MSO6918 - Blue Gate Iron Mine (Monument)

Summary

Mining began in 1853 and was suspended in 1857. In 1912 part of the main shaft was extended but it again closed in 1913. Four shafts are visible as banks and gulleys, and associated buildings as earthwork platforms.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Blue Gate Iron Mine is centred at SS 7608 3770. Mining began at Blue Gate in 1853 on the instructions of Frederick Knight and under the supervision of Ebeneezer Rogers. Prospecting was carried out following the sinking of a single shaft. By 1856, four shafts had been established and machinery for winding and pumping had been imported from south Wales and installed at the mine. By April 1857, Messrs Schneider and Hannay entered into an agreement for a lease of the area of the Deer Park, but around that time mining operations ceased. Mining resumed and in 1912, miners working at the upper end of Drybridge Combe encountered "Rogers Lode", and levels were cut to the east and west to explore it (MSO7065). Driving eastwards, the original intention was to follow the lode as far as "Rogers Shaft"; however, this was never achieved. By May 1912 headgear had been installed on "Rogers Shaft", and compressors were brought in to ventilate the workings and power the drilling rig. A tramway was constructed to convey ore from the shaft to the road to the west, from whence it was conveyed by traction engine to South Molton. By 1913 "Rogers Shaft" was at a depth of 148 feet 10 inches (45.2 metres) with levels driven east and west along the lode at a depth of 90 feet (27.3 metres) Continuous problems were encountered at the mine, specifically associated with drainage and under-investment. These factors combined to lead to the closure of the mine in 1913, despite the fact that an estimated 657,000 tons of ore remained to be mined from all of the lodes at Blue Gate. The area known as the Deer Park on which the Blue Gate mining remains lie contains several phases of activity which pre date the industrial remains, namely several prehistoric cairns, (MMO285 and MSO7063), a standing stone (MSO7064), and traces of packhorse ways (MSO7078). The industrial features can be reconciled with both the mid 19th Century and early 20th Century phases of mining activity on the site. Four shafts are visible: "Goosemoor Shaft" (SS 7603 3762), Double Lode Shaft" (SS 7607 3776), "New Shaft" (SS 7596 3780), and "Rogers Shaft" (SS 7616 3778). "Goosemoor Shaft" and "Rogers Shaft" are connected by a gulley 4.3 metres wide and 1 metre deep, which continues for 420 metres to the northeast. Beyond this it is visible as a low, flat topped bank. This feature is described on an undated plan by Captain Phillips as having been dug by Frederick Knight. Another trench, visible as a flat-bottomed gulley, 0.6 metres deep, runs from Blue Gate itself northeastwards to "Rogers Shaft", and is probably a second prospecting trench. Further short lengths of trench arranged in lines across the area of the Deer Park are prospecting features dating from the mid 19 Century, and some are depicted on Captain Phillips' plan. The plan also shows several buildings: a powder house, blacksmith's shop and engine house and boiler. These are grouped between Goosemoor and Double Lode shafts. The buildings are not immediately apparent on the ground, although their sites have been identified. The powder house (SS 3768 7605) consists of a sub-square stony area, lying in the corner of a sub-rectangular hollow, evidently a former prospecting pit. In detail it consists of a disturbed stony bank, 0.2 metres high, containing some edge-set stones and some coursed waling. It measures 3.5 metres square and has an entrance gap of 1.2 metres on the southern side. The blacksmith's shop (SS 3766 7608) consists of a roughly rectangular area of amorphous scarps measuring 14 metres by 8 metres. These presumably represent the removal of a timber building. The site of the engine house and boiler (SS 3770 7611) is marked by a sharply defined rectangular hollow adjacent to the prospecting trench linking Goosemoor and Rogers Shafts. It measures 7.1 metres by 5 metres, and the interior is 0.9 metres below the surrounding ground surface. A low bank subdivides the interior and the remainder is marshy. The precise layout of the building is unclear. The remains of Rogers Shaft are by far the most pronounced on the site. This confirms the late working on the shaft, and the presence of substantial spoil heaps to the north support the fact that it was excavated to a substantial depth. The shaft itself is marked by a circular hollow 10 metres in diameter and 2.5 metres deep (although at the time of recording it was water filled). On the western side are ore dumps and to the northwest is a platform area occupied by two concrete plinths which were presumably part of the head gear arrangement. A pronounces flat topped bank runs westwards to the modern road. This is shown on an undated version of the Ordnance Survey 1 map as a tramway which also agrees with contemporary documentation. On the same map both Rogers and New Shafts are shown. The tramway embankment clearly cuts through some of the prospecting trenches which were presumably dug in the 1850s. This was surveyed at the same time as other sites in Deer Park and Drybridge Combe. [1-3] In 1853 Frederick Knight had several costean trenches dug across Exmoor to search for iron ore. A lode was uncovered near Blue Gate at SS 761 377 and as a result, in 1854 Blackwell and Rogers sank a shaft here to confirm previous findings. Schneider and Hannay of Lancashire leased an area of Exmoor in 1856 and deepened Rogers' shaft here, possibly also driving a trial adit near Hoar Oak at SS 744 431. After a year's work, only 800 tons of ore were raised and the partners moved to surrender their lease at the end of 1856. A suit was brought against them by Knight, which was settled out of court for £10,000. 6.1.1, SS 7616 3778. Rogers' shaft was first sunk by William Dunstan for Ebenezer Rogers in 1854 to a depth of 14.3 metres on a lode exposed in a costean trench dug by Frederick Knight. It was deepend by Schneider and Hannay in 1855, first to 24 metres, when a steam pumping engine was installed, and then further on, with various levels excavated. Work ceased on 25 March 1857. In 1910 the shaft was unwatered and inpected by William Dixon for the Exmoor Mining Syndicate. They worked the shaft but spent a lot of money trying to keep it dry and took very little ore from it. Work ended in Autumn 1913 and all the plant was removed. At the surface, it measured approximately 5.4 metres by 2 metres. The shaft was capped using fence posts in the 1930s but it appeared to be sinking in 1995 and had been fenced around. 6.1.2, SS 7607 3776. Double Lode shaft was started in April 1856 and reached 18.2 metres deep by August. The plug at the top was suggested to be sinking in 1995. 6.1.3, SS 7603 3762. Goosemoor Number 1 Shaft. Opened in June 1856 and abandoned Autumn 1856. The shaft had been filled in 1995. 6.1.4, SS 7613 3770. Goosemoor Number 2 Shaft. First sunk in April 1856 to the south of the vein which outcropped in Knight's costean trench. Stopped at 5.4 metres deep. It had been filled in 1995 and was difficult to discern from the costean trench. 6.1.5, SS 7596 3780. New Shaft was started in 1855. It may have been intended as an air shaft for Rogers' lode but was abandoned after three weeks, reaching 9.7 metres. In 1995 it had been filled. 6.1.6, SS 7594 3780. Roberts' Shaft. Thought to have been sunk by Henry Roberts in 1911. It was capped in the 1930s using fence posts and had been fenced by 1995. [4] The former Iron mining site at Blue Gate is clearly visible on a number of aerial photographs examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Project in 2008. [5,6] 19th Century surface mining workings identified at Blue Gate during the pilot Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor project. [7] Earthworks are also seen on the west side of the road. [8-10] The mine is mentioned in a report on a non-intrustive walkover survey of the proposed mire restoration area on Deer Park, undertaken by the Historic Environment Officer for the Exmoor Mires Project. [11] The site was visited in 2010 and the location of some features was recorded using GPS: Site 14 (6.1.1), Rogers Shaft, SS 76169 37783. Site 15 (6.1.2), Double Lode Shaft, SS 76076 37753. Site 16 (6.1.3), Goosemoor No 1 Shaft, SS 76034 37620. Site 17 (6.1.6), Robert's Shaft, SS 75960 37801.[12] Some of the features of the mine are visible on 2018 Ordnance Survey MasterMap data. [13]

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 28 October 1994.
  • <2> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton.
  • <3> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 179, 196-9, 202-3.
  • <4> Report: Exmoor Mines Research Group. 1995. Report on the safety condition of disused mine workings on lands owned by Exmoor National Park Department and other lands nearby. 3-4, 6.1.1-6 p12-3.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96507 41-43 (30 March 1996).
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190. [Mapped feature: #39983 Extent of site, ]
  • <7> Report: Juleff, G.. 1997. Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor: Preliminary Survey. 30, table 1..
  • <8> Aerial photograph: 1990. DAP QO01-03.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-178 Run 77. 9261.
  • <10> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7638.
  • <11> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2013. Archaeological walkover surveys on Deer Park, Exmoor. 15, 18.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Harley, M.. 2010. Disused Mine Workings within the Authority's Estate. Site 14, 15, 16.
  • <13>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped features: #46349 Rogers Shaft, Site 14 (6.1.1); #46350 Double Lode Shaft, Site 15 (6.1.2); #46351 Goosemoor No 1 Shaft, Site 16 (6.1.3); #46352 Roberts' Shaft, Site 17 (6.1.6)]

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7614 3805 (649m by 1048m)
Map sheet SS73NE
Civil Parish EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO602
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10870
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE23
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1099598
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33008

Record last edited

Feb 5 2020 10:54AM

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