MEM15203 - The Incline, West Somerset Mineral Railway (Monument)


The remains of the Incline, a cable operated section of the West Somerset Mineral Railway.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

The remains of the Incline, a cable operated section of the West Somerset Mineral Railway and the ruins of the cable winding house. The incline survives as a combination of embanked earthwork and cutting. In two places the trackbed is supported across gaps by stone bridges known as underbridges and crosses over several culverted watercourses. The winding house engineer was housed in a dwelling attached to the east side of the winding house which stands at the top of the incline. Two railway lines circa 1010 metres in length climbing 245 metres at a gradient of 1:4 between Brendon Hill and Comberow.The winding house, with Drum Cottage (originally the brakeman's living quarters and later a smiths shop) is located on the east side. It contained two 18 foot diameter cast iron drums with brake gear consisting of steel bands controlled by a wheel in a hut above. Communication with Comberow station was by slotted semaphore. Work began on the West Somerset Mineral Railway in 1856 and on the incline in 1857. Completed in 1861 it operated on a self-acting basis until 1883 when the mines closed. The winding house machinery was then converted to steam haulage and the line continued in operation until 1898 when the railway closed and the incline cables were wrapped around the drums. The line reopened in 1907 but the rails were finally lifted in 1916-17 as part of the war effort and the winding drums blown up in-situ. [1-2] The remains of the incline have been recorded in considerable detail, by Mike Jones, for the Exmoor National Park Authority. The incline runs for over 1 kilometre from ST0292 3528 to ST02333 3446, with a gradient of 1 in 4. The principal building was the winding house (ST0233 3446), which had a cottage - Drum Cottage - inserted into one side. [3] The proposed listed building description for the incline reads: "Mineral railway incline, now abandoned. Completed 1861. Listed from the remaining North abutment of the now demolished railway bridge over road at Brendon Hill, ST0230440, about 150 metres north of the Brendon Hill Railway Station (qv), to the bridge at Comberow, ST02883523. Part embanked and part cut from the rock, Sellick describes it thus: "the incline, a double line of rails, 1100 yards long, climbing to a vertical height of 803 feet in a gradient of 1 in 4 was the outstanding feature of the railway". At the top of the incline the remains of the wheel house set under the tracks, are visible about 10 metres south of the bridge abutment: red sandstone random rubble, brick dressings and wooden joists, in poor condition at time of survey (January 1984), no machinery remains. About half way down the incline at ST 0265 3489 an arched opening the rock face carries a stream under the incline and forms an artificial waterfall. About 50 metres south the incline is carried on a single span bridge over a cutting: red sandstone squared and coursed on west face, rusticated surround with pilaster strips, no parapet: East face on the downward side, random rubble with curved abutments: fractured north-south. Another single span bridge carries the incline over the road at Comberow sandstone random rubble rusticated surround and moulded dado, quoin strips beside abutments with an arch of about 3 metres high. The incline then continued to the station some 100 metres South of which nothing remains apart from the raised platform (not included). The water tower has also been demolished. The station master's house remains but has been altered, also one or two other small sheds survive, not included. The incline forms a very attractive landscape feature rising through steeply wooded slopes with a waterfall and stream to the East, and it is also of considerable historic interest.". [4] The whole of the course of the incline and the winding house have been recently purchased by ENPA, who hold copies of the detailed surveys mentioned above. [11] The incline was scheduled with Comberow Station on 3rd September 2004. [12] Between 1883 and 1898 the incline may only have been used once a day principally to bring goods up for Baker's Bampton road stores. [15] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the trackbed a survival score of 3. [16] The trackbed was surveyed in October 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 3. [17]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • --- Report: Stow, P.J.. 2018. Visual assessment report: West Somerset Mineral Railway Incline, Brendon Hill, Minehead.
  • <1> Monograph: Sellick, R.. 1970. The West Somerset Mineral Railway and the Story of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines. David and Charles Limited. Second. 24-26, 98-100, plates 2 and 14.
  • <2> Report: Croft, R.A.. 1992. The West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design. 3-4.
  • <3> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Notes on some of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines and the West Somerset Mineral Railway. The incline.
  • <4> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. P Reed, Somerset County Council, 25 October 1983.
  • <5> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1993. West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design Summary Report. 11-12.
  • <6> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Report on Proposed Low-Key Visitor Access to Industrial Sites on the Brendon Hills. 8-9.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 1990. Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society Visit to the Brendon Hills. 6.
  • <8> Unassigned: Historic Buildings Council. 1:2500. HBC 3.026.001.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. 1985. Letter from Somerset County Council to the Department of the Environment.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. 1986. Letter from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission to the Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1999.
  • <12> Index: Scheduled Monument Notification . 23 September 2004.
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. DAP/VU 2, 4-7, DAP/WD 16-19, 22 (4 March 1993).
  • <14> Article in serial: Olszewska, M.. 2009. The West Somerset Mineral Railway. The Old Mineral Line. Exmoor Visitor.
  • <15> Report: Jones, M.H.. 2007. A Report on the Excavation of the Incline Winding House of the West Somerset Mineral Railway at Brendon Hill, by Exmoor Mines Research Group, and a Conjectural Restoration of the Building and the Winding Machinery. 5.
  • <16> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <17> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.



Grid reference Centred ST 02648 34881 (703m by 910m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet ST03SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (13)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 03 SW 95
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1404910
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34380

Record last edited

Jun 1 2018 5:15PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.