MSO7142 - 19th Century miners cottages at Cornham Ford (Monument)


The site of a terrace of seven cottages, including a mine office, built in 1856 for the Dowlais Iron Company and now visible as low footings. To the southwest is a rectangular platform thought to be the site of the blacksmith's workshop. Summary from record MMO1050172: The post medieval (19th century) Miners cottages, mine office and blacksmiths shop at Cornham Ford are visible as low footings. They were built in 1856 to accommodate the workers of the Dowlais Iron Company. 75m south west of the cottages is a rectangular platform thought to be the site of the blacksmiths workshop.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

"One of the most pressing needs in connexion with the development of the iron mines (in the Cornham Ford / Burcombe area) was the provision of housing for the miners. Frederick Knight agreed to build the houses and the Dowlais Iron Company would rent them". [1] In November 1856 on the north bank of the Barle below Cornham Ford, a terrace of six cottages was built to provide housing for some of the Dowlais miners and their families. A site plan in the Fortescue papers shows seven cottages were proposed and the ruins of seven can be traced on the ground but one of these was the mine office, which was erected at the same time. They were not built to the traditional terrace design, but alternately protruded 1.4 metres first to the front then to the rear. The two ground floor rooms measured 4.2 metres by 3.6 metres and 3 metres by 3.6 metres. The only other building in the immediate area of the miners cottages was the Blacksmith's shop, which stood close to the Cornham track between the cottages and the ford. [2] SS 7496 3873. These cottages are depicted (unnamed) on the Ordnance Survey map of 1889 [3] as a terrace of seven conjoined yards, sub-divided and offset alternately. The second from the south west end appears to be without a division and may be the mine office referred to by Burton [2]. The site of the cottages is still evident on the ground though they have been reduced to low footings and are heavily covered by bracken and brambles making any definite details impracticable. SS 7489 3868. Some 75 metres to the southwest of the cottages a square yard is depicted on the 1889 map and this is visible on the ground as a rectangular platform about 7 metres east-west by 4 metres. No other features are ascertainable but this is most probably the site of the blacksmiths shop referred to by Burton [3]. [4] The row of cottages described above and depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1889 are visible on several aerial photographs of the area. However, they are heavily obscured by bracken, and are therefore difficult to discern. [5-7] Six miners cottages foundations on the north side of the river, east of the ford. Built for the miners to cope with overcrowding 1856. Smithy also built for the mine. [8] The six cottages and office were abandoned by 1871 and subsequently fell into ruin. [9] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands mentions the miners cottages and has a photograph of c. 1890 with turf ricks close by. [10] The site of the cottages was recorded as SS 74961 38726 using GPS in 2010. [11] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [12] The heritage asset was assessed for inclusion on the Exmoor Local Heritage List in February 2024. It was noted that it is of a distinctive design with an interesting, stepped design. It was deemed to have a high historical association with the Knight Estate. It was decided to add the asset to the Local Heritage List. [13]

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 131-133.
  • <2> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. 148.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889 (surveyed 1888), Somerset 44(12).
  • <4> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 21 September 1995 RCHME Field Investigation.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 543/2821 (F63) 173-74 27-APR-1964.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 7438/3 (18583/16) 12-OCT-1999.
  • <7>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189. [Mapped feature: #35254 ]
  • <8> Monograph: Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J.. 1970. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. David and Charles Limited. 2nd Edition. 192-95.
  • <9> Monograph: Siraut, M.. 2013. A Field Guide to The Royal Forest of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority. 11, 32.
  • <10> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report. 24.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Harley, M.. 2010. Disused Mine Workings within the Authority's Estate. Site 13.
  • <12> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1050172, Extant 18 November 2021.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2024. Exmoor Local Heritage List assessed by the Panel on 21 February 2024.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10927
  • Local Heritage List Status (Listed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW39
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1050172
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33066



Grid reference Centred SS 275e 1387 (53m by 66m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Apr 22 2024 6:33PM


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