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HER Number:MDV78266
Name:Tavy Iron Works, Tavistock


Brass and iron foundry established in 1852, on both sides of the River Tavy to the east of Vigo Bridge. The north part of the site is still in industrial use, but the south part is now in residential use.


Grid Reference:SX 486 746
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTavistock
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FOUNDRY (XIX - 1852 AD to 1852 AD (Between))

Full description

Chorlton, E., 06/1995, Letter commenting on Draft Development Brief at Mount Tavy Road, Tavistock(included) (Correspondence). SDV351168.

Correspondence concerning development of the old foundry building on Mount Tavy Road and the former SWEB building on Parkwood Road.
The attached draft development brief includes a site description and its historical significance. The are two distinct elements to the site. The split level foundry building is a stone and slate gabled structure with a frontage of two storeys to Mount Tavy Road and four storeys to the river. The building is in a bad state of repair. It is not currently in use. Until recently it was linked by a pedestrian bridge over the river to the SWEB depot site. This has an attractive two storey gabled building mainly of stone and slate with distinctive metal-framed arched windows. There are a number of smaller outbuildings at the eastern end of the site. It is bounded by the river to the south and the new road to the north. It is still in use by SWEB but it has a limited future use with them. The building appears to be in good condition.
Both buildings have a historic significance being part of Tavistock's industrial heritage. The foundry building thought to date from 1852. It was one of three foundries operating in Tavistock in the 19th century and was rund as the Tavy Iron works by the Pearce Brothers. It was powered by an undershot waterwheel. Traces of the leat are still visible along Mount Tavy Road together with evidence of a tunnel at the point where the leat fed to the wheel. It ceased to be a foundry around the end of the First World War. However, the leat then powered a turbine housed in the SWEB building providing Tavistock's first electricity supply in 1914. The SWEB building was built in about 1911. The foundry was temporarily reopened in the 1920s.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

Map object based on this Source.

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

'Brass & Iron Foundry' shown on north and south banks of River Tavy, linked by a footbridge to east of railway viaduct.

The Tavistock and District Local History Society, 1994, About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks, 53 (Monograph). SDV354806.

Tavy Iron Works, one of three foundries in the town, was established by James and Henry Pearce in 1850. The works incorporated a building which had initially formed part of John Gill's foundry complex of Mount Foundry and which in 1886 had generated Tavistock's first electricity supply. It was also used at one time for woollen processing together with the premises on the south side of the river. The buildings were connected by a footbridge across the river. Tavy Iron Works changed hands in 1899 and was then bought by G.H. Budge in 1905. It continued in use until after the First World War.

Freeman, M., 2007, The Tavistock Foundries, Part 3. (Pamphlet). SDV345007.

The Tavy Iron Works was established in 1852, on the site of former woollen mills. In Slater's Directory for 1857 the proprietors were referred to as stove manufacturers. Their advertisements mention cooking stoves and fireplaces, exploiting a niche left vacant by the other foundries. In 1866 they describe themselves as brass and iron founders and millwrights. In 1859 the railway crossed the river on a viaduct which cut across above the lower part of the foundry premises. As there was no room for expansion on the south side of the river, a new workshop was built on a site on the north side, reached from Parkwood Road via an underpass through the railway embankment. For convenience, a footbridge over the river was built linking the two site, but heavy goods still had to be carried by road across Vigo Bridge. In the early 20th century, the casting shop was the northern shed, the pattern, carpentry and finishing shops were south of the river, the offices in the former house, and stables at the west of the site by the viaduct. For much of the 20th century the north part of the site was used for electricity generation, and the south part was used for manufacturing and storage. The eastern foundry shed has been converted to residential use.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Map object based on this Source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV345007Pamphlet: Freeman, M.. 2007. The Tavistock Foundries, Part 3.. A4 Folded.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV351168Correspondence: Chorlton, E.. 06/1995. Letter commenting on Draft Development Brief at Mount Tavy Road, Tavistock(included). Letters and Map. Digital.
SDV354806Monograph: The Tavistock and District Local History Society. 1994. About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks. About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks. A5 Paperback. 53.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Apr 13 2016 12:28PM