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Picture Library

This section of the site contains a selection of images from the Society's extensive collection. Click on the thumbnail image to view a larger version of the picture.

Further photographs can be seen by clicking on the links below:

Picture Gallery - North Devon
Picture Gallery - Dorset

Section 1: What is Ball Clay?

"Balls of Clay" being dug with thirting spades. lumpers and poges. Candy's Pit, Heathfield in the mid 1920's


Digging with pneumatic spade - Newton Abbot Clays in the 1950's

Selection and digging by Hydraulic Excavator

Lump clay entering shredder
Ball clay entering a shredding machine

Shredded clay
Shredded ball clay
A ball clay "slip"
Ball clay slurry
Refined clay noodles
Refined ball clay noodles

Spray dried clay
Spray dried ball clay

Ball clay body "slugs"
Extruded "slugs" of
prepared body
2. Ball Clay in the Bovey Basin
Eastern outcrop of Bovey Basin
Aerial view of the eastern outcrop of the Bovey Basin
(full image - 506 kb)

Geology of Bovey Basin as detailed in 1974


Video Clip:

Flying over Southacre Quarry in a helicopter.

(N.B. This clip is a 2.3Mb Windows Media Viewer file)

3. Production in the Bovey Basin

Great Plantation WBB 1901

1901 photo of open pit - Great Plantation (WBB)


Upper part of highback in the 1950s

The upper part of a highback in the 1950's (Preston Manor, WBB)

Square Pit - Decoy at the start of the 20th Century


Underground mining by machine - mid 1990s

This clip is on YouTube. Just click above (15 minutes).

Underground mining ceased in 1999.

Underground mining in the 1950's

Surface Crab in the mid-1950's


Aerial view of Decoy Main Quarry in 1959

Decoy Main Quarry in the early 1960s

Sailing on Decoy Lake (flooded Main Quarry) in the early 1970s

4. Processing
a. Shredding of blended bulk clays

Early shredding through a turnip shredder - lump clay on the left - shredded clay on the right.

Shredding into the new Avenue Sheds at Preston Manor (WBB) Mid 1950's

Shredding direct from quarry into D sheds at Preston Manor c1960

Flatbed shredder at Preston Manor (WBB) in the 1950's

Shredded clay being thrown into storage bay from previous viewed shredder.

5. Transport in S. Devon
a. Waterways


Hanging lock gates in 1901

Stover Canal - Hanging new lock gates in April 1902


Teignbridge Lock (Stover Canal) 1901. Looking north


Dredging at Teignbridge Cellars (Stover Canal) 1901



Same as above, but looking north. The Foreman (standing at the top in the bowler hat), fell into a lock and unfortunatly drowned in 1903.

Same lock as above in 1951, some 14 years after the Stover Canal ceased operating.

Postcard of barge sailing down the Teign Estuary. Date unknown


Loading clay into barge at Teignbridge Cellars/Sidings (WBB). Early 1930's


As above but also showing Teignbridge Clay Cellars on the left.

The view above in February 2008 after some restorative work on the Stover Canal



Loading clay from Decoy (D&C) into barge at Newton Abbot "Town Quay" in the 1920's

2 barges being towed down to Teignmouth from Newton Abbot Quay




"Kestrel" - tug used to tow the barges down to Teignmouth in the early 1900's


"Heron" towing 6 barges down Whitelake in the 1930's


4 barges being unloaded into the SS Falke at Teignmouth - date 1920's or 1930's

b. Rail


Teignbridge Sidings in 1901. A GWR 0-6-0ST hauling a Moreton branch train, Below is the same scene in May 2005.


Possible "Royal Train" looking west from Station Bridge, Newton Abbot - Autumn 1901. Below is the view in 2005.


A lorry unloading into rail wagon at Newton Clay Clays East Golds siding that was built in 1938.

c. Road

Amos Hewings with J.Vallance's horse and cart at Teignbridge loaded with ball clay en route to Teignbridge Cellars on the Stover Canal in 1906. (Courtesy of Richard Harris)

6. People and Newton Abbot from the Watts Album of 1901/2


Charles Davey Blake

C.D. Blake - a founder of WBB in the 1880's



W.J.V. Watts (WBB) at Junipark Quarry in the Bovey Basin in the 1950's



June 1902 - looking through banner in Market St. towards the Alexandra Theatre. Below - the same view in May 2005


Looking back through the opposite side of the banner towards Foss's Corner (junction of Market, Bank and Highweek Streets). Below is the 2005 view.


Another banner at the "Drum Clock" end of Market Street. So much development has taken place that the scene is now unrecognisable, Below as near as possible in 2005





To view the pictures referred to below, click to the right of the last word in the description.

















The aerial view of the eastern outcrop of the Bovey Basin is looking south from Chudleigh Knighton towards Newton Abbot, with Teignmouth and the Teign Estuary in the top left. (link)

The 1901 picture of an open pit in the Bovey Basin is from the Watts Album. It shows a pit at the northern end of Great Plantation (later to become WBB Preston Manor Works). In this area, the highbacks were the typical method of tranport from the pit and lasted as the principle method until the 1950s. (link)

















The Stover Canal (1 mile 7 furlongs) was built from the Teign Estuary to Ventiford by James Templer II in 1790-92. It continued in operation until 1936. The barges relied upon the tides and square "Viking" sails, but latterly were towed in the estuary by the steam tug "Kestrel" and finally by the paraffin engine "Heron".

The Hackney Canal was built for Lord Clifford from Hackney Quay into Kingsteignton in1843.

Clay Cellars were built on both Canals.

In the mid 1840s, the Earl of Devon's "DevonWharf" (now the "Town Quay") in Newton Abbot, started to be used to load barges with clay from his newly opened Decoy Pits (later to become "Devon & Courtenay Clay Co").







The construction of the Moretonhampstead branch in 1867, with sidings at Teignbridge and East Golds, enabled the railway to be used increasingly to supply domestic customers, However, the introduction of lorries, enabling clay to be carried far more economically than by horse and cart and barge, led to the use of the canals ceasing in the 1930's and of the railways in the 1980's.

The photo of the train entering Newton is very interesting. It is pulled by Duke and Camel class locos (4-4-0s), probably coming from Plymouth. Above the tender of the Duke, can be seen what looks like a crown on the smoke box front of the Camel, which suggests a possible Royal Train. However, the coaches are a Dean clerestory rake and not the Royal Train coaches that were in use in 1902. Also of interest is the "baulk road" siding to the right of the train. The baulk road system went out of use after the conversion of the broad gauge in 1892.

Charles Davey Blake was one of three founder members of WBB. He was born 1n 1838 and was with WBB from 1860 until his death in 1925. He was probably the most influential person in the development of the Ball Clay industry, in his work in the field of clay sales and his interests in many of the other clay companies as well as WBB. This picture is thought to have been taken in the 1880s.

There were major events in 1901/2 - hence the banners.

1) Queen Victoria died on 22nd January 1901.

2) The Boer War ended on 31st May 1902.

3) Passmore Edwards laid the Foundation Stone of the Library in June 1902.

4) The Coronation was scheduled for 26th June, but an operation on the King for appendicitis took place on the 24th. King Edward VII was crowned on 9th August 1902.