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Carnarvon New Pit iron mine and section of mineral railway trackbed, 300m south west of Heather House

A Scheduled Monument in Old Cleeve, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0993 / 51°5'57"N

Longitude: -3.4005 / 3°24'1"W

OS Eastings: 302029.518137

OS Northings: 134266.223942

OS Grid: ST020342

Mapcode National: GBR LM.C4B0

Mapcode Global: FRA 36R6.YVL

Entry Name: Carnarvon New Pit iron mine and section of mineral railway trackbed, 300m south west of Heather House

Scheduled Date: 14 January 2005

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021352

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33074

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Old Cleeve

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes the greater part of the ruins, earthworks, and other
remains of Carnarvon New Pit iron mine together with a section of the mineral
railway trackbed adjacent to it. The mine, which is located on the north side
of the B3190 road, was one of a number opened on the Brendon Hills in the
mid-19th century to exploit the high quality iron ore lode which, on the
Brendons, was most productive at two mines, Carnarvon New Pit and the
adjacent Raleigh's Cross mine.
The first Carnarvon pit was sunk in 1857 through earlier surface workings
which lie to the east of the scheduling, but it was abandoned in the early
1860s as the ore was too difficult to reach. The later Carnarvon pit was
started in 1866 and the ore platform at the shaft collar was connected by a
narrow gauge tramroad to a loading platform over a siding from the West
Somerset Mineral Railway (WSMR). From here the ore could be taken on to the
railway for transport to Watchet and ultimately for transhipment to the South
Wales smelting furnaces.
The surviving components of Carnarvon New Pit include the remains of the
winding engine house, the main shaft, two air shafts, and sections of the
tramroad trackbed and the loading platform. The scheduling also includes a
section of the cutting for the WSMR and some openwork trenches of unknown
date which lie immediately adjacent and to either side of the main shaft. The
outer walls and much of the superstructure of the engine winding house
survive to a height of 2m in places. This building, which is about 12m
square, lies approximately 30m north of the shaft and is constructed of local
stone and brick. Archaeological recording of this building has been
undertaken in the early years of the 21st century by the Exmoor Mines
Research Group (EMRG) and an interpretative plan has been produced of the
findings. Much closer to the shaft are the remains of a smaller and temporary
winding engine base with dimensions of 8m by 4m; this has also been recorded
by the EMRG.
The mineshaft itself is cut vertically at its head for a depth of about 13m,
thereafter the shaft angles to the south and has a maximum depth in excess of
152m with 16 levels (galleries). Two air shafts into the mine lie to the west
of the main shaft in an area which is pitted with earlier surface workings of
unknown date. The tramroad trackbed which carried truck loads of ore to the
mineral railway survives as a cutting about 5m wide and is visible for much
of its length from the shaft to the loading platform which survives as a bank
about 16m long.
Running to the south of the mine are the remains of the West Somerset Mineral
Railway which provided the means of getting the ore to Watchet not only from
Carnarvon pit, but also from Burrow Farm and Gupworthy to the west. A 62m
length of the railway cutting is included in the scheduling together with the
course of the trackbed as it bent around the south of the mine to incorporate
the branch line for the mine trams and the branch line to the Watchet Trading
Company stores which stood on the Bampton Road.
The mine closed in 1879, re-opened briefly, before closing finally when the
leases were surrendered in 1883. Information for this scheduling has been
provided by Mike Jones of the Exmoor Mines Research Group.
All gates, fencing, fence posts, and telegraph poles are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry,
spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major
part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance
peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms
across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques,
including open casting, seam-based mining similar to coal mining, and
underground quarrying, and resulting in a range of different structures and
features at extraction sites. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small,
relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced
from the 16th century by blast furnaces which were larger and operated at a
higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is
brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be
remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge,
but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to
more sophisticated types of furnaces. A comprehensive survey of the iron and
steel industry has been conducted to identify a sample of sites of national
importance that represent the industry's chronological range, technological
breadth and regional diversity.

The 19th century iron mines on the Brendon Hills are closely related to the
iron industry of South Wales. By 1830 supplies of locally mined ore in South
Wales were becoming exhausted at the very time when demand for wrought iron
rails was increasing as a result of the spread of railways. It became
economically profitable, at least for a period in the mid- to late 19th
century, to mine the ore in the Brendon Hills and tranship it to South Wales
for smelting.
Carnarvon New Pit mine was one of the closest to the head of the Incline (the
steepest section of the rail system used to carry the ore to Watchet). The
remains of the mine provide a visible reminder of the importance of the iron
mining industry of the late 19th century at a time when the British Empire
was exercising great influence worldwide. The monument will retain
archaeological evidence providing technological information about the mining
processes of the period and about the community which grew up around the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Atkinson, M (ed), Exmoor's Industrial Archaeology, (1997), 151-2
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 145
Jones, M, Notes on some of the Brendon Hills iron mines and the WSMR, 1998, Unpublished report for ex-RCHME
Jones, M, Notes on some of the Brendon Hills iron mines and the WSMR, 1998, Unpublished report for ex-RCHME
M H Jones, Carnarvon Pit Excavation, 2001, Unpublished plan

Source: Historic England

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