South Caradon mine from the East Caradon Mine

South Caradon Mine in 1863 by Webb and Geach

After a run of maps and engine houses its time for this blog to return to some history. This time its my favorite period in history 1862-3.

An extract from ‘The History and Progress of Mining in Webb and Geach Book Coverthe Caradon and Liskeard districts’

Webb and Geach description of of South Caradon Mine captures the mine at the peak of its success.

A modern reprint of the full book is available in paperback from the Trevithick Society.

The South Caradon Sett

“This is an extensive sett, but of a most irregular shape, having a linear distance between its extreme points of two miles, which in no place exceeds 650 fathoms. The Sett so accommodates itself to the lodes, however, that there is a clear course of at least a mile on the most productive of them, decreasing in width as it extends in a triangular shape northward, where the lodes have not yet been sufficiently tried to prove their value.

Commencing at the northern corner, which is close to the Old Wheal Jenkin mines, the eastern boundary (a compact and durable fence, lately built by the present proprietors of both the soil and minerals) runs along close by “The Caradon Mine”, now included in the West Rose Down Sett, whence it extends across Caradon Hill, passing within a few fathoms of East Caradon New Engine shaft. It then has the Launceston and Liskeard road as a boundary as far as Newton around which estate and Bladda it winds (excluding the cultivated land south). It then takes the road from Bladda to Crows nest, from whence, turning sharply to the North, it has first East Agar, and afterwards West Caradon and Gonomena mines as its western boundary, a stream of water which rushes down a deep gully bounding the sett for three quarters of a mile .”

The lodes and shafts

“To form some idea of the extent and position of the mineral wealth of this valuable property, it will be necessary to trouble the reader with a concise description. Commencing, then South: Kitto’s South lode comes first in order. Then Kitto’s North lode and Caunter lode; these two run parallel and close to each other their whole

Clymo's Shaft

distance, and it should be noted that although when first cut the direction then seemed to proclaim it a caunter, it soon took a regular course east and west. These two have been, par excellence, the productive lodes not only of this mine, but of the district, and it is mostly from them that the profits of the mine have been made. These lodes are unwatered by a 60 inch engine on Rules shaft, and a 32 inch on kitto’s , the most eastern shaft on these lodes is a distance from East Caradon New Engine shaft (Which works the caunter lode) a little over 200 fathoms. These lodes are worked as deep as 180 fathoms under adit in South Caradon, and still continue as productive as ever, and are worked nearly 600 fathoms in length. Next in rotation is Jope’s Lode, which as engine of 42 inch diameter drains.

Further north are Clymo’s, Pearce’s and Dowding’s lodes. The main lode next in order was first discovered and worked on in the mine, and was very productive. There were several lodes on which little has been done, including Mendue’s which has been so rich in West Caradon. Webb’s and Gerald’s lodes still north, and have been productive. Father still, the whole of Gonomena veins cross a short part of the sett, although they are untried here. It will be seen that the whole of the Caradon lodes  traverse the sett, bearing about 8 north of west. These are intersected at right angles by several cross courses, the easternmost, near Jopes shaft, heaving all the lodes to the right hand regularly. There is nothing that can be called an elvan course, although numerous patches occur near the lode and favourably affect it. The junction of killas with granite occurs a little south of Caunter and Kitto’s lode.”

By 1863 it can be seen that the centre of production has moved eastwards and southwards. Caunter and Kitto’s lodes are  described as the source of most of the mine’s profits. The mine was still growing in output at the time of this report, and yet it was beginning to feel the impact of a drop in the price of copper.

The lodes are stated as being worked 180 fathoms under adit. That is over 1000 feet under the the level of the valley, or about the same depth down as Caradon Hill is above sea level! The scale of the workings visible above ground pale to insignificance to the invisible workings beneath.

The Mine buildings

“From the top of the western slope of  Caradon hill an excellent birds eye view offersJope's Shaft Engine House Cylinder arch itself to the observer: Immediately below all the mine workings and buildings are clearly seen, most of them in the narrow gully before alluded to, where every inch of available space is occupied by railways, ore floors engines, stamps, and the many appliances for the economical conduction of mining enterprise.

Immense masses of granite debris or “deads”, as technically termed, intrude themselves everywhere. In addition to the machinery already adverted to, there  is on the old sump a 45 inch pumping engine, the first erected in the district, and which has worked uninterruptedly for twenty six years; a 30 inch engine does the crushing. There is also a 22 inch winding engine at Jope’s shaft, a 24  inch at rules and a 22 inch at kitto’s, and a water winding engine at old sump. The ores are reduced by water-power.

It commenced to work in 1836, when an adit was driven on the main lode. At this time there were no mines working the lodes on the southern slope of the Caradon range, nor was it remotely supposed by any one that such a splendid run of congenial strata existed there.”

This is the “narrow gully” described, formed from the valley of the Seaton River.

By the time of this report, Kitto’s shaft is operation at eastern boundary of the sett.

 

The Company

“The adventurers of this mine have lately presented Mr. and Mrs. Norris, the proprietors of the land, with a handsome piece of plate, as proof of the esteem in which they are held, and of their kind and considerate conduct in the renewal of their lease in May 1862.

South Caradon mine from the East Caradon Mine

The mine is divided into 512 shares, on which 25s. was originally paid: for that small outlay, £365 per share has been returned to the fortunate adventures, amounting to the aggregate of £197,632. It shows the importance such a mine as this must be to the neighbourhood in which it may be placed, when it is mentioned that £600,000 have been paid to labourers and merchants and £43,000 in dues to the Lord. There are engaged in various occupations at this concern 650 persons.
The purser is Mr. T Kitto of Linkinghorne. The manager is Mr. Peter Clymo of Liskeard. The agents, Captains Rule, Pearce, Holman and May. Pay-day, the second Saturday in the month.”

South Caradon’s output was  to peak over the following 15 years. This report was written only a couple years before the fall in the value of copper being sold. A fall caused by the drop in copper price, a price which had already dropped from its summit of about £13 in the 1850’s.
The significant impact of South Caradon on the economy of the area is commented on by Webb and Geach. The second Saturday in each month was no doubt an important day in the surrounding towns and villages.

Notes from a General meeting

General meeting held 25th November 1862   

“Agents report
I am happy in being able to state that our prospects are still very good, with every probability of a continuance.

The general meetings are held two monthly; the next meeting will be held January 27th 1863.”

An optimistic report, but the decline in mine’s fortunes had already started. It was now having to raise more and more copper to maintain the same profits. The copper price was on its downward trend towards the £3 per ton of ore of the 1880’s, and the mine’s final closure.


Cover of the Liskeard Mining District in 1863 book coverThe Liskeard Mining District in 1863

This Kindle edition of Brenton Symons’s 1863 map makes a perfect companion to the Webb and Geach book.

Click here to view on Amazon>

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South Caradon Mine Dressing Floor Map

The last post of the series brought back the maps from my original website that showed the processes and structures within the South Caradon Mine dressing floor. This  post follows on from those maps with a reproduction of an Ordnance Survey 1885 map of the area, a map that I have magnified as much as the image quality allows.

A map of the Seaton Valley in 1883

An extract from the OS 1885 map showing the Caradon Mine dressing floor
OS 25″ Map 1885

This map was published in the year of the mine’s closure, it therefore shows the dressing floors in their final layout.

Key features shown

  • Donkey Pond- 2334South Caradon Mine's dressing floors
  • The yard-2335
  • The large shed- The coffin shape structure to the west of the yard
  • The count house- Structure north of 2336
  • The stamps and crusher- Structure south of 2336
  • The Halvan floors-The various circles and rectangles in the southern part of the map

More Maps

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

South Caradon Mine’s dressing floor

South Caradon Mine's dressing floor, looking south

The Dressing floor operation at South Caradon

This resurrection of the old South Caradon website is an excuse to bring back some of those basic paintbrush drawn .gifs of may years ago, (I loved Kawasaki green in those days), and also brush off my theory of the dressing floor material flow. Its a theory that seems to have survived the test of time. But off course if you have your own views on how the dressing floor operated, please leave a message.

floormap

The Seaton Valley housed the central dressing floors of South Caradon Mine, a complex of structures and buildings that has left  a confusing legacy of terraces, low walls and rubble. No definitive description of the function of the structures exist but it is possible to attempt an interpretation of the remains that will give an insight into the traditional processes involved in preparing copper ore for sale.

Copper ore  processing

dressingThe layout of a copper mines dressing floors  was greatly influenced by the properties of its main ore Charcopyrite. This ore tended to be hard and brittle with the unwanted property of easily breaking into a very fine powder. Tin mines traditionally operated by stamping all the ore and then classifying and concentrating the crushed rock through a series of physical processes using water. Such an approach applied to Copper ore would lead to large amounts of the ore being carried through the system as fine waste. Instead series of manual processing, sorting and picking operations were utilised, leaving stamping for only the most hardest of rocks.

Sorting the Ore

Hand sorting was fundamental in reducing the amount or rock to be processed and it was started even before the ore was brought to the surface, much of the waste being left underground. At the dressing floors the rock was sorted in four main types.

  • Deads: Containing no ore and was tipped in burrows
  • Prills: Pure ore that required no further processing
  • Drage: Ore mixed with gangue that required hand processing
  • Halvans: Low value ore that needed stamping before treatment

Processing the Drage

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

It was this processing that gave a copper dressing floor its distinctive properties. Drage was dressed by a series of manually intensive tasks that took place in assorted lightly built structures crowded in valley bottoms. South Caradon used hundreds of employees to undertake this work, the majority of which were females called  Bal Maidens. The large shed and area around it was the focal point for this work and its foundation area and adjacent cobbled spalling floors can still be seen.
In the later period of the mine’s life Bucking and Jigging had been mechanized using a steam powered crusher and jigging machines in one of the sheds. The bucking mill was mounted powered by the

 

stamps steam engine, and was located in the building to the north of its flywheel.

Processing the Halvans

Halvans were treated like tin ore and the Halvans floor resembled a smaller version of a tin mine’s dressing floor. The rock was first crushed in the set of Cornish stamps before passing through a set of tanks and buddles to separate the denser ore from the gangue. Little remains of South Caradon’s 24 head of stamps, or its engine apart from the bank upon which it stood, some fragments of wood and the flywheel loadings.

Of the dressing floors only a small parts of some of the tanks remain exposed, the rest has been buried beneath landfill of alluvial deposits.

Flow of material through the dressing floorsscdress

I have taken the suggestions of  various publications  combined them with the photograph from the Neil Parkhouse collection ( as reproduced in Webb and Geach), and applied a  simplified Copper dressing model to arrive at this suggestion. Since the production of this diagram I have produced a map of the tramway network that supports and expands on this interpretation of the remains.

Two flows of raw material are shown in this diagram. Drage processing is in red and Halvan in white, some material is shown returning back from Jigging for re-bucking or stamping.

The Drage processing flow

Hand sorting, ragging, spalling, cobbing and possibly jigging were most likely carried out on the cobbled floor area and within the large shed. Bucking was probably a powered process using the crushing mill and jigging was also powered . I have therefore suggested that the lower shed was used for jigging, this being supported by the tramway layout.

The Halvan processing flow

The lower Seaton Valley area is described by CAU as being used for waste treatment. This is undoubtedly the Halvan floors, and old OS maps show what is probably buddles and tanks (trunks) in this area. The fines for this area would have been produced from by the stamps, and again the tramway layout supports this suggestion.This lower floor area has disappeared under tipped landfill and alluvial mud leaving little evidence.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe Trevithick Society have reprinted Webb and Geach’s  ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’; a reprint that includes the fascinating Niel Parkhouse collection photograph.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Holman’s and Rule’s Shaft complex Map

South Caradon Mine’s best known set of mine buildings

Recycling one of the original website maps did not do this area justice, so instead I have dug up an image captured from an 1885 Ordnance survey map; the ability to digitally magnify the original brings out the detail crammed into this small area. 

The 1885 map

Holman's and Rule's Shafts area
OS 25″ map, 1885

This map was published in 1885, based on an 1883 survey. It therefore was printed in the year of the mine’s closure. As such, it captures the workings at their maximum extent.

Click here for a description of the mine in 1885>

The complex shown on the map

The engine houses

The most southerly building is Holman’s Shaft pumping engine house, withHolman's Shaft bob wall its boiler house situated on the western side Close north of that is Rule’s Shaft pumping engine house, again with the boiler house to the west. The two engines share a chimney on the opposite side of the track. The building on the northern side of the track is the winding engine for both shafts, with the loadings for the winding cages clearly indicated to the west of the horizontal whim engine’s house.

Tramways and leats

Running from east to west is the mine’s tramway, linking kitto’s Shaft to the dressing floors. Other tramways run from Holman’s shaft to the waste tips.

Three parallel leats are shown, along with ‘aqueducts’ (launders), and two boiler ponds.

Click here to explore more maps of South Caradon Mine>


 

wp-1453408124105.jpegBrenton Symons’s 1863  Map on Kindle

South Caradon Mine is included on Brenton Symon’s 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>

South Caradon Mine Stamp Engine

StampEngine2018

After the last post’s wander into the subject of the May tree fair, the South Caradon Mine series returns. Dando the Monk will re-appear once I have gathered some more photographs of the fair day, meanwhile here is another Cornish engine site.

The remains of a ore crusher and Cornish Stamps

This is one of the least well preserved engine houses of South Caradon Mine. Its chimney is still standing, but the rest of the structure is no more than rubble.  It is however, the engine house with the best photographic evidence in existence. StampsLoading.jpg

The Stamp engine house was located just above the Seaton valley bottom among the dressing floors. The engine was of 28 inch diameter; it powered a set of 24 headed stamps on the Southern side of the flywheel, and a rotative crusher to the North. These crushed the ore for dressing prior to further treatment on the floors that lay on the valley bottom. A tramway system linked the many shafts with the plant and with other parts of the processing area.

The substantial concrete structure to the south of the stamp engine is the remnant of a screen (grizzly) used in the reworking of the mine waste in more recent years.

The Crusher and stamps

Copper ore was difficult to reduce in size by stamps, they tended to over-crush the ore, resulting in too much being carried over in waste. Hand processing  therefore formed an important part of the copper

img_20160329_0845550_rewind_kindlephoto-9819468.jpg

dressing process right up to the end of the copper mining industry in Cornwall.

Crushers, otherwise known as Cornish Rolls, was a method introduced by John Taylor to mechanically reduce copper ore in size. They use two mechanically powered rollers, between which the rocks were passed for crushing.

Click here for more information about John Taylor and the Crusher>

The small set of stamps were used to treat the small amount of material that could not be processed by the manual methods or the crusher. The fine material produced by the stamps would be treated on the halvan floors in the lower part of the valley.

The 19th Century view

W59Stampsengine

This extract from a 19th Century photograph (courtesy of Neil Parkhouse collection) clearly shows the layout of the stamp engine complex. The Crusher house is on the left, flywheel in the middle and stamps to the right. The sweep rod is a blur, indicating that the engine was at work at the time of the photograph being taken.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe full 19th century photograph is reproduced in the centre of the Trevithick Society’s reprint of ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’.

Click here to view on Amazon>

St. Germans May Tree Fair- is almost here

 

This weekend coming is the annual excuse to get out into the sunshine with our books, set up the pop-up bookstore, enjoy the music, enjoy the local beer, enjoy the food, and enjoy some traditional Cornish silliness.  It’s the Maytree Fair at St.Germans, time to get the oak leaves ready. It is also an excuse to put the South Caradon Series of posts to one side, and have a look at the traditions surrounding this Cornish event.

May Tree fare procession at St. Germans

Traditions old and new

A long history hides behind this weekend of fun at the East Cornwall Village of St.Germans. It is one of those fascinating mixtures of Traditions historic and modern that peppers the Cornish calendar. So in true blog-post form, here is two lists, one of the old, and one of the new.

Traditions OldMayTreeLeaves

  • The Fair was held at the foot of a large walnut tree
  • Cattle from all over Cornwall was sold at its base each 28th of May
  • A basket swing was hung from its branches after the cattle sale for children to play on
  • On the 28th of May a mock Mayor, after much drinking, was paraded through the village on a hay wain or cart
  • Oak leaves were worn by everyone in the village
  • Anyone not wearing an oak leaf was dunked in the horse trough

Unfortunately the but tree no longer stands, nor do cattle chew cud beneath its branches, but some of the Traditions are still live on in modified form, and some new ones are growing.

May Tree Banner 2018, at the 'Rec'

Traditions New

  • A mock Mayor is still elected
  • The village is decorated with leaves
  • May Tree Dancing, tug of war and other festivities gather the parade together
  • Oak leaves are worn by villagers in the parade
  • The tree is represented by a re-creation that is paraded through the village to end up at the back of the pub
  • The Mayor is paraded from the The ‘Rec’ to the pub, with pause to visit the Priory Church. Musicians accompany the parade playing The May Tree Fair Tune
  • The parade has a Cornish Myth or tale theme
  • Stalls, food, and games are set up at the back of the Eliot Arms (That’s where our Bookstore will be)
  • A music stage is built for live music
  • Water pistols have replaced the trough

But, since it’s restoration the fair has adapted, the fair has changed, the fair’s traditions have changed, and no doubt so this year and next year will evolve again.

Click here to visit the May Tree Facebook Page>

 

And this year’s theme is-

Dando and his Dogs

After mermaids, giants, and fish, it is time that St.Germans own character to make an appearance, Dando the monk. Dando was not a a pious Monk to be celebrated by the religious, Dando was not a pillar of virtue to follow as a role model, and Dando did not meet an end suitable for any Saint.

His tale is a one of warning against that perils of sin and loose words. It is his tale that is the theme of this year’s fair and it his effigy, along with his dogs  will  lead the parade.

I will tell more of this tale in a later post, so follow along if you are tempted to know more.


The Pop Up BookstoreBook cover of the Mermaid of Seaton

Navsbooks and Kidz Kernow pop up bookstore will be at the fair this year, and will feature the following sections to explore:

New Books

  • Cheryl Manley’s Children’s Books
  • John Manley’s Cornish Industrial History Books
  • A selection of Trevithick Society Publications

Second Hand Books

  • Maritime
  • Railways
  • Travel

Our Books on Amazon

If you cannot make the fair, and your local independent bookshop do not stock ourWebb and Geach Book Cover books, then here are their Amazon Pages.

Cheryl Manley’s Books

John Manley’s Books

 

The Lodes of South Caradon Mine

Copper Ore at South Caradon Mine

I can thank the St.Just Mines Research group for this blog’s drive to bring the old South Caradon Mine website back into life. For it was the opportunity of accompanying the group around the amazing landscape that is South Caradon that inspired me to finally get around to bringing the site back from the dead.  Now that the very enjoyable walk has been completed (thanks to the group for the invite, thanks to the sun for a lovely day), the blog will wander off in a few random directions to answer questions raised on the day; starting with the lodes.

The source of South Caradon’s wealth

These views in this post are taken from the footpath opposite the mine, and show the approximate location of the copper lodes on the surface as indicated on the 1863 Geological map and described by Webb and Geach. These sources differ in some details from  the closure plans and the description given in Dines.

Click to search for a copy of Dines on Amazon>

The views explained

The Lodes dip to the North (apart from Caunter) so their location underground will shift to the left of the pictures with depth. The view should help to visualize the relationship between the surface remains and the underlying ore lodes, if you disagree with my interpretation please feel free to leave a comment.

Red lines mark the location of the lodes as they strike Eastwards across the Seaton Valley and up the Slopes of Caradon Hill. The grey lines indicates the cross course running parallel to Valley and causing a small amount of Heave in the lodes as they cross its path. The names have been taken from the 1863 map apart from those marked with a question mark that I have taken from Webb and Geach.

The Northern Lodes

The South Caradon mine northern lodes

Main lode was the first of South Caradon’s lodes to be found and it formed the source for much of the ore in the mines earlier years.  The engine house remains of Sump and Pearce’s shaft lie beside this lode, with Pearce’s’ shaft sunk where it outcropped.
Towards the Northern boundary of the sett are a batch of Lodes that gave little success, unfortunately, the richness of the main lode was not to be repeated in this direction.

The Southern Lodes

South Caradon Mine Southern lodes

This view is to the south of the one above, and it shows the lodes that provided the ore for the latter part of the mine’s life.

This Southern group of lodes extend across the South slopes of the Hill to the Eastern boundary of the Sett and then onwards into the adjoining East Caradon mine.

Kitto’s and Caunter lodes provided the largest tonnage of the ore from South Caradon. The Eastern end of the workings was accessed from Kitto’s Shaft.


Geevor Mine Gift shop

Webb and Geach Book CoverMy two South Caradon Mine publications, The Last Great Cornish Engineer and the Re-print of Webb and Geach can be found for sale at the Geevor Shop book shop, along with a great range of Cornish Mining publications. This is one of the best places to find Cornish industrial history books. So if you are in the area, pop along, have a cup of tea, and browse the shelves.

Click here to visit Geevor’s webpage>