Tavy and Tamar Valleys (Devon side) - Lodes 31-34

Lode 31 - Marquis South Lode; Phillips Lode

The course of the lode is known underground from the deep adit, which starts beside the river about 400m north-east of New Bridge. An adit shaft lies in the wood to the east on the line of some older lodeback pits and a short openwork.

Phillips' Engine Shaft has collapsed, leaving an enormous crater with timbers projecting from its sides.

A flatrod trench leads down the hillside to the shaft, while a large iron pipe seems to have driven a water turbine in the shaft during the 1920s period of working. Evidence for a double-tracked inclined plane rising to the east survives, with remains of a horizontal steam winding engine at its head, 40m east of the shaft. From here, an aerial ropeway took tin and wolfram ore in buckets up the hill to the Bedford United Mill where it was processed.

Two extensive sand dumps on the valley floor have obscured much earlier evidence, while the presence of workings beneath are evidenced by an enormous crater, sometimes water-filled, which has formed in the upper dump.

Lode 32 - Marquis North Lode

First recorded as being worked from 1707 for copper, when two separate gunnis workings (later amalgamated) were recorded near the river by Henric Kalmeter. These survive well, the lower also being the mine's deep adit. The upper gunnis also served as the lobby through which water was introduced via a leat from the Rubbytown Valley to drive a large diameter water wheel underground, observed by Kalmeter in 1724 during its erection. The chamber for this survives, albeit filled to within 5ft of its apex with later deads.

The later working of the mine commenced in 1842 with the extension of the Wheal Russell leat from the Impham Valley, after which it became known as the Bedford United Leat. This was the furthest northward that Tavistock Canal water was brought along the Tamar valley side and it would be interesting to know what would have happened, had Devon Great Consols been discovered earlier. Almost certainly, the leat would have been taken as far as there, and the great water wheels erected from 1849 for pumping the mine would have been mounted higher on the valley side.

Two water wheels are known to have worked the Marquis and Phillips Lodes, both on the northern side of the little valley crossed by Phillips Lode at the southern end of Hangingcliff Wood. The southern wheel at drove pumps in Phillips' Shaft a short distance to its south-west, and a 380m run of flatrods to a lift of pumps in Marquis Engine Shaft to its north-east.

A second wheel at about may have driven a similar length of flatrods to North Shaft on the Tavistock Lode (Lode 33). Marquis Shaft was also pumped by a beam engine later in the 19th century and steam power was also used for winding. The pump rods and riser pipes remain in-situ underground in Marquis Shaft and can be viewed on trips organised occasionally by »Plymouth Caving Group, who hold the key to the gated access.

The extensive dumps at Marquis and North Shafts can be seen on the 1880s OS map, although the Marquis dumps have been extensively flattened in recent years for use as a timberyard for the Tavistock Woodlands Estate. Large corrugated iron sheds on the downslope side of the site contained tin dressing machinery used between 1914 and 1930 for dressing tin and arsenic ores from Bedford United, Wheal Frementor and Devon Great Consols. The arsenic was sent by lorry across the river to Greenhill Arsenic Works, while the three mine sites were connected by a narrow gauge railway.

Lode 33 - Wheal Frementor, Hawkmoor Mine, Etc...

Also: Tavistock Copper Work (later Bedford United Mine)

This substantial and important working is first recorded as a tinwork in the later 17th century as Fremator or Fremingtor (Bedford Papers, DRO). It appears now in two sections; the western being a short but rich tin and wolfram working at the granite/killas contact point on the bend of the Tamar opposite Gunnislake Clitters Mine. A vertical bunch of rich tin was found here and worked in a very impressive gunnis which remains open to the sky, measuring 4m wide, 70m deep and 200m long.

Much remains of the early 20th century working, including metal and timber parts of the engine shaft headgear and concrete engine bases on a shelf in the steep hillside above the gunnis. Rails survive in-situ here from the narrow gauge railway which ran along a re-used leat course to the foot of the dumps below the 1860s DGC arsenic works, before climbing an inclined plane up to the course of the 1858 standard gauge railway, which it followed down to the Bedford United mill. Rick Stewart has been researching this neglected period and has found much evidence overlooked by previous researchers, who have cherry-picked the 1844-1901 period and ignored the later remains.

The lode crossed to the Cornish bank for a short distance of about 700m, where it was worked in the 19th century under the name of Hawkmoor Mine. Little is known of this mine, although a large water wheel pit survives on the riverbank opposite the Marquis Copper Work, just south of the main engine shaft. The water was taken from the Tamar via a weir at . A tombstone in Calstock churchyard, north of the church, records a former Captain of Hawkmoor Mine.

Recorded as a copper work in the early 18th century, the site of the Tavistock Work's deep adit portal is a prominent hollow in the valley side alongside the 1813 Endsleigh carriage drive, which rises from the riverbank across its somewhat flattened tailings dump. A terrace just north of the adit may indicate the site of early dressing floors, while the 1720s leat to the Marquis Work passes through the working just above. No trace of a water wheel pit can be seen, but it is tempting to suggest that there might have been one here. Just above the leat terrace, a small gunnis opens out onto the hillside, falling down a possible winze just inside. The gunnis continues upslope as a crag working for an unknown distance in thick woodland.

It is not known what form later workings on the lode took, but by the later 19th century, it was being worked as part of Bedford United Mine (see above), with a substantial development and haulage shaft 300m east of the older workings. This was North Shaft, which was connected at surface with the main dressing floors at Marquis Shaft via a narrow-gauge railway, shown on the 1880s OS map.

Lode 33a - Colcharton Mine

Dumps and buildings marked on the 1867 and 1883 maps mark the site of this short-lived trial, of which high hopes were entertained in the early 1850s. These included the installation of a beam pumping engine and looks like a classic example of a 'puff mine', where shareholders were persuaded to part with their money for no other purpose than lining promoters' pockets. Gilson Martin's 1869 Bedford Estate Mines and Quarries Report commented drily: 'This sett contains no minerals of any value whatsoever'! West Wheal Crebor (Lode 24) was probably of the same sort.

Lode 34 - South Wheal Fanny, Watson's Mine

This lode crosses the southern part of the Devon Great Consols sett, being worked in the 19th century as South Wheal Fanny at its western end and Watson's Mine to the east.

South Fanny was a relatively small working, but shared the Devon Great Consols Company's penchant for massive over-engineering, when compared with structures elsewhere on the mine. Both shafts were pumped by a 370m flatrod run from a large diameter water wheel pit at . The track for the flatrod run was lined with stone walls where it passed the dumps for the shafts, while the western shaft has a large mortared stone angle bob pit whose sides curve in at their junction with the shaft. This can be viewed from a new footpath on the line of one of the mine's leats, later used by a narrow-gauge tramway to Wheal Frementor.

Watson's mine was named after Peter Watson, the mine's manager n the later 19th century. An old working, this was exploited by several shafts, again driven by flatrods, forming a spur from one of the pairs of wheels which pumped many of the shafts on the DGC sett.

Again, parts of the flatrod track were walled where necessary. This was a most unusual thing to do: most other mines made do with earthwork trenches with sloping sides. The need to impress visitors and shareholders was evidently considered important, and of course the company was rich enough to be able to afford such luxuries.

A trial adit just east of Newton Farm on the course of the Mill Hill branch of the Tavistock Canal may have picked up this lode. If so, it was considered worthless.