Butchery Stream Foot

Notes: Steve Grigg writes: “The author first became aware of this water course through an article titled “The Butchery Stream” – another little mystery by Dave Brewer published in the Dartmoor Magazine (Issue 6, Spring 1987). Brewer recorded in his article that he had first became aware of the Butchery Stream whilst reading in a back issue of the Devon Historian called “The early water supply of Plymouth, an introduction” by David Hawkings (April 1982). The story begins with the Hawkings article recording that Devonport Leat often provided an inadequate supply of water; townsfolk of Plymouth going short of water whilst the military complained of low water pressure. As a result of this, the Devonport (Dock) Water Company were often under attack from consumers, which resulted in the company employing unscrupulous tactics to improve the supply. One such tactic took place in 1822, when without legal authority they (Devonport Water Company) diverted the ‘Butchery Stream’ into Devonport Leat.

The diversion of the stream into Devonport Leat appears to have gone well until there was a complaint about effluent discharged by the Dartmoor Tile Company into the stream which thus entered the leat. The effluent discharge had resulted in discolouration of the water supply. The Butchery Stream diversion appears to have ceased around 1852 after the complaint, which was made to the Duchy (and happened to have been by the Devonport Water Company themselves). This was rather odd situation, as the Devonport Water Company complaint to the Duchy about the discoloured water source (ie Butchery Stream) was regarding water they had diverted 30 years earlier and weren’t even entitled to in the first place!

The ‘Butchery stream’ is now better known as Moor Brook, albeit its location in the heart of Princetown doesn’t appear to be well known as part of its infant course is now underground. This post covers the mysteries surrounding this stream; The first part of the mystery is why was it called the ‘Butchery Stream’ and secondly where had the Dartmoor Tile Company been located to have polluted the stream?

Acknowledgement: Steve Grigg, Dartmoor Explorations


  • Brewer, D. (1987): Dartmoor Magazine, Issue 6, Spring: “The Butchery Stream” – another little mystery