Scheduled Monument: Ironstone mine ventilation flue in Chargot Wood, 1150m south west of Langham Farm
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
28 August 2001
Date last amended
The monument includes the standing chimney stack and part of the remains of a stone-built ventilation flue which formerly served the Bearland Wood Iron Mine on Langham Hill, at the western end of the Brendon Hills. The disused mine was one of several opened by the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company which operated from the mid-1800s to the 1880s. The ventilation flue was designed to expel foetid air, or the smoke caused by blasting, by drawing in fresh air from the mine's main adit (passage) which was located at a much lower level on the hillside. This was accomplished by
setting a fire in a specially constructed chamber known as a firebox located within the chimney stack near to its base. The firebox comprised a hearth built of brick supporting closely set horizontal firebars through which ash could fall into a lower ash pit; the fire was loaded through a stoke hole in the side of the chimney which could be closed off by means of an iron fire door. At the base of the chimney was an air duct connecting to a vertical shaft into the mine workings which were about 50m below the stack and 100m into the hillside. A controlled fire, when lit in the firebox, resulted in
unwanted air and smoke being drawn from the working face of the mine into and along timber ducts and on up the shaft to fuel the oxygen demands of the fire thus causing draughts of fresh air to be sucked into the mine to replace it.
The Bearland Wood ventilation flue, as it is commonly known, survives with a near complete chimney stack about 6.5m in height constructed of local ragstone with a string course just below the top of the funnel. The chimney has a diameter at the base of about 1.75m narrowing to 1.3m at the summit and it sits on a plinth, 2.4m square, also of local stone. The iron frame of a fire door is recessed within a stokehole on the eastern side of the chimney about 0.8m above the plinth whilst the hearth of the firebox itself is visible through the aperture of the stokehole. A length of about 1.8m of the masonry air duct leading to the vertical shaft survives leading outwards from the base of the chimney on its northern side; the remainder appears to have been destroyed. The duct is constructed of stone, 1.2m wide with a channel 0.4m wide; it was once capped in stone but only a few of the capping stones have survived in place. The vertical air shaft which served the duct has been infilled. Investigations by the Exmoor Mines Research Group have indicated that the structure is likely to have been built in 1860; a broken slate datestone found at the base of the chimney was inscribed with the Roman numerals ...CLX (allowing a possible restoration of MDCCCLX). This slate fragmented after discovery and no longer survives, but a rectangular scar on the eastern side of the chimney bears witness to its original location. A construction date of 1860 would fit with the erection of the chimney under Morgan Morgans, the Brendon Hills mines captain appointed in 1858, who came from a South Wales colliery background.