Orlando Rutter (Dartmoor National Park Ranger) met us at Haytor lower car park for 3 hours to uncover the past industrial activity at Dartmoor’s most recognisable Tor.
We walked right to the top of the rock on Haytor:
There are steps carved into the granite rock and the children noticed that there were cut off pieces of metal alongside the steps. Orlando explained that there would have been a hand rail going up for the Victorian ladies and gentlemen to use wearing their fine but really quite unsuitable clothes! Haytor has always been the more accessible of the tors and during this time it became a popular pastime to travel and enjoy the vista.
From the rock we walked NW down into a quarry to consider how the workers excavated the granite, occasionally using explosives but predominantly drilling (using a ‘jumper’) and using feather and tare technique.
From the first quarry we looked at the dressed granite tramway – 8.5 miles that George Templer had made and laid so that quarried granite could travel from the high moor down to Stover Canal where it could be transported round to Teignmouth and then on by sea to London to help in the construction of places such as the British Museum. Carts containing quarried granite was pulled by horses until they got to the tramway where gravity enabled the carts to roll down to the canal and then the horses would pull the empty carts back up for the next load.
Orlando asked the group to consider the different workers required, how much they may be paid, working conditions, what tools they may have had, what risks they may have taken and how far they may have had to travel to work.
We went into the quarry to the NE of Haytor rock and Orlando explained how a ‘derrick’ was used to lift large blocks of granite onto the trucks.
Rowan drew a picture here of how the granite tramway looks now and how it would have been when in use 1820-1860. He was particularly interested in the part of the tramway where there was two lines converging at a set of points.
Today people walk along with happy dogs enjoying the tramway.
In the past the horses had to work hard when pulling heavy carts.
Rowan also wrote a postcard, as would have been done in Victorian times, requiring a Penny Black stamp to send it https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Black