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Down in the dirt on Dartmoor

Devon based Knight Excavation and Fencing Services have recently been awarded a job in the Dartmoor village of Princetown and the Digger Man Blog travelled up to check out the job.

The remote village of Princetown is probably best known for its gloomy looking prison which dates back to Napoleonic times and was once responsible for incarcerating such famous criminals as the Kray twins. It is also well known as the highest settlement on the moor and during the winter months it can really be a very bleak spot indeed. In summer on the other hand, its often home to walking groups and tourists in general. It is also home to the Dartmoor Brewery where they brew such favourites as Dartmoor IPA and Jail Ale to name but two. However, development has just started on a new whiskey distillery and undertaking all the groundworks is Knight Excavation and Fencing Services.

Built on Duchy of Cornwall land, when completed Princetown Distillers will be the largest whiskey distillery outside of Scotland and located on Dartmoor, probably the furthest away from Scotland too. Peter Knight and his team will be engaged in all the groundworks for the building, car park and a visitor’s centre over the next 12 months and when completed the distillery will offer employment to around 22 people.

The ground conditions in and around Princetown are notoriously challenging consisting of soft sandy soil and large rocks which the team are currently sorting out and keeping to one side for recycling at a later date.

On the day of our visit Peter Knight was at the controls of his Hitachi Zaxis 210LC-3 working on a reduce dig operation at the top end of the site. Having deployed tractor and dump trailers earlier in the job, they quickly learnt that the ground was not going to lend itself to that application, so Peter has hired in a Hydrema 912F low ground pressure ADT from the regional depot of nationwide hire company H E. Services.

Peter is a massive fan of his Hitachi excavators but he also had a lot of praise for the Danish built dumptruck saying, “That’s a cracking little machine and doesn’t half shift, its coped really well with the soft underfoot conditions here, the only problem is I could do with another one as with 4 buckets from the 210 its full up and ready to go to the fill area, but I’m well impressed with it I must say!”

Down at the fill area Knight Excavations oldest Hitachi a ZX130LCN was busy spreading out the material. With plenty of work on the go and in the pipeline, Peter is considering adding a newer Hitachi excavator to the fleet and there is also talk of adding a dozer to the arsenal too.

One thing is for sure, there is plenty of work on this job to get stuck into over the coming months and we will be making a return trip to check on the progress in due course. In the meantime checkout my video from this early stage visit.





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