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

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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.

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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

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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.