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Anyone know London well enough to recognise these? (Oh, they're in Arizona)

Discussion in 'Stroll Photography' started by grebeman, May 15, 2014.

  1. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    These granite blocks, 12 in number and partially carved lie abandoned at Swelltor Quarry on Dartmoor. The quarry closed in 1906 and these lie there for all the world like the famous unfinished statues on Easter Island. I understand that somewhere up in one of the quarries lies an assembled pier for London Bridge, or a bridge in London, that were never collected. I would guess these are about 12 feet long including what I take to be un-carved foundations. The distinctive notch in them suggests to me that they were designed to be placed upright as part of a retaining wall.

    Are these something the like of which a Londoner passes every day, perhaps on the Thames Embankment. The trade from these quarries started in about 1826 when a horse drawn railway using a gauge of four feet was laid from Plymouth to King's Tor near Princetown, a twisting 25 miles. Thankfully for the horses the loaded direction was downhill. By 1883 much of the trackbed had been taken over by the standard gauge branch line from Yelverton to Princetown, that lasted until 1956, but the various quarries closed down much earlier. When in use the station at Princetown was the highest in England.

    140514-1010120_DxO.


    140514-1010121_DxO.

    One entrance to part of the quarry at Swelltor, looking out from inside the quarry
    14005602490_b9cfaf87e2_b.
    140514-DP1M0702 by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    The view south east from above another part of the quarry. The looping "path" on the right hand side in the distance is the old railway track bed. It climbs past the quarry and loops round behind the photographers position to emerge out of shot on the left en route to Princetown, a spectacular branch line in its day.
    14192256765_46a3c45093_b.
    140514-DP1M0695 by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    Barrie
     
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  2. Will

    Will SC All-Pro

    Aug 30, 2010
    England
    Nice images.
    I don't recognise the blocks but I will be on the lookout from now on :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    Looks like they have come off the side of my house in the recent storms! I wondered where they went. :rolleyes:
     
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  4. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Andy, your house is quite palatial then!

    Barrie
     
  5. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    Well I don't want to boast but....:biggrin:

    I actually live in a grit box just past Junction 8 on the M25. it's a sad lonely existence but at least I get plenty of fresh air! :crying:
     
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  6. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    A little research on the internet suggests that these 12 corbels were destined for a widening project on the old London Bridge in 1902, so perhaps I should have been asking forum members in Arizona, rather than London :redface: Stone from here was used for the Thames Embankment in 1846-47 and a bridge at Vauxhall in 1903. The quarry employed up to 90 men, a pretty dramatic location to be carrying on ones craft.

    Barrie
     
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  7. Dewi Sant

    Dewi Sant SC Veteran

    364
    Dec 20, 2013
    Lancashire, England
    Guess?
    Great stuff, Barrie - thanks for posting those, I love stories like this. Our little sceptred isle must be full of similar redundant artefacts lying around all over the country - mostly buried by now I would think.
     
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  8. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Many thanks for your comments, much appreciated. As someone who has a strong affinity with my locale and an interest in its history I like to be able to add to my photographs where I can, or where it's appropriate, so it's good to know that it's appreciated by at least one forum member.

    Barrie
     
  9. Will

    Will SC All-Pro

    Aug 30, 2010
    England
    • Like Like x 2
  10. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Oh fantastic Will, thanks ever so much. I would imagine that the bridge widening project suggested on the site I looked at would entail exact copies of the originals to be made in the same stone, so I guess the original corbels came from Swelltor as well. I doubt that these sort of places produced standard components, each job would have been different depending on the architect.

    Once again, many thanks for your research.

    Barrie

    PS, I've just followed your example and looked at the images, there's hundreds of the corbels!!!, that kept a few people busy chiseling away.
     
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  11. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    It all fits together

    Further trawling of the internet shows that the design of the London Bridge in question was done by John Rennie the elder, but he died in 1821 before work began. The project was then taken over by his son, also a John Rennie. The father had designed Plymouth Breakwater and the Royal William Victualling yard in Stonehouse, now part of Plymouth and indeed other local civil engineering works of note.

    The son finished both the London Bridge and Plymouth Breakwater. The first stones were laid at about the same time as the horse drawn tramway was laid to the quarry on Dartmoor and it was finished six years later in 1831.

    The corbels photographed were added to the bridge to widen it between 1902-04. When dismantled to move to Arizona it was found that every stone had a code number on it to show where it fitted together, which must have been done at the quarry on Dartmoor before shipping to London, the various pieces being assembled when being cut to ensure it all went together. Hence the story that somewhere in a quarry on the moor there's an assembled but uncollected pier structure.

    Sorry if I'm boring you guys, but I find it very interesting (call me what you like :biggrin:, just don't tell me).

    Barrie
     
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  12. carlb

    carlb SC Regular

    101
    Jun 3, 2013
    Very cool story and pics, Barry. Thanks!
     
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