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HER Number:MDV49062
Name:South Devon United Copper Mine, Buckfastleigh

Summary

South Devon United Mines comprised Wheal Emma and Brookwood and was worked throughout the later 19th century. The combined mines were the largest copper producers in this part of Devon between 1856 and 1885, when production ceased. Remains of structures and shafts the Brook Wood

Location

Grid Reference:SX 716 675
Map Sheet:SX76NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishWest Buckfastleigh
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKFASTLEIGH

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthworks, structures and below ground remains of the South Devon United Mines, a mid-19th century copper mining enterprise in Brook Wood, as well as part of the Wheal Emma Leat
  • SHINE: Earthworks, structures and below ground remains of the South Devon United Mines, a mid-19th century copper mining enterprise in Brook Wood, as well as part of the Wheal Emma Leat

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76NW/20
  • Pastscape: 1441563
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COPPER MINE (XIX - 1850 AD? to 1885 AD (Between))

Full description

ADAS, ADAS Record Sheet (Unknown). SDV237770.

Site visit 22nd February 1995. Quarry filled with water and now a pond.

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

South Devon United Copper Mine marked within Brook Wood comprising Emma, Pixton's, Engine and Martin's Shafts.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

The shafts are marked as disused.

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 206 (Monograph). SDV149229.

South Devon United Mines consisted of Wheal Emma and Brookwood and was worked throughout the later 19th century.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1991, An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin), 15-16+2 (Report - Assessment). SDV60709.

Richardson, P. H. G., 1992, The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913, 130 (Article in Serial). SDV323598.

Brookwood, Buckfastleigh (Fluorspar) SX 718675. 600 yards south of Hawson Court. It has been reported that in the 1970s at attempt was made to re-work the Brookwood dumps for fluorspar but was not pursued due to the contamination of the fluorspar by copper ore.

Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D., 1995, Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper, Minor Metals, Step Three: The Copper Industry, Introduction to Step 3 Assessments, 1, 6, 18 (Report - non-specific). SDV357718.

10. Brook Mine/Wheal Emma SX 715 675.
Lesser national importance.
Mine; bob setting- This term has replaced bob pit, to include examples where the surviving feature is a pillar for the bearing of the balance or angle-bob rather than a pit, dressing mill- no modification.

Various, 1996, The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South West-Britain, 109, figure 12, plates 2-4 (Article in Serial). SDV359197.

Extensive remains exist at Emma and Brookwood Mine including burrows, several large wheel pits and the remains of two east-facing engine houses. Of the latter, the best preserved is the house of a large pumping engine, the pump rod of which can still be seen in the shaft. The stack is set in the centre of the rear wall, the plug door in the bob wall is enlarged and evidently served as the cylinder opening, and the cylinder loadings do not extend to the rear wall. The building probably housed the 50 inch cylinder pumping engine that Hamilton Jenkin states was bought in 1868. Of the boiler house which adjoins the pumping engine house to the north, only the front wall remains. An addition to this wall that is marked by a sharp change in the stonework, suggests the engine was originally equipped with a single boiler to which a second was later added.
Although there is no record of any other beam engine on this mine, the ruinous house of a rotative engine with an attached stack strands nearby. Although the house has largely fallen, the crankshaft loadings and pits for the flywheel and possible winding drum are clearly evident. Although the stack is set to the side of the rear wall, little room remains for a cylinder opening and it is likely that the plug door served for this purpose. A boiler house large enough for a single boiler adjoins the house to the north.

Newman, P., 2005, Brookwood and Wheal Emma Copper Mines, Buckfastleigh, Devon: An Archaeological Survey (Report - Survey). SDV359199.

Wheal Emma and Brookwood Mine constitute the most important and productive copper producing site in south Devon. Mining activity had been occuring from the mid 1840s with these two setts created in 1855-6.

Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 2005, Mines of Devon, 113-114 (Monograph). SDV282410.

Wheal Emma lay in the woods opposite Brook House, with lodes striking nearly east-west and underlying south. Work was carried out through Whim Shaft, Emma (or Old Sump) Shaft and Pixton's Shaft. From Wheal Emma the ore ground pitched eastward into the Brookwood sett, the two properties separated by a small valley. By 1856 both mines had entered the list of producers, 65 tons of ore from Wheal Emma being sold at Swansea in that year for £550.
In 1858 a new 50 by 5 foot water wheel was ordered. By this time the flow of water through the original leat from the Mardle was insufficient to drive all the various wheels , arrangements were made with the Duchy to obtain additional supplies by constructing a new approximately 12 mile leat from a point on the Swincombe River, near Whiteworks Mine. This constituted the longest artificial water-course on record in the west of England.
In 1862 Wheal Emma was employing 125 people and six years later reached a depth of 116 fathoms below adit (18 fathoms). The mine was drained by a 50 by 5 foot wheel; hoisting and crushing was carried out by two other wheels of 30 and 29 foot diameter. During 1866 785 tins of copper ore were sold for £4,666, resulting in a small profit of £160.
Brookwood was similarly worked at this time entirely by water-power and in 1866 returned 1,440 tons of ore which realised £6,567. In 1868, however, it was decided to buy a 50 inch steam engine. Four years later the 'Mining World' reported that for the past nine years the Brookwood sett had been operated by a small group of adventurers, mostly from Liskeard and was performing very well recording; 'Brookwood is the prize of the Emma sett'. The 1873 Kelly's Directory of Devon confirms the lodes were very rich, stating 'most of the ore was sent to market in nearly the same state as received from the shaft' i.e. without any need for dressing.
Due to the continuing use of water-wheels, the 50 inch engine was then working at only three quarters of a stroke per minute, suggesting that steam was only employed on a limited scale. The ruins of a substantial engine house are visible on the property today, and close to the stack is a mound containing traces of what appears to be clinker. No reference to any extensive use of steam power was made when the mines were advertised for sale in 1877.
Prior to 1873 Wheal Emma had been idle for some years but working resumed in the hope for finding a new vein by tunnelling to the old workings. The two mines continued in operation until 1877 and ranked as the largest copper producers in this part of Devon. Various trials carried out in the immediate vicinity however had little success.

Newman, P., 2006, The Engine House and Wheel House at Brookwood Mine, Buckfastleigh, Devon. A Survey of the Standing Structures (Report - Survey). SDV351182.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 206.
SDV237770Unknown: ADAS. ADAS Record Sheet.
SDV282410Monograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 2005. Mines of Devon. Mines of Devon. Paperback Volume. 113-114.
SDV323598Article in Serial: Richardson, P. H. G.. 1992. The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913. British Mining. 44. A5 Paperback. 130.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #93407 ]
SDV351182Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2006. The Engine House and Wheel House at Brookwood Mine, Buckfastleigh, Devon. A Survey of the Standing Structures. A4 Bound.
SDV357718Report - non-specific: Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D.. 1995. Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper, Minor Metals, Step Three: The Copper Industry, Introduction to Step 3 Assessments. English Heritage. A4 Bound. 1, 6, 18.
SDV359197Article in Serial: Various. 1996. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South West-Britain. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. 13, Number 2. Paperback Volume. 109, figure 12, plates 2-4.
SDV359199Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2005. Brookwood and Wheal Emma Copper Mines, Buckfastleigh, Devon: An Archaeological Survey. English Heritage. A1/01/2005. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV60709Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin). A4 Stapled + Digital. 15-16+2.

Associated Monuments

MDV62671Parent of: Brook Mine Mill (Building)
MDV55525Parent of: Building in Brook Wood; part of Devon United Mines (Building)
MDV7802Parent of: Emma Shaft, Wheal Emma Mine (Monument)
MDV49063Parent of: Engine House and mine shaft, South Devon United Copper Mine (Monument)
MDV49064Parent of: Martin's Shaft, South Devon United Mine (Monument)
MDV113328Parent of: Mine shaft at Wheal Emma Mine, Brook Wood (Monument)
MDV49066Parent of: Mine shaft at Wheal Emma Mine, Brook Wood (Monument)
MDV7825Parent of: Pixton's Shaft, Wheal Emma Mine (Monument)
MDV62669Parent of: Water wheel at Wheal Emma Mine (Monument)
MDV130877Parent of: Wheelpit at Brookwood Mine (Monument)
MDV113330Related to: Forge and associated building south of Hepney Wood (Building)
MDV49065Related to: Mine shaft north of Hepney Wood (Monument)
MDV113329Related to: Mine shaft north of River Mardle, part of Old Wheal Emma Mine (Monument)
MDV47959Related to: Newbrook Wood Copper Mine, West Buckfastleigh (Monument)
MDV47960Related to: Quarry in Brook Wood (Monument)
MDV6268Related to: Wheal Emma Leat (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6840 - Survey of Brookwood and Wheal Emma Copper Mines (Ref: AI/01/2005)
  • EDV7062 - Survey of the Wheal Emma Leat, Dartmoor
  • EDV8574 - Hidden Dartmoor: Peripheral Mines (Phase 1 Pilot)

Date Last Edited:Jun 8 2021 3:45PM