History Group Talks August 2012

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Five members of The Dartmoor Tin Research Group, DTRG, gave the meeting an interesting insight into their activities and aims.
Mike Wright, Tanya & Barry Welch and Ann & Tim Whitbourn
came to our meeting to explain the activities of the DTRG. Between them they gave the meeting a lot to think about regarding the recording and restoration, they get involved with, regarding the remains of the tin industry of Dartmoor. The DTRG has about 200 members of which 50 or so are involved with research. They have recorded much of the remaining evidence of The Dartmoor Tin Mining Industry and have recently been researching the mining evidence in and around the Burrator area. Coming closer to our home here at Widecombe, they are currently involved with the owners and tenants of Challacombe. Last year we had an interesting walk around the Challacombe Valley area and the tin mining evidence there. There is still a lot to see there but much has been hidden by undergrowth and has fallen into disrepair. An exploratory dig there is the intension of the Group under the supervision of interested and official archaeologists. Brimpts tin mines have over the years been explored and a information centre and trail is working well there so something after that style would be good for the area. The whole working system of the mine could be explained form the wheels, buddle stones, stamps stones, blowing houses, mould stones, whims and the flat rod system that was employed at these mines. The intension is to create an Information Trail and Centre at the farm and to develop and research the site to secure for the future what remains of the past. Members have been over recent years looking into ‘Tinner’s huts or caches and several have now been recognised and catalogued. Another team have researched the Tin Mines of Dartmoor some dating back to the 12 & 13th centuries  Mike gave the meeting a slide show depicting much of the remains of this industry and explained the uses of the stones still there today to be seen. It is the skill of recognising what one is looking at as it is so easy to pass by not realising what is there to see. Mention was made of the other types of mining on the moors, copper, arsenic and china clay but most recently the potential of the opening of The Tungsten Mine at Hemerdon. Drawings and plans of how the mines used to be, created interest as it showed how the mines and their associated building were set out, and the purpose of many of them. Finally a slide of an early Western Morning News, advertising shares, all helped to show what an influence mining had on the moors and its people. Tanya & Barry Welch then demonstrated a plain table and the associated tools needed to survey an area. They spend much of their spare time surveying old mining sites with  the use of a plumbline, tripod, tape, poles, measures etc. They draw up plans of the sites as they are today, this helps researchers understand better what was there and may still be hidden away. They have also surveyed sites of cairns and other historic monuments, their enthusiasm was very evident. One particular interesting piece of equipment that they demonstrated was an ‘Alidade’, an early type of surveying tool, that they find particularly useful. With their table and waterproof paper they venture out in all weathers pursuing what is a fascinating hobby and contributing to the knowledge of the history of this county of ours.

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