MEM15316 - The Incline Winding House, West Somerset Mineral Railway (Building)


Site of former winding house, constructed 1858-60 to house two large cast iron winding drums that raised and lowered the railway wagons on the Incline. Largely demolished in the early 20th Century but has since been partially repaired.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Constructed between 1858 and 1860 as part of the inclined plane on the West Somerset Mineral Railway incline, the building housed two large cast iron winding drums that raised and lowered the wagons. The drums were circa 5.48 metres in diameter and 1 metre wide. Both were mounted on the same axle which was supported on four wrought iron frames bolted to the floor. The incline cables, approximately 1000 metres long, unwound from the top of the west drum and the bottom of the east drum, passing through ducts to emerge between the rails near the brakehouse to the north. The roof comprised horizontal timbers crossing between wrought iron beams spanning from the north to south side of the building. The two standard gauge tracks of the incline ran over this roof. The incline was designed to operate on the 'self-acting' principle, whereby descending loads were heavier than the ascending. Following the closure of the mines in 1883 this was not possible and a small steam engine was installed to turn the drums. The railway closed in 1898 but reopened briefly 1907-9. The rails and metalwork were taken for the war effort in 1916 but the drums were too large to be dismantled and were blown up in situ, thereby demolishing the roof and most of the west wall of the Winding House and the east wall of Drum Cottage. The landowner began converting the building to agricultural use in 1942-3, rebuilding the east and west walls with material from the demolition of the brake house and parcels store and inserting windows from elsewhere. A new roof was begun at this time but never completed. [1] Drum Cottage, originally the brakesman's accomodation is on the eastern side of the Winding House. [2] In 1999 the incline and the Winding House were purchased by Exmoor National Park. The Winding House was excavated by the Exmoor Mines Research Group between October 2001 and February 2003. Scheduled with the incline in 2004. [3] Repair work to the winding house was carried out in April 2009 to strengthen the unsafe window lintels and repair the cable duct which was threatening to collapse. The work was carried out with funding from the monument management scheme and the West Somerset Mineral Railway Project. [8] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 0. [9] The daughter of the previous owner reported that the metal windows in the Winding House came from a warehouse in Wellington. [10] The site was surveyed in July 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 7. [12] A site visit was undertaken to examine the condition of the structure and propose options for treating local collapses. [13] Discussion of excavations in 2001-2003, including a conjectural "restored" drawing. [14] The building was photographed by RCHME in 1999. [15] An article by the West Somerset Mineral Line Association includes a discussion of a review of historic conservation works on the Winding House at the Incline in 2020. [16] A management plan for the Scheduled Monument of The Incline and Winding House (NHLE 1021350) managed by ENPA was developed in 2021. [17]

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1997. West Somerset Mineral Railway: Specification for Repair, Consolidation, etc of the Incline Winding House, Brendon Hill. History of the Building.
  • <2> Report: Croft, R.A.. 1992. The West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design. P.3-4.
  • <3> 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.
  • <4> Report: The Hartley Conservation Partnership + David Sekers Consulting Partnership. 2004. West Somerset Mineral Railway Conservation Plan. P.40.
  • <5> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1993. West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design Summary Report.
  • <6> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1997. West Somerset Mineral Railway: Specification for Repair, Consolidation, etc of the Incline Winding House, Brendon Hill.
  • <7> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Notes on some of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines and the West Somerset Mineral Railway. 'The Incline'.
  • <8> Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 5.
  • <9> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <10> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Information from Jennifer Maunder.
  • <11> Report: Honeysett, B.. 2000. Ruined Building, the Incline, Brendon Hill, Near Watchet, Somerset: Report on the Structural Condition for Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <12> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <13> Report: Stow, P.J.. 2015. Mineral Line, Winding House, Exmoor, Somerset: Structural condition review.
  • <14> Article in serial: Jones, M.H.. 2006. The Brendon Hills Industrial Survey 1993–2005. Industrial Archaeology Review. 28. Part 2, pp 97-106.
  • <15> Photograph: Hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1999. Job: The Incline Winding House. Unknown. Colour. Negative.
  • <16> Article in serial: Gannon, P.. 2020. Conservation/Artefacts. The Old Mineral Line Newsletter. 9. November 2020, 6. 6.
  • <17> Unpublished document: Blaylock, Shirley and McVittie, Graeme. 2021. Scheduled Monument Management Plan for the Exmoor National Park Authority owned parts of the the Incline and Winding House.

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park



Grid reference Centred ST 3023 1345 (16m by 14m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet ST31SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Mar 13 2024 4:06PM


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