Sump Shaft Winding Engine House at South Caradon Mine

The South Caradon post series continue with the second of the engine houses at Sump shaft.

A horizontal whim engine house

Sump shaft winding engine house lies up-slope of Sump Shaft, and in addition to winding at Sump shaft this engine provided power by flat-rods to Pearce’s shaft higher up the hill.

A 22 inch horizontal engine was housed in this building (some sources state a 16/30″). The was engine designed by William West, and was probably installed in 1844 (ref CAU) .
Horizontal engines did not require a substantial bob wall and the structure was therefore lighter than a traditional Cornish Engine house.

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The engine house in the 1880s

SumpWindCloseOld

The picture clearly shows that the  sump shaft winding engine  house was not a traditional Cornish beam engine structure. The boiler house is sited on this side, and its lean to roof can be seen, the loadings and flywheel are on the opposite hidden face.The headgear of Pearce’s shaft lies to the left of the view and the chimney on the right was believed to have served a steam capstan.

This house now has two partial walls and a partial height chimney still standing. On the left side are the loadings for the winding drum and flat rods crank. On the opposite wall low walls mark the position of a long narrow boiler house with the chimney on its uphill side. The boiler house may have been extended to the south to accommodate a second boiler.

The engine house in 2012

These pictures were taken soon after the Caradon Hill Project had stabilised the structure.

SumpWindingEngineHouse

This view looks up slope towards Pearce’s Shaft. The ruined western and northern walls are closest to the camera, with the best preserved southern wall to the right of the view.

SumpWindingFromEast

Looking from the north-east corner, the whim cage loadings are on the right.

SumpWindingInside

The inside of the winding house, looking up the alignment of flat-rods

SumpWindingLoading

Looking down the loadings towards Sump Shaft and its pumping engine house. The tips in the background are those of West Caradon Mine.

Flat rods, Flatrods, Flat-rods
Horizontal wood or iron rods used for communicating power from one part of a mine to another.  Flat-rods were often used to transfer power from an engine, or waterwheel to a remote shaft. The rods ran on rollers, or pivoted arms.


Books about William West

South Caradon’s Engineer

Cover of the Last Great Cornish Engineer Book cover of the Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham

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South Caradon Sump Shaft Pumping Engine House

Now this series of posts on South Caradon Mine starts to dive down into the detail, to look at the individual structures on this amazing piece of Cornish Industrial Heritage.

The first Cornish Engine house of many

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South Caradon’s Sump Shaft engine house has great historic importance, for it was here that the South Caradon mine installed its first steam engine, and it was here that the first engine house was built of what would become a major copper mining district of Caradon.

This was also the engine house that started the famous engineer William West’s long standing association with the mine’s steam engines. He would go on to install many engines on the site, and become the dominant engineer of the the district.

The engine

This building housed the first engine to be installed at the mine. It was built in 1837, and

sumpwing1

Sump Shaft Pumping Engine in 2010

different sources place its size at 30″, 35″ or 45″ cylinder diameter. Prior to its construction the pump was powered by flat-rods driven by a water wheel located downslope from the shaft.

As the workings expanded underground, and the original engine could not keep up with the water,  a larger 50″ engine was installed (possibly in the late 1840’s),  and this engine was still in place when the mine was finally closed.

Sump Shaft engine house in images

The engine house just before closure

South Caradon Sump Shaft pumping engine house in the 1880s.

This picture is an Enlargement of the 18th Century Picture from the
Neil Parkhouse Collection. The complete picture is contained in my reprint of Webb and Geach’s book. The shaft lies on the right of the picture with the headgear standing above it.

The Engine house in 2010

These images are resurrected from my original South Caradon website. They are images of the engine house before the Caradon Hill Project’s preservation work,

Sump Shaft pump engine house bob walltaken at a time when the house was in its gradual decay towards becoming a pile of rubble.

The Bob Wall

This view looks across the blocked shaft towards the ivy clad bob wall.

Bob Wall -The bob wall supported the bob or beam of the engine, and therefore was the strongest wall of an engine house.  It would be between four and seven feet thick, and often constructed of dressed granite. In a pumping engine the bob wall was adjacent to the shaft.

 

Sump Shaft engine house plug doorway

The view from the inside looking towards the shaft

The dressed granite arch is that of the Plug doorway. This doorway was at the driver’s floor level and gave him a view of the condenser and pitwork.

The inside of the engine house is in poor condition, and little can be seen of the internal layout.

A view of the boiler house

Sump Shaft boiler house

The layout of the boiler house is clear in this view with the seats of the three Cornish boilers discernible, and the flue openings visible at the far end of the house. Only a stump remains of the stack.

Boiler houses were generally of a far lighter construction than the engine houses they served. Remains are therefore less visible, and often non-existent.

The engine House in 2012

Sump Shaft Pumping engine house bob wall

Between the this images and the previous ones a major change had occurred at Sump shaft. The buildings had been cleaned, restored and stabalised. The decay has been paused, natures reclamation has been halted and the remains have been preserved for future generations to explore.

This is another view of the bob wall. The ivy has gone and the stonework re-pointed.

Sump Shaft Pumping Engine House site

The layout of the Pumping engine house is captured in this view.  From left to right the remains are: Shaft-Engine house-Boiler house.

Sump Shaft Pump Engine house site

The Engine House in 2015

Sump shaft engine houses in the snow

Snow came to South East Cornwall in 2015, bringing with it crystal clear light that brought the buildings into sharp contrast.  This view was caught over those rare crisp cold days, and it shows well the extent of the engine house remains. Only two walls now stand; the bob wall to the left, and the partial remains of the wing wall to the right.

Wing Walls-The side walls of an engine house.
Wing walls were about 2’6″ to 3’6″ thick. Being the weakest walls these were often the first parts of the building to collapse.


wpid-wp-1438632680446.pngWebb and Geach

The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District

This paperback contains the Victorian Photograph mentioned in this post.

If you are visiting the area then pop into the excellent bookshop in Liskeard for a copy.

Click here to learn more about the book>

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South Caradon Mine-The Webpage is now up and running

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A  South Caradon Home page is born

No new South Caradon Mine information this post; instead I have put together an index of posts so far.

The page will expand as this series of posts continues on its journey into the depths of the old ‘Views of South Caradon’ website. As it expands the listing will be grouped, sorted and arranged into a structure that will provide a useful resource for anyone wishing to know more about this important copper mine in South East Cornwall.

A new Tavistock Canal Book

Meanwhile I have just got my copy of Rob Waterhouse’s amazing book on the Tavistock Canal. A real classic of Industrial Archaeology.  For anyone who is researching John Taylor, the mining genius, this book is a must. Ask your local bookseller to get a copy, I suspect the hardback copies may soon disappear.

If you do not have a local bookseller then here is an Amazon link, but as I write this post none have yet turned up on their site for sale.

I

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A map of South Caradon Mine in 1863

An extract from Brenton Symon’s  1863 Geological Map of the Caradon and Ludcott Mining District in Cornwall

Brenton Symon’s map is such a rich resource of information on South Caradon Mine that it deserved its own post, and here it is.

Extract of Brenton Symons' 1863 map showing South Caradon Mine

The Map

Brenton Symons’ map coverage includes the Liskeard and Menheniot mining district, and captures the area at the peak of its development, before the financial market crash of 1866.  The geology shown is basic, but what is shown is invaluable in understanding the layout of the Caradon Mines.

Features shown

  • Sett boundaries: Coloured dashed lines
  • Lodes: Red lines
  • Direction of dip: Arrows
  • Cross-Courses: Grey lines
  • Elvans: Red shaded areas
  • Granite Killas Boundary: Blue/pink shading
  • Pumping engines: PE
  • Whim engines: WE
  • Waterwheels: WW
  • Shafts: Circles

More information about the map

image

Click here for an earlier series of posts about the map>

These posts include a discussion on the accuracy of the geology shown by Brenton Symons, puts the map in context, some notes on its creator, and delves into detail on some of the features portrayed.

The full map is reproduced in my Kindle Pubication- The Liskeard Mining District in 1863.

 

 

South Caradon Mine as shown by Brenton Symons

Geology

All the important  geological features that shaped the history of the mine are shown on the map; the granite boundary crossing the southern part of the extract, the east-west trending lodes, the long run of the rich caunter lode and the cross-courses associated with the Seaton Valley.

Structures

Within the Seaton Valley there is a cluster of buildings denoting South Caradon’s dressing floors and administration area. This is where the mine commenced its operations, and this is the area so evocatively described by Wilke Collins in ‘Rambles beyond Railways’.

To the south of this is a run of shafts and engine houses that exploited the Caunter lode. Jopes, Rules and Kitto’s mark the progression of the mine eastwards as it chased the copper across the southern slopes of Caradon Hill.

Railways

The Liskeard and Caradon Railway’s 1863 layout is clearly shown. On the west the line runs up the Gonamena incline plane towards Minions, on the south the line contours around Caradon Hill to East Caradon Mine. This was the arrangement before the railway built the extension around the eastern side of the hill to allow steam traction to reach Minions.

The Liskeard Mining District in 1863

wp-1453408124105.jpegThis publication brings  Brenton Symon’s map into the Kindle Format.

Extracts of the map for each of the mines in the area are included, along with descriptions of their history and key features.

Click here for details of the book on Amazon>

The next group of posts in this series will be to recover some of the pages from the old website that describe in more detail the remains at the site.

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring South Caradon Mine by Maps

What a difference a few years make on the internet. When I first published the views of South Caradon website online map resources were sparse; but now hours can be idled away in virtual exploration.  Therefore rather then just reproduced my original simplistic and dated .gif map of the mine I have brought together some maps now freely available on the internet. Enjoy exploring..Jm

From the National Library of Scotland

Ordnance Survey map of 1882

South Caradon Mine shown on the 1886 OS map

Click to view map on the NLS website

This is the best map easily available of the mine site. It shows the buildings all still standing, along with the tramways, leats, shafts,  and ponds. To view the map visit the excellent NLS website.

Click here to view the map>

Google Maps

Ariel view

An amazing resource for the industrial archaeologists. Matching the features shown on the view with the NLS map is a great way to interpret the site.

Google Steet View

This view is taken between Holman’s and Kitto’s shafts.

Cornwall Council Interactive Map

This is a multilayered resource that gives access to archaeological data of all the key remains on South Caradon mine.  Visit the Council’s website and click on the icons to discover more.

South Caradon Mine area showing the historic remains

Click to view the map on the Cornwall Council website

Click here to view>

Ordnance Survey on line map

OS map 2017

A freely available map showing all the main landscape features.

Screen capture of map in 2017

Cllick to view map on the OS webite

Click here to view>

British Geological Survey

Sheet 337

This sheet shows the geology of the Caradon Hill area. Some of the important lodes and cross-courses are also shown. The map is available on the BGS website.

Extract of BGS geological map.

Click to view on BGS website

From the ‘View of South Caradon’ website

Here is the original gif image from my original website. A simple map, but one that does explain the layout of the mine.

South Caradon Mine layout


wp-1453408124105.jpegBrenton Symons’s 1863 Geological Map

South Caradon Mine is included on this map of the Liskeard Mining district. The full map is available in the Kindle Publication ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863’.

Click here for the book’s Amazon page>

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South Caradon Mine- A timeline

The recovery of the ‘Views of South Caradon’ continues with the history theme. In this post I will rescue the timeline from its geocities vault, and along the way add some cross referenced dates from other time lines on this blog. Should be interesting to see how the histories interwine. The photographs on this post come from a series I took in 2015 on a rare occasion when the South Caradon site was covered in snow and bathed in bright sunshine.

1833 to 1890

View across the Seaton Valley across Sump's shaft

Six decades of industrial industry

The mine started in the Seaton Valley but its production moved eastwards in the later part of the history. The richest part of the mine lay in these easterly lodes.

Early working

1662

First record of mineral workings in the area at the Gonamena open works.

Early 19th century

 

A promise of wealth

Experience in the west of the Cornwall suggested that copper deposits probably existed under Caradon Hill. Large deposits of fine gozzen near the surface suggested that workable mineral lodes would exist deeper down. These gozzans may have been worked for tin. Attempts at finding copper had been made by small groups of miners driving adits into the hillside, but with no success prior to the South Caradon find.

Missed chances

On each lease transfer the opportunity of huge wealth was missed by the leaseholder, at one point the sett sold for less than a guinea.


1801
William West was born at Dolcoath

1817 to 1819 William West works at Dolcoath fitting shop

Ennor’s Trial

A miner called Ennor working for a group of Plymouth and Devonport adventurers dug an adit in from the Seaton Valley. This was probably at the location of what became main lode adit.

Some indications of minerals may have been found, but the trial was abandoned on advice of experts. The lease then changes hands several times, often for very small amounts.

The startLooking towards Holman;s and Rule's shafts in the snow

1831 West was Engaged by  J. T. Austin at Fowey Consols

1833

The miner James Clymo and members of the Kittow family started looking for Copper in the area. An adit running eastwards from the Seaton Valley was the starting point of their enterprise.

1834 Austen’s Engine is started

1834-1835

Despite shortage or resources the miners continue to persevere in extending the adit, following promising signs of mineralization deeper into the hill.

1835 Trial of Austen’s engine

1836

The adventurers perseverance and determination is rewarded when the main ore body is discovered, but no investors in London could be found to finance the venture. The original miners therefore financed the mine themselves.

1836 -1838 Cornwall Great United Mining Association worked the mines that would become Phoenix United.

1837

Sump shaft engine houses in the snowFirst returns are made for the mine after just over £327 had been paid out. 130 tons of ore (of 10% metal) is produced. Ref: Shambrock (Allan gives this production as starting in 1838)

The first engine was installed at sump shaft by William West.
Within a few years South Caradon became one of the biggest copper mines in the world.

 

William West started working for South Caradon mine


The story goes…

+That James Clymo offered the shares to a mine adventurer on the coach back from London. The adventurer refused the shares at £5 each. A few months later the shares fetched £2000 each!

Another story is of two maidens who sold some rough land to a lawyer and immediately learnt about the discovery of copper beneath its surface. By the following day they had repurchased the land claiming that they where sentimentally attached to it.
The lawyer heard about the copper the following morning…..just that bit too late
1837 West became the Fowey Consols sole engineer


The Victorian period starts

1839 West patented the double-beat self acting valve

The rise

1840’s

The mines in West Cornwall suffered a decline but South Caradon’s success sparked a mining boom around Caradon Hill. The mine was producing nearly 4,000 tons of ore a year.

1842 Wheal Phoenix was formed

1848 St. Blazey foundry is established by West

1850’s

1850 William West commenced his association with Phoenix United Mine

What is in a name?

The success of the mine sparked a rush of mines being named with the magic word The wast tios of West Caradon Mine in the snow“Caradon” in their title, in the hope of attracting investors. A practice that became far too common after 1850, and earned the term “market mining”. None of these mines ever came near of matching the success of South Caradon.

  • Caradon Consols
  • Caradon Vale
  • East Caradon
  • Caradon Copper
  • Great Caradon
  • New West Caradon
  • Glasgow Caradon Consols
  • New South Caradon
  • The Caradon Mine
  • West Caradon Mine
  • Wheal Caradon Mine

Tredhenam  house is built

1852 West installed his first Man engine at Fowey Consols

The Fall

1863 Brenton Symons publishes his map of the Caradon mining District and Webb and Geach produce their book.

Mid-1860’s

The price of copper drops, despite large amounts of ore being produced profits start to fall.
Nearly 6,000 tons of ore a year was being produced by South Caradon.
The mine became the biggest copper producer in Cornwall. But profits still fell.

1864 The Liskeard and District is Bank formed

 1867 Fowey Consols failed

1868 West obtains majority shares in Phoenix United

1879 William West Dies

1880

Work Stopped at the mine

1883

A limited company was formed to raise more capital, and attempts are made to keep the mine more profitable by extending the eastern part of the workings.

The Death

1885

Work Ceases, despite having copper reserves the mine was too expensive to run with the low price of copper. A picture of the mine prior to closure

1889

Attempts made to re-work the mine, but with no success.
The venture planned to run East Caradon, Glasgow Caradon and South Caradon as one mine.

1890

Final closure.
The site becomes mine history.

View across South Caradon Mine to the borth west

 

The end of an Industry

When the South Caradon Mine pumps stopped the water rose to flood the workings of adjacent mines forcing them to close. Even Railways suffered. 1885 saw the Liskeard and Caradon Railway going into receivership. A railway whose existence was dependent on the wealth produced by the South Caradon Mine.

Other Time lines on  this blog


BookshopLiskeard

A Great Book Shop

To find books about the history of the Caradon Hill area pop in to the excellent book shop at Liskeard. They keep some well stocked shelves on Cornish local history, including my two paperbacks on William West– The Last Great Cornish Engineer, and the Liskeard Mining District .

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South Caradon Mine- history

I have decided to commence the views of South Caradon mine Website resurrection with a few posts on its history. So to here is a few words extracted from the old website to get started. 

A Victorian enterprise

South Caradon Mine was born in the early Victorian period, during the decades of social

A view of Holman's and Rule's shaft

Holman’s Shaft

unrest and change caused by the Industrial revolution. The mine started production in 1838 at the beginning of the Victorian era and raised its last ton of ore towards the end of the Queen’s reign in 1890.

Its peak production coincided with the “high” Victorian years, represented by the Great Exhibition of 1851, a time when Britain became the workshop of the world. Its final struggles for survival occurred in the late Victorian years, a period when the whole country was feeling the impact of industrialization abroad. This was a true Victorian enterprise.

Early history

Tin extraction in the area has a long history, but much of the evidence of earlier streaming in the Seaton Valley has been lost beneath the upheaval caused by South Caradon Mine. A small section of tin streaming remains exist in the upper part of the sett, and nearby. the huge open scar of Gonamena openworks dominates the landscape.

Milestones in Cornish history

South Caradon’s History is also set against a backdrop of great changes within Cornwall. Its founding was towards the end of the great copper boom initiated by the advances made in steam engine technology in the Duchy. Its growth in the 1840’s occurred when the Western mines were closing due to the exhaustion of their reserves.wpid-wp-1427407113584.jpeg

The 1860s were to mark the collapse of the industry and lead to poverty and a emigration on a massive scale. Cornwall’s population has never recovered to its 1860’s levels, and today descendants of the Cornish miners can be found all over the world.
Another great change occurred in 1859 when Brunel’s railway bridge was opened at nearby Saltash. The river Tamar was finally no longer the physical border it had represented since the Dark ages, splitting British from invaders, Celt from Anglo Saxon, Cornish from English. The Railway age removed Cornwall’s traditional isolation from the rest of Britain.

Geography influences History

A major factor in South Caradon’s history was its location in the eastern part of

Liskeard mining map 1863

Brenton Symon’s Map of the Liskeard and Ludcott Mining District

Cornwall. The large granite mass of Caradon Hill overlooks an area that is many miles from the rich mineral deposits of West Cornwall. A separation that  influenced the late development of copper mining in the district. This late start placed the mine in a position of having large copper reserves available when mines in the West started to fail. Unfortunately, this also left the mine struggling in its later years against the rapidly falling price of copper.

These factors led to the migration of miners across Cornwall into the Caradon region, and caused huge social changes in the area. When South Caradon finally closed, it left miners with no prospects of work anywhere else in Cornwall. Many went to England to find work in factories of coal mines, but large numbers emigrated to work hard rock mines all around the world.

The Hypocrisy of the finance market

Many speculators believed that little copper lay east of Truro and it was left to practical miners to disprove this theory. The Clymo brothers and Thomas Kittow worked on a previous abandoned trial adit and struck copper. Even after the discovery of the lodes, the money markets of London refused to risk money on the mine.

View of Graylands

Graylands House in Liskeard This large house was built on the wealth from the mine. Constructed for Peter Clymo in 1855 it was originally named Dean House.

The miners therefore funded the mine’s development themselves, and became extremely wealthy in the process. Once copper mining had become established however, speculators jumped on the bandwagon forming a multitude of mines with the word “Caradon” in their title hoping to attract unwary investors. Most of these ventures proved unsuccessful and helped give Cornish mining a poor reputation for investment.

A Mine Operated by Miners

Being left in the hands of skilled miners gave South Caradon mine several advantages financially over those owned by “up country” investors. For most of its life the mine operated under the Cost book system as regulated by Cornish Stannary law. This system was extremely simple and success often depended on balancing investment in new exploration with the profitable extraction of ore. The practical skills of the Clymo brothers allowed them to get the most out this large mine for many years without resorting to forming a public company.

A wealth still underground?

A downside of the late timing of the venture was that it was hit by the fall in the price of copper. It was the low price of copper that closed the mine, not the lack of available ore. For example in 1864 the mine made over £57,000 from the sale of about 5,700 tons of ore. In 1880 however, over 6,800 was sold to give only £30,000. This halving of the ore price was to cause costs to outstrip revenue and lead to the mines closure when workable reserves where still available underground.

Next is this series will be a timeline of the mine’s history.


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The Liskeard Mining District in 1863

Brenton Symon’s map of the Liskeard mining district is available in Kindle format.

Click here to view on Amazon>

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The View of South Caradon Mine resurrected

It is over a decade now since I last updated my views of South Caradon Mine website. That expansive and rambling website was the result of many years of exploring the amazing landscape of Caradon Hill, near Liskeard. In 2016 all that work disappeared whilst I was away at sea, when Geocities closed up shop and took their websites with them.

But then, a rather clever company called Oocities stripped down the webpages and published them under their own banner. Seemed like good news, but unfortunately, despite all my attempts I have been unable to gain access to those files to correct, edit or develop what was once my own website. 

So it is now time though to rebuild the South Caradon Mine pages through the words of this blog. So if you are interested in the mines of Liskeard, please follow along. JM

The Views of South Caradon Website

The purpose of the original website was to record and  add to the knowledge of this very important industrial heritage site, and to illustrate Cornish mining terms and technology.

To avoid legal problems arising from right of way issues it was based on the view from the Crow’s Nest to Minions footpath. Since 2016 however, the rights of way act has been passed, and the area is now part of open access land. This change has removed the self imposed original restrictions on the website, but for the time being I will focus on bringing back on line the original material, tweak it a bit, and then look at additional topics

South Caradon Mine

An annotated view of South Caradon Mine

South Caradon Mine was one of the largest copper mines in Cornwall, and one with a fascinating history. It is an enterprise with a rags to riches story and one that had a huge impact on the social, financial and transport history of South East Cornwall. The emigration that resulted from its final closure spread this impact around the world to wherever metal was mined.

It has left an amazing landscape, a landscape rich in tales of Victorian industry. A richness is acknowledged thtough its inclusion within the of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site.

Changes in time

Over the last 20 years there has been some important
developments that have changed the information contained on the original website.

As mentioned  above, the area is now part of a World Heritage site and the moorland is now officially classed as open access land. The Caradon Hill project is no longer with us, but  their good work has left many of the buildings in a far more stable condition then recorded in 2016.

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On closure of the website, I transferred my research into three related publications- The Liskeard Mining Area in 1863, a reprint of Webb and Geach’s account of the Liskeard Mining district, and a biography of the mine’s engineer, William West. Unashamedly, I will plug these publications throughout the posts. If you are tempted to buy one of the paperbacks, pop into Liskeard’s excellent book shop and support their local history section…it is a real gem of a bookshop.

And Next-

I am not sure where to start this challenge, or in which direction to explore the old web pages, but that will be part of the fun; let the exploration commence!

 

An important Note from the original website

On many mine sites in Cornwall dangers may still exist, many hidden.  This web site is published as a resource to those using public rights of way.

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South Caradon Mine by Wilkie Collins

Another piece of writing from a Victorian author, this time from Wilkie Collins.

Ramble Beyond Railways

1851

“soon the scene presented another abrupt and extraordinary change. We had been walking hitherto amid almost invariable silence and solitude; but now with each succeeding minute, strange mingled, unintermitting noises began to grow louder and louder around us. We followed a sharp curve in the tramway, and immediately found  ourselves saluted by an entirely new prospect, and surrounded by an utterly bewildering noise. All around us monstrous wheels turned slowly; machinery was clanking and groaning in the hoarsest discords; invisible waters were pouring onwards with a rushing sound; high above our heads , on skeleton platforms, iron chains clattered fast and fiercely over iron pulleys, and huge steam pumps puffed and gasped, and slowly raised their heavy black beams of wood. Far beneath the embankment on which we stood, men women and children were breaking and washing ore in a perfect marsh of copper coloured mud and copper coloured water. We had penetrated to the very centre of the noise, the bustle and the population on the surface of a great mine”

Wilkie Collins

A portrait of Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins was a best selling  Victorian novelist, and therefore understandably, this account is more descriptive than factual. It forms an evocative image of the mine in its heyday, an image far more atmospheric then any photograph could. 

Ramble beyond Railways contains some other fascinating snapshots of Victorian Cornwall, including a non-too flattering account of a pub in Liskeard. It is a rich travelogue that is well worth a read.

‘The Moonstone ‘ by the author is regarded as the first detective novel, and created the format followed by Conan Doyel in his Sherlock Holmes books. Despite of this accolade, I consider that Rambles is a fare better book, but  being non-fiction it did not gain the recognition it deserved.

Click here for a Wilkie Collins biography website>
Wilkie Collins on Amazon

South Caradon Mine in 1851

In 1851 the mine produced 2,818 tons of ore along with 296 tons of metallic copper. This was a production which earned the mine an income of £20,208. 

South Caradon was still growing; the amount of ore raised and income would triple in the years that followed.  

Pearce's engine house at South Caradon Mine

The View of South Caradon is to return

Writing this post has stirred me into finally getting around to resurrecting some of the material lost when Geocities closed many years ago. This blog will now spend some time bringing that website back to life, and up to date.

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Dame Schools- William West and Charles Dickens

Before this blog moves on to the next industrial heritage theme there will be brief excursion into Victorian literature 

Great Expectations and Mr. Wopsle’s Great Aunt

I have just finished my first reading of Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’; a novel that is often considered to be the best of the Victorian writer’s work. It is the tragic character of Miss Havisham that many remember best from the book, but for me is is unnamed character hidden away in chapter 7 that grabbed my attention.

William West’s success as an engineer was founded on a sparse, almost non-existent childhood education. His only eduction was for a brief period at  ‘Dame school’ ; a period shortened by an incident involving gin, a drunk school mistress and a fire place. His  school mistress he called ‘Old Betty Hip’, and  he is reported to have said that:

” she thought much more of sending him to the drams of gin in which she delighted than of imparting the small amount of knowledge she possessed” Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham

Charles Dickens in Great Expectations also describes a ‘Dame school’. His descriptionDSC00398 describes so much about these Victorian institutions in very few words.

“Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt kept an evening school in the village; that is to say, she was a ridiculous old woman of limited means and unlimited infirmity, who used to go to sleep from six to seven every evening, in the society of youth who paid two pence per week each, for the improving opportunity of seeing her do it”  Charles Dickens Great Expectations.

Such a brilliant sentence, and one must use in my future talks.

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