Fowey Consols- the original mines

Navsbooks>William West>Fowey Consols

Fowey Consols is a mine whose history dominated the fortunes of William West and J.T. Teffry. This was mine in mid-Cornwall was where their lives first crossed, and where they built timg_20170212_135148_kindlephoto-57272580.jpgheir famous Austin’s engine.  

Fowey Consols was an amalgamation of several mines, and this can make following the history of the set confusing. This post therefore combines the information contained in Jim Lewis’s book ‘A Richly Yielding Piece of Ground‘ with excellent National Library of Scotland website to explore the sett. 

The Map from Jim Lewis’s book on which this post is based.

The Fowey Consols Mines

  • Wheal Treasure
  • Wheal Fortune
  • Wheal Chance

These all started work in 1813, they all became Fowey Consols. in 1822.

  • Wheal Hope

This became part of Fowey Consols some time after 1830.

  • Lansecott

This opened about 1817 but did not join Fowey Consols until 1836.

The mines located

Click here to explore the map on NLS website>

Austen and Fowey Consols

Austen’s involvement in the mines started in 1814 when he purchased shares in Treasure, Fortune and Chance. The mines had a slow start, and the early history of the setts is a complex one of debts, closures  and disputes. 
In 1820 Austen gained control of Wheals  Treasure, Fortune, Chance, and Hope.   He was was also buying shares in Lanescott. Fowey Consols was formed in 1822 but Lanescott remained a separate Company until 1836.

The total production of copper from the mines between 1815 and 1836 was 383,359 which brought in sales of £ 2,247,478.

Austen’s style of management favoured returning a large proportion of earnings back into the Company as investment. A strategy that William West, as both engineer and equipment supplier, benefited greatly from. Not all those involved in Fowey Consols appreciated this approach though:

‘Despite of the success being achieved many of the London adventures were unhappy with Austen’s management of the mines.There was a basic conflict of interest- They were looking for the biggest financial returns- but for Austen pqasuccess lay in the magnitude of his achievements and not in the size of his bank balance.’ A Richly Yielding Piece of Ground

Fowey Consols was more than a return on investment, to him it gave him chance to make mark in the world.


The steam Engines

A list complied from Annex V of A Richly Yielding Piece of Ground.

The numbers relate to the shaft positions shown in Jim Lewis’s map, the dates refer to the period of the engines operation.

Austin’s (4)

  • Wheal Treasure
  • 8o ” pumping
  •  1834-1836

Bottrall’s (12)

  • Wheal Fortune
  • 22″ Whim
  •  1837- 1867

Hodge’s (20)

  • Lanescott
  • 24′ Whim


  • Wheal Treasure
  • 18″ Whim
  • 1832- 1838
  • 22″ Whim
  • 1838-1867

Ray’s (17)

  • Wheal Fortune
  • 21′ Pumping
  • ?-1832
  • 18′ Whim
  • 1832-1867

Sawle’s (22)

  • Lanescott
  • 24″ Pumping
  • 1832-1838

Trathen’s (10)

  • Wheal Chance
  • 20″ Whim
  • 1832- 1860

Union (9)

  • Wheal Treasure
  • 4o” pumping
  • 1826-1834

Henrietta’s (13)

  • Wheal Fortune
  • 80″ Pumping
  • 1840-1843

Kendall’s North (1)

  • Caruggatt seaction
  • 20″ Whim
  • 1860-1862

     Next post…the aftermath of Austen’s engine trial….



J.T.Austen (Treffry)- Some Key Dates

Navsbooks>William West>J.T Austen

As the talk on William West at Luxulyan approaches, so this blog moves on from his days with Samuel Grose to his involvement with with one of the most influential industrialist of Cornwall. This was an involvement that would lead to the famous  Austen engine trial at Fowey Consol’s 

From 1831 onward, Treffry and West’s success became intertwined, and therefore, to gain an kingmidcornwallunderstanding of how their two lives crossed paths I have dipped  into “The king of Mid Cornwall” by John Keast and pulled out some key dates from Treffy’s life and linked them with  William West’s timeline.

These dates do not represent a full account of Treffry’s life, but  will a give a framework onto which to add other facts.

Joseph Thomas Austin

The King of Mid Cornwall

J.T Austin, later to be named Treffry, was a remarkable figure.  He manaustin
aged to transform a relatively small and financially decaying estate until a large industrial and commercial empire. Treffry created an integrated business whose influence spread outwards from Fowey to dominate mid-Cornwall. It was a business that included transport links, mines, quarries, ships and manufacturing.


The Dates

Early Life


He was baptized at St. Andrew’s Church Plymouth. The Austens Came from Great Deviock in St. Germans Parish, but later settled in the Friary Plymouth. Joseph’s Father Jacob was a brewer, his mother was Susanna Treffry of Place Fowey.


His father died.


His Mother inherited estate from her brother.


Austen was sent to Exeter college Oxford.


His sister Sarah died, leaving Joseph as the only child


Matriculated from university

Gifted at mathematics and drawing

William West is Born at Dolcoath

Managing the estate in the early years


He came of age, and was managing the family estate, which was not in a good condition.


Austen left Oxford without taking a degree.

Place House (1870)   Wikimedia



He obtained the interests from his cousins of the Place Estate.

William West held a candle for Trevithick 


Austen Became involved in an unsuccessful attempt to move post office packet station from Falmouth to Fowey,  he helped boat’s crew to survey harbour.


Austen was speaker at political meeting organised by Colman Rasheigh for political reform



Extract of OS 1888 Map.Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Scotland. Click here to view full map  

He purchased Penventinue farm from the Boconnoc Estate.  With it came the area of Caffa Mill where he built a lime kiln salt cellars. This was the site of Austn’s first commercial ventures. He built first ships here, and in later years built waterwheel to power an incline up to to a field near kiln 360ft above sea level; limestone, manure and sea sand used the  same route.



Early evidence of Austen investing in mining ventures.


Active member of Friends of freedom and The Reform Society.


Austen buys shares in Wheal Treasure, this would later develop into Fowey Consols.

1817 West starts work at the Dolcoath fitting shop


Time started to be taken up with parliamentary elections.


Wheal Treasure closed.


  • Austin was running out of cash, farming was going through bad period, but he had put his property in good order. Some building work undertaking himself.
  • Wheal Treasure re-opened along with adjacent mines


  • Large amount of tree planting conducted on his estates, trees from Kelso in Scotland.
  • Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance combined as Fowey Consols.OS1881FoweyConsols

West is chief working engineer at South Roskear and other mines


Route of a tramway surveyed  between Lanescott mine and Fowey.

1828 West assists Samuel Gross achieve 87 Million Duty at Great Towan Mine


Work stated by Austen at  Par Harbour, and its associated Par Canal.


Riots at Lanescott mine.

Engages William West


Contract signed by William Petherick for Austen’s engine.


  • Austen’s engine set to work.
  • Austin proposed a suspension bridge across the River Fowey as part of a new Torpoint to Truro road. William West had previosely visited Sunderland to inspection bridge there as an example of what could be achieved.


Engineer James M. Rendel produces survey of proposed new coast road.

Austen’s engine trial at Fowey Consols achives a record 125 million dutydscf9312


  • Deal signed to extend Fowey Consols at Carrogat.
  • Fowey Consols at its peak of success.

William West became the mine’s sole engineer

The Victorian era starts

A name is changed


  • J.T Austen changes his name to J.T Treffry, the family name.
  • Austen purchases  Newquay Harbour.

West’s East London Engine was started


From Friends of Luxulyan Valley Map
  • The building  of the Luxulyan Viaduct commenced..
  • Par Consols started.

West installed a long stroke engine at Wheal Treasure.


Work started on Carmears incline

West started his long association with the South Caradon Mine.


Work started on building the Par Lead smelting works.


  • Treffry Viaduct completed.dscf0456-bw-light
  • Treffry starts suffering ill health.


Plymouth Breakwater lighthouse completed using granite from Treffy’s quarries.


  • The West Fowey Consols mine opened.
  • The Newquay railway act is passed
  • Treffry is Chairman of newly formed Cornwall Railway. He convinced the committee to use Brunel as its engineer.


  • An 80″ engine set to work at Par Consols by William West.
  • New Cornwall railway bill passed, with the route engineered by Brunel.
  • Treffry is in poor health.wpid-wp-1427407045752.jpeg


Work started on  The Cornwall Railway.

1848 West establishes his St. Blazey foundry.


  • First Cargo from East Wheal Rose to Newquay  harbour along the Newquay railway.
  • Branch opened to Hendra Downs.

Treffry’s era ends


Treffry dies 29th of January age 68W50


William West and Captain Puckey’s mans engine set to work at Fowey Consols

Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway construction started.


  • Fowey Consols failed



  • South Fowey Consols founded


Cornwall Minerals Railway’s Act of Parliament was laid

wpid-w2.jpg1879 William West died

Contents of Treffry’s Estate

This list is extracted from his estate act 1853, as reproduced in “The King of mid-Cornwall”. An idea of the range of Treffry’s interests can be gained from this list.

  • Harbours
  • Wharfs
  • Canal
  • Tramway and Branches
  • Mines
  • Quarries
  • Smelting works
  • Candle factory
  • Coal, Iron, Timber, granite, clay and claystone dealer
  • Lime burning
  • Farms
  • Ship owner


J.T. Austin (Treffry) had a major influence on the success of William West of Tredenham, and his life story and works is one that deserves further exploration. Among the events listed above are many that tempt me to discover more. Unfortunately distraction will not get the talk researched, so  this blog will therefore return to him in the future. Meanwhile on to the next topic….Fowey Consols I suspect.

Recommended web sitestreffry-bust


Some suggested reading 


Samuel Grose- A great source of family history


Samuel Grose –The most scientific Cornish Engineer

Here is a great resource for researching the history of Samuel Grose:

The Adventurous Ancestors Blog.

A blow well worth following if you wish to learn more about Samuel Grose.

Why is the engineer forgotten in Somerset?

It is a shame that other sources outside of Cornwall fail to recognise the importance of Samuel Grose. So far I have failed to find any reference to him on websites covering the his birth place Nether Stowey.

All sorts of other past residents are listed, but this important engineer appears forgotten. This seems to repeat the pattern found at Norwich, where John Taylor is ignored. Why does this country chose to ignore its engineers ( unless they are called Brunel), whilst reveling in its poets, artists and  priests.  Perhaps I explains why we are struggling in so many sectors, in 21st century UK due to the lack of technical skills.


A new Cornish Children’s book – The Legend of Tamara


A quick detour away from the word  of serious history, to the magic of Cornwall.

Here’s a book with a Cornish-Devon ( or should it be Cornish English theme) from Cheryl Manley. It tells the magical story of how the Rivers Tamar, Taw and Tavy came to be. A traditional tale told in a wonderful way that young children will love.

A Kindle version is on its way.

Click here for more information about the book  on Cheryl’s blog>