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Haytor Granite Tramway.


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Posted (edited)

The Haytor Granite Tramway was built by George Templer in 1820 to connect the granite quarries around Haytor with the Stover Canal at Ventiford Basin. From there the granite was conveyed by barge along the Stover Canal, and then down the River Teign to Teignmouth where it was transhipped again into sea going vessels. 

I recently made my first visit to Haytor, there is quite a lot of the granite tramway still visible in and around the Tor and the various nearby quarries.

 

We parked in a small car park on the Manaton Road, not far from the Haytor visitor centre. Just before reaching the car park we passed over an open crossing of the tramway.

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Just east of Haytor the tramway crosses the Manaton Road. This is the view looking east, the tramway is descending from Haytor, and in a few hundred yards the course of the tramway runs parallel to the B3387 Bovey - Widecombe Road. 19/5/2021

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Looking west across the Manaton Road, the tramway is rising towards Haytor. 19/5/2021

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Haytor can be see in the distance in this view looking west across the Manaton Road. Haytor Quarry is on this side of the Tor, the tramway main line skirts around the Tor to serve other quarries on the north and west sides. I am not sure what the standing stone represents, perhaps a boundary marker? 19/5/2021

 

cheers

 

  

Edited by Rivercider
Grammar
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Just to the east of the Manaton Road crossing is what appears to be a refuge siding.

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Looking east from the Manaton Road. 19/5/21

 

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Looking west towards the road crossing with Haytor in the distance. Mrs Rivercider waits patiently. 19/5/21

 

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The tramway weedspray train is clearly due a visit. Looking west at Manaton Road with Haytor in the distance. 19/5/21.

 

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Looking east, the tramway curves down towards the right, and will shortly run parallel to the B3387 road to Bovey Tracey which is just alongside the trees on the right. 19/5/2021

 

cheers

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Excellent pics - thanks. On our "to do" list when completely unlocked...I have a couple of books on the area.

Edited by Gilbert
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Hi

 

Great set of photo's....Thanks for sharing....

It's really interesting seeing how progress was made to the railway that we now know from such humble beginnings.....

 

Cheers Bill

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Although I had been a bit curious about the Granite Tramway for some time I do not really know that much about it.

 

A search on RMweb only revealed a couple of mentions, including this thread which refers to the Ventiford end of the route:

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/111302-stone-age-double-slip/&tab=comments

 

The thread linked above also includes a link to another site which gave me some useful information, and I think explained a couple of things I saw the other day but which puzzled me at the time.

 

Before setting off up onto Haytor we called into the visitor centre which was well stocked with various maps, books etc, and picked up a couple of interesting booklets of the area published by the Dartmoor National Park Authority. 

 

After climbing Haytor we made our way down the north western slope and came across this quarry, which is variously referred to as Middle Quarry or Rubble Heap Quarry. It was served by a branch off the main line, we did not go into the quarry, so could not see if granite setts were in situ, but did see track leading to the distinctive 'finger' spoil tips.

 

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Looking north off Haytor into Middle Quarry. The maps show a branch track ran into this quarry. 19/5/2021

 

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Looking south into Middle Quarry, it appeared quite wet, we did not venture in. 19/5/2021

 

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Looking south towards Middle Quarry, these are the 'finger' spoil tips that presumably give the alternate name of Rubble Heap Quarry. We had noticed some signs of track leading from the quarry out onto these tips. 19/5/2021

 

cheers

 

 

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The main line of the tramway passed around the northern flank of Haytor to serve the various quarries. To the west were Emsworthy Rocks West Quarry and Emsworthy Rocks East Quarry, each served by a separate branch. Middle Quarry was north west of Haytor while still further north Holwell Quarry was on the north flank of Holwell Tor.

The tramway opened in 1820 and appears to have been out of use by 1858.

 

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In the valley between Haytor and Holwell Tor this view looking east is of either the main line to the Emsworthy Quarries, or the Middle Quarry branch, 19/5/2021

 

cheers 

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The Haytor Granite Tramway was about 8 miles long, and descended 1200ft to Ventiford, generally following the contours of the land. Horses were used to haul the empty wagons back up, and were probably harnessed at the rear of loaded trains going down to assist with the braking.

Gravity was generally in favour of moving the granite downhill to Ventiford apart from stone from Holwell Quarry which had to be hauled up to the main line junction.

 

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Looking east off Holwell Tor we see the branch line which climbs steeply away towards the junction out of sight to the right. The clearer part of tramway on the curve has clearly been recently tidied up. 19/5/2021

 

 

Before the branch reaches Holwell Quarry there was a loop, presumably to allow loaded wagons to be assembled clear of returning empties.

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The points at the loop looking east up towards the junction. The trees behind Mrs Rivercider give a clue how windy it was that day. 19/5/2021

 

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The west end of the loop looking west and down towards the quarry. The distinctive finger shaped spoil tips can be seen, each was served by a siding. 19/5/2021

 

cheers

 

 

 

 

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Many thanks for posting these images, it's sobering to imagine the amount of work which went into the carving, transporting and laying/aligning of so many heavy blocks of granite. I hope less than 40 years of use was worth so much effort in the end.

Back in the late 60s when nothing much happened on the Cornish main line on Sunday afternoons I sometimes hopped on the pushbike and explored the Carnon Valley for remnants of the old Redruth & Chacewater Railway. I found the rows of granite block 'sleepers' still visible in places with fixing holes fascinating. I was reminded of this recently when, having moved back to Cornwall early last year, I discovered similar remains of a tramway parallel to St Blazey depot and yard. The diesel hydraulics may have long gone but the granite blocks go on (and on and on and.....)

As a diesel fan I'm not sure why I find such things so interesting but I just do! :)

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Posted (edited)

I was puzzled how the tracks that served the waste rubble tips were connected, being at right angles to the main siding. We had noticed there were some square stone setts in some places and wondered if there was some turntable arrangement. Reference to the maps shows that these were the right angle crossing locations, each connected to the main siding by a short spur towards the quarry face.

 

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I believe a trailing connection would lead off to the right to the quarry face from where Mrs Rivercider is standing. This connected to the tip siding which in turn crosses the main line over the right angle crossing in the foreground, the spoil tips are off to the left. 19/5/2021

 

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It is just possible to make out some of the granite setts of the siding heading to the tip edge 19/5/2021

 

 

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This view looks north from Holwell Quarry along one of the tip sidings. 

Your intrepid reporter indicates the last two setts of the siding, 19/5/2021

 

cheers

 

 

Edited by Rivercider
Corrected name.
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14 minutes ago, Neil Phillips said:

Many thanks for posting these images, it's sobering to imagine the amount of work which went into the carving, transporting and laying/aligning of so many heavy blocks of granite. I hope less than 40 years of use was worth so much effort in the end.

Back in the late 60s when nothing much happened on the Cornish main line on Sunday afternoons I sometimes hopped on the pushbike and explored the Carnon Valley for remnants of the old Redruth & Chacewater Railway. I found the rows of granite block 'sleepers' still visible in places with fixing holes fascinating. I was reminded of this recently when, having moved back to Cornwall early last year, I discovered similar remains of a tramway parallel to St Blazey depot and yard. The diesel hydraulics may have long gone but the granite blocks go on (and on and on and.....)

As a diesel fan I'm not sure why I find such things so interesting but I just do! :)

 

I agree it is an impressive feat of engineering. Construction was completed within a year. Over 17,000 stone setts were laid, but the name of the engineer or surveyor responsible is apparently unknown.

 

We have had quite a number of short breaks in Cornwall in recent years, we generally do a bit of walking on one or two days. I hope to explore more of the railway and industrial archaeology in the future as I also find it fascinating.

 

cheers

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  • 4 weeks later...
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We've traced various parts of the tramway over recent years, including the Ventiford basin at the other end, where the stone was loaded onto boats to travel down to Newton Abbot.

Brian Harrap originally pointed out that the rails had been excavated back in 2016:

When we visited recently we found that a recreated tram wagon has now been placed on the rails:

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1939336297_IMG_20210606_1213301.jpg.564c9ecb83b9df358c0c21dec35890bf.jpg

 

Some other images from 2019, including a culvert under the Heathfield (Moretonhampstead) branch.

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IMG_20190908_121046.jpg.3a81f990d8436bb55e1fce72a7ee66ff.jpg

 

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And a rather incongruous sign at the nearby foot crossing at Teigngrace, featuring a HST. There haven't been any trains this way for several years....

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Going back a few more years, views around the Haytor quarry and the tramway connecting to it. The kids are a lot bigger now!

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On 14/06/2021 at 20:59, Ramblin Rich said:

We've traced various parts of the tramway over recent years, including the Ventiford basin at the other end, where the stone was loaded onto boats to travel down to Newton Abbot.

Brian Harrap originally pointed out that the rails had been excavated back in 2016:

When we visited recently we found that a recreated tram wagon has now been placed on the rails:

1231344976_IMG_20210606_1213381.jpg.3d181bb1e523ab695154b5717643f73b.jpg

 

1939336297_IMG_20210606_1213301.jpg.564c9ecb83b9df358c0c21dec35890bf.jpg

 

Some other images from 2019, including a culvert under the Heathfield (Moretonhampstead) branch.

IMG_20190908_121002.jpg.08365880ad00c19ca579d6b3649b67ef.jpg

 

IMG_20190908_121046.jpg.3a81f990d8436bb55e1fce72a7ee66ff.jpg

 

IMG_20190908_120429.jpg.1c4dbcc2d53067bf72318113129b4136.jpg

And a rather incongruous sign at the nearby foot crossing at Teigngrace, featuring a HST. There haven't been any trains this way for several years....

IMG_20190908_115308_BURST001_COVER.jpg.dfec5f91ae1398f4db22512303c2af03.jpg

Going back a few more years, views around the Haytor quarry and the tramway connecting to it. The kids are a lot bigger now!

P1050649.JPG.b6505cc55d76466303e3d214c584e12d.JPG

 

P1050651.JPG.7305315b77cf2bce93f73e6540dd86ec.JPG

 

P1050692.JPG.141ce32f9685161355c5147b2cfea60b.JPG

 

P1050684.JPG.416d2217c5893daac5c7c4838e63dacd.JPGP1050691.JPG.893c5d234acc110d4e31aadd4e110fcc.JPGP1050685.JPG.b034941841fa39a58c3bd88649411cd8.JPG

P1050680.JPG

P1050689.JPG

Hi

some great pictures of what in the day were of a state of the art transport system....

Thanks for posting...

 

Cheers Bill

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On 14/06/2021 at 20:59, Ramblin Rich said:

We've traced various parts of the tramway over recent years, including the Ventiford basin at the other end, where the stone was loaded onto boats to travel down to Newton Abbot.

Brian Harrap originally pointed out that the rails had been excavated back in 2016:

When we visited recently we found that a recreated tram wagon has now been placed on the rails:

1231344976_IMG_20210606_1213381.jpg.3d181bb1e523ab695154b5717643f73b.jpg

 

1939336297_IMG_20210606_1213301.jpg.564c9ecb83b9df358c0c21dec35890bf.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for posting those photos Rich, I had not realised there was now a replica wagon at Ventiford.

 

Although I had been aware of the Tramway for many years I really did not know much about it.

It was the photo posted by Brian Harrap in 2016 that initially sparked my interest. I decided to make the Stover Canal the subject of one of my days out for a walk which I did in 2019 when I walked from Newton Abbot up to Ventiford. It was an interesting walk once I had found the south end of the canal, and the graving dock lock part way along is quite impressive.

On my recent visit to Haytor I was surprised just how much of the tramway there is to see there,

 

cheers 

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