Monday 23 February 2015

The Old Tram Road [2]

Is this the point of Point?
See also yesterday's blog, (read again).
Above is the detritus from the "Consols" (Consolidated) Mines at St Day, near Redruth. Copper "streaming" was nothing more technical than getting ore from streams, and later by excavation. Once stuff near the surface was exhausted the next option was to dig elsewhere or dig deeper.

The Consolidated Mines (colloquially known as Consols) were formed in 1780 and comprised the eighteenth century mines of Wheal Virgin, West Wheal Virgin, Wheal Girl, Wheal Maid, Wheal Fortune and Carharrack Mine. In 1819 United and Consols mines were taken over by John Taylor (1779-1863) and sons who turned these mines into the largest copper producer in the world. By 1820 they were producing a larger quantity of ore than any other group in Cornwall, a position they retained for the next 20 years.

Traditionally, copper was transported from the mines by packhorse and coacl and other materials brought in by the same inefficient method. Taylors vision was to build a horse drawn "tranway" from Redruth, down the Carnon Valley to wharves at Devoran and the lttle settlement of Point. The track was formed on iron rails on stone block "sleepers" and, in a back alley in Redruth some of those blocks remained.
This was later converted to steam operation with two rather spartan locomotives; Miner ...
and Smelter.

Spitfire completed the trio.
The line startd in Redruth and (as shown on a 1930s map) ran south east to Lanner ...
... before skirting the hill Carn Marth. The line turned north east to Carharrack and Crofthandy before turning south east again via Bissoe to Devoran.
A further track ran on to Point and Penpol but this section used horses right to the end. The quays at Devoran were extensive ...
click on map to enlarge

... with the "extension" to Point continuing lower right.Apart from the cycle track etc., very little remains of this line which closed in 1915. These splended chaps are outside the headquarters building and "works" ...
... which now forms the Devoran village hall.
The turn-off to Point etc. ...
... is now blocked on the side facing the old wharves, but can be seen from the "inner" end.
An aerial view of the village reveals a few muddy silted ponds where busy wharves once witnessed the unloading of copper and the loading of coal but these are not really recognisable from quay road itself.
Local industrial archaeologists will be able to identify assorted sheds and outbuildings which survive post 1915 and the shape (at least) of the main Devoran quayside remains.
But the main obvious clue takes us back to the former horse-drawn extension to Point, now labelled "Old Tram Road". And that is where we began yesterday.
Should our readers wish to explore further, bus U1 from Truro ...
... wiggles off the new A39 to serve stops on the old A39 whence it is but a short walk to Quay Road; and there's one doing it before it was the U1!
 For even more excitement (?) service 46 does a loop via Devoran village ...
... but only manages a bus every two hours.
And finally; although the company was called the Redruth and Chacewater (aka Chasewater) Railway, it never reached Chacewater. The decline of mining and the expense of construction meant that this "branch" only ever warranted a dotted line as a proposal.
Thanks to assorted sons, daughter-in-law and grandsons for opening fbb's eyes to a captivating piece of almost forgotten railway history. Thanks, too, to several local history sites from the area that helped fill in the many gaps.

 Next bus blog : Tuesday 24th February 

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