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West Somerset Mineral Railway Project go to homepagelink to heritage lottery fund website

Conservation of monuments and buildings

Bearland Ventilation Flue May 2008 (ENPA)

The repair and conservation of some of the remaining structures of the West Somerset Mineral Railway were key objectives of the project.  This section provides details of the structures and the work undertaken.  





The project sought to conserve three of the many structures on the Brendon Hills associated with the WSMR: Bearland Ventilation Flue, Langham Engine House and the Incline.  


All are publicly accessible and provide extraordinary insights into aspects of the Victorian enterprise which is the West Somerset Mineral Railway.  The three structures are also diverse: a standing chimney, the remains and wall footings of a dismantled engine house and an inclined plane built to carry the twin tracks of a railway.  Two were Scheduled Monuments, one of them on the 'At Risk' register.


All of these sites are high on the Brendon Hills which posed a series of logistical and technical problems.


The conservation work was commissioned by Exmoor National Park Authority and carried out by Corbel Conservation Ltd under the guidance of Jonathan Rhind Architects.  Curatorial advice was provided by Exmoor National Park Authority.


A very different challenge posed the West Pier at Watchet Harbour, the end of the of the Mineral Railway tracks.  Evidence of the WSMR had been covered by layers of concrete and tarmac.  The project set out to unpick the former layout of the tracks by conducting an archaeological investigation at the Pier.  Once established, is was decided to partially expose surviving tracks and original pavement near the harbour edge and to generally improve the appearance of and pedestrian access to the Pier. 


The improvement works on the West Pier were procured by the West Somerset District Council with advice and guidance from Somerset County Council conservation team.  Issues that had to be grappled with at this site were exposure to extreme weather and salt water spray, pedestrian safety and planning obligations.