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Thread: Bickleigh Vale Mine / Leighbeer Tunnel

  1. #1
    Join Date
    August 2010

    Default Bickleigh Vale Mine / Leighbeer Tunnel

    Leighbeer Tunnel
    "Smokeys Tunnel"

    and the spur off to the
    Bickleigh Vale Phoenix Mine

    The main Leighbeer Tunnel was part of a railway which linked Plymouth to Tavistock via Yelverton. Work on building the railway began during August 1856. Mr Brampton the original engineer died suddenly in 1857 and was replaced by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

    The official opening of the South Devon & Tavistock Railway took place on June 21st 1859. The line was closed to passengers in the 1962 and totally closed in 1966. Most of the route from Marsh Mills to Yelverton, including Leighbeer tunnel, is now a cyle track, part of the Plym Valley Trail.

    Nothing exciting in that I guess - A VERY long tunnel open to the public, with lighting and cyclists and walkers flying through.


    If you look at all the railway refuge'es down the sides you will notice they are all covered in bars to prevent people hiding in them I guess? BUT, one of these refuge'es is actually a fair sized tunnel! You wouldn't spot it without a torch. Oddly, this is the only refuge not fenced off to full height....

    The tunnel was an exploritry one dug into the hillside when they came across copper while digging the main Leighbeer tunnel. It opened in the same year as the railway line which must have proved tricky! It was only operated for around 3 years as not as much copper as expected was found.

    The Leighbeer tunnel also featured on TV on one of David Icke's ghost documentarys.

    Quite wet at the start but the tunnel rises up slightly out of the water. Certainly a welliable jaunt!

    Pics not too great - I am still trying to get to grips with my first DSLR!

  2. Thanks given by: muppet, night crawler
  4. #2
    Join Date
    February 2010

    Thumbs up

    That side tunnel is quite a find. Never knew there was copper in this neck of the woods. I thought is was always found further west. Good to see IKB was involved in the construction works.

  5. #3
    Join Date
    January 2007
    East Devon's Jurassic Park!


    Quote Originally Posted by Lectrician View Post
    Certainly a welliable jaunt!
    Lol. Great word, welliable!

    Nice find, Lectrician. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    March 2008
    Horton Ilminster


    Very interesting, used to regularly visit this tunnel in the 70s as our scouts used to camp below in the Plym valley. Never new the side tunnel was connected to mining, can remember not being brave enough to follow it in very far. When I last visited was diappointed to see white paint and lighting added for the cycle track, Whats special about this one is that you have to get about half way in to see out the other end, unlike Yelverton, that magic has gone now I suppose.
    Thanks again

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