Above: It is obvious that the mines around North Molton in Devon have attracted a lot of interest, for other transport enthusiasts and industrial archaeologists have been there before us. This photograph shows a 'horizontal duplex steam winch by Clarke, Chapman & Co Ltd of Gateshead. This is believed to have been installed ca. 1918 and is in situ but derelict. The slide valve cylinders are ca. " x 8" and the geared drum is ca. 14" diameter.' 1st January 1998. Photograph and caption by Chris Allen, and reproduced under the terms of this creative commons licence.

Since websites come and go, and specific web pages may be moved, we quote below – in full – the material that we have found on the New Florence Mine Tramway and the associated Crowbarn Mine Tramway. The sources are quoted at the foot of each entry.

The New Florence Mine Tramway

The New Florence Mine Tramway was constructed to connect the New Florence Iron Mine (see SS 73 SE 15) with South Molton. It conveyed iron ore from the mine to the main railway line. Its overall length was some 5.5kms (extending from SS 7460 3326 to SS 7300 2720).

The current investigation, as part of RCHME's West Exmoor Project, only includes the extreme northern end of the tramway, from the New Florence Mine site to the Exmoor National Park boundary.

The tramway best survives at its junction with the Crowbarn Mine Tramway (see SS 73 SW 21), where it is a sharply defined, flat-topped embankment 0.9m high. North of Brinsworthy Bridge it has been disturbed and eroded in places by the erratic course of the un-named stream. At several places it crosses and re-crosses this stream, and here attempts have been made to confine the stream with short sections of roughly coursed walling. In addition, lengths of tram rails still in place have been used as the basis for a makeshift bridge to carry the tramway over the stream at SS 7493 3173. Further north-east up the valley the course of the tramway is impossible to follow in places.

At SS 7527 3205 are the remains of a loading bay fronting the tramway and adjacent to other structures associated with the New Florence Iron Mine. In addition the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 25" mapping of 1888 depicts several sidings leading off the main tramway; there is no field evidence for these. The main line continued for some 200m north-east of the centre of the complex, and ended alongside a massive spoil heap issuing from one on the principal adits. (1)

Citation (1): Field Investigator's Comments: Wilson-North, W.R., 20th April 1993, RCHME Field Investigation.

Source: (an English Heritage website – click on the link for 'More Information and Sources')

We have not been able to find any information specifically about the Crowbarn Mine Tramway, but the University of Exeter has published some brief details of Crowbarn Mine on its Mining History Information pages. It is interesting to see that the ores found here included gold, which is currently being mined in the Crediton area to the south east. Local resident Fred Harding has produced an interesting website about North Molton gold, past and present, which can be accessed from the link here.

Crowbarn Mine

Site Identification Number - 117
North Molton Parish, Devon
National Grid Reference: SS 738318

Open workings and adits on west side of Mole Valley south of Heasley Mill. Early working for iron; opened up for gold in 1853 as South Poltimore but abandoned with collapse of Poltimore and Britannia mines. Reworked for iron and manganese from 1873 as part of enlarged Bampfylde sett until about 1884. Served by branch of the Florence Mine tramway. For brief details of iron and copper mining in this parish see Atkinson 1997, pp. 37-9 and 42-55 respectively.

Note - the author’s view of copper/gold mining development in this parish is not in agreement with that expressed by Dixon in Atkinson 1997. See Claughton Jan 1997 for areas of disagreement.

Atkinson, Michael. (ed.) Exmoor’s Industrial Archaeology, 1997.

Peter Claughton / Dept. of Economic and Social History
Last modified 13 May 1998

Source: (a University of Exeter website)

Report compiled by Jeff Vinter