If you are attempting patch together this blog into a biography of John Taylor then this post re-joins the time line in 1818, five years after his move into Welsh lead Mining at Halkyn. On the subject of time, its rapidly approaching my talk at Liskeard on Taylor, so I can not guarantee that all my random pre-talk preparation notes will reach this blog in time. So keep following to see how far I get along the journey before Monday.
‘Consols’ is a name that litters the lists of Devon and Cornish mine names. It was a suffix that promised size, wealth, and company stability. It was suffix that rarely delivered, its inclusion often being used to enhance the sales of mine shares.
OS 1884 Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Website
One mine created this fashion in mine names, a mine whose size and output dwarfed all others in Cornwall, and whose success can be credited to John Taylor.
In 1818 Taylor launched a company to work several large mines near Gwennap in Cornwall under the name of Consolidated Mine. It was an ambitious project, and one that had already defeated the well established mining family of Williams of Scorrier.
The mine had sat in a near idle state since 1811, but Taylor rapidly changed its fortunes around. The scale of his success was massive, and can be best grasped through some of the headline facts:
- Formed of 100 shares and £65,000 capital.
- it was the largest copper producer in Cornwall for 20 years.
- It had a peak workforce of about 3000.
- It contained 63 miles of levels and shafts.
- In 1836 it had 8 large pumping engines.
- Between 1819 and 1858 it produced 442,493 tons of ore, the largest quantity from any single mine in Cornwall.
With success like this, it was no wonder that Taylor became known as the country’s leading mining expert. It was a success based on a combination of heavy investment in technology and astute financial management. A fundamental part of this management was making material contracts subject to open competition, a big advance that ensured investors had direct interest in dividends, not their own self interests in providing supplies.
The success of Consolidated was brought to an end by a toxic combination of greed and spite by the Williams family. In 1836 they forced Taylor off of the sett by ensuring a massive increase in mineral owners dues were imposed during renewal of the lease. Taylor pulled out of Consolidated, but only after also pulling out all his massive amount of stock of ore held underground.
Taylor moved out, the Williams family moved in, and so shortly after did failure. Consolidated never again achieved a fraction of success it did under John Taylor’s management. To add salt into the wounds Taylor went on to obtain huge profits from Consolidated’s neighbor, United Mines, but that is another story.
Consolidated was a very wet mine, a mine demanding much from its engineers to keep dry, and that will be the topic of the next post.
Some assorted notes:
The sett had been extensively mined for a long time prior to Taylor’s arrival.
Consolidated was formed in 1780 by the amalgamation of seven mines.
In 1805 the competition of cheap copper caused the mine to close.
In 1839 Taylor obtained United mines
By 1843 United’s production was larger then consolidated’s.
In 1857 United and Consolidated were amalgamated as Clifford Amalgamated.
It closed in 1869.