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Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Friday, 28 May 2010 14:59 UK
Historic tramway uncovered on Dartmoor
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Clearbrook tramway - picture courtesy of DPNA
The horse-drawn tramway was opened in 1823

Two years of painstaking work by conservation volunteers on Dartmoor has paid off with the uncovering of 200 original railway sleepers.

The Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway is one of the moor's lesser known historic features.

It opened in 1823 to carry Dartmoor's exportable products, in particular granite, down to Plymouth's waterside.

A horse-drawn tramway, it ran for 25 miles along a single track line with cast iron rails fixed to granite sleepers.

The railway was the creation of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, the founder of Princetown but by the mid-19th century it had fallen out of use and sections of it were later taken over by Great Western Railway.

Clearbrook tramway - picture courtesy of DPNA
The granite sleepers had become obscured by vegetation

Since its abandonment most of the rails have been removed and the granite sleepers had become obscured by decades of vegetation growth.

Today part of the old tramway is used as Drake's Trail cycle route.

It is one of a number of historic features, like Drake's Leat and Devonport Leat, which took advantage of Dartmoor's gradient.

The group - the Tavistock Task Force - cleared over 900 metres of the old railway track.

"Volunteer groups such as the Tavistock Task Force have completed over 1,000 hours of work, over the last 12 months, to benefit Dartmoor," said Mike Nendick from the Dartmoor National Park Authority.

"They carry out a huge range of tasks including litter picking, vegetation clearance, ecological work, path maintenance and archaeological repairs and surveys.

"The Clearbrook Tramway is a fascinating historic link between Dartmoor and the city of Plymouth and it is hoped that the many visitors to the area will enjoy discovering the wonderful contribution made by the task force to help conserve and enhance Dartmoor's special qualities."

The work was funded by Dartmoor National Park Authority, the Dartmoor Trust and the Dartmoor Sustainable Development Fund.

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