Ferro Ceramic Mine and Shaugh Brickworks, Meavy, Goodameavy
The origin of iron mining at Shaugh is not known; however the fact that no features are depicted on the 1840 Tithe Map (Meavy Parish) suggests that there was no organised mining here before this date. On the 25th December 1879 a 21-year lease was granted to Ferr-Ceramic Company Ltd. This lease gave authority: 1) to mine and search for all iron and iron ores and for their export; 2) to obtain materials for, and the manufacture of, bricks and other plastic forms; 3) for the original bridge to be lowered and widened (it also set out the tolls to be charged per ton of material carried across the bridge; 4) to construct buildings for all purposes connected with mining and brick making - except for the burning and smelting of iron ore. The lease laid out the terms of the rights to mine, the grants of way and the rights to draw water from the River Plym. A notice announcing the forthcoming auction of the Dewerstone Iron Mine at Shaugh Bridge appeared in the Mining Journal dated 12 may 1883. The auction particulars included details of the original lease and an impressive inventory of buildings, plant and machinery. This list included the following items. A Brogden and Casper Improved Tunnel Kiln, a tile kiln, two working sheds (adjoining the brick kiln), tramways, 2 turntables, 18 tram wagons, a 16 foot waterwheel, a managers office and smiths shop, 60 tons of iron ores and a large quantity of bricks and tiles. The patent specification for Brogden and Caspers Improvements in kilns dated 14th February 1880 sets out modifications for the tunnel kiln. A second Patent Specification dated 9th May 1882 outlines further improvements in the operation of the tunnel kiln. These specifications reveal the sophistication of the brick manufacturing works at Shaugh. The tunnel kiln was designed for continuous firing with trucks, running on rails, used to carry the bricks through the stages of drying, firing and cooling. The kiln was sub-divided by vertical doors, which were raised and lowered to allow the passage of the trucks between each stage. These doors, part of Brogden and Caspers modification, prevented the through flow of cold air that proved to be a shortcoming of earlier tunnel kilns. The first part of the kiln was the heated chamber used for drying the green bricks. It was separated by a vertical door from the furnace. Flues provided the necessary heat which could be regulated by dampers into each area as required. The small chamber, with its vertical doors, allowed for the bricks to be cooled before they emerged into the external air temperature. The progress of the trucks through the kiln was regulated by a sophisticated system of blocks, or stops, worked by means of rods and levers operated from outside the kiln. The 1892 improvements in the design dispensed with some (or all) of the vertical doors, relying instead on a shield of firebricks mounted at one end of each truck. When the truck was in position the firebrick shield was luted (sealed by clay to the kiln wall) such that the tunnel was divided into truck-length divisions. Heat entered each chamber through perforations in the bottom of each shield. The only known documentary evidence that records the fate of the site after the 1883 auction id the OS first edition 1:2500 plan dated 1886. Although annotations on this plan describe the mine as disused it indicated that the brickworks could still be functioning (the evidence for this is that the words disused or ruins are not included in the descriptor and also a number of intact features are shown). This plan also shows that the tunnel kiln and the level area to the east are enclosed and perhaps roofed. If the joint areas were roofed then such a roof would have covered an area approx. 62.0m by 15.0m. The substantial retaining wall built when the site was levelled, and also the rectangular depression (located to the north of the kiln) are both depicted. In addition two small buildings, one described as Smithy, plus a number of rectangular depressions and pits of various sizes and types are extant. The waterwheel was power by water from the River Plym via a leat and aqueduct. Two shafts and amorphous spoil heaps, some with retaining walls, are depicted. The OS second edition 1:2500 plan dated 1906 reveals that all thebuildings were either removed or were in a roofless state. The pits were partially silted and overgrown, also each of the two shafts are described as old shaft. Both OS plans label the site as Shaugh Works and Ferro Ceramic Mine, this suggests that they were separate entities. A report of a field trip to the area in 1935 states at Shaugh, Mr Worth led us to the old workings of the iron mines. The ore was in scattered veins and of poor quality, yet good enough for it to be sent away, probably to South Wales via the South Devon railway from its station at Shaugh Bridge. Such ore, which was of too poor quality for smelting, was used in the manufacture of bricks by the Ferro-Ceramic Pottery Company. (Beckerlegge 1935). The siting of the brickworks near to the source of the raw materials has always been an important factor because of transport costs (Brunskill 1990). Clearly iron oxide was a component of the bricks produced at Shaugh. Roberts and Richardson (1989) speculate about the use of partially decomposed granite or, alternatively, alluvium from the mine. Brunskill notes the use of river terrace deposits as a raw material; the orange-brown coloured soil visible in the quarry face and the exposed slopes situated behind the kiln seems to be an ideal brick material. However, it is not unreasonable to suggest that part of the attraction for the siting of the brickworks here may have been the proximity of an abundance of china clay and its waste products, sand and mica. The Shaugh china clay drying works, located on the opposite bank of the River Plym to the south of the site, was built during the period 1870 to 1880 (Smith 1996). It was, therefore, almost certainly producing fine white clay and the associated sandy waste products when the tunnel kiln was first fired in 1880. Coal was probably imported to the site along the same route used in the export of iron ore and bricks. The waterwheel is sited within the brickworks complex although the 1880 lease suggests that it was used in connection with the iron mine. It may have been linked to the mine by flat-rods to provide pumping and, or lifting power. It is assumed that the large stone-lined pits and working floors were used for the weathering of the raw materials and the lengthy preparation processes necessary for the produvtion of the plastic clay mix ready for moulding. There must have been a steady increasing demand for power, for example the clay tempering and mixing processes was mechanised by the 19th century. The moulding process required to turn the clay mix into green bricks was automated by the late 19th century. The automated mechanical brick presses of the late 19th century could produce prodigous quantities of bricks. The 1880 patent specification indicates that the brick machine was located in front of the entrance to the kiln. An extensive roofed area on the western side of the tunnel kiln most probably provided cover for moulding and storing the drying green bricks before firing. The footings of the small building to the south of the kiln are probably the remains of a working shed. The circular structure visible as walling foundations may prove to be the remains of the tile kiln listed in the auction inventory. It lies within the level area enclosed by the retaining wall; it is not depicted on any known plan. The building platform may mark the site of a counting house, a necessary building given that every ton of material crossing the bridge had to be recorded. The three small pits located on the riverbank may be the forerunners of the larger pits to the north or, alternatively, they could have had a completely unrelated function. The discrete processing and manufacturing sites were all probably linked by the extensive tramway system. Also a rail line used to convey the trucks through the tunnel kiln. The auction inventory lists two turntables as well as a lot of tramway metals. The trackbed to the east of the kiln area probably marks the route of the tramway used to carry the finished bricks, tiles and the iron ore across the river to link up and established route used for the export of china clay from the clay drys. The tramway would have crossed the River Plym via a bridge carried on the large granite abutment (a position now occupied by the wooden footbridge which replaced one that was washed away by the river in spate). See also NTSMR 105097 to 105126.