South Caradon Mine Dressing Floor Map

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Maps>Dressing Floor

The last post of the series brought back the maps from my original website that showed the processes and structures within the South Caradon Mine dressing floor. This  post follows on from those maps with a reproduction of an Ordnance Survey 1885 map of the area, a map that I have magnified as much as the image quality allows.

A map of the Seaton Valley in 1883

An extract from the OS 1885 map showing the Caradon Mine dressing floor
OS 25″ Map 1885

This map was published in the year of the mine’s closure, it therefore shows the dressing floors in their final layout.

Key features shown

  • Donkey Pond- 2334South Caradon Mine's dressing floors
  • The yard-2335
  • The large shed- The coffin shape structure to the west of the yard
  • The count house- Structure north of 2336
  • The stamps and crusher- Structure south of 2336
  • The Halvan floors-The various circles and rectangles in the southern part of the map

More Maps

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South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

South Caradon Mine’s dressing floor

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine> Dressing Floor

South Caradon Mine's dressing floor, looking south

The Dressing floor operation at South Caradon

This resurrection of the old South Caradon website is an excuse to bring back some of those basic paintbrush drawn .gifs of may years ago, (I loved Kawasaki green in those days), and also brush off my theory of the dressing floor material flow. Its a theory that seems to have survived the test of time. But off course if you have your own views on how the dressing floor operated, please leave a message.

floormap

The Seaton Valley housed the central dressing floors of South Caradon Mine, a complex of structures and buildings that has left  a confusing legacy of terraces, low walls and rubble. No definitive description of the function of the structures exist but it is possible to attempt an interpretation of the remains that will give an insight into the traditional processes involved in preparing copper ore for sale.

Copper ore  processing

dressingThe layout of a copper mines dressing floors  was greatly influenced by the properties of its main ore Charcopyrite. This ore tended to be hard and brittle with the unwanted property of easily breaking into a very fine powder. Tin mines traditionally operated by stamping all the ore and then classifying and concentrating the crushed rock through a series of physical processes using water. Such an approach applied to Copper ore would lead to large amounts of the ore being carried through the system as fine waste. Instead series of manual processing, sorting and picking operations were utilised, leaving stamping for only the most hardest of rocks.

Sorting the Ore

Hand sorting was fundamental in reducing the amount or rock to be processed and it was started even before the ore was brought to the surface, much of the waste being left underground. At the dressing floors the rock was sorted in four main types.

  • Deads: Containing no ore and was tipped in burrows
  • Prills: Pure ore that required no further processing
  • Drage: Ore mixed with gangue that required hand processing
  • Halvans: Low value ore that needed stamping before treatment

Processing the Drage

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

It was this processing that gave a copper dressing floor its distinctive properties. Drage was dressed by a series of manually intensive tasks that took place in assorted lightly built structures crowded in valley bottoms. South Caradon used hundreds of employees to undertake this work, the majority of which were females called  Bal Maidens. The large shed and area around it was the focal point for this work and its foundation area and adjacent cobbled spalling floors can still be seen.
In the later period of the mine’s life Bucking and Jigging had been mechanized using a steam powered crusher and jigging machines in one of the sheds. The bucking mill was mounted powered by the

stamps steam engine, and was located in the building to the north of its flywheel.

Processing the Halvans

Halvans were treated like tin ore and the Halvans floor resembled a smaller version of a tin mine’s dressing floor. The rock was first crushed in the set of Cornish stamps before passing through a set of tanks and buddles to separate the denser ore from the gangue. Little remains of South Caradon’s 24 head of stamps, or its engine apart from the bank upon which it stood, some fragments of wood and the flywheel loadings.

Of the dressing floors only a small parts of some of the tanks remain exposed, the rest has been buried beneath landfill of alluvial deposits.

Flow of material through the dressing floorsscdress

I have taken the suggestions of  various publications  combined them with the photograph from the Neil Parkhouse collection ( as reproduced in Webb and Geach), and applied a  simplified Copper dressing model to arrive at this suggestion. Since the production of this diagram I have produced a map of the tramway network that supports and expands on this interpretation of the remains.

Two flows of raw material are shown in this diagram. Drage processing is in red and Halvan in white, some material is shown returning back from Jigging for re-bucking or stamping.

The Drage processing flow

Hand sorting, ragging, spalling, cobbing and possibly jigging were most likely carried out on the cobbled floor area and within the large shed. Bucking was probably a powered process using the crushing mill and jigging was also powered . I have therefore suggested that the lower shed was used for jigging, this being supported by the tramway layout.

The Halvan processing flow

The lower Seaton Valley area is described by CAU as being used for waste treatment. This is undoubtedly the Halvan floors, and old OS maps show what is probably buddles and tanks (trunks) in this area. The fines for this area would have been produced from by the stamps, and again the tramway layout supports this suggestion.This lower floor area has disappeared under tipped landfill and alluvial mud leaving little evidence.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe Trevithick Society have reprinted Webb and Geach’s  ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’; a reprint that includes the fascinating Niel Parkhouse collection photograph.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Holman’s and Rule’s Shaft complex Map

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Maps>Holman’s and Rule’s

South Caradon Mine’s best known set of mine buildings

Recycling one of the original website maps did not do this area justice, so instead I have dug up an image captured from an 1885 Ordnance survey map; the ability to digitally magnify the original brings out the detail crammed into this small area. 

The 1885 map

Holman's and Rule's Shafts area
OS 25″ map, 1885

This map was published in 1885, based on an 1883 survey. It therefore was printed in the year of the mine’s closure. As such, it captures the workings at their maximum extent.

Click here for a description of the mine in 1885>

The complex shown on the map

The engine houses

The most southerly building is Holman’s Shaft pumping engine house, withHolman's Shaft bob wall its boiler house situated on the western side Close north of that is Rule’s Shaft pumping engine house, again with the boiler house to the west. The two engines share a chimney on the opposite side of the track. The building on the northern side of the track is the winding engine for both shafts, with the loadings for the winding cages clearly indicated to the west of the horizontal whim engine’s house.

Tramways and leats

Running from east to west is the mine’s tramway, linking kitto’s Shaft to the dressing floors. Other tramways run from Holman’s shaft to the waste tips.

Three parallel leats are shown, along with ‘aqueducts’ (launders), and two boiler ponds.

Click here to explore more maps of South Caradon Mine>


 

wp-1453408124105.jpegBrenton Symons’s 1863  Map on Kindle

South Caradon Mine is included on Brenton Symon’s map of the Liskeard Mining district. The full map is available in the Kindle Publication ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863’.

Click here for the book’s Amazon page>