South Caradon Mine Stamp Engine

StampEngine2018

After the last post’s wander into the subject of the May tree fair, the South Caradon Mine series returns. Dando the Monk will re-appear once I have gathered some more photographs of the fair day, meanwhile here is another Cornish engine site.

The remains of a ore crusher and Cornish Stamps

This is one of the least well preserved engine houses of South Caradon Mine. Its chimney is still standing, but the rest of the structure is no more than rubble.  It is however, the engine house with the best photographic evidence in existence. StampsLoading.jpg

The Stamp engine house was located just above the Seaton valley bottom among the dressing floors. The engine was of 28 inch diameter; it powered a set of 24 headed stamps on the Southern side of the flywheel, and a rotative crusher to the North. These crushed the ore for dressing prior to further treatment on the floors that lay on the valley bottom. A tramway system linked the many shafts with the plant and with other parts of the processing area.

The substantial concrete structure to the south of the stamp engine is the remnant of a screen (grizzly) used in the reworking of the mine waste in more recent years.

The Crusher and stamps

Copper ore was difficult to reduce in size by stamps, they tended to over-crush the ore, resulting in too much being carried over in waste. Hand processing  therefore formed an important part of the copper

img_20160329_0845550_rewind_kindlephoto-9819468.jpg

dressing process right up to the end of the copper mining industry in Cornwall.

Crushers, otherwise known as Cornish Rolls, was a method introduced by John Taylor to mechanically reduce copper ore in size. They use two mechanically powered rollers, between which the rocks were passed for crushing.

Click here for more information about John Taylor and the Crusher>

The small set of stamps were used to treat the small amount of material that could not be processed by the manual methods or the crusher. The fine material produced by the stamps would be treated on the halvan floors in the lower part of the valley.

The 19th Century view

W59Stampsengine

This extract from a 19th Century photograph (courtesy of Neil Parkhouse collection) clearly shows the layout of the stamp engine complex. The Crusher house is on the left, flywheel in the middle and stamps to the right. The sweep rod is a blur, indicating that the engine was at work at the time of the photograph being taken.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe full 19th century photograph is reproduced in the centre of the Trevithick Society’s reprint of ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Advertisements

St. Germans May Tree Fair- is almost here

 

This weekend coming is the annual excuse to get out into the sunshine with our books, set up the pop-up bookstore, enjoy the music, enjoy the local beer, enjoy the food, and enjoy some traditional Cornish silliness.  It’s the Maytree Fair at St.Germans, time to get the oak leaves ready. It is also an excuse to put the South Caradon Series of posts to one side, and have a look at the traditions surrounding this Cornish event.

May Tree fare procession at St. Germans

Traditions old and new

A long history hides behind this weekend of fun at the East Cornwall Village of St.Germans. It is one of those fascinating mixtures of Traditions historic and modern that peppers the Cornish calendar. So in true blog-post form, here is two lists, one of the old, and one of the new.

Traditions OldMayTreeLeaves

  • The Fair was held at the foot of a large walnut tree
  • Cattle from all over Cornwall was sold at its base each 28th of May
  • A basket swing was hung from its branches after the cattle sale for children to play on
  • On the 28th of May a mock Mayor, after much drinking, was paraded through the village on a hay wain or cart
  • Oak leaves were worn by everyone in the village
  • Anyone not wearing an oak leaf was dunked in the horse trough

Unfortunately the but tree no longer stands, nor do cattle chew cud beneath its branches, but some of the Traditions are still live on in modified form, and some new ones are growing.

May Tree Banner 2018, at the 'Rec'

Traditions New

  • A mock Mayor is still elected
  • The village is decorated with leaves
  • May Tree Dancing, tug of war and other festivities gather the parade together
  • Oak leaves are worn by villagers in the parade
  • The tree is represented by a re-creation that is paraded through the village to end up at the back of the pub
  • The Mayor is paraded from the The ‘Rec’ to the pub, with pause to visit the Priory Church. Musicians accompany the parade playing The May Tree Fair Tune
  • The parade has a Cornish Myth or tale theme
  • Stalls, food, and games are set up at the back of the Eliot Arms (That’s where our Bookstore will be)
  • A music stage is built for live music
  • Water pistols have replaced the trough

But, since it’s restoration the fair has adapted, the fair has changed, the fair’s traditions have changed, and no doubt so this year and next year will evolve again.

Click here to visit the May Tree Facebook Page>

 

And this year’s theme is-

Dando and his Dogs

After mermaids, giants, and fish, it is time that St.Germans own character to make an appearance, Dando the monk. Dando was not a a pious Monk to be celebrated by the religious, Dando was not a pillar of virtue to follow as a role model, and Dando did not meet an end suitable for any Saint.

His tale is a one of warning against that perils of sin and loose words. It is his tale that is the theme of this year’s fair and it his effigy, along with his dogs  will  lead the parade.

I will tell more of this tale in a later post, so follow along if you are tempted to know more.


The Pop Up BookstoreBook cover of the Mermaid of Seaton

Navsbooks and Kidz Kernow pop up bookstore will be at the fair this year, and will feature the following sections to explore:

New Books

  • Cheryl Manley’s Children’s Books
  • John Manley’s Cornish Industrial History Books
  • A selection of Trevithick Society Publications

Second Hand Books

  • Maritime
  • Railways
  • Travel

Our Books on Amazon

If you cannot make the fair, and your local independent bookshop do not stock ourWebb and Geach Book Cover books, then here are their Amazon Pages.

Cheryl Manley’s Books

John Manley’s Books

 

The Lodes of South Caradon Mine

Copper Ore at South Caradon Mine

I can thank the St.Just Mines Research group for this blog’s drive to bring the old South Caradon Mine website back into life. For it was the opportunity of accompanying the group around the amazing landscape that is South Caradon that inspired me to finally get around to bringing the site back from the dead.  Now that the very enjoyable walk has been completed (thanks to the group for the invite, thanks to the sun for a lovely day), the blog will wander off in a few random directions to answer questions raised on the day; starting with the lodes.

The source of South Caradon’s wealth

These views in this post are taken from the footpath opposite the mine, and show the approximate location of the copper lodes on the surface as indicated on the 1863 Geological map and described by Webb and Geach. These sources differ in some details from  the closure plans and the description given in Dines.

Click to search for a copy of Dines on Amazon>

The views explained

The Lodes dip to the North (apart from Caunter) so their location underground will shift to the left of the pictures with depth. The view should help to visualize the relationship between the surface remains and the underlying ore lodes, if you disagree with my interpretation please feel free to leave a comment.

Red lines mark the location of the lodes as they strike Eastwards across the Seaton Valley and up the Slopes of Caradon Hill. The grey lines indicates the cross course running parallel to Valley and causing a small amount of Heave in the lodes as they cross its path. The names have been taken from the 1863 map apart from those marked with a question mark that I have taken from Webb and Geach.

The Northern Lodes

The South Caradon mine northern lodes

Main lode was the first of South Caradon’s lodes to be found and it formed the source for much of the ore in the mines earlier years.  The engine house remains of Sump and Pearce’s shaft lie beside this lode, with Pearce’s’ shaft sunk where it outcropped.
Towards the Northern boundary of the sett are a batch of Lodes that gave little success, unfortunately, the richness of the main lode was not to be repeated in this direction.

The Southern Lodes

South Caradon Mine Southern lodes

This view is to the south of the one above, and it shows the lodes that provided the ore for the latter part of the mine’s life.

This Southern group of lodes extend across the South slopes of the Hill to the Eastern boundary of the Sett and then onwards into the adjoining East Caradon mine.

Kitto’s and Caunter lodes provided the largest tonnage of the ore from South Caradon. The Eastern end of the workings was accessed from Kitto’s Shaft.


Geevor Mine Gift shop

Webb and Geach Book CoverMy two South Caradon Mine publications, The Last Great Cornish Engineer and the Re-print of Webb and Geach can be found for sale at the Geevor Shop book shop, along with a great range of Cornish Mining publications. This is one of the best places to find Cornish industrial history books. So if you are in the area, pop along, have a cup of tea, and browse the shelves.

Click here to visit Geevor’s webpage>

 

South Caradon Mine in 1885

This post in the series on South Caradon Mine contains extracts from the Mining Journal in 1885, extracts that tell the sad tale of a dying Cornish Mine.

Pearce's Shaft and tree in 2018

The sales list of a once great Cornish mine

An attempt to breath new life into South Caradon by forming a limited company in 1883 had failed by 1885, when this article was published. The sale of the mine was advertised in the Mining Journal in September of that year. Within that notice was a list of equipment that provides an indication of the scale of machinery installed at the mine.

Extract From The Mining Journal September 1885

Sale of South Caradon Mine (Limited), Liskeard, Cornwall

Mr May is instructed by the directors of the South Caradon Mine (Limited) to offer for sale by auction in one lot, at the auction mart, Tokenhouse yard, in the city of London, on Wednesday, 9th September, 1885, at two in the afternoon precisely, the whole of the valuable mining plant, machinery and stores of the South Caradon Mine (Limited), all in good working order and including…..”

The following has been extracted from the remaining text of the sale notice and reproduced in a more readable form.


List of items for sale

Pumping Engines

  • 70″ with 3 boilers
  • 60″ with 3 boilers
  • 2 x 50″ with 5 boilers
  • 40″ with 2 boilers
  • 35″ with 1 boiler

Winding Engines

  • 24″ with 1 boiler
  • 2 x 22″ with two boilers

Dressing floor machinery

  • Stamp engine 30″ with one boiler
  • 24 head of stamps and crusher
  • 20 foot water wheel with stone breaker

Miscellaneous engines

  • Man Engine 23″ with one boiler
  • 14″ Horizontal with air compressor
  • 12″ engine with air compressor
  • 12″ with saw bench
  • 7″ with steam hammer

Fittings

  • 1000 fathoms pumps
  • 600 fathoms main rods
  • 500 fathoms air tubes
  • 800 fathoms wire rope
  • Over 3000 fathoms tram rails
  • 500 fathoms ladders

The list provides a snapshot of the infrastructure of South Caradon. Twelve pumping, winding, stamping and man engines are listed. The tramway lines total about 6 km, some of which was underground.

Waste tips at Holman's Shaft

The final days of South Caradon Mine

The mine had attempted to survive as a limited company but rising costs had made it unprofitable to continue. The vast network of underground workings required constant pumping to remain accessible and the falling cost of copper could not support the expense. The auction appears not to have success and in 1888 a rise in copper prices triggered a last unsuccessful attempt to re-open the mine.

The figures for 1885 show 3,436 tons of ore raised for an income of  £11,174  and the mine was employing 289 staff.

The sorry figures for 1886 are a meagre 83 tonnes produced by two surface workers. The great mine had died.

Silence of the pumps

The stopping of South Caradon’s pumps forced the neighboring mines to close. Interconnected underground, they could not win the battle against the rising water levels. It marked the end of an era in Cornwall, when an estimated 25% of the population emigrated as the result of the collapse of the mining industry.


1885 in perspective

Victoria was still Queen with her Prime minister changing from Gladstone to Robert Gascoyne.  This was the era of the “Scramble for Africa”, and abroad the UK was involved in the Mahdist War in the Sudan.

Click to search for books covering 1885 on Amazon>