In 1905, two Plymothians, R. H. Payne, an estate agent and surveyor from Devonport, and Charles Cottier, (IDAS 1981) a solicitor and property developer, conducted a survey on the Southern moor (Dartmoor) as the majority of good clay bearing land in the Lee Moor district had already been claimed. They commissioned R Hansford Worth  to identify the location of any clay deposits which were sufficient to support a mining operation. He found large deposits  around Redlake Brook which had previously been exposed by the earlier workings of tin streamers and peat cutters. The area was found to be at least 600 by 200 yards with a depth of 60 feet and was expected to be capable of producing a total of 2,250,000 tons at an annual extraction rate of 45,000 tons. This would realise an estimated value of £3,150,000.
However, the news of the planned new clay works caused uproar, with ‘every local interest joined itself to the opposition with Landowners, District Council and Mill owners united to protest’ (Western Daily Mercury 1906).