Whilst Jope’s pumping engine house is the best preserved one on South Caradon mine, its whim engine house is he worst; merely a pile of rubble hidden beneath the trees. This engine was adapted by William West to drive one of his man engines, a man engine that would be last last built in Cornwall.
The 24″ winding engine lay to the south east of the shaft, its site now marked by moss covered masonry rubble, the largest pile marking the site of the chimney. The whim engine was installed in 1864.
On the north eastern side of the engine house can be found the most interesting feature of the engine house, the loadings for the whim, and later the man engine. From these loadings a trench can traced up to the angle bob pit at the edge of the shaft. Along this trench ran the drive rod for the man engine that West installed here in 1872. The man engine was powered by the whim engine, which have also continued to be used for winding between shift changes. The man engine moved to the eastern part of the set at Kitto’s shaft in 1882-3.
The design of man engine installed here was the single rod type, a design first introduced by William West at Fowey Consols in 1852.
Pearce’s shafts engine house is certainly unusual. The last post in the series explained the reasons for its distinctive profile; and this post is an excuse to share some photographs taken on a day of clear winter light in 2018.
From across the Seaton valley the distinctive profile of the ruin is a prominent feature on the skyline. The base of the stack is to the right of this view and the buttresses to the left. The dip in the waste tips marks the flat-rod route.
The engine house in detail
Here, the jumble of tumbled granite masonry lie piled within the engine house walls/
Here, massive buttresses still stand, buttresses that have remained standing long after the bob wall they supported has succumbed to gravity and time.
Beyond the engine house the
Beside the engine house the outline of the boiler house can be made out, and to the south, overlooking the farmland of South East Cornwall, is a well defined remains of the boiler pond. Its sturdy reverted wall still in a good enough condition to hold water if its leat ran again.
The resurrection of the old South Caradon Website continues with another engine house.
Pearce’s engine house is one the most distinctive of all Cornish Engine house ruins. What it lacks in grandeur , it replaces with a strong Gothic profile; a profile that has emerged from its decay. Pearce’s hill slope location above the Seaton Valley make it a prominent landmark and its distinctive look arises from an unusual buttressed wall.
Pearce’s shaft is located uphill from Sump Shaft. It was sunk on main lode, but cross-cuts also gave access to other lodes to the north and south.
The pumps on this shaft were originally powered by flat-rods running uphill from the winding engine at Sump Shaft.
These rods were replaced by Pearce’s 50″ engine in 1870, relatively late in the mine’s life.
Reasons suggested for the distinctive buttressing are unstable ground, or the angle of the shaft. The shaft may have been sunk on the underlie from the surface, as opposed to the normal practice having a short vertical section before following the lode at an angle. Why this was does is not known, but it would have resulted in the engine house requiring additional support to oppose the forces pulling it down the sloping shaft.
The unusual buttresses are clearly visible on the north side supporting the collapsing bob wall, and the tallest remaining wall corner supports the chimney stump. The boiler house is on the western side and only foundations remain. More obvious is the reservoir pond, sited close uphill, which has a large retaining wall on its southern end.
If you fancy a quick browse around the Amazon store for some South Caradon Mine related books, then click on these links to try some pre-made searches. If you have a local independent bookshop that stocks local history books, then pop along and ask if they hold the titles on the shelves.
Christmas is well gone and past, and so this series of posts on South Caradon mine has restarted. Winter brought with it one of those amazing clear air days last weekend, no mist, no drizzle no rain, just pure blue light. And so, armed with a camera and Christmas cake and set off to Caradon hill to update some of my photographs of the mine.
Jope’s Shaft pumping engine house is the best preserved on South Caradon Mine, with its ivy clad engine house and chimney still standing to full height. It is fascinating engine house, packed with features.
Jope’s shaft is located on the south western corner of Caradon Hill , overlooking the entrance to Seaton Coombe.
It possibly housed one of the few Sims compound engines built in Cornwall the shaft was also historically important as the site of the last man engine to be built.
This is no ordinary engine house. This is an engine house with it has its plug door located at a level higher than normal instead of being on the same floor as the cylinder bed it hangs precariously one level up. Why this should be seems to a subject of disagreement, with two conflicting theories.
The engine transfer theory
This 60″ engine was built in New for South Garras lead mine in 1855 at Landeryou’s shaft. That mine was not a success, and the engine was sold to South Caradon in 1862.
Kenneth Brown in his excellent exploring Cornish Mines book (vol 2) explains that sometimes plug doorways were placed in a raised position when the cylinder was set down into loading to reduce the height of the engine house. This arrangement resulted in a raised engine driver’s position.
This was not case at Jope’s but may have been the case at South Gerras.
The Sims engine theory
This is the explanation given by Adam Sharpe in the Minion’s study (cau). The study states that the engine was a Sim’s compound, a design of engine that William West, South Caradon’s engineer, was an enthusiast of.
This was single acting Cornish engine in which the smaller steam cylinder was mounted above a larger low pressure cylinder, with the pistons having a common rod.
The engine was devised by James Sims in the 1840s. The duty was rarely more than a conventional engine, and its complexity and difficult maintenance meant that most Sims compound engines had short lives.
When it comes to Cornish engines Kenneth Brown was rarely wrong. This is a pity in this case, for Sims engine at South Caradon would be a wonderful example of Wests’s Sim’s compound installations. If you have more information, or comments, or views on the engine please pass me a message to share on this site.
Features to be found
This is a engine house rich in features.
The three piece granite Bedstone is still in place within the engine house, the cylinder holding down bolt holes clearly visible. Beyond the stones the cockpit/cataract pit is still open (the underfloor space were the valve timing mechanism was located). The eduction pipe is opening can be seen at the base of the bob wall, and on the western wing wall the opening for the steam pipe down to the boiler house is obvious.
To the west of the engine house is clearly defined remains of the Boilerhouse, a house which has evidence of a third boiler was added later in the engine’s life.
The Chimney putlog holes
The stack at Jope’s has one of the best examples of putlog holes in Cornwall. These holes in the side of the chimney are the remains of a crude form of scaffolding used to build the structure. Planks were inserted in the holes as the chimney rose skywards to give the masons safe footholds.
Many other fascinating remains surround the engine house, but these I will leave to a later post when I resurrect the map of the Jope’s shaft area.
This blog is written to enhance the enjoyment of those exploring Cornwall’s amazing landscape and history. It is not intended as a guide for walkers. If you are exploring industrial landscapes in Cornwall, please check the rights of way with the latest Ordnance Survey map, and take great care of yourself and anyone else accompanying you. Despite of all the due care and diligence shown by landowners, any open access ground can be dangerous to those not ensuring aware of the risks around them. So look after yourself.