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HER Number:MDV5442
Name:Tamar Smelting Works, Weirquay, Bere Ferrers

Summary

A tin smelter established during the 19th century by the Beeralstone Mining Company, with most of the surviving structures dating to the 1820s. Remaining buildings converted for residential use.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 433 650
Map Sheet:SX46NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBere Ferrers
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBERE FERRERS

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 900295
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX46NW/510

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • METAL SMELTING SITE (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1907, 111SW (Cartographic). SDV240062.

'Tamar Smelting Works (Disused)' marked on OS 6" (1907) map.


McDonald, D., 1951, Percival Norton Johnson (Monograph). SDV240075.


Barton, D. B., 1964, The Mines and Mineral Railways of East Cornwall and West Devon, 101 (Monograph). SDV240068.


Booker, F., 1967, Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley, 62-4, 256 (Monograph). SDV240774.


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

Smelting house. Most of the ore from the lead and silver mines of the Bere Alston peninsula was smelted at the two works at Weir Quay; The Tamar Smelting Works and the Union Smelting Works. The former, built in the 1820's and completely re-equipped in 1845, contained 18 furnaces which were able to smelt over 300 tons of ore in a month. They closed about 1860. The large entrance gates and paved yard and some of the ores storage sheds can be seen.


Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K., 1974, Mines of Devon. Volume 1: The Southern Area, 39 (Monograph). SDV336694.


Beddow, Rev. A. J. C., 1975, A History of Bere Ferrers Parish (Pamphlet). SDV325357.


Greeves, T. A. P., 1991, An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin), 1, 5 (Report - Assessment). SDV60709.


Cranstone, D., 1991, The Lead Industry (Report - non-specific). SDV90317.

Tamar Smeltmill; offices, stables etc along south side are now dwellings. Paved yard in centre. Gardens cover smeltmill site to the north. Remains of furnaces and other structures visible in north revetment wall. Pattinson pans in yard. An intact flue also recorded. The overall layout of the complex survives intact and the hamlet at Weir Quay consists largely of re-used Tamar and Union smeltmills. NGR given as SX433-650-. Flues may survive on hill to the north.

Important survival of smeltmill complex, with some structural remains of reverberatory furnaces (very rare). Probable good below-ground preservation.


Greeves, T. A. P., 1996, Tin Smelting in Devon in the 18th & 19th Centuries, 84-9 (Article in Serial). SDV240078.


Claughton, P. F., 1998, A Brief History of the Tamar Smelting Works (Un-published). SDV240080.

The Tamar Smelting Works at Weirquay was established circa 1836 to process ores from the mines at South Hooe, and later processed ores from other mines as far away as Brittany and mid Wales. During the 1850s the smelter had at least four reverberatory furnaces and at least six calcining furnaces. The silver-rich lead was processed to refine the metals. In 1852 the Tamar Silver-lead Mining Co sold the Tamar smelter to the British & Colonial Smelting & Reduction Co who expanded the works but it was wound up in 1855. The works lay idle until 1864 when the Tamar Lead & Silver Smelting Co reopened both the Tamar and Union works for a short time with 18 furnaces, a de-silvering department and two steam engines. The Union works was subsequently used as a jam factory and the Tamar works converted to dwellings. Remains include a number of furnace abutments with integral flue arches and sections of granite sett yard. Other details: Sketch plan and photograph.


Dyer, M. J. + Manning, P. T., 1998, Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal, 51-2 (Report - non-specific). SDV319814.

An ingot, cast and stamped at Tamar Smelting Works with lamb and flag symbol, was recovered from wreck of SS Cheerful, now in natural history collection at Plymouth City Museum. Site described by English Heritage as 'of considerable national importance' and under consideration for scheduling.


Buck, C., 1998, Preliminary Assessment of Sites of Archaelogical Importance in the Tamar Valley, 51 (Report - Assessment). SDV241750.

Main smelting building of Tamar Works has gone but evidence of furnaces and flues in north wall of site. Other buildings converted for domestic use.


Claughton, P., 2007, Mining History Information Pages. The Tamar Smelting Works (Website). SDV347576.

A smelter appears to have been established here in the second decade of the 19th century. Purchased by the Tamar Silver-lead Mining Company in 1845. The company was wound up in 1855. Some dismantling of the furnaces took place on closure probably to recover silver from the furnace bottoms. A new company, the Tamar Lead and Silver Smelting Company, was advertised to open the works in 1864/5 but it is unclear what work was carried out on the site after 1865. The two smelters, Tamar and Union, appear to have been considered as one unit after 1865. The 1884 Ordnance Survey map depicts both under the name, Tamar Smelting Works (Tin and Lead, disused). The importance of the site lies in the survival of a range of features relating to the operation of reverberatory furnaces for smelting silver-rich lead ores and the associated refining process together with their infrastructure within a compact site.
The smelting works comprised:
A. Offices and workshops now converted to domestic use.
B. A yard originally laid with granite setts, sections of which survive and which was used for ore, fuel and lead storage.
C. Furnace sites along the back wall of the yard. The reverberatory furnaces were free-standing structures which were robbed for their component parts once abandoned. A number of the furnace abutments survive with their integral flue arches. One of the furnace sumpter pots survives as a flower bed at Treyard.
D. Condensation chambers and flue system situated in the area to the north of the furnaces. The condensation chambers were partly cut into the hillside, connecting the furnaces to a 127 foot high chimney. The exact layout of the flue system is not known but evidence survives in part under the hillside.
E. Chimney, demolished in 1896.
F. Complex of smaller furnaces connected by flues to the condensation chambers and chimney.
G. Probable site of Pattinson De-silvering Process (see map for location of sites).


Buck, C., 2008, Weir Quay Smelters, Devon: Impact and Conservation Assessment, 28 (Report - Assessment). SDV344723.

The lead silver smelter site has been divided into two halves. The eastern half is now owned by the occupier of Fern Cottage, and the lower site is owned by the occupier of Treyard. There is very little surviving evidence for smelter structures in the inner core areas of the archaeological sites identified during the site survey, and buildings which have survived have been converted and extended for residential use. Other details: Figure 17.


National Monuments Record, 2010, 900295 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV240072.

A tin smelter had been established on the site during the second decade of the 19th century by the Beeralstone Mining Company, with most of the surviving structures dating to the 1820s. By 1839 it was in the ownership of Benjamin Somers, a lead smelter with interests on Mendip. The site was purchased by the Tamar Silver-lead Mining Company in 1845. The smelter processed ores from the Tamar company's mine and other mines under the same management near Callington. A subsidiary company - the Tamar Smelting Company- was established to operate the smelter. During the 1850s the smelter employed at least four Cornish reverberatory furnaces, and at least six calcining furnaces. In 1849-50 the Pattinson De-silvering Process was introduced at the smelter. By the late 1840s the Union Smelter had been established on a site immediately to the east of the Tamar smelter, but this was treating tin ores and was initially operated as a separate concern. In 1852 the smelter was sold to the British and Colonial Smelting and Reduction Company, The site operated twenty furnaces and employed 130 men and boys. The site closed 1855 and some of the furnaces were dismantled. A new company the Tamar Lead and Silver Smelting Co. Ltd bought both the Tamar and Union works in 1864-65. At this time the works comprised seven roasting, or calcining furnaces, five reverberatory smelting furnaces, three refining furnaces and one reverberatory reducing furnace, a blast furnace and a small scotch furnace, or slag hearth, a de-silvering department, and two steam engines. It is not certain what work was carried out on the site after 1865. Some smelting activity may have taken place as the two smelters, Tamar and Union, were considered as one unit after 1865. The Union Works was subsequently used as a jam factory and the Tamar Works converted to dwellings. Other details: SX46NW40; last updated 2008.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV240062Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1907. 111SW. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV240068Monograph: Barton, D. B.. 1964. The Mines and Mineral Railways of East Cornwall and West Devon. The Mines and Mineral Railways of East Cornwall and West Devon. A4 Stapled. 101.
SDV240072National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 900295. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV240075Monograph: McDonald, D.. 1951. Percival Norton Johnson. Percival Norton Johnson. Unknown.
SDV240078Article in Serial: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1996. Tin Smelting in Devon in the 18th & 19th Centuries. Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS. The Archaeology of Mining and Metallurgy in South-West Britain. 13, Number 2. A4 Paperback. 84-9.
SDV240080Un-published: Claughton, P. F.. 1998. A Brief History of the Tamar Smelting Works. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV240774Monograph: Booker, F.. 1967. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley. A5 Hardback. 62-4, 256.
SDV241750Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 1998. Preliminary Assessment of Sites of Archaelogical Importance in the Tamar Valley. Cornwall Archaeological Unit Report. A4 Bound. 51.
SDV319814Report - non-specific: Dyer, M. J. + Manning, P. T.. 1998. Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.60. A4 Stapled + Digital. 51-2.
SDV325357Pamphlet: Beddow, Rev. A. J. C.. 1975. A History of Bere Ferrers Parish. Unknown.
SDV336694Monograph: Hamilton Jenkin, Dr. A. K.. 1974. Mines of Devon. Volume 1: The Southern Area. Mines of Devon. Volume 1: The Southern Area. One. Hardback Volume. 39.
SDV344723Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2008. Weir Quay Smelters, Devon: Impact and Conservation Assessment. Cornwall County Council Report. 2008R137. A4 Stapled + Digital. 28.
SDV347576Website: Claughton, P.. 2007. Mining History Information Pages. The Tamar Smelting Works. http://people.exeter.ac.uk/pfclaugh/mhinf/tamar_sw.htm. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV60709Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin). A4 Stapled + Digital. 1, 5.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 29.
SDV90317Report - non-specific: Cranstone, D.. 1991. The Lead Industry. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Step 3 Site Assessments. A4 Unbound.

Associated Monuments

MDV78241Parent of: Brick Arch at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV78232Parent of: Building at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV78227Parent of: Building at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78231Parent of: Building at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78236Parent of: Chimney at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78234Parent of: Cobbled Yard at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78242Parent of: Cobbled Yard at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78240Parent of: Flues and Condensing Chambers at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78237Parent of: Flues and Condensing Chambers to north of Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78233Parent of: Former Offices and Workshops at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78238Parent of: Furnace Buildings at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78235Parent of: Possible Flues at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV78225Parent of: Possible Storehouse at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV78221Parent of: Smelt Mill at Tamar Lead Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV78239Parent of: Underground Water Channel at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV78219Parent of: Water Tank at Tamar Lead Smelting Works (Monument)
MDV69020Part of: Tamar Smelting Works, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV5441Related to: South Hooe Silver and Lead Mine, Bere Ferrers (Monument)
MDV13882Related to: Weir Quay, Union Tin Smelting Works (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3637 - Assessment of the lead industry
  • EDV3638 - Preliminary assessment of sites of archaeological importance in the Tamar Valley
  • EDV3639 - Objective 5b: Lower Tamar Valley recreation & land management initiative: cultural heritage appraisal
  • EDV3640 - Preliminary assessment of industrial sites of archaeological importance in the tamar valley
  • EDV4767 - Archaeological Assessment of Weir Quay Smelters
  • EDV4768 - Field Survey of Weir Quay Smelters, Devon

Date Last Edited:Mar 28 2019 2:38PM