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Quarry notes


It should be noted that definitive dates for quarry openings and closures are almost impossible to find in the standard books and web sites. Also, there is some confusion among sources.

Quarry Opened Closed Notes
Herne Hole (Prison) Quarry, owned by Tyrwhitt 1806? 2000 20 March 1806, HMP foundation stone laid by Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, finished 1809, quarry supplied dressed stone during construction.. 1965, last Quarry escape
Criptor ??? ??? Believed early, granite setts still in situ. Circa 1823 when the PDR tramway opened?
Foggintor, Foggator, Foggen Tor, Hill, Royal Oak   1906 Foggintor stone > Nelson's Column, Houses of Parliament
Williams and Lee (in the Railway Magazine, March 1934), say that "From Sutton Pool, the Plymouth terminus, to King's Tor, a couple of miles short of Princetown, the line was opened with a procession on September 26, 1823". Wikipedia - Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway
1823-1826 PDR extended from King Tor quarries around the tors to Foggintor and then to Princetown.
1861 Census - 267 people living at Foggintor. JH p.37   
1830s-1840s - 600 men employed JH p.35
"Higher Quarry"
- believed to be Hollow tor or Hill 60 quarry
Working in 1831 --- Railway north to Red Cottages - for Hollow Tor, Hill 60 or Weast Mead quarries? Mrs Bray (1836) Vol 1 of 3, p. 291 - On returning to the rail-road, I hesitated whether I would not pursue a branch of it that led to a quarry in the side of a hill under Hessory tor.
Crossing (1966) Dartmoor Worker , The Quarryman, p.73-74: The first of the Walkhampton Common quarries to have been opened ..... Royal Oak and the other, a short distance from it  .....Higher Quarry ..... Close by was a row of dwellings ...... Red Cottages."   
Is this the quarry (now a car park) at the entrance to the Yellowmeade track? - KR
Probably not, it is labelled "Sand Pit" on 1883 surveyed 25-inch OS map.
Hill 60 1919? 1936? ??? (Reopened by Easterbrook, Rook & Brown). Confusion in Kath Brown book between Hollow Tor and Hill 60? p.73  Granite railway setts removed in 1926. Aerial view shows a track north to the road.
Hollow Tor 1919? 1936? ???closed pre-1831
Reopened by Easterbrook, Rook & Brown. Confusion in Kath Brown book between Hollow Tor and Hill 60? p.73  Granite railway setts removed in 1926. Aerial view shows a track north to the road, parallel to the Yellowmeade track. .
Ingra Tor (Innator Tar) 1820/1821?
 (Brewer p.48)
closed pre-1831 (Bray)
(1936) 1941
1820/21 - Johnson (KB p.48). 1936-1941 Easterbrook et al. Maybe post 1823 (after tramway).
The Johnsons took over the PDR after Tyrwhitt pulled out.
Rev. Bray (17 May 1831) commented that  Inga Tor was closed before 1831
Little King Tor pre-1820 ??? PDR initially terminated at King Tor quarries (KB p.43), therefore working pre 1823.
The line was extended into Princetown and was opened in Dec. 1826. KB p.19.
Great King Tor pre-1820 ??? PDR initially terminated at King Tor quarries. KB p.43
1820 lease from Sir Massey Lopes to PDR  take stone for for building the PDR, it was assigned to Messrs Johnsons & Bryse "who were working quarries at King Tor". KB p.37-38
Johnsons & Bryse were operating as Johnson Brothers by by June 1822 (ERS p.50)
Swelltor pre-1831 1936 & 1938 Closed finally 1938 KB .58
Rev. Bray (17 May 1831) commented on Swell Tor.
Swelltor stone > London Bridge (one of several sources).  Haytor stone was specified but Swelltor stone was a 20,000 saving - a lot of money back then - sharp practises. The standard book Stones of London states that Princetown granite was useed with some from Haytor.  Widening commenced 1903. 650 corbels needed, supplied by Pethicks' quarries. Messrs Pethick Bros.   KB p.51
West Mead ??? 1966  Granite railway setts removed in 1926. Aerial view shows a track north to the road.
Other quarries
Merrivale 1876 1997 William Duke. Link is to Construction News - "Demand shortfall for Cornish granite sees closure announced in bid to turn round firm's fortunes Ennstone shuts quarry"  Dated 7 August 1997. 
Dewerstone 1850(?) 1863 Johnson & Johnson. SD&TR opened 1859, embankment started 1863, company bankrupt 1865 Legendary Dartmoor web site
Haytor operating
by 1819
Closed 1841
open again 1851
1792 - Stover Canal opened, mainly for ball clay. 1820 - Haytor Granite Tramway opened (Haytor and Holwell quarries). 1825 - George Templer formed Devon Haytor Granite Company.  Old London Bridge.  Legendary
William Johnson wrote Haytor Granite Company brought the first quarried granite to the market in 1820. KB p.41. Open/closed KB p.51
Haytor stone > British Museum, National Gallery, Covent Garden Market
Duke of Somerset let Haytor quarries to the Johnsons in the late 1830s, they promptly closed the Haytor quarries (with their superior stone) and remaned their Princetown quarries as Haytor Granite Company, thus misrepresenting their lower quality stone for better profit! KB p.50 Seven years later, the Duke refused to lease the quarries to them again.

Books:  ERS - Eric Shepherd; KB - Kath Brewer; JH - John Hallett

Eric R. Shepherd )1997), The Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway and The Lee Moor Tramway, Ark Publications (Railways), Newton Abbot, Devon.

Kath Brewer (1998), The Railways, Quarries and Cottages of Foggintor. Orchard Publications, Newton Abbot.

John Hallett (1994), Around Princetowns Quarries: The Tyrwhitt Railway Trail from Princetown. Orchard Publications, Newton Abbot.

Devon & Dartmoor HER - MDV1412 - Herne Hole Quarry, Princetown


The railway originally ran north towards Mission  Hall to serve Higher Quarry (near some cottages = Red Cottages rather than Hill Cottages?). The setts were removed and broken up for roadstone by the apprentices during the 1926 General Strike because they were too young to strike. Before this job, they cleared the leat to Hill Cottages. KBp.68 - citing Crossing .....  They got as far as Yellowmeade.

Crossing's Dartmoor Worker (1966) first appeared as letters in the Western Morning News, starting in August 1903. He refers to the first Princetown/Walkhampton quarries as starting 80 years ago"   
"Granite was obtained from Walkhampton Common prior to 1808 for the purposes of the war prison and barracks"
  in Dartmoor Worker, The Quarryman, p. 70.
The first of the Walkhampton Common quarries to have been opened ....... Royal Oak and the other, a short distance from it  ..........Higher Quarry ....... Close by weas a row of dwellings ...... Red Cottages."    in Dartmoor Worker, The Quarryman, p. 73-74.
  Mentions Royal Oak chapel at Foggintor.

PDR gauge 4' 6", Standard gauge 4' 8", quarry gauge about 2' 0" for easy manhandling and track relaying, extending etc.

Sett makers' bankers - Swelltor - 6,   Foggintor - about 12

Rundle Stone - removed by Tyrwhitt and colleagues in 1826.  KB p.38

Johnson Bros ran the quarries 1820-1865. Pethick Bros took over in the 1880s.

Foggintor needed constant pumping to keep it dry. JH p.37

The prison closed 1815/1816 after the Napoleonic and American Colonial Wars. Reopened as a convict prison in 1850. JH p.37

Swelltor layout decribed well in JH p.62

Rev. Bray - page 278 et seq of Letter XVI in 1836 Vol 1 of 3    see Downloaded PDF files FOLDER in Dartmoor Specials - Do not post



Kath Brewer book ..... mentions of "the Johnsons"

1819 - William Johnson, a Londoner, and partner Brice became involved with the planned Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway. They had interests in Hay Tor quarries. 1821 they obtained a long-term lease from Sir Massey Lopes for the Walkhampton Common quarries. In Sep. 1823 the PDR was opened from King Tor to Sutton Pool. p,15

1820 - long term lease grantedto Messrs Johnsons and Brice p.38 (top)

Dec. 1826 - Johnson Brothers completed the line into Princetown at their own expense. Granted a mortgage and, in effect, they offset the mortgage interest against their tolls for carrying their stone. They had a monopoly and free transport for their granite. p.19

1833 - KB mentions John & William Johnson built a line from Marsh Mills to Plympton to move china clay. p.21

May 1865, Johnsons' interest in the PDR and the quarries passed to Ben & Walter Bovill, until about 1879. p.42s

1880s - Pethicks took over the quarries. p.42

As little as 10% of the quarried rock is eventually used as building stone, resulting in large waste tips. p.43

The Walkhampton quarry rivals' ie. Johnsons', granite was inferior to Haytor granite. When the Duke of Somerset let the Haytor quarries in the late 1830, John Johnson took the seven-year lease and closed them down - renaming the Walkhampton quarries as the Haytor Granite Company!  When the lease expired, the Duke refused to renew it to the Johnsons!  p.50 

London Bridge widening commenced in April 1903. All the 650 large granite corbel,s measureing 10 ft x 3 ft deep with an average width of 1 ft, have a projection or length of leverage of 5 ft 6 inches. p.51 





Plan proposed 1788. Report completed March 18th, 1806.  Overall length 3,000 ft, width 30 ft, 10 ft above low water mark. Needed 2 million tons of stone, cost 1,055,200. Design was modified after two hurricanes altered the shape of the structure.
Limestone was used from the new Breakwater Quarry at Oreston, being delivered by ten converted sailing barges.
Work said to be finished in 1841, but in 1847, some 70 yards of the eastern arm still had to be completed.
Finally, 4,500.000 tons were used, at a cost of 1,500,000.
In 1871 a concrete wavebreaker was added.
1928 - 100 concrete blocks were added as wave breakers.
There is also description of the lighthouse and the fort. 

Eric R. Shepherd (1997), The Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway and The Lee Moor Tramway, Ark Publications (Railways), Newton Abbot, Devon, page 49:
prior to the building of the PDR, Plymouth Breakwater was being built and Johnson & Bryse held a contractm signed in 21st Sept. 1820, to provide stone for facing it.




Mentions of "Pethick" on Old Plymouth . UK web site, Princetown Railway Company page

1. The reporter from the "Western Morning News", who alleged that he had the first ticket to be issued at North Road Plymouth Station for Princetown, recorded:  'At a high point upon Walkhampton Common, a siding, with signals and other accommodation, has been made for the convenience of that immediate distrixct, and being on a high level, it is thought it will be of considerable advantage to the farmers and others for their goods, as it will obviate a great deal of hill.  A little further on, and still rising, the line reaches Foggen Tor Granite Quarries (sicsimilar works upon King Tor having previously been passed.  Here Mr Pethick has been anticipating events by getting something like eight hundred tons of granite pitching ready for being despatched to Plymouth'.

2. Sidings were provided at Swell Tor, some 7 miles from Yelverton.  These were initially operated by Messrs Pethick Brothers, of Plymouth, under a Private Siding Agreement dated September 12th 1883

3. The local shareholders of the Princetown Railway met at Plymouth on Monday October 13th 1902.  Their names make interesting reading: Mr H Matthews was in the chair; others present were Messrs John Pethick, A S Harris, E M Russel Rendle, Doctor R Willis, E Pridham, W C James, H Maynard, J E Monk, R Rugg Monk, J Bruford, F E Bowden, G E Fox, A Bolt, A W Wright, Doctor Eccles and a Mr Steer.   Apologies were received from Mr H B Bewes and Mr T W Wolferston.

4. Mr Pethick had a considerable interest in the line and said he had done all he could to increase the traffic.  He had suggested to the Great Western Railway Company that a stopping-place be provided at the Royal Oak Quarry and he had even offered to pay for the platform and waiting shed.  The GWRC had made life difficult by saying that he, as quarry owner, must pay the Railway a way-leave and the expense of watching and lighting and that use of the stopping-place would be restricted to the workmen in the employ of the Pethicks and not for those of Mr Duke's quarry or any member of the general public.  They proposed to charge 1s 6d for a return ticket, which Mr Pethick considered prohibitive. Mr Pethick also highlighted the fact that the GWR took 70% of the receipts, leaving only 30% for the Princetown Railway Company.  Messrs Duke and Company had been told by the GWR that they intended to construct a siding at the point in question.  (This was the Royal Oak Siding).  The meeting resolved to form a committee to draw up a report on the subject for the shareholders to consider.

The Royal Oak Siding was installed in 1904.




Building Stone Quarries - British Geological Survey
18 May 2012 - Bowman, A.C. The development of the roadstone quarrying industry 1894 ... Stanier, P. The Granite Quarrying Industry in Devon and Cornwall-Part One in I, Stanier, P.1985: "Pethick ... This was supplied from Merrivale Quarry on Dartmoor. ..... Plymouth Breakwater and Government works (see Breakwater ...


Merrivale - London Bridge. Dock extension at West Hartepool and Victoria Street, London.
Source: DCCHER Mon ID: 25566. Stanier, P. The Granite Quarrying Industry in Devon and Cornwall-Part One in I

Stanier, P.1985: "Pethick Brothers had gained the contract for widening London Bridge (1902-4) with enough work for some to be shared with the neighbouring Duke and Co at Merrivale". Stanier, P. 1986; "North Eastern Railway Co's dock extension at West Hartlepool. Hard Stone Firms Ltd of Bath and Bristol worked ...Merrivale Quarry from 1910 until the Great War... Acquired in 1976 by Limmer Quarries of Dorking. Duke and Co Ltd , responsible for developments at Merrivale on Dartmoor in 1898-1912. Victoria Street redevelopment during 1972-77... This was supplied from Merrivale Quarry on Dartmoor. London Bridge (1971-3)...with granite for the parapets and cladding from Merrivale".


Foggintor - Nelson's Column
Source: DCCHER Mon ID: 5005. Stanier, P. The Granite Quarrying Industry in Devon and Cornwall-Part One1800-1

Stanier, P.1985: "Operational by 1839-49, when it supplied stone for Nelson's Column". Stanier, P. 1985:"Foggintor and Swell Tor quarries were in the hands of Pethick Brothers. Nelson's Column (1839-49) from Foggintor".


Tor Quarry - London Bridge, Dock extension in West Hartlepool, and Victoria Street, London.
Source: Stanier, P. The Granite Quarrying Industry in Devon and Cornwall-Part One in IA 7, 176 and 177. 1985

DCCHER:. "RCHME 1989-94; It is probably a short-lived venture used as a source of granite for local building purposes. It is shown in 1886 and in 1906 (mapping), when it is described as an `Old Quarry'. It is probably 19th century and connected with agricultural road building or industrial activity in the area".






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