HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV8190
Name:Owlacombe Mine, Ashburton


Owlacombe Mine, later known as Ashburton United. Worked for arsnic and tin during the early 19th century and sporadically into the 20th century. Remains of tramway, buildings and chimney stack recorded in the mid-20th century.


Grid Reference:SX 770 733
Map Sheet:SX77SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishAshburton
Ecclesiastical ParishASHBURTON

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of tinworking relating to the 19th century Owlacombe Tin Mine

Other References/Statuses

  • National Buildings Record: NRI01
  • National Monuments Record: SX77SE53
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1543979
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SE/15
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ARSENIC MINE (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • SHAFT (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • TIN MINE (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))
  • TRAMWAY (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

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

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

'Owlacombe Tin & Arsenic Mines' marked on (1906) map.

Amery, J. S., 1924, (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants, 50 (Article in Serial). SDV315287.

In a petition dated 1688 Richard Strode, of Newnham claimed ownership of tinworks called Owlacombe Beam within Ashburton stannery.
The Owlacombe set was worked in recent times as lode workings and produced 348 tons of black tin up to 1909.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 1376 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Satterly, J., 1952, Memories of Ashburton in late Victorian Days, 33 (Article in Serial). SDV315139.

Owleycombe Mine was being worked sporadically for arsenic in the late 19th century.

Ramsden, J. V., 1952, Notes on the Mines of Devonshire, 98, fig.1 (Article in Serial). SDV60737.

O1 Owlacombe, see West Beam and Stormsdown. Tin, arsenic, copper. Promising ground for prospecting.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX77SE6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV315283.

(Visited 20/5/1960) A considerable area, centred at SX 7685 7335, in which are overgrown tips, shafts and ruined buildings associated with the tin working. The buildings are modern and nothing of the 17th century industry is identifiable.

Council for British Archaeology, 1963-1985, National Record of Industrial Monuments (NRIM): Index Cards, DV3 (Un-published). SDV364291.

Between Ashburton and Ilsington, south-east of the Owlacombe Cross - Sigford road, can be seen a number of shafts used to extract tin and arsenic, and a tramway, though overgrown can still be traced. This was worked by a system of pulleys and chains, and was used to convey material from the shafts to the refining area. The position of stamps, stepped dressing floors, and buddles, can be seen. There are also remains of buildings where ore was calcined, and later, arsenic was condensed. Remains of workers cottages are also evident. Possibly post-Mediaeval.
(National Record of Industrial Monument- Two sets of index cards in the NMR Archive, arranged by county and by industry. Recorded by M Park, undated, Record No. DV3)

Harris, H., 1968, Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor, 56, 72 (Plate) (Monograph). SDV149229.

Owlacombe covers an area which includes a number of separate ventures latterly brought together under the name of Ashburton United Mines, and worked in conjunction with Stormsdown to the south. The mines were active, mainly in the southern section, during the early part of the 19th century, but closed in 1866. In 1906 the mine was taken over by a South African mining engineer who installed new machinery on South African lines. There followed a period of considerable activity, until about 1912, during which up to 200 men were employed, some from as far away as Tavistoc, working an eight-hour shift system. The business was not, however, very profitable, and more money was made from arsnic than from tin, of which there was a total recorded production of 348 tons. The mine was later worked for a time after 1930.
Situated between Ashburton and Ilsington, considerable remains can be seen on the rising ground south-east of the Owlacombe Cross-Sigford road. A number of shafts are visible, as is the course of the tramway, thickly overgrown with bracken, although still traceable. The tramway worked on a system of pulleys and chains and conveyed material from the shafts to the refining areas. Though largely demolished, the position of the stamps and stepped dressing floors can be seen, as well as the position of the buddles. There are also the remains of the buildings where the ore was calcined and arsnic condensed, while in 1966 the brick stack which formerly discharged fumes from these was still intact, though likely to be demolished by the owner before long (see plate). This stack, about 30 feet in height, was built early in the 20trh century.
Power was supplied latterly by electricity generated by a producer-gas engine using coal. Some remains of the power house and generator house still exist, though much of the brickwork on the site is undergoing demolition, the bricks being put to other uses. There are also a few remaining cottages which formerly housed some of the mine workers.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

There are six deserted buildings visible in this area, all presumably associated with the mine.
1. SX772573522
2. SX772373513
3. SX771973474
4. SX771773445
5. SX771073306
6. SX76977293

Richardson, P. H. G., 1992, The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913, 136 (Article in Serial). SDV323598.

Owlacombe and Stormsdown; 0.5 mile north-east of Owlacombe Cross. Owlacombe Mine was worked in 1914-20 and again in 1925. Dumps re-worked for tin in 1937 and about 1958.

Bird, R., 1999, The Whiddon Tin Mine: a brief investigation, 7-18 (Article in Serial). SDV315292.

Richards, A. F., 2013, Owlacombe Mine unknown source (Personal Comment). SDV315284.

The following source was unattributed in the HER and source origin cannot be determined at this time:
“Major tin works, known as 'Owlescomb worke' in 1492, 'Owlacombe Beame' in 1689.”

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149229Monograph: Harris, H.. 1968. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 56, 72 (Plate).
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1376.
SDV315139Article in Serial: Satterly, J.. 1952. Memories of Ashburton in late Victorian Days. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. Unknown. 33.
SDV315283Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX77SE6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV315284Personal Comment: Richards, A. F.. 2013. Owlacombe Mine unknown source. Not Applicable.
SDV315287Article in Serial: Amery, J. S.. 1924. (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 56. Unknown. 50.
SDV315292Article in Serial: Bird, R.. 1999. The Whiddon Tin Mine: a brief investigation. Dartmoor Tin Working Research Group Newsletter. 16. Unknown. 7-18.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV323598Article in Serial: Richardson, P. H. G.. 1992. The Mines of Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley after 1913. British Mining. 44. A5 Paperback. 136.
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).
SDV60737Article in Serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1952. Notes on the Mines of Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. A5 Hardback. 98, fig.1.

Associated Monuments

MDV51808Parent of: Aquaduct at Owlacombe Mine, Ashburton (Monument)
MDV80000Parent of: Owlacombe Mine Cottage, Ashburton (Building)
MDV104362Related to: Cottage south-west of Owlacombe Bridge (Building)
MDV8195Related to: Owlacombe Beamwork (Monument)
MDV107880Related to: Owlacombe Farmstead, Ashburton (Monument)
MDV16981Related to: Stormsdown Mine, Ashburton (Monument)
MDV120767Related to: West Beam Mine, Owlacombe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8592 - Assessment of Owlacombe Bridge Cottage, Ashburton
  • EDV8686 - National Record of Industrial Monuments (no map feature)

Date Last Edited:Jun 21 2022 4:15PM