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A virtual tour of Raleighs Cross Mine

This video takes you on a virtual tour of Raleighs Cross Mine as it might have looked c.1867. The path of the reconstruction fly through starts at the gallery below ground where the ore was extracted, follows the rails up the shaft onto the ore gantry and finally pans around the buildings.


Read the video scipt below for an explanation of what you see, sequence by sequence.




Realised by Tim Dawson; based on research by Mike Jones and excavations by the Exmoor Mines Research Group; for the West Somerset Mineral Railway Project  © Tim Dawson 2009


More about Tim’s work at  http://www.dawsonheritage.co.uk/td/rx.html




[sequence 1 - stationary in gallery]


It is half past five in the morning in March 1867.  We are 100 metres beneath Brendon Hill in west Somerset at Raleghs Cross Mine.  The shift of the nine hours men will be coming to an end in half an hour.  The ore was won by the ten-hours men in their shift from six yesterday morning to four in the afternoon.  They spent their time drilling into the ore face, then setting and firing the charges.  The nine hours men had come on shift at nine o’clock last night after the fumes from the explosions had dispersed.  They have spent the night setting new timber shores, breaking the ore into smaller pieces, loading it into trams and hauling it to the surface. We are going to follow a loaded tram to the surface.  There is no light here except for the glim from the candle stuck in the miners hat.


[sequence 1- 1:15]


[sequence 2 - start movement towards the shaft]


The tram has been loaded from the ore bins just above the gallery.  These bins are located at the foot of the ‘stope’, the cutting made by mining the lode of iron ore upward.  The tram is pushed along the gallery to the main shaft.


[sequence 2 - 0:30]


[sequence 3 - stop and turn]


At the shaft the tram is turned to engage with the rails leading to the surface.  The haulage cable is fastened to the front of the tram.  No miner should ever see the view we will have as it is forbidden to ride the trams to the surface.  Miners have to use the ladders to the righthand side of the shaft.  To the lefthand side is the flat-rod moving back and forth to drive the pump below us which keeps the mine free of water.


[sequence 3 - 0:45]

[sequence 4 - start]

The signal is given to the winding house to start hauling and the tram starts its journey to the surface.

The shaft becomes less steeply inclined. As the tram approaches the entrance, we see the engine house on the left with its massive beam engine which drives the flat-rod.  The rails climb beyond the surface to bring the tram up onto the gantry.


[sequence 4 - 0:35 plus]


[sequence 5 - stop]


Here the haulage cable is unfastened.


[sequence 5 - 0:05]


[sequence 6 - start]


and the tram pushed onto a siding where its load is tipped into the railway wagon waiting below.


[sequence 6 - 0:12]


[sequence 7 - stop]


When loading is complete, one of the little Neilson tank engines will haul its train over the Bampton road to the head of the Incline.  Here the loaded wagons will be fastened to another haulage cable for the transfer down to Comberow.  Another tank engine will shunt the wagons into a train for the journey to Watchet and then by sea to Newport.


[sequence 7 - 0:30]


[sequence 8 - pull back along the railway track to face the main entrance]


This was the how the mine appeared under the supervision of mine captain, Morgan Morgans.  Although the mine workings and surface structures underwent many changes later, the tall elegant engine-house of the pumping engine remained the most dominant structure of the surface buildings.  The silhouette of its ruins was chosen as the logo for the West Somerset Mineral Railway Project.  The beam engine which powered the pumps originally came from South Wales where the Ebbw Vale Company had used it as a blowing engine.


[sequence 8 - 0:40]


[sequence 9 - pull back to view along the Bampton road from the east]


Lining the road is a row of cottages, one of the several that made up Brendon Hill village.  The cottage by the main gate had been converted into the mine office in xxx.


[sequence 9 - 0:15]


[sequence 10 - pull back and swivel round to the left, bird’s eye]


The building on the right houses the winding engine which hauled our tram up to the surface.  The gantry also curves round to the left so that trams loaded with waste can be tipped onto the spoil heap.  The miners’ reading room is housed on the first floor of the same building as the winding engine.  The other buildings on the right are the locomotive shed and the workshops including those of the blacksmiths so important to keep the mine working.


[sequence 10 - 0:30]


[sequence 11 - pull round and back to eye-level looking across the site from the north-west]


Today, all this is just green grass with a few fragments of masonry poking through the turf.


[sequence 11 - 0:05]


[fade to modern view]