Gawton arsenic mine and flue


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1002667.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 26-Jan-2021 at 07:16:32.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Devon (District Authority)
Bere Ferrers
West Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 45252 68851


Arsenic mine and processing works known as Gawton Mine.

Reasons for Designation

Cornwall and West Devon, has been one of the major areas of non-ferrous metal mining in England. It is defined here as prospecting, extraction, ore processing and primary smelting/refining, and its more important and prolific products include copper, tin and arsenic, along with a range of other materials which occur in the same ore bodies. The development of steam power for pumping, winding and ore processing in the earlier 19th century saw a rapid increase in scale and depth of mine shafts and technological innovation of processing towards the end of the century. Arsenic extraction evolved rapidly during the 19th century, adding a further range of distinctive processing and refining components at some mines including the patented Brunton calciners which were brick covered rotating iron plates with a furnace beneath onto which crushed ore was placed and stirred. The more general calciner consisted of an of an iron brick lined cylinder which rotated over a furnace. From the kilns arsenic vapour was fed through lengthy flues usually uphill to a tall chimney designed to help disperse residual fumes. Following recovery from the flues the arsenic went to a refining furnace where the condensed vapour crystallized in tile-lined chambers. From here it was collected and ground to a powder. The South West became the world's main producer in the late 19th century. Arsenic was used in the glass industry, in making enamels, paints and insecticides. The arsenic mine and works known as Gawton Mine is considered to be the best, most complete surviving example of this type of mining, ore dressing, calcining and refining works in the country. The two Brunton calciners are a particularly rare survival.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a 19th century arsenic mine and associated processing works situated on the southern bank of the River Tamar at Gawton. The monument survives as a group buildings and earthworks including: limekilns, a chimney stack and flue, a count house, washing and crushing plants, two Brunton calciners, a cooperage, dam, reservoir, engine house and chimney, a boiler house, smithy or manager’s house, refinery, quay, storage buildings and large areas of waste tips. The flue runs for several hundred metres up an extremely steep hillside and is well over 2m high in places with walls in excess of 0.7m wide. There is a tall, leaning, well preserved chimney. Falconer described it as ‘this prominent stack, whose pronounced slant is said to be due to the cement on the south side drying out before that of the north when it was built in the 1890s, terminates the longest and most impressive arsenic flue in the country ‘. The spoil heaps are a major feature in the landscape and are estimated to hold over 124,000 tons of material. To the west are the remains of the steam powered crushing, jigging and buddling plant with associated waste and a refinery which as a group are an important survival. The old quay was used to bring local limestone by barge from Plymouth to the limekilns, one being an early kiln with two later additions, which supplied lime for local agriculture. Gawton Mine worked arsenic from about 1846, although it had begun as a copper mine rather earlier when it worked using water power alone. However, interruptions in the water supply meant that the surface buildings were completely rebuilt in 1890 when the arsenic refinery was added. Although not totally successful in its own right this works together with nearby Devon Great Consols who took over this works in 1895, were the largest arsenic producers in the region. The works eventually closed in 1902.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DV 1024
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-1457191


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].