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The aerial cableway

150 metres to the east of the Engine House an aerial cableway was used to transport iron ore in buckets suspended from a thick cable from a mine over half a mile (1.2 Km) to the west.  Some of the cable can still be see today at Langham Hill engine house. 

 

When Kennisham Hill mine was worked from the adit, ore was initially taken from the adit portal by cart to the Wheddon Cross road, and from there to the terminus of the railway.  In 1871, an aerial cableway of about 1020 metres long was installed.  

 

The Somerset County Gazette reported on 27 July 1872, page 6:  

 

Aerial cableway at Langham Hill in 1876
Aerial cableway at Langham Hill in 1876

‘Brendon Hill:  There is upon this hill an aerial railway on which a small engine with trucks are to be seen on most days, conveying mineral ore over two valleys at a height (in some places) of 300 feet and for a distance of nearly one mile in length.  It has been in use for nearly twelve months.  The railway is formed of wire rope and is situated between Kenycombe (sic, Kennisham) and Lyam (sic, Langham) Hills.’   

Known to the miners as ‘the flying machine’, the cableway began at a point about 50 metres north west of Kennisham adit portal.  Ore was transported in suspended iron buckets to be tipped into railway wagons at Langham Hill siding. 

 

The photograph above shows that  the cableway was supported by timber pylons.  It passed over a deep valley about 610 metres (2000 feet) wide.  Perhaps the cable spanned the valley in a single unsupported length. 

 

The cableway employed a single endless cable 104.77 mm (4.125” ) in circumference for both traction and suspension, and passed over grooved iron sheaves about 0.9 metres in diameter fixed to the top of the pylons.

 

Perhaps as many as 30 ore buckets 45 cm in diameter and 45 cm deep were suspended from the cable by hangers about 1.2 metres long.  Motive power was provided by a semi-portable engine at the eastern end of the cableway, and at each end of the cableway were loading and unloading terminals where the buckets were automatically guided on to a fixed curved rail, set slightly higher than the cable and so, by means of an idler pulley on the bucket hanger, disconnecting them from the haulage cable.

 

By 1876, the sinking of Curtis's shaft at Kennisham Hill mine was completed and the aerial cableway was superseded by the completion of a surface tramway from Kennisham Hill to the terminus of the West Somerset Mineral Railway at Goosemoor.  The cableway was dismantled in 1879.

[ Zoom ]
Aerial Cableway from Kennisham Hill to Langham Hill. Longitudinal Section. Drawing by Mike Jones
Aerial Cableway from Kennisham Hill to Langham Hill. Longitudinal Section. Drawing by Mike Jones

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Go to Kennisham Hill mine, plan and section as in 1883
Kennisham Hill mine, plan and section as in 1883
Go to Kennisham Hill mine engine house
Kennisham Hill mine engine house from the south east