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China Clay in Devon - late 40s / early 50s


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Previously in my blog I have mentioned that I am looking at modelling some sort of china clay working to go through Brent, and have started the process of converting 10 redundant Bachmann clay hoods into GWR diagram O13 clay tippers.

 

I have found plenty of BR photos of the wagons, along with some in GWR condition which show a wide varity of wagon sheets used (some extending down the top plank and a half, while others almost the whole wagon side is covered by the sheet.)  But my issue is more a case of understanding the actual workings.

 

So over lunch today I have been reviewing my china clay books to try and find examples of china clay workings outside of Cornwall in the late 40s / early 50s from which to work from.    The most useful book I have is Vaughn’s Illustrated History of West Country China Clay Trains, which refers to 3 potential workings:

China Clay being transferred from the South Devon works to Fowey for onward shipping (Other than the Lee Moor area near Plymouth, I understand that there were other areas further East producing Kaolin which would have been transferred west.)   This would clearly be in the O13 wagons, there is a good photo of a suitable working in Vaughn (plate 162) of Grange 6873 with 12 clay wagons (all covered) along with a handful of vans on the rear, working from one of the South Devon clay works in the Down direction.

China Clay being transferred from Tavistock Junction to the potteries, there are plenty of references to this (GWRJ 68, Vaughn etc). However there are no photos in my period, I know in BR days this eventually ended up as a Clay Hood working.  However it is unclear as to whether it would be formed with end tipping wagons or conventional 5 plank’s with the clay in casks.

Finally there was the bull clay workings from East Devon, again I understand from Vaughn that these were shipped out of Fowey and hence would have passed through Brent and would most likely be in the O13 wagons.  Plate 163 in Vaughn shows an early 80s shot of an as built Class 37 on a rake of clay hoods forming a ball clay service heading through Brent en route to Fowey.

 

So I guess my questions are, whether or not there was a Kaolin works that was still open east of Brent in the late 40s, (I know that the works near to Brent had closed in the 30s).

Were the end tipping O13 wagons used for the services to the potteries

Were the ball clay services running from East Devon to Cornwall in the late 40s

 

 

I would also add the follow up question as to whether any of the more recent publications on China Clay operations have much content in the 1940s (given my collection for Clay books has been focused on the late 80s / 90s)

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Ball clay is still being extracted from the Teign Valley, near Kingsteignton, a couple of years ago they diverted the Chudleigh to Kingsteignton road, so that they can extract the clay under the old road. Obviously this traffic is all on the road now, as to it's destination, I don't know.

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Siberian Snooper said:

Ball clay is still being extracted from the Teign Valley, near Kingsteignton, a couple of years ago they diverted the Chudleigh to Kingsteignton road, so that they can extract the clay under the old road. Obviously this traffic is all on the road now, as to it's destination, I don't know.

 

 

Ball clay is mainly used by the ceramics industry, so North Staffordshire would be a major destination.

 

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I may be not totally up to date here, and don't know all that much about what is a fascinating industry* but...

Ball clay production was running at over a million tons a year "fairly recently" and it is (or was!) mainly exported via the ports of Bideford and Teignmouth.

 

*possibly more so than the more famous, and rail oriented china clay.

 

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Thanks for the nudge, it bought back memories from being a teenager growing up in that part of Devon. I remember there was a lot of heavy road traffic from Kingsteignton to Teignmouth with the ball clay. Stuck in my memory because as kids in the 1960's we were all riding bicycles and had a few near misses. :scared:

 

I dont remember the railway sidings into the docks ever being used, but happy to be told different. When we got to 16 & 17 years old, the docks became more memorable for something else; the cider bar that didn't ask how old you were. Different times! :offtopic:

 

Below is a not-very-good video of ball clay being loaded from lorries in Teignmouth docks. But all on a much smaller scale than the china clay at Fowey.  Seeing the ships do a three-point turn besides Mixtow Pill (with feet to spare) is always impressive.

 


 

 

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The book 'The Potters Field' by LTC Rolt has a lot of detail of the South Devon ball clay industry.

 

For many years much of the ball clay from the Bovey Basin to the Potteries went via Teignmouth by sea and canal.

 

The book mentions from the 1930s road vehicles claimed an ever larger share of ball clay for the home market, but in 1964 BR made an attempt to recapture a share of the market. The first 'clay liner'  trains left Newton Abbot on 18 November 1965.

Elsewhere the book mentions clay loading facilities were provided at Chudleigh Road (Heathfield) in 1874, with a similar smaller provision at Teigngrace Halt. A special siding was constructed at Teignbridge in 1890, and a similar siding at East Golds opened in 1938 for the Newton Abbot Clay Company. As recently as 1948 WBB constructed a new clay loading ramp at Teignbridge.

Export clay by rail went either west to Fowey, or east and north to Bristol and Avonmouth.

 

The book is very interesting, it was published in 1974, but I picked up a brand new copy about 18 months ago at the Bovey Tracey heritage centre.

 

cheers

 

 

 

 

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