Authors – Simon Dell & John Bright
Title – Dartmoor’s Sett Makers’ Bankers
Format – Paperback (80 pages)
Publishers – The Dartmoor Company
Price – £5
Strictly speaking this is not a new book as it was published towards the back end of 2008, it is just that it has taken a while for me to track down a copy. For those who are interested in the Industrial Archaeology of Dartmoor and/or the granite industry then this book is a must especially with regards to the sett makers’ bankers that can be found dotted around the moor. The book is devoted to the moorland evidence of bankers’ (granite benches) where setts (granite street cobbles) were made. The authors have spent several researching the topic which had previously only recieved scant attention. In 1981, Helen Harris presented a paper to the Devonshire Association which was titles, ‘Nineteenth Century Granite Working on Pew Tor and Staple Tor, Western Dartmoor‘, (Transactions of the Devonshire Association, Vol. 113, 1981, pp.29 – 51). In this paper she briefly mention the sett makers, their bankers’ and how they worked and that was the leat time any attention was paid to the subject. This book greatly expands on the original ideas and indeed in some cases disproves what was originally thought. Chapter by chapter the reader is taken through the story in a logical manner; what is a banker, where can they be found, how setts were made, the transportation and use of setts, how to find bankers and finally a gazetteer of banker locations with their grid references. Sadly there is very little evidence for the Dartmoor sett makers so the authors have taken various reports and comments from other stone working areas such as Cornwall and Wales which give a good idea of their working methods and lives. The book is lavishly illustrated with old and new photographs along with some previously unpublished aerial photographs from the Duchy of quarrying areas of the moor.
All in all an interesting read that sheds light on an important nineteenth century industry that once flourished on Dartmoor and whose legacy can still be found paving the streets of towns such as Plymouth and Tavistock.