What Steam Engines were at Phoenix United Mine?


Here is a list of steam engines installed at Phoenix United Mine, Compiled from Kenneth Brown/Bob Acton’s Exploring Cornish Mine’s book, and The CAU study on the Minions area. Many of these engines were made at William West’s St. Blazey foundry.

Hamiltons Pumping Engine
A 36″ engine erected 1869-1870.
Some overgrown remains exist.

West’s Whim
A horizontal engine used in the last part of the mine’s life. A good set of remains exist.

West Phoenix Stamps
A 24″ engine driving  64 head of stamps.
A poor set of remains.

Crushing Engine
A 15″ or 20″, the use and size of this engine is not well known.
A poor set of remains.

Wheal Phoenix Stamps
Originally a pair of William West 26″ engines that was replaced with a 32″. It Drove a 96 head of stamps.
A poor set of remains.

Seccombe’s Whim
A 28″ engine
Only the bedstone remains.

Seccombes Pumping Engine
This 60″ engine was main pumping engine on the mine.
Very poor set of remains.

Water Wheel
A 60 ft wheel in the valley bottom.
A splendid set of remains!
Reference: Minions, An archaeological survey of the Caradon Mining Dsitrict, By Adam Sharp, Published by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 1993.

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Phoenix United- Where are the remains?

When Phoenix United closed most of its structures were demolished. However, amongst the undergrowth and rubble some remains exist. This post gives the grid references of the some of these remains as given by the Cornish Archaeological Unit in their 1993 report on the Minions area.


Note: All abandoned mine sites in Cornwall, by their nature, can contain hazards to those straying beyond the public rights of way. This blog is intended as a guide to those exploring the Maps of the Caradon mines, and not as a guide to those visiting the site. For those wishing to visit the mine I recommend the ‘Exploring Cornish Mines’ series of books by Kenneth Brown and Bob Acton.

Engine Houses
Sump Shaft whim SX2668 7218
Pumping Engine Seccombes SX2685 7221
Seccombes Whim SX2681 7230
West’s Whim SX 26514 72152
Stamp engine SX26670 72322
Crusher/pulveriser SX26620 72334
West Phoenix Stamps SX26560 72307
Possible Crusher SX26548 72372
Hamilton’s shaft pumping SX26330 72129

Water Wheel SX26799 72720

SX2675 7211
SX2671 7214
SX2675 7211
SX2674 7225
SX2661 7230
SX 2645 7210
SX 2647 7240
SC2649 7241
SX2651 7230

Sump Winding SX2678 72201
Sump Pumping SX 26676 72231
Open shaft SX 26684 72179
Seccombe’s Sx26828 72230
SX 26820 72268
Juliana’s SX26595 72212
West’s SX26514 72209
Tom SX 26494 72115
Mary or Harriet’s SX26448 72142
Hamilton’s SX26326 72138
Adit shaft SX 26286 72165
Adit shaft SX26268 72122
Hard SX 2218 72132
Redurrow SX26187 72316
Stowes SX26050 72146
SX 26466 72253
SX26465 72282
Sx 26460 72313
Sx 26469 72362

Clanacombe SX26464 72383
Stowe’s Deep Sx26438 72485
Stowe’s shallow SX26250 72182

Processing floors
Large stone buildings SX 26540 72406, SX26600 72372

Offices and other structures
Count house SX 26650 72147
Smithy SX 26718 72152

Stowes Mine
New engine shaft SX2596 7214
Stowe’s shaft SX265 7215
Cottage SX 2407 7214

Reference: Minions, An archaeological survey of the Caradon Mining Dsitrict, By Adam Sharp, Published by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 1993.

Click here to visit my Amazon author’s page
For those passing through Cornwall then pop into the Liskeard Bookshop, to buy a copy of my books about the Caradon Mining area. To buy the books on line, or download the kindle publications then visit my Amazon store.

When did Phoenix United Mine work?


This is one of a  series of posts about Phoenix United Mine in southeast Cornwall. A mine with a history as rich as its underground wealth.

Phoenix United had the longest history of all the mines in the Caradon Mining District. This longevity was a combination of being blessed with both tin and copper, and William West’s  determination to exploit those reserves.

This combination of minerals resulted in a sandwich of  three periods of working.

Tin- pre-records to the 1840s
Copper-1840s to the 1860s
Tin-1860s to the early 20th Century

Key Dates
1513 The first documented evidence of tin streaming in the area
16th Century : Underground mining in progress on Stowe’s Lode
18th Century: Stowe’s lode being worked by several mines including Stowe’s, Stowe’s End, Clanacombe and Newland.
1824-5 Stowes Sett worked as Wheal Julia.
1836 -1838 Cornwall Great United Mining Association worked the mines in the area for tin
1842 Wheal Phoenix was formed
1843 Clanacombe Mine renamed as Phoenix United
1848 Sales of copper started
1852 A rich copper lode was struck.
1860 Copper showing signs of exhaustion
1863 Brenton Symons’ map of the Liskeard mining area is published
1864-1865 The mine is under the control of William West
1869 Branch of the Liskeard and Caradon Railway built to serve the mine.
1870 Stowes Mine sett added to Wheal Phoenix
1879 William West Dies
1886 West Phoenix Mine added to the Wheal Phoenix, which was then called Phoenix United
1894 Mine in financial trouble
1897 Mine in the hands of a liquidator
1898 The mine closes due to falling tin prices.
1907 Prince of Wales Shaft working starts
1909 The Pumping Engine at the Prince of Wales Shaft is officially started by the Prince of Wales.
1914 Prince of Wales shaft working closes as a failure.
1935 Prince of Wales engine is scrapped

Phoenix United remains and the building of the Prince of Wales Shaft

Phoenix United-William West’s Speech

Navsbooks>William West> William West’s Speech at Phoenix United

The significance of William West’s achievements at Phoenix United Mine is captured by events at the mine in 1870,  a rare occurrence of Cornish Miners presenting a gift to the mine’s owners. Here is some extracts from the Western Morning News account of the day’s events.


“On Saturday last (July 9th, 1870), at Phoenix Mine pay-day, an event of a very interesting and gratifying character occurred – the presentation by the miners and others employed in the now extensive and flourishing adventure, to Mr . W . West, of a very handsome time-piece.”……….

The account now continues with a description of the presentation, but this blog will skip to the words of William West.

“Mr. West, after briefly thanking the deputation, addressed the whole body of employees from the window. He could hardly express to them his feeling in receiving such a testimonial from such a fine-looking, steady body of men and women. He was sorry, in one sense, to take anything from them, for they worked hard enough for their money, and had plenty of uses for it, and he would rather give than take; but still he accepted their handsome present with a very deep and real pleasure. (Applause).

He hoped that they had in Phoenix a mine that would provide for them and theirs all their lives. He had many difficulties in bringing it out, but they had stuck by him like men. Most of them, he knew, were originally western men, and he hoped that they and their families would find themselves thoroughly comfortable in the east. It should not be his fault if they were not.

That they were careful, steady men, was proved in the very few accidents that occurred. Still he exhorted them ever to neglect taking proper precautions. He knew that mining was practical by experience. (Applause.) He was quite as desirous that the mine should be worked safely and comfortably as profitably; and he sent up a stock of copper-ended tamping bars, with which each ‘pair’ was to be supplied.

One great need that was felt was the want in the neighbourhood for sufficient cottages for the large body of men now connected with that mine. He saw this, and he was glad to tell them he was trying for a place where he could put up 100 cottages, and he hoped he should do it. (Applause) They would be all the more needed when West Phoenix got fairly in work, for it was his intention to spend a good deal of the money he got out of district in giving employment in the district. (Applause.)

Once more he thanked them from the bottom of his heart. Three hearty cheers were then given, and setting and pay proceeded.”

Today, standing at the entrance gate to the count house I can imagine William West stood in the bay window with the miners crowded below. I have stopped at this gate many times, and read the speech to groups; the Last Great Cornish Engineer’s words still being heard in the landscape he moulded.

The rest of the account can be read in ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer‘.

Phoenix United in 2015 according to the Ordnance Survey

This set of maps from the Ordnance Survey show Phoenix United Mine in 2015. The maps are screen captures from the fascinating OS website, and have been reproduced within the terms of their open copyright

Click here to explore their site.

The first extract shows the count house with a shaft immediately to the north. Either side of the track are the remains of the stamps.


The second map is to the west of the count house, and clearly shows the tramway incline up to the West Phoenix section. Remains of West’s Shaft winding engine and Hamilton’s Shaft pumping engine are marked in the bottom part of the extract.


This map shows the valley bordering the sett to the north. The grid type structures are remains of a slime processing works. The long thin structure in the northeast corner is the water wheel casing.


The final map covers the head of West Phoenix incline, with its associated shafts.


The Cornish Mining Kindle Book shelf

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Where is Phoenix United mine?


An invite received from the Pensilva history group to explain the rich history of Phoenix United Mine is a great opportunity to run a series of posts on the mine, a mine that was closely involved with William West, the last great Cornish engineer.

Where was Phoenix United Mine?

Phoenix United was located in Southeast Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, near to the village of Minions. Phoenix was one of the great success stories of mining in the Liskeard area, with a history worthy of its name. It was the second richest of that Caradon Mines, and was was one of the few that extracted both copper and tin.


Copyright ordnance Survey.

Most of the mine is located within grid ref square SX 2672, which is covered by the ordnance Survey explorer map 109 (Bodmin Moor). Click here to buy on Amazon.


This 1:25000 map is perfect for exploring the Caradon hill mines. An alternative for Kindle users is the OS Mapfinder app, an excellent programme, great fun to use. If you have the app the cell to download is: 25000 SX 27.

This is a screen shot from that app showing a pin dropped in the mine with a full grid reference and Lat/Lon.

The brown shading indicates that the site is on open access ground, and the green dash lines show the public rights of way across the mine. As can be seen, Phoenix United has good legal access for those planning to visit its remains.  Minions makes a good base from which to explore the mine with its car parks, cafes and pub.


Click here to visit my Amazon author’s page
For those passing through Cornwall then pop into the Liskeard Bookshop, to buy a copy of my books about the Caradon Mining area. To buy the books on line, or download the kindle publications then visit my Amazon store.