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HER Number:MDV7160
Name:Morwellham Quay

Summary

Morwellham was once the port for Tavistock Abbey. The area of the quay expanded during the late 18th and early 19th century, when more space and facilities were needed to cater for increasing quantities of copper ore from the Devon Great Consols mine.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 446 696
Map Sheet:SX46NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX46NW/501/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 94060

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • QUAY (XVIII to XIX - 1701 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Morwellham Display Boards (Illustration). SDV358896.

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

'Quay' marked at south-west end of present quay area. Map object based on this Source.

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

Three areas marked as 'Quay', two to south-west end of present quay area, the other at the north-east end, to east of 'Old Limekiln'. Map object based on this Source.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 222 (Monograph). SDV1312.

Patrick, A., 1974, The Growth and Decline of Morwellham, 95-117 (Article in Serial). SDV344260.

Towards the end of the 18th century Morwellham Quay developed rapidly. More facilities were added, including a new dock, more dwellings and more warehouse room. This expansion continued in the early 19th century, after the Tavistock Canal was opened and copper was a regular export. Facilities at this time included a new manganese mill and associated coopers' works, and a big new dock and more quay space for the quantities of copper ore brought from the Devon Great Consols Mine. The copper boom brought sudden but not lasting prosperity, and when the trade generated by copper production declined, the port did too. By the end of the 19th century Morwellham was relying on arsenic produced by Devon Consols company, which was wound up in 1903.

Gaskell-Brown, C., 1977, Morwellham: An Archaeological Survey, 23-6 (Report - Survey). SDV344219.

The quay area between the old dock eastwards to the large limekilns is the area in use in medieval times, and on into the late 18th century, the eastern end being levelled shortly before 1790. West of the old dock, quay space was in use by 1803. It is probable that the quay area beside the old dock was improved when the canal inclined plane was constructed in 1817, remains of stone sleepers and some buckled rails exist on the quay west of the dock. Buttressed stone walls were built on each side of the old dock to define the Canal Company's boundary in 1854. Substantial parts of the walls survive with the stumps of the internal divisions discernible. The surface of the eastern part of the old quays in front of the old limekilns has never been fully cleared, the quay west of the old dock was partially paved with stone and cobbles. The lower copper quay was created between 1806 and1803, by cutting away a rock outcrop. It is partially paved with irregularly shaped stone slabs, and the rock derived from levelling the quay was probably used to build the ore chute wall. An embankment road to the hydro-electric power station was built across the northern part of the quay in the 1930s. The higher copper quay (1849) and the Devon Great Consols quay (1857) were built on former water-meadows, and the ends of horizontally laid wooden hurdles can be seen projecting at low water on the waterfront at the western end. Much of the tiled surface remains on the higher copper quay, but much of that on the Devon Great Consols quay has gone, and the rest is badly cracked. Other details: Photographs 2.31-38.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1977, SX46NW15 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV344272.

Morwellham, first mentioned 1235-40, was a port for 700 years and in the middle of the 19th century was probably the most important copper ore exporting centre in Europe. In the Middle Ages it was in the possession of the Benedictine Abbots of Tavistock and became Tavistock's main port, being the highest point a ship of any size could reach on the tidal river Tamar. The docks were greatly extended in the mid-19th century when large copper deposits were found five miles to the north. Morwellham is now maintained by the Morwellham Quay Centre for Recreation and Education with a view to preserving relics.

Department of Environment, 1987, Tavistock Hamlets, 108 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV221830.

Quay, late 18th/ early 19th century. Pitched rubble with granite copings. Quay forms basin about 15 metres long and about 5 metres wide in U-plan, walls about 3 metres high. At the base of the rear wall there is a central round-arched opening, the tailrace of the water mill to north-west.

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

Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D., 1995, Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper Minor Metals Step Three: Site Assessment- Morwhellham Quay Manganese Mill, Number 5, Photo LXX.22 (Report - non-specific). SDV357785.

Morwellham Quay Manganese Mill (SX 445 696). Prime metal- copper. Description- Ruins of manganese mill, with associated store and cooperage (both restored for museum use), within multi-industry site. Landscape- Within Tamar mining landscape, and part of multi-industry site. Arch- some stratigraphy likely within and around mill. Period- 19th century. Assessment- Very rare survival of manganese-grinding mill. With associated buildings (not solely used for manganese). Within multi-industry museum. Action- Schedule comp, maintain listing of comp 2, list comp 3. Management- No action. Grading- Definite national importance.

Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D., 1995, Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper, Minor Metals, Step Three: Copper Industry Site Assessment- Morwellham Quay, Number 2, Photo LXX. 19-21 (Report - non-specific). SDV357788.

Morwhellham Quay (SX 446 696). Prime metal- Copper. Description- Important copper port; retains an assay house and distinctive copper-ore quays, with a complex site relating to several industries. Landscape- Part of Tamar mining landscape, and of multi-industry site. Arch- moderate. Period- 19th century. Assessment- Rare and important features, embedded in multi-industry site. Action- Extend listing to all structures, any upgrade to II*. Management- no action needed. Grading- Definite national importance.

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

2. Morwellham Quay SX 446 696.
Definite national importance.
Smelter; assay house- no modification.

Mills, R. + Murrell, D. + Vandenbossche, P. + Watts, S., 1997, An Archaeological Assessment of the East Side of the River Tamar between Calstock and Gunnislake (Undergraduate Dissertation). SDV242446.

Andrew Brown, 1998, Monuments Protection Programme The Non-Ferrous Metals (Tin, Copper, Arsenic and Minor Metals) Industries: Appendix III, Step 4 Report (Report - non-specific). SDV357940.

19th century port complex with wide variety of features of 19th century date as well as 20th century hydro-electric power station.

Complex set of remains within open-air museum and hence in benign management, but some features of especially high sensitive may be best managed under scheduled monument regime.

Dyer, M. J. + Manning, P. T., 1998, Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal, 38 (Report - non-specific). SDV319814.

Buck, C., 2003, Morwellham & Newquay, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV241179.

Gaskell Brown, C., 2003, The Ship Inn, Morwellham, Devon (Correspondence). SDV352238.

Morwellham was the port for the Abbey of Tavistock.

Waterhouse, R., 2006, Archaeological Excavations at Morwellham, 2002-2006 (Report - Excavation). SDV344984.

Summary of archaeological excavations an surveys taken place since 2002, including excavations in 2005 to look at early railways associated with the lime kilns.

Waterhouse, R., 2006, Proposed Archaeological Excavation of the Devon Great Consols Incline Portal at Morwellham Quay, 1 (Report - non-specific). SDV344977.

An evaluation excavation carried out in the summer of 2006 confirmed that well preserved remains of the tunnel which carried the Devon Great Consols Mineral Railway, its portal and approach cutting survived under Morwellham's village green.

John Grimes Partnership, 2008, Morwellham Dock Repairs (Correspondence). SDV352229.

Correspondence concerning the removal of close timbering to allow the installation of new piles at Morwellham Great Ore Dock. It has been found that the close timbering extends to a greater depth than previously thought. Excavation indicates that it extends to a depth greater than 3.8 metres down from top of dock level.

Passmore, A. J., 2008, Rapid Archaeological Assessment of Proposed New Visitor Facilities at Morwellham Quay, Devon, 1-3 (Report - Assessment). SDV347407.

Other details: Maps.

Passmore, A. J., 2009, Archaeological Recording at Morwellham Quay 2008-9, 1-2 (Report - Survey). SDV344217.

Archaeological recording undertaken on several buildings and structures in during conservation works and enhancement of the visitor facilities at Morwellham Quay. These included the manganese mill launder and waterwheel, the large limekilns, the methodist chapel, Port Museum and the courtyard to the west of the Manager's House.

Waterhouse, R., 2009, In-situ Archaeological Finds at Morwellham Quay (Report - non-specific). SDV344990.

List of in-situ items such as cranes, railways and turntables at Morwellham Quay. Other details: Annotated map.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Map object based on this Source.

Gaimster, M., 2010, Post-Medieval Fieldwork in Britain and Northern Ireland in 2009: Devon (Article in Serial). SDV354871.

Summary of recent fieldwork.

Waterhouse, R., 2012, Tavistock Canal: Surveying a Forgotten Marvel of the Industrial Age, 37-40 (Article in Serial). SDV351508.

At its south end, the Morwelldown tunnel emerged on a steep hillside, high above the river Tamar. To descend the 237 ft (vertical height) to the port of Morwellham, a sophisticated double-track inclined railway was built.

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 100-111, Figs 4.25-4.41 (Monograph). SDV361789.

Since 1803, Morwellham had developed into a major industrial outlet for the local area. Improvements at the quay between 1854-1857, as well as confrontations between the Canal Company and Gill and Company are detailed by Waterhouse. Problems of ore and other transport were being considered in the late 1840s, suggesting an extension of the Tamar Manure Navigation another mile upstream from its terminus at Gunnislake Wharf, forming a wharf at Blanchdown Pool. This was never undertaken however. Road haulage was the only way that the Devon Great Consolidated Copper Mining Company could get its ores to the quays from 1844 to the late 1850s. The quantity of copper ore required the building of two new quays at Morwellham in the 1850s, know as Lower and Higher Copper Quays. In 1857 the transport problem was solved when it was decided to build a four mile standard-gauge railway from the mine to Morwellham, to use steam locomotives. The last section of the line would use a 1/3 mile incline to a new, even larger quay adjoining the Higher Copper Quay. This required new arrangements with Gill and Company, who were extremely unhappy with the lease arrangements and the bitter disputes are listed by the author. The Gills finally gave up their lease at Morwellham in 1869.
Details of the arrangements at the quay including details from the survey work are included; see report for full details, including a photograph of the quay in use taken around 1858-69.

Waterhouse, R., 2017, The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology, 409-428, figs 11.45-11.57 (Monograph). SDV361789.

Detail on the development of the wharfs at Morwellham examined by Waterhouse from 1803-1873 referring to archaeological recording carried out by the author between 2002-2010 (a detailed publication on this is planned). A full sequence of eight development plans and detailed captions included. Refer to report for full detail.

Waterhouse, R., 27/06/2007, Brief for Archaeological Excavation at Morwellham Quay (Report - non-specific). SDV358329.

Morwellham Quay Museum proposes to clear and restore the wharf surfaces flanking the Manganese Dock. The excavation aims to confirm the nature of the wharf surfaces and inform future plans to expose all of these surfaces in the vicinity of the dock. The exact date of the Manganese Dock is uncertain, but seems to have been one of two new docks created between 1787 and 1803 as part of a major refit of the quays. Between 1846 and 1867 the inner end of the dock was filled in and a single storey warehouse for the storage of manganese was built on its site. The dock seems to have continued in importance throughout the later 19th century, as a branch of the overhead railways from Devon Great Consols quay was built between it and the manganese warehouse to access the Middle Copper Quay in 1858 and remained there until the early 20th century.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 222.
SDV221830List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Tavistock Hamlets. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 108.
SDV241179Report - non-specific: Buck, C.. 2003. Morwellham & Newquay, Devon. Cornwall Archaeological Unit Report. 2003R058. Digital + A4.
SDV242446Undergraduate Dissertation: Mills, R. + Murrell, D. + Vandenbossche, P. + Watts, S.. 1997. An Archaeological Assessment of the East Side of the River Tamar between Calstock and Gunnislake. University of Plymouth: Nautical Archaeology. A4 Stapled + Digital.
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. 38.
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).
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV344217Report - Survey: Passmore, A. J.. 2009. Archaeological Recording at Morwellham Quay 2008-9. Exeter Archaeology Report. 09.100. Digital. 1-2.
SDV344219Report - Survey: Gaskell-Brown, C.. 1977. Morwellham: An Archaeological Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital. 23-6.
SDV344260Article in Serial: Patrick, A.. 1974. The Growth and Decline of Morwellham. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 106. A5 Paperback. 95-117.
SDV344272Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1977. SX46NW15. OSAD Card. Card Index + Digital.
SDV344977Report - non-specific: Waterhouse, R.. 2006. Proposed Archaeological Excavation of the Devon Great Consols Incline Portal at Morwellham Quay. Robert Waterhouse Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV344984Report - Excavation: Waterhouse, R.. 2006. Archaeological Excavations at Morwellham, 2002-2006. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV344990Report - non-specific: Waterhouse, R.. 2009. In-situ Archaeological Finds at Morwellham Quay. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV347407Report - Assessment: Passmore, A. J.. 2008. Rapid Archaeological Assessment of Proposed New Visitor Facilities at Morwellham Quay, Devon. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1-3.
SDV351508Article in Serial: Waterhouse, R.. 2012. Tavistock Canal: Surveying a Forgotten Marvel of the Industrial Age. Current Archaeology. 273. Digital. 37-40.
SDV352229Correspondence: John Grimes Partnership. 2008. Morwellham Dock Repairs. Letter + Attachments. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV352238Correspondence: Gaskell Brown, C.. 2003. The Ship Inn, Morwellham, Devon. Letters to/from P. Child. Digital.
SDV354871Article in Serial: Gaimster, M.. 2010. Post-Medieval Fieldwork in Britain and Northern Ireland in 2009: Devon. Post-Medieval Archaeology. 44. A4 Stapled + Digital.
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. 6, 18.
SDV357785Report - non-specific: Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D.. 1995. Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper Minor Metals Step Three: Site Assessment- Morwhellham Quay Manganese Mill. English Heritage. A4 Bound. Number 5, Photo LXX.22.
SDV357788Report - non-specific: Hedley, L. and Cranstone, D.. 1995. Monuments Protection Programme, Zink, Copper, Minor Metals, Step Three: Copper Industry Site Assessment- Morwellham Quay. English Heritage. A4 Bound. Number 2, Photo LXX. 19-21.
SDV357940Report - non-specific: Andrew Brown. 1998. Monuments Protection Programme The Non-Ferrous Metals (Tin, Copper, Arsenic and Minor Metals) Industries: Appendix III, Step 4 Report. Monument Protection Programme. A4 Unbound.
SDV358329Report - non-specific: Waterhouse, R.. 27/06/2007. Brief for Archaeological Excavation at Morwellham Quay. Robert Waterhouse Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV358896Illustration: Morwellham Display Boards. A4 Unbound + Digital.
SDV361789Monograph: Waterhouse, R.. 2017. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. The Tavistock Canal. Its History and Archaeology. Paperback Volume. 100-111, Figs 4.25-4.41.
SDV60709Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1991. An Assessment of Copper Mining in Devon (Copper, Brass, Tin). A4 Stapled + Digital. 16.

Associated Monuments

MDV76322Parent of: Bridge at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV78257Parent of: Crane on Public Quay, Morwellham (Monument)
MDV78252Parent of: Inclined Plane at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV78252Related to: Inclined Plane at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV5438Parent of: Limekilns at Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV76288Parent of: Manganese mill at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV5435Parent of: Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV78259Parent of: Plate Railway at Manganese Dock, Morwellham (Monument)
MDV78260Parent of: Plate Railway at Old Dock, Morwellham (Monument)
MDV78253Parent of: Plate Railway Lines at Lime Kiln Quay (Monument)
MDV37380Parent of: Quay Cottage and Assayer's Laboratory at Morwellham (Building)
MDV78250Parent of: Railway Turntable at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV78251Parent of: Railway Turntable at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV78255Parent of: Reconstructed Crane on Devon Consols Quay, Morwellham (Monument)
MDV78256Parent of: Remains of Crane on Manganese Dock, Morwellham (Monument)
MDV37384Related to: Ferry Stage at Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV78252Parent of: Inclined Plane at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV78252Related to: Inclined Plane at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV37382Related to: Limekiln at Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV76311Related to: Malt House at Morwellham (Monument)
MDV78701Related to: Mine Track, Morwellham to New Quay (Monument)
MDV76323Related to: Saw Pit at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV63051Related to: Tamar Barge 'Lynher' at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV37383Related to: The Manager's House, Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV63006Related to: The Ship Inn, Morwellham Quay (Building)
MDV76309Related to: Tunnel Portal at Morwellham Quay (Monument)
MDV63008Related to: Workshops at Morwellham Quay (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4589 - Archaeological Recording at Morwellham Quay 2008-9
  • EDV4590 - Archaeological Recording at Morwellham Quay 2008-9
  • EDV4840 - Archaeological Excavations at the Devon Great Consols Incline Portal, Morwellham Quay, 2006
  • EDV4847 - Archaeological Excavation at Morwellham, 2005

Date Last Edited:Feb 26 2020 12:36PM