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HER Number:MDV72999
Name:Shillamill Tunnel & South Portal


19th century Shillamill tunnel & south portal to take the former Bere Alston to Tavistock section of the railway.


Grid Reference:SX 463 708
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGulworthy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK HAMLETS

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TUNNEL (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Smith, J. R., 2006, Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway: Archaeological Assessment, 25-6 (Report - Assessment). SDV336796.

Shillamill Tunnel 669 & South Portal (Sites 34 & 35). The south portal is of roughly coursed rusticated ashlar masonry with granite voussoirs to the arch. The 550 meter tunnel is on a gradient of 1 in 98 with curves at both ends. The first section of the tunnel is brick-lined then the arch is lined with stone & the walls are unlined. Refuges are built into the walls at intervals & the ballast was still in place throughout the tunnel in 2006. Other details: Figs 26 & 39.

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.

Shillamill Tunnel and portal is adjacent to the southern tip of the property landholding of Mr Hutchins. This site has been included for contextual reasons. The tunnel portal is of roughly coursed rusticated ashlar masonry, with granite voussoirs to the arch. The first section of the tunnel is brick-lined. On the west side of the portal is a retaining wing wall against the cutting, with a false arch. The tunnel mouth is closed off with steel gates and fencing. The portal appears to be in good structural order.

‘Shillamill Tunnel is 603 yards (550 metres) long on a gradient of 1 in 98, and has a curve at either end, so there is no clear view from portal to portal. The tunnel is lined with brick immediately inside the entrances, and is then lined with stone on the arch, but the walls are unlined and left as rock-cut in many places; at intervals there are refuges built into the walls. There has been some more recent patching in places with brick, presumably where the masonry lining has failed. The ballast for the permanent way is still in place throughout the tunnel, as are the centre track drains which are accessed by concrete inspection boxes. Concrete cable ducting survives along one side, together with steel cable hooks on the tunnel wall. There is water penetration from above at intervals throughout the length, which has been attributed to unstable backfilled shafts in the 1995 structural report’ (Smith 2005, 27).

High significance rating, given their degree of survival.

Sites should be retained, with a minimal amount of disturbance, however it is recognised that there are plans to re-instate the railway line, which may impact upon structures and archaeological/historical features throughout its length (and within the study area), the Shillamill Viaduct being perhaps the greatest recipient.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336796Report - Assessment: Smith, J. R.. 2006. Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway: Archaeological Assessment. Cornwall County Council Report. 2006R006. A4 Stapled + Digital. 25-6.
SDV359746Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2015. Buctor Farm, Tavistock. Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2015R055. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV72928Part of: Tavistock to Bere Alston Railway (Monument)
MDV73000Related to: Shillamill Tunnel North Portal (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4099 - Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway
  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)

Date Last Edited:Aug 15 2016 1:06PM