Report - - Imerys Marsh Mills China Clay Works, Plymouth, Devon - February 2017- October 2019 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Imerys Marsh Mills China Clay Works, Plymouth, Devon - February 2017- October 2019

Terminal Decline

28DL Regular User
Regular User
The china clay works at Marsh Mills were begun in the early years of the twentieth century when a large pan-kiln was constructed to dry the china clay which was brought down from the clay pits at Lee Moor by pipeline. A pan-kiln is a primitive form of drying liquid china clay by a hypocaust system, developed in Cornwall in the mid nineteenth century. Part of this building can still be seen today, although heavily altered. Following the Second World War an attempt was made to mechanize the industry and three oil-fired drum-like driers were added at Marsh Mills. These were some of the first to be installed and were unique to the china clay industry in Devon and Cornwall. They consisted of a rotating stack of trays, contained in a heated brick or concrete drum like structure. Wet clay entered the top of the dryer and gradually dropped down as the trays rotated. In the following years the works were greatly expanded by English China Clays with a further buell dries constructed along with extensive storage buildings known as linhays. The site was taken over by Imerys in 1999, following their acquisition of English China Clays and I believe was closed in 2008. The majority of the machinery has since been removed and demolition has recently begun, and 550 homes will be constructed on the land.

There are a couple of reports from 2009 on here which show the site shortly after closure, before removal of much of the machinery

The Explore
I made two visits to the site in 2017 and although the site is nowhere near as good as it was, there is still quite a lot to see. The highlight is undoubtedly two buell dries which I'm guessing date from the mid 50s or 60s and must be the only virtually complete buell dries in existence. I made another visit this month, primarily to see the old buell dries and although the site is no longer a walk-in, I still got to see what I wanted.

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One of the clay pits on Lee Moor where the china clay was mined before travelling by pipeline to the works at Marsh Mills

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Many deer can be seen around the works

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The unassuming exterior of the buell dries

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Looking up inside one of the dries showing the rotating trays

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The other end of the building would have once contained presses to remove as much water as possible before the clay headed into the drier

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A further buell drier was added later (the building on the left) with a storage linhay next door. This buell drier has now been completely demolished and part of the linhay has gone.

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The circular feature in the foreground was the base for a larger drier

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The store where dried clay was taken away by either road or rail

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This building was the location of the pan-kiln and was likely to have been the location of the first three buell dries, currently the asbestos roof is being removed prior to demolition

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Demolition under way

Thanks for looking


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Fantastic report. Cant remember if this is one I did some time ago, we did a few over a weekend trip. I love the tones.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
When were you there when they were demolishing it because i was probably there as well

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