redlake-clay-pit

The Ivybridge China Clay Company

Demand for clay was low during the war with production again not rising until 1925. The China Clay Corporation, one of only four independent companies in Devon, collapsed in 1919 and was put up for auction. Although the reserve price was set at £200,000 the property was eventually sold to Harry Mallaby Deeley MP, a principle shareholder of the China Clay Corporation, for £47,000 by Order of the Court.

 

The new company called itself the Ivybridge China Clay Company Ltd and the enterprise reopened in 1922. The pit initially prospered and for the first time worked under full production with the prospects for a successful future looking good. Sir Harry (created a baronet in 1922) also re-opened the Left Lake workings, doubling the capacity of the Cantrell Works.

 

The low quality of the Redlake clay makes the success of the pit during the 1920s quite remarkable and the Cantrell dries were kept at full capacity with just the Redlake clay so the addition of the re-opened Leftlake production resulted in a bottle neck at Cantrell. There is no evidence that the capacity was ever extended: instead the Redlake clay went to the Bittaford side of the works and the Leftlake clay to the Ivybridge side, with the clays being sent down the pipeline on alternate days.

The output of the kaolin industry in the West Country reached a peak of 869,232 tons in 1927 but dropped rapidly thereafter, reaching a low point of 508,850 tons in 1932. In 1932, at Redlake, the worst year of the depression, work ceased and the Ivybridge China Clay Company closed. The two Ivybridge clay companies were the only two pits to close as a result of the depression and, although a few of the other pits came close to it, they largely survived by combining with larger companies.

 

Most of the buildings on the moor were eventually blown up by the military and the machinery went as scrap.

 

In 1933 the Great Western Railway removed their transfer sidings and the signal box.

 

Cantrell works lay idle until 1938 when the buildings were purchased by Henry Leon and Kenneth Watkins and converted into an agricultural engineering works, in which capacity it continued under various owners until 2008.

References for Redlake web pages
C Campbell Industry come to the Erme Valley (1982) Ivybridge & District Amenity Society
Tony Barber  Aspects of Ivybridge – some notes on its history (1988) The Redlake Tramway and Claypits
Colin Henry Bastin  By Steam Train to the Heart of Dartmoor (1994) New Rainbow Books
Colin Harris  Stowford Paper Mill and the Industrial Heritage of the Erme Valley (1999) Halsgrove
H G Kendell  The Redlake Tramway (1952) The Railway Magazine 
I Stabb & T Downing  The Redlake Tramway and the China Clay Industry (1977)
E A Wade  The Redlake Tramway & China Clay Works (2004) Twelveheads Press
Acknowledgements
Sincere thanks to Mrs E Flint for permission to use photographs from the publication ‘The Redlake Tramway & China Clay Works’ by the late E A Wade.

The use of clay in paper manufacturing

China Clay was one of several mineral based products added to the paper manufactured at Stowford Mill, collectively referred to as ‘loadings’ or ‘fillers’. These minerals, originally used to reduce cost, also imparted specific properties to the paper, improving print receptiveness, brightness, opacity, smoothness and handling softness.

 

The use of china clay in paper making, however, was not always considered beneficial. In the nineteenth century, it was considered detrimental to the paper’s quality and printing performance. A publication in 1880 quoted “The printer objects to clay in his paper, and there is now very little excuse for clay being in paper. The use of wood pulp is cheaper in the end and makes a better paper. Every printer should insist upon the cry ‘no clay’ mineral matter”.

 

The china clay used by Stowford Paper Mill was sourced from local deposits in and around Lee Moor, but in latter times, from St Austell in Cornwall. Following a number of complaints from customers regarding premature wear of tooling, when perforating or scoring the printed documents, it was discovered that the local clay was slightly abrasive, a property which the Cornish clay did not purvey.

 

For decades the clay was delivered in bags of dried material, only to be added to the pulp along with water. Eventually, after the investment of a very large holding tank, china clay was received in slurry form, making handling and addition to the paper machines much simpler and cost effective.

THE IVYBRIDGE CHINA CLAY COMPANY

redlake-clay-pit
Demand for clay was low during the war with production again not rising until 1925. The China Clay Corporation, one of only four independent companies in Devon, collapsed in 1919 and was put up for auction. Although the reserve price was set at £200,000 the property was eventually sold to Harry Mallaby Deeley MP, a principle shareholder of the China Clay Corporation, for £47,000 by Order of the Court.
The new company called itself the Ivybridge China Clay Company Ltd and the enterprise reopened in 1922. The pit initially prospered and for the first time worked under full production with the prospects for a successful future looking good. Sir Harry (created a baronet in 1922) also re-opened the Left Lake workings, doubling the capacity of the Cantrell Works.
The low quality of the Redlake clay makes the success of the pit during the 1920s quite remarkable and the Cantrell dries were kept at full capacity with just the Redlake clay so the addition of the re-opened Leftlake production resulted in a bottle neck at Cantrell. There is no evidence that the capacity was ever extended: instead the Redlake clay went to the Bittaford side of the works and the Leftlake clay to the Ivybridge side, with the clays being sent down the pipeline on alternate days.
The output of the kaolin industry in the West Country reached a peak of 869,232 tons in 1927 but dropped rapidly thereafter, reaching a low point of 508,850 tons in 1932. In 1932, at Redlake, the worst year of the depression, work ceased and the Ivybridge China Clay Company closed. The two Ivybridge clay companies were the only two pits to close as a result of the depression and, although a few of the other pits came close to it, they largely survived by combining with larger companies.
Most of the buildings on the moor were eventually blown up by the military and the machinery went as scrap.
In 1933 the Great Western Railway removed their transfer sidings and the signal box.
Cantrell works lay idle until 1938 when the buildings were purchased by Henry Leon and Kenneth Watkins and converted into an agricultural engineering works, in which capacity it continued under various owners until 2008.
References for Redlake web pages
C Campbell Industry come to the Erme Valley (1982) Ivybridge & District Amenity Society
Tony Barber  Aspects of Ivybridge – some notes on its history (1988) The Redlake Tramway and Claypits
Colin Henry Bastin  By Steam Train to the Heart of Dartmoor (1994) New Rainbow Books
Colin Harris  Stowford Paper Mill and the Industrial Heritage of the Erme Valley (1999) Halsgrove
H G Kendell  The Redlake Tramway (1952) The Railway Magazine 
I Stabb & T Downing  The Redlake Tramway and the China Clay Industry (1977)
E A Wade  The Redlake Tramway & China Clay Works (2004) Twelveheads Press
Acknowledgements
Sincere thanks to Mrs E Flint for permission to use photographs from the publication ‘The Redlake Tramway & China Clay Works’ by the late E A Wade.

THE USE OF CLAY IN PAPER MAKING

China Clay was one of several mineral based products added to the paper manufactured at Stowford Mill, collectively referred to as ‘loadings’ or ‘fillers’. These minerals, originally used to reduce cost, also imparted specific properties to the paper, improving print receptiveness, brightness, opacity, smoothness and handling softness.
The use of china clay in paper making, however, was not always considered beneficial. In the nineteenth century, it was considered detrimental to the paper’s quality and printing performance. A publication in 1880 quoted “The printer objects to clay in his paper, and there is now very little excuse for clay being in paper. The use of wood pulp is cheaper in the end and makes a better paper. Every printer should insist upon the cry ‘no clay’ mineral matter”.
The china clay used by Stowford Paper Mill was sourced from local deposits in and around Lee Moor, but in latter times, from St Austell in Cornwall. Following a number of complaints from customers regarding premature wear of tooling, when perforating or scoring the printed documents, it was discovered that the local clay was slightly abrasive, a property which the Cornish clay did not purvey.
For decades the clay was delivered in bags of dried material, only to be added to the pulp along with water. Eventually, after the investment of a very large holding tank, china clay was received in slurry form, making handling and addition to the paper machines much simpler and cost effective.