Miners in Galmpton

Galmpton Iron Mines in the 1860’s – from the British Newspapers Archive and Census Records

A search of available scanned newspapers produced two short articles about the Galmpton Iron Mines, in 1864 and 1865.

The 1861 census lists two miners living in Churston, not Galmpton. The 1871 census lists two miner’s labourers in Galmpton. No miners are listed in the 1881 census. The 1891 census lists a coalminer!

The 1864 article reproduced below from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 18 November, -“Sad Accident”, records the death in a Galmpton mine of a workman who left behind a wife and two children. This was not widely reported.

Mr Benjamin Smith in this article is described as working this mine and sending off several cargoes of ore from Galmpton Quay on the River Dart. He was reportedly employing a strong gang of men working on the mine.

The second article from 1865, Western Morning News of 23 September reported: “Miraculous Escape at Galmpton Iron Mine”. This item was carried in newspapers all over the country. A novel story with a happy ending!

Benjamin Smith with his wife Harriet and Children Maria and Charles lived in Claife near Lake Windermere in the Lake District at the time of the 1851 census when Benjamin’s occupation is stated as “iron master”.

In 1861 he lived in Brixham in Milton Street, 63 years old –“proprietor of slate quarry”. By 1871 he was living in Torquay at Laywell in Cleveland Road, retired but his 28 year old son Charles was a “Manager of Mines”.

Dennis Sheen, March 2019