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Ore shipments from the West Pier

The railway wagons loaded with iron ore were taken by horses from Watchet station yard to the quay and back, as locomotives were forbidden to go onto the quay. 

 

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Iron ore being loaded onto a ship at Watchet Harbour in 1862
Iron ore being loaded onto a ship at Watchet Harbour in 1862

  

To keep up with increased production at the mines, the introduction of mechanical handling became essential and hydraulic tippers were installed in a two bay timber clad building that can be seen behind the vessels in the picture on the right. 

 

 

 

Until 1875 the iron ore was shovelled by hand from the wagons down portable chutes into the holds of 40 ton vessels waiting at the quay.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Watchet harbour at low tide, looking north west in 1876
Watchet harbour at low tide, looking north west in 1876

The harbour was re-built after the devastation of the storm in 1900 without the mineral pier, the arm of the west pier from which ore had been loaded into ships.  When the Somerset Mineral Syndicate resumed ore transport in 1908, a timber jetty was built at the site of the former Mineral Pier. 

 

 

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First shipment of Somerset Mineral Syndicate ore being loaded into the Lizzie
First shipment of Somerset Mineral Syndicate ore being loaded into the Lizzie
 

The Syndicate had acquired ten metal side tipping coal wagons to facilitate loading.  The ore was tipped from the wagons into the ships through a wide timber shute as can be seen in the picture on the left.

 

Ore transport stopped when the Syndicate was wound up in 1914.  In 1918 the west pier was leased to a Cardiff ship breaking firm.

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