just to south west is a flat bedding of concrete/stone which may be the site of a building shown on an 1892 map, but demolished by 1906. Other details: Fig 16. Survey - Spring/Summer 1988.

Weddell, P. J. + Pye, A. R., 1989, Gawton Mine and Arsenic Works: The Documentary Research 1988 (Report - non-specific). SDV263249.

Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D., 1996, A Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon, 109-122 (Article in Serial). SDV241746.

Buck, C., 2003, Gawton Mine, Devon, 11-12 (Report - Survey). SDV222530.

'King's' or 'Engine Shaft' at Gawton Mine found choked at a depth of 2m below ground level in 2003 and recommended to be fenced. Other details: Fig 5.

Buck, C., 2006, Gawton Mine, Devon: Archaeological Assessment, 55-59 (Report - Assessment). SDV344672.

The shaft is choked and unfenced, a roughly circular depression approximately 7 metres in diameter to its surface fill of 3.5 metres depth from adjacent ground level. It has the pumping engine house on its east side, the balance bob box housing on its north side, and the rotary engine house on the north-west side. The balance bob box is mostly extant and extends back northwards. Its walls would have been approximately 2 metres high and the box feature at its back from 3-4 metres high. The pumping engine house, boiler house and other buildings have largely collapsed due to the rotting of structural timbers, but the boiler house chimney is partially extant, approximately half its original height (9 metres) and supporting the remaining engine house walls. Other details: Figures 34, 36, sites 58-64.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV222516Report - Survey: Dixon, T. + Matthews, A. + Pye A. R. + Slater, W. D.. 1988. Gawton Mine and Arsenic Works. The Field Survey. 1988. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.02. A4 Stapled + Digital. 22-25.
SDV222530Report - Survey: Buck, C.. 2003. Gawton Mine, Devon. Cornwall Archaeological Unit Report. 2003R086. A4 Stapled + Digital. 11-12.
SDV241746Article in Serial: Nance, R. W. + Nance, R. D.. 1996. A Survey of Engine Houses on the Mines of South Devon. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South-West Britain. 13, Number 2. A4 Paperback. 109-122.
SDV263249Report - non-specific: Weddell, P. J. + Pye, A. R.. 1989. Gawton Mine and Arsenic Works: The Documentary Research 1988. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.01. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV344672Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2006. Gawton Mine, Devon: Archaeological Assessment. Cornwall County Council Report. 2006R023. A4 Stapled + Digital. 55-59.
SDV352213Report - Assessment: Timms, S.. 1985. An Archaeological Assessment of the Remains of the Quay, Mine and Arsenic Works at Gawton, Tavistock Hamlets. Devon County Council. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5.1-5.2, appendix.
SDV848Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880s. Ordnance Survey. 25".

Associated Monuments

MDV5490Part of: Gawton Mine, West Devon (Monument)
MDV43325Related to: Brunton Calciners, Gawton Mine (Monument)
MDV126384Related to: Industrial building, Gawton Mine (Building)
MDV77851Related to: Spoil Heap, Gawton Mine (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3186 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4746 - Archaeological Assessment of Gawton Mine, Devon
  • EDV4747 - Field Survey of Gawton Mine

Date Last Edited:Aug 28 2019 3:25PM