Mining in Mary Tavy

While most visitors to the West Country associate tin mining with Cornwall because so much industrial archeology remains, it began in Devon with panning for tin in the streams on Dartmoor. Here in Mary Tavy, Wheal Betsy, seen on the home page, is all the industrial heritage that can be seen by the casual visitor. The old photo below shows Devon United South mine workings sometime in the 19th century. Strictly speaking this is in the next parish (Peter Tavy) because its the opposite side of Cholwell Brook. Because the photo was found in a Mary Tavy pub, we wrongly thought it to be in Mary Tavy but because it is such an atmospheric photograph that shows what it was like when these mines were working, we’ve left it on the site.

For more information on Wheal Betsy, why not take this link to the excellent Legendary Dartmoor website. If feeling very scholarly, there is also an excellent document in Tavistock Library called “The Rise & Demise of a Dartmoor Mine” catalogue reference is 622.34. Its based on the accounts from Wheal Betsy for much of its life. From this document you will learn that the building of Wheal Betsy engine house took place, almost as a last resort to help a mine that was already beginning to fail. The additonal pumping power of the ‘new’ steam engines, still could not cope with the amount of water that would have had to be removed and kept out of the mine to enable the owners to dig deeper!

Devon Friendship (shown below) was once the largest copper mine in the world but as with many of the mines in the region when the profitable minerals were worked out, the owners turned to making as much as possible from what other minerals remained

Devon Friendship Mary Tavy


Freedom of Information

Please click on the PDF attachment below for more information

The Village Today

Mary Tavy is located on the western side of the Dartmoor National Park and is in the West Devon Local Authority area. It is an old mining village named after the 13th Century church of St. Mary’s and the River Tavy. Mary Tavy lies approximately 4 miles north east from Tavistock, 18 miles to Plymouth; two miles away is Brentor’s landmark church on a peak. Mary Tavy nestles on the eastern side of the Cholwell valley leading to the River Tavy. The Parish of Mary Tavy is predominately made up of Blackdown and the old village of Mary Tavy but now includes the hamlets of Horndon, Zoar and Grendon. It is a scattered village that contains open moorland within its boundaries, and approaching south along the A386 you pass Gibbet Hill and the remains of Wheal Betsy in the moorland valley.

The A386 continues through the middle of Mary Tavy and adjacent to the road is the village recreation field and the village hall, The Coronation Hall. To the west of the A386 lies the area called Blackdown. This area is now mainly residential, but has evidence of the old railway line which runs adjacent to the River Burn. To the east of the A386, turning left at the War Memorial down Bal Lane lie the remains of Wheal Friendship. Continuing down Bal Lane just past the Horndon turning is the Village School. This area is known as old Mary Tavy – rather than Blackdown and it contains one of the village’s thatched cottages. Further west adjacent to Cholwell Brook is the village’s 13th century Parish Church, Mary St. Tavy. Past the Church at the end of the lane is the Hydro Electric Power Station, which is powered by water taken from the River Tavy and the old mine leat. This lane used to be the thoroughfare between Mary Tavy and its neighbouring village Peter Tavy but is now a bridle path which runs adjacent to the River Tavy

Our Role

Mary Tavy Parish Council

The Parish Council is a small local authority. Its nine Councillors are elected for four years at a time. Vacancies occurring between elections are filled by bye-election (if requested) or co-option. Each year, the Councillors choose a Chair from amongst their number. There is also a Vice-Chair and a Clerk, who is the Proper Officer and the Responsible Finance Officer of the Council.

Parish Councils have a number of formal powers and can do things either by providing them itself, or by helping someone else, for example a charity or volunteers, financially to do so. Parish Councils have the power to improve the quality of community life by spending sums of money on things which, in its opinion, are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants.

Councils are also the focal point for local consultation on matters such as the strategy documents of other public organisations, including the Borough and County Councils and the Dartmoor National Park Authority and on planning applications. The Parish Council can represent the village’s views to other authorities.

Mary Tavy Parish Council meets on the second Wednessday of every month in the Reading Rooms, commencing at 7.15pm with the prior 15 minutes available for parishioners to raise any points. For the agenda of the next meeting please click on the menu option to the left. Everyone is welcome to attend and see a “Grassroots Council” in action! To view the minutes of past meetings please click on the menu option to the left.

Attached below are the current standing orders for Mary Tavy Parish Council.

The Coronation Hall

Since it was built in 1961 and extended for greater use in 1973 and again in 1990. The Hall has been one of the main focal points of our village and the surrounding area.

The hall has a large stage and can accommodate 180 people. The lighting, heating and sound system are all modern. In addition to the kitchen facilites there is a Games Room and Meeting Room. The hall is home to the Mary Tavy & Peter Tavy Women’s Institute and to our own Drama and Pantomime groups. The Hall is available for hire and has been used for many varied meetings and events ranging from Wedding Receptions, Anniversary Parties, Dinners, Dances, Musical Evenings, Theatrical productions, Jumble Sales and as a Polling Station for elections.

If you need more information about the facilities then click the email below.

Or go to our new website.

Or please contact Diana McDowell on 01822 810709

Welcome to our Parish of Mary Tavy

Welcome to the Mary Tavy Parish Council website.  Mary Tavy is a community full of action – with primary school, pubs, post office and village shop, Coronation Hall, recreation ground, snooker, twinning association, over 55s drop-in, churches and WI – a proper village! We hope you will find this useful if you live in Mary Tavy or are just visiting.

If you have any suggestions for additional information that should be included on the site then please let us know by emailing our Clerk.

Mary Tavy a une association prospérée de jumelage, ayant été jumelée avec Méry-Bissières-en-Auge en Normandie pendant plus de trente années.