Industrial Explorer Weekend
'On the Border'
The Tamar Valley and surrounding area
11th - 14th April 2019

Led by Sue Constable
3 nights, from £450 Discount available for AIA members
Booking is now closed
City Safaris and Industrial Explorer Weekends
These walking tours take a look at an industrial city's civic, commercial, industrial and transport legacy on foot, guided by an expert. Our groups are deliberately kept small so that everyone has a chance to ask the leader questions as we go and to make walking as a group practicable in an urban environment.

We go away for a long weekend and stay together as a group at a reasonable hotel. A dinner is held on the Thursday evening which is a chance for new members to be introduced and old friends to catch up on news. After dinner there is a short talk to introduce the city and its history as well as to explain the programme.

City Safaris use whatever public transport is available: bus, tram, metro or train which is a great way to gain some understanding of how the area works and may be of historic interest in themselves.

Industrial Explorer Weekends are the same but we use a minibus to reach areas where public transport does not go and to give us the possibility of conveniently exploring a slightly wider area.

We tend to spend more time looking at buildings than we do going inside, but we usually try to include at least one visit to a site of industrial interest. In Sheffield, for example, we visited a small, specialist scissor maker. In the Black Country we rode through the Dudley tunnel on a trip boat and ended the tour in the Black Country Museum.

We look at all kinds of buildings: industrial, civic, retail and domestic. We cover everything from workers' cottages & workshops via pubs and factories to the magnificence of northern Victorian Town Halls and don’t forget the merely quirky. And we like interesting buildings in all kinds of condition, be they in use, re-used, shabby, derelict or forgotten. Transport is always part of the story: roads, railways and canals.

We generally walk about 5 miles a day. When walking around we are often asked why we are standing looking at a particular building, perhaps by people who now live or work there. Sometimes we are able to tell them more about the building than they know themselves but in response they are sometimes able to fill in some interesting snippets of social history which adds greatly to the mix.

Group members are provided with a full set of notes describing details of every building we stop by. We usually include stops for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

Tour members often say that these trips allow them to see things that "we never knew were there" and to view urban areas from new angles.
This Industrial Explorer weekend is to the West Country, looking at the Tamar valley and the edges of Dartmoor. This area has a long history of mining, first for tin and later for copper, arsenic, silver and wolfram. This mining history has influenced both the growth of the towns and the development of transport in the valley.

The visit will be looking at the towns of Tavistock and Plymouth and parts of the surrounding area.

Tavistock has a long history. It was a stannary town during the medieval period and, when tin mining became unprofitable, the main industry changed to wool combing and weaving. In the 19th century mining became the main industry again and businesses connected with mining grew up in the town. At one time there were three iron foundries working. The growth of Tavistock was also influenced by the Dukes of Bedford who owned a large amount of land in the area.

Plymouth grew up around the Tamar and Plym Estuaries which are excellent natural harbours. From the beginning it was a busy and important port. The Naval Dockyard came to Plymouth in the late 17th century. It was built outside the town on the side of the Tamar estuary and later became a separate town, Devonport. With the coming of the railway further docks were developed in Millbay and these were mainly used for passenger traffic. Brittany Ferries still operate from Millbay Docks.

Plymouth was badly damaged by bombing in 1941 and much of the commercial and retail areas of the town were rebuilt in the 1950s. Some of this rebuild has recently been replaced with a new shopping centre.

The Great Western Railway will not be ignored with a visit to Saltash to view the famous bridge. We will also be visiting the Tavistock Canal and the inland port at Morwelham Quay.

The tour will be based in Plymouth and travel will be by mini coach.

An optional excursion on the Thursday afternoon will visit the Devon Great Consols Mine.

There may be up to 5 miles of walking, in short sections, on Friday and Saturday, mostly on hard surfaces though there could be some rough ground and there will be some steep hills to climb. Sunday’s walk is within the City of Plymouth.
Thursday 11th April
With so much packed into the rest of the itinerary we did not have room within the usual format to include a visit to the Devon Great Consols mine to see the former arsenic works. Therefore we have included this optional excursion which will leave from the hotel by minibus at 14:00
The bus will drop us near the arsenic calciners which we will have time to explore before walking along the track of the mineral line which once led to Morwelham Quay (to which we will have a full visit on Friday) to rendezvous with the coach to return us to Plymouth. Walking will be on the track-bed of the former railway and on woodland footpaths so suitable footwear is important.

The main tour will start with the whole group assembling in the early evening at our hotel for the group dinner (included).
At the end of dinner Sue will give a short introduction to the weekend.

Friday 12th April
We will travel to Tavistock today to look at the town and its buildings, finishing with a short walk along the Tavistock Canal.

In the early afternoon we will travel to Morwelham Quay to look at the 19th century river port. We hope to be able to include a trip into the George and Charlotte mine.

There will be a break for lunch during our walk in Tavistock (own expense).

Evening at leisure.

Saturday 13th April
Today we will begin our exploration in Saltash, looking at both the railway bridge and the road bridge which cross the estuary there.
We will then travel to Torpoint and cross back into Devon on the Torpoint Ferry. There will be a stop when we get to Devonport to look at the ferries from the bank. Much of Devonport has been rebuilt in recent years but there is enough of the 19th century town left for us to explore.
We will then travel to the Royal William Yard for our lunch break (own expense).
The day will finish with a walk round the Millbay Docks and the planned 19th century town.
Evening at leisure.

Sunday 14th April
This morning will be spent looking at Plymouth.
We will begin by examining some of the Post War rebuilding and then go on to look at the Hoe, the Barbican and Sutton Harbour. This was the area where the earliest port was situated and is still in use for small coasters, the fishing fleet and as a Marina. It is also the area which became a tourist destination in the 19th century and we shall see some of the structures associated with this.
The visit will end with lunch at a restaurant (included)
The day will finish by about 14:00

Sue Constable will be well known to anyone who came to the Ruhr, Moravia or Romania with the AIA or has joined one of her City Safaris or previous Explorer Weekends. She was born in Buckinghamshire but moved to Hastings at an early age. She read History and Archaeology at Liverpool and also has a qualification in museum studies. She may have started out as an archaeologist but soon changed to being a social and industrial historian. She has worked in museums for most of her life, apart from a spell teaching and a break when her daughter was small. Much of her work in museums has been with industrial collections, ribbon weaving, nail-making and shoemaking. With her husband, Mike, she has explored much of the British and European waterways network. As a social historian she is also interested in how people live and how they organise their living spaces and environment.

We will be staying at the Jurys Inn, 50 Exeter St, Plymouth PL4 0AZ
The hotel is located close to restaurants and bars in the city centre, about 0.7m, 13 minutes’ walk from the railway station.

The main tour starts at the hotel on the Thursday evening and ends at about 14:00 after lunch on the Sunday afternoon.
We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Plymouth to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.
You should expect about 5 miles of walking, in short sections, on each of the first two days, mostly on hard surfaces although we may also use other paths which could be muddy depending on the weather.
When not on foot, travel during the tour is by luxury midi coach and this cost is included.
Detailed joining instructions will be supplied about two weeks before the start of the tour.

The cost of the tour is £450 per person sharing, single supplement £115. The single supplement is entirely accounted for by the additional costs charged by the hotel for single occupancy. With a high proportion of singles on these tours it is not possible to avoid this.
The optional excursion to Devon Grand Consols on the Thursday afternoon is £16 per person.

Heritage of Industry is pleased to offer a discount of £10 to any paid-up member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology  at the time of the tour.

The cost includes:
  • 3 nights bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Dinner on Thursday, Lunch on Sunday
  • Luxury air conditioned mini coach transport and driver tip
  • All entrance fees
  • Expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunch on Friday & Saturday
  • Dinner on Friday & Saturday
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotel other than bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.

Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 14th February 2019, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 14th February 2019 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

Invoices for the balance of the price will be issued about 8 weeks before the tour starts. A non-refundable deposit of £45 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

Payment should be made via your bank’s online banking facilities, the necessary details are shown on the confirmation of booking. Please send an email note when you have made payment. Non-UK residents please note the changed BIC and IBAN, the UK clearing code and account number are unchanged. If you are unable to use electronic banking please send a sterling cheque drawn on a UK bank made payable to Heritage of Industry Ltd. There is no extra charge for using cheques at present.

We are sorry that we are unable to accept payment by credit/debit card or PayPal.

Booking is now closed

Enquiries about this tour should be directed to:
Bill Barksfield, Managing Director
Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK
Tel: +44 1235 352275 (9am - 5.30pm GMT)  Email:

The Association for Industrial Archaeology

Britain was the first industrial nation and for the last three centuries industry has had a major influence on the society, environment and landscape in which we live; it shaped the country and its remains provide a link with the past that can also serve the future. The AIA is the national organisation for people who share an interest in Britain’s industrial past. It brings together groups and individuals with an interest and expertise in identifying, recording, preserving and presenting the remains of the industrial past. Uniting individuals, local societies, academics and field professionals the AIA:
  • Pools knowledge and sets standards for recording
  • Represents industrial archaeology by membership of national and international bodies
  • Supports local and special interest societies
  • Monitors planning applications to alter or demolish industrial sites and buildings
And through its programme of awards and grants it:
  • Sponsors research and rewards excellence
  • Assists preservation and restoration
  • Encourages research and publication
Heritage of Industry Ltd is very pleased to support the activities of the Association and very much hopes that you do too and will become a member.

Apart from the discount available on Heritage of Industry tours AIA members enjoy a range of benefits which are shown on the Membership page of the AIA website where you can also find full details of how to join:

An AIA member joining this tour will already have recouped nearly 1/3 of the AIA membership fee but more importantly the support members give enables the AIA to continue its work.

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)