|In March 1812 a
twenty-five acre site at Oreston was purchased from the Duke of Bedford for £10,000 and
opened as the Breakwater Quarry for the supply of limestone used in the
construction of the Plymouth Breakwater. It is said that the
first limestone block weighed 7 tons. To convey the stones to the pier head a tramway
of 3 feet 6 inch gauge was laid.
At the pierhead
the stones were loaded on to one of the ten specially converted sailing
barges and dropped some 30 feet onto the seabed on August 12th 1812, the
Prince Regent's birthday.
These remains of the Breakwater
Tramway were discovered in 1948
These barges were able to make
four trips a day from the Quay at the Breakwater Quarry out to the Breakwater. There were also 45 smaller vessels that
carried the smaller stones in holds cable of storing up to 50 tons of material. The
contractors for this part of the operation were Messrs Billings.
Eventually the rails were even laid on the
surface of the Breakwater.
Thomas, David St John, A Regional
History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 1 - The West Country,
David & Charles Ltd, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1973, ISBN 0 7153 6208 9.
Coxon, Helen L, "Train Ferry to the
Breakwater", Christmas Cheer, Plymouth Guild of Social Service,
Plymouth, Devon, 1959.