Now that the talk at Luckett is over this post returns to the task of resurrecting more of the South Caradon Mine web pages. Now doubt the mines of Luckett will be the topic of later posts but in the meantime here is a summary of some of the characters at South Caradon.
The Clymo Brothers and Thomas Kittow became wealthy as a result of South Caradon. They re-invested much of the profits into other ventures in the Liskeard area, including the lead mines of Menheniot.
The 1851 Census showed Peter was born in Camborne and was married to Mary who was born in Devonport. They lived in Dean House Liskeard with two servants.
Peter Clymo remained Captain until forced to resign from ill health in 1869 after Overseeing thirty six years of production.In addition to his business interests he had been mayor of Liskeard three times and a JP
Peter became died in 1870 aged 69 after spending three years bed bound.
At his funeral 600 miners lead the cortege and over 1000 spectators looked on. A symbol of the impact the practical skills and vision of the South Caradon adventurers had made to South East Cornwall.
Brother of Peter. He worked underground until 23 obtaining a large amount of practical knowledge that proved of great value in the running of the mine. He died earlier than his brother in 1849.
The Clymo’s father worked at Fowey Consols and a cousin James Budge Clymo emigrated to manage Molong Mining Company New South Wales.
A farmer from Browda in Linkinhorne Parish. Thomas Kittow was secretary of the mine until 1875, over 40 years!He was born 1788 at Trewen and died 31st December 1886 at Browda on his own estate aged a 100. Thomas farmed at Browda and Linkinhorne and never married.
The landowner-The Mineral Lord
This was perhaps the luckiest of all those involved in the mine. For no risk, no investment and no skill the landowner saw his previous rough grazing land turn into a huge source of income. By 1863 alone he had been paid up to £43,000 in dues.
The famous Cornish engineer was involved in the mine from its creation to his death.
Just as in other Cornish mines many of these names are now part of the landscape. Their names have been given to the shafts that now lie un-used and choked. The buildings of Rule’s, Pearce’s and Holman’s shaft
The secretaries and pursers-The account keepers
Fatalities at the mine
A few of the many Cornish mine deaths
“On Tuesday last, a young women called Jane
Husband, about 17 years of age, went to work at this mine a little late in the morning. To escape being seen by the captain dresser, she went into the jigging house instead of going into the tool house, and by some means got her dress caught in the jigging machine, by which she was crushed to death. It is remarkable that there was not a single bone broken.”
28 Feb 1862
West Briton Newspaper
“On Saturday morning at South Caradon mine, a number of men were engaged in putting in a flywheel, when John Oliver, of Tremar Coombe, St. Cleer, slipped his foot and was caught in the wheel. He was taken round, both his legs were broken, and he was placed under medical treatment, but he died almost as soon as he reached his own door. He leaves a wife and eight children. Whilst the unfortunate man was being conveyed home, the people conveying him were observed by a young married women, who, thinking the deceased might be her own husband, also a miner, gave premature birth, in her fright, to a child, still born. The mother was seized with fits and died shortly after.”
Next Saturday I will be giving a talk at Luckett, a village oozing in Cornish Mining Heritage, so it seems appropriate to re-publish some of the content of my Tamar Valley in 1848 CD-ROM. So here it is, the page about Great Huel Martha, a mine now better known as New Consols, and a mine with William West Connections.
Great Huel Martha
This long sett dominates the landscape of Luckett. It worked complex lodes and was operated by a series of companies right up to the 1950’s. All these companies struggled to treat the difficult ores and all struggled to make a profit. Although one mine is shown on the map, the sett was often worked by two separate companies and frequent changes of ownership have left a confusing series of mine names.
The easterly section was first worked as Wheal Martha in 1836, but little was done as a result of the lode being hard to work. In 1844 the mine reopened under the title of Great Wheal Martha as shown on the map, in an attempt to find tin beneath the shallow copper deposits. This re-opening was also influenced by the success of Devon Great Consols and the possibility that the rich lode of that mine passed into this sett. The old engine shaft was sunk to the 80 fathoms and the new shaft to the 40. During this period a Sims compound engine was in use at Phillip’s Shaft. This engine had a 60″ and a 32″ cylinder mounted vertically over the shaft, it was installed in 1845 and built by William West in his St. Blazey foundry. The mine also had installed three water wheels, two of which are shown on Symons’s map. This working ceased in 1848, a closure that was forced by the financial crisis of 1848. The Sims compound was advertised for sale in 1848 and was eventually moved to Comblawn Mine near Callington.
In 1850 the mine reorganized and then went through many name changes. In 1861 it became New Wheal Martha and in 1867 New Great Consols, a name which later became shortened to New Consols. Work continued until 1879, but the machinery remained on site for 60 years. A modern attempt at reworking occurred in 1946 with a new mill installed in 1949 with American capital. The mine finally closed in 1954 after spending the last two years treating ores from other mines in the area.
The western part of the sett was worked at times as a separate mine. In 1843 it was known as Trehill Mine. Between 1854 and 1858 copper was raised under the name of Great Wheal Sheba (or Great Sheba Consols) but by 1860 it had reverted to its old name of Trehill Mine. Between 1863 and 1867 it operated as West Wheal Martha and then became amalgamated with the adjacent mines to form New Great Consols. This part of the mine was also associated with Kellyhole Mine, the shaft of which lay on the North side of the stream. Broadgate Mine was another working that became amalgamated into New Great Consols. It was at work in 1764 and 1805 and was located between Wheal Sheba and Wheal Martha
“TWO WATER WHEELS, one 40 feet in diameter, 4 feet breast, and one 30 feet diameter , 3 feet breast , both having Cast Iron Rings, Sockets and Cylinder ends, and in excellent condition.
ALSO, A VERY POWERFUL STEAM ENGINE (nearly new,) on the combined principle of Messrs. Harvey & Co., from the drawings of Mr William West , with 60 and 32 inch cylinder , equal to 141 Horse power, with a Boiler 9 tons.”
From notice of sale October 26th Devonport Journal 1848.
Production by mine
This graph illustrates the relative output of the mines between 1884 and 1913. New Martha was the most successful of the workings prior to the formation of New Great Consols. New Consols differed from the previous operations by producing a wide range of ores. This was made possible by the installation of large processing floors required to treat the complex ore.
The most successful part of the western part of the sett was Great Sheba Consols between 1854-1863
Production by ore type
This graph shows the value of the ores sold from the sett. Although tin forms a major proportion of the sales, it was only produced in the latter part of the sett’s history by New Consols.
Production by year
This graph shows the production value of the whole sett on a yearly basis from 1845 to 1913. The fall in production after 1864 coincided with the collapse in copper prices that destroyed the copper mining industry in from 1866 onwards. The peak occurring in the early 1870’s was from the output of New Consols, with it sales of copper, tin and arsenic.
The map extracts shown on this page are from Robert Symon’s map of the Tavistock
My talk at Luckett next month will be rich in Cornish Mining terms, and so it seems like a good idea to create a quick reference for those attending to look through after the evening. So here is a collection of words that I will be explaining on the evening, in the rough order that they will appear.
A collection of some Cornish Mining words and terms
Wheal, Whele, Whild, Huel
A prefix to most Cornish mine name’s.
The word was a corruption of word huel which means hole, a mine pit. Sometimes Wheal was used inside of a mines name, rather than as a prefix, such as in “South Caradon Wheal Hooper”.
An old term for a mine.
The name was derived from Cornish ‘Pal’, the word for a shovel, and hence ‘a digging’, a mine.In its earliest usage it referred to a group of small shallow, or surface tin works.
A shortened form of the word ‘Consolidated’.
This suffix was originally used where a number of mines were brought together and worked under a common management, but it was a word that became misused to inspire confidence in unwary investors. Consolidated Mine at Gwennap and Devon Great Consols are the two most successful mines to include this word in their names.
The legal boundary within which a mine could extract minerals.
The normal period of granting a sett was 21 years.
The owner of the mineral rights, this was not necessarily the landowner.
Royalty, Dish, Dues
The mineral lord’s portion of the produce.
The dish was a portion of the value of ore produced at a mine which was paid to the mineral owner. In deep-expensive to operate mines, the dues did not often exceed 15th, whilst in newer mines it may be a 10th or even a 8th. The payment was based on gross produce, that is before expenses, and therefore could act as a discouragement for the development of mines. The lords had little to loose, but much to gain the wealth underground.
A sedimentary clay-slate rock.
Killas is a Cornish miner’s term for sedimentary rock, often metamorphosed by the granite intrusion,
An intrusive quartz porphyry rock, or an intrusion of that rock.
Elvan is a very hard rock that can add greatly to the cost of driving levels and sinking shafts. Its hardness made it a sought after building material.
A crack in the rock filled with minerals, from which the miners extracted the ore.
Lodes were normally vertical, or near-vertical; often extending for considerable distances. In other parts of Britain, they are known as a veins or seams.
Strike of a lode
The bearing of a lode.
The strike is the horizontal direction of a lode, given as a compass bearing.
The angle of slope of a ;ode.
The underlie is the angle measured from the vertical, whilst the dip is the angle measured from the surface. A shaft following the lode was said to be underlie shaft.
The shareholders of a mine.
A mine’s shareholder who did not hold shares just to enable them to supply it with goods or services.
The selling of mine shares for speculative purposes.
Mines were often formed and promoted to make profits from the shares, rather then the minerals.
Financing the mine
Cost book system
A method of conducting the finances of a Cornish mine.
It was a simple system that had served the industry well for hundreds of years, but had limitations when used for the large capital hungry concerns of the 19th Century. Under the cost book system, adventurers put money into a new venture by buying shares, and then at periodic meetings it would be decided whether they would have to pay a call to provide more money to continue running the mine, or receive a dividend.
Cost book Companies could only raise money from its adventurers or from the sale of ore, the reserves of ore underground therefore had to act as its ‘bank’ and skillful management of reserves would be required for long term success. Development work had to be conducted alongside the extraction of ore to ensure new ore would be available in the future when needed.
One drawback of the system was that investors would become impatient if they had a long wait for dividends, and would refuse to make more calls. The mine would then run short of capital, and close before making a profit. Sometimes a new company would be formed to keep development going, or the mine went into liquidation, selling off its equipment. This explains the frequent starts and stops in Cornish mining history, and how unscrupulous companies could operate.
The book containing the names and addresses of all adventures of a mine, along with all share transfers and expenses.
A mine in operation, but not paying dividends.
Such a mine may be making calls on its adventures.
A demand on the adventures to pay their share of costs.
A system of payment in which groups of miners bid for contracts to work sections of the mine for a percentage of the value of the ore raised.
It was given at so much in a pound, that is a sum per 20 shillings of ore raised. Normally from 3 to 15 shillings in a pound. The tributers account was charged with tools, materials, subsist and the wages of the ore dressers. The payment is based on the amount paid for the ore by the smelters at the sale.
A miner whose pay was a proportion of the ore, or of the value of the ore raised.
The portions of a lode set to pares of tributors.
Those who took up a pitch on tribute
Take an end
To agree to drive an adit or level for so much per fathom.
Work in which a miner earned an amount in proportion to the work completed.
Tutwork was work done by measure, such as sinking shafts, driving levels or stopeing ground. These would be paid by fathoms sunk, fathoms driven, or cubic fathom. Each lot was called a bargain.
The Employment System
Experienced miners who supervised operations at a mine.
There were underground captains, surface captains, and dressing captains. The head captain was the manager.
A public auction of the work at a mine.
Setting generally took place every two months. It was held in the open air before the counthouse of the mine which normally had an elevated stage for the captains to stand on. The auction was normally started about the middle of the day, and conducted on a high to low basis. Bidding was closed by a pebble being thrown into air, when it hit the ground the bidding was closed. A reserve price may be set by the captain to prevent collusion amongst the miners to keep the prices high.
The action at a setting.
A set of rules governing every contract made during a setting.
This was read out before the setting started.
Count house, Account house, Counthouse
The mine office.
This was a commonly used shortened version of the proper name, ‘Account house’.
Often a counthouses was used as a dwelling, and provided a venue for adventurers dinners. Smaller mines sometimes used shanty-type count houses suitable for moving from site to site.
An excavated area produced during the extraction of ore-bearing rock.
Stopes are the most impressive of underground features, the larger ones form massive man-made caverns. Where open to the surface, they form gunnis or coffens.
A miner who extracted the ore in a stope.
A method of stoping by removing ore from the roof.
A method of stoping by working below a level.
A horizontal tunnel in a mine not extending to the open air.
Levels were driven on lodes, usually at a depth spacing of 10 fathoms.
The end of a level, or cross-cut.
Prilling the sample
A clandestine addition of a rich mineral to the sample submitted to the assayer.
Prilling would give a tributer a higher payment for his ore then he would have been entitled.
Selling the Ore
The weekly sale of ore by tender.
The mine agents met around a table at 12 o’clock. Each buyer gave in his ticket offering price per ton. The tickets were read by the chairman, who was the agent having the largest quantity of ore for sale, and the persons present note the prices. The lots were sold to the highest bidder. After the sales the attendees dine together at the expense of their mine. Ticketing was originally used for copper sales, but some ticketings also occurred for tin sales.
Piles of crushed ore, laid out ready for sampling.
Doles were usualy about two three feet high, with flat tops. Six doles make up a parcel of ore for sale. Buyer’s agents took a sample from a dole for assaying before the ticketing.
The map shown in this post is part of Brenton Symons’s map of the Liskeard Mining District. The full map is reproduced in Kindle format in “The Liskeard Mining District in 1863”.
A talk for the East Cornwall Mining History Association at Luckett
A brief pause in the posts this week to promote my talk for the ECMHA at Luckett village, a village rich in miming history and heritage.
On the 24th of November 2018 I will be giving a talk on the dealings that went on behind the scenes of 18th Century Cornish mines. An evening that will bring to life many of the words and phrases that fill the pages of newspapers and mine reports of the day, and a talk that will throw some light of what was called the “Cornish System” . Some come along and enjoy an evening of Tributes and Tuts, Wheals and Winzes. This is local history with great a plot line!
Some of the talk will be based on my latest publication “On the Economy of the Mines of Cornwall and Devon 1814 (Annotated): The Cornish System described” , some of it on my other publications, some of it on publications to come, and some of it on the research behind the posts on this blog.
For those looking for a Christmas present then I will have on sale my range of Cornish Mining paperbacks on the night, and for the younger readers Cheryl will have her range of Cornish Legend themed storybooks.
As I prepare for the up and coming talk at Luckett, a village with its own amazing mining heritage, it seemed apt that I should produce a quick summary on the trading of Cornish Mining shares. I have used a publication written by Roger Burt as the main source of information, “The London Mining Exchange 1850 to 1900”.
Unfortunately the Cornish mining industry of the 19th century was often hindered by the bad reputation it gained as an investment. This reputation was obtained by the actions of the system that was supposed to support it by raising capital.
Cornish mining has always been an industry of extreme fortunes, extremes driven by the unpredictability of the lodes beneath the ground. This was an industry where luck and skill could bring huge wealth of within yards huge losses.
In the 19th century additional factors came into play, the man made factors of share fraud, and share manipulation. Much of these malpractice s was made possible by the manner in which the mining shares were traded.This was compounded by the change is share structure of many mining companies, a change that brought the shares to a growing market of unwary investors.
The buying and selling of Cornish Mining Shares
In the 18th and 19th Centuries most mining companies excluded from stock market instead the shares were traded by direct contact seller and buyer, or sometimes in the case of large sales by public auction.
Dealers did not buy and sell on commission, but Instead bought and sold, and exchanged shares between mines, even buying whole mines. This business was conducted from their own offices, on the pavement outside of the stock market or in Royal Exchange. Share issues and sales were advertised in the of the mining Journal. Richard Hawke of Liskead for example was a common seller through the pages of the Journal.
As time went on Cost book companies divided their shares to attract more capital.In the mid 1840s most had shares of 256 or less, but 20 years later numbers in thousands. Such division made the shares affordable to a wider range of investors, a wider range of investors that where ripe to be relieved of their money by unscrupulous dealers.
The share dealers direct involvement in mines gave opportunity for malpractice, an opportunity that some took advantage of.
As adventures in the mines they could become involved in their management would influence activity to maximize share value, even if it impacted long term working of mines. They often became the mine’s purser or secretary to maximize their ability to direct the activities of the mine.
Some would start a mine at inflated prospects, collect in share capital from hopeful investors and then take a large slice for their services. Their aim was not to extract ore from underground, but to extract money from gullible public’s pockets. Once the mine was formed their influence was still exerted, sometimes they would divert profits to high prestige projects such as grand buildings, and sometimes falsely boost production with the richest parts of lodes at the expense of the longer term fortune of the mine
The Mining Exchanges
But many honest dealers giving good advice, and some of them attempted from the mid 19th Century more reputable attempted to form place to trade shares, These involved creating a ‘Mining Exchange’ where mining shares could be bought and sold under regulated conditions, through accredited dealers. Several attempts were made, but each failed, often amid acquisitions that the exchanges created small cliques that excluded some of the experienced smaller dealers.
The collapse of the Cornish Mining Industry would overtake the attempts to form a widely supported Mining Exchange. This was a collapse hastened by the bad reputation gained by the very malpractices the exchanges were attempting to prevent.
An up and coming talk based on my Recent John Taylor‘s publication has led me temporarily away from the South Caradon Mine’s post series, but I will return once the talk has been and gone (follow this post for news of the talk). So here is the start of some posts on the Cornish system.
The Cornish System supported
Charles Babbage (1791-1871) is best known for his role in the development of what would become today’s computers. But Babbage was a multifaceted genius, he was a mathematician, inventor, philosopher, scientist and astronomer.
One of his influential works was “On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures” published in 1832. A work on which he lays out is ideas on the organisation of manufacturing. The later editions of this work included views on combining the interests of labour and capital into a system that would be far more effective than the normal employer-employee arrangement. One of the key pieces of evidences supporting his argument was the effectiveness of the system used in Cornish mines, “The Cornish System”.
This post contains a short extract from Babbage’s book, an extract that describes the Cornish System through the eyes of an economic philosopher. The extract has been formatted and re-paragraphed to make easier reading on-line, a change that I suspect Babbage would have enjoyed seeing.
Extract from Chapter 26 On a New System of Manufacturing
307. In the mines of Cornwall, almost the whole of the operations, both above and below ground, are contracted for. The manner of making the contract is nearly as follows. At the end of every two months, the work which it is proposed to carry on during the next period is marked out. It is of three kinds.
Tutwork, which consists in sinking shafts, driving levels, and making excavations: this is paid for by the fathom in depth, or in length, or by the cubic fathom.
Tribute, which is payment for raising and dressing the ore, by means of a certain part of its value when rendered merchantable. It is this mode of payment which produces such admirable effects. The miners, who are to be paid in proportion to the richness of the vein, and the quantity of metal extracted from it, naturally become quick-sighted in the discovery of ore, and in estimating its value; and it is their interest to avail themselves of every improvement that can bring it more cheaply to market.
Dressing. The ‘Tributors’, who dig and dress the ore, can seldom afford to dress the coarser parts of what they raise, at their contract price; this portion, therefore, is again let out to other persons, who agree to dress it at an advanced price.
The lots of ore to be dressed, and the works to be carried on, having been marked out some days before, and having been examined by the men, a kind of auction is held by the captains of the mine, in which each lot is put up, and bid for by different gangs of men. The work is then offered, at a price usually below that bid at the auction, to the lowest bidder, who rarely declines it at the rate proposed.
The tribute is a certain sum out of every twenty shillings’ worth of ore raised, and may vary from threepence to fourteen or fifteen shillings. The rate of earnings in tribute is very uncertain: if a vein, which was poor when taken, becomes rich, the men earn money rapidly; and instances have occurred in which each miner of a gang has gained a hundred pounds in the two months. These extraordinary cases, are, perhaps, of more advantage to the owners of the mine than even to the men; for whilst the skill and industry of the workmen are greatly stimulated, the owner himself always derives still greater advantage from the improvement of the vein.
This system has been introduced, by Mr Taylor, into the lead mines of Flintshire, into those at Skipton in Yorkshire, and into some of the copper mines of Cumberland; and it is desirable that it should become general, because no other mode of payment affords to the workmen a measure of success so directly proportioned to the industry, the integrity, and the talent, which they exert.
1. For a detailed account of the method of working the Cornish mines, see a paper of Mr John Taylor’s Transactions of the Geological Society, vol. ii, p. 309.
John Taylor’s account reprinted
The Paper mentioned by Babbage is available in paperback or Kindle format.
Another one of the gaps in the South Caradon Mine’s views posts has been closed with this post. It has been slightly delayed in being published whilst I was distracted into pulling together all this series into a more cohesive resource. So if you are interested in finding more about South Caradon have a look at its updated index page, and use the ‘breadcrumb’ navigation at the top of each post to help find your way around. Meanwhile, its back to the views….
The Bal Maidens workplace
In front of the main adit can be seen the remains of one of the many buildings that jostled for room on the flat space of the valley floor. Within this building much of the processing of the copper ore would have been undertaken.
The role of the shed
Copper ore dressing was mainly a series of manual tasks requiring large numbers of people. The rock was broken down in size and the ore sorted the ore from the waste by hand.This hand processing was a feature of copper mining and was a result of the nature of copper ores which tended to break in a fine powder if crushed.
A rare surviving example of dressing floors cobbled flooring
This is one of the gems of the South Caradon’s remains; a feature closely associated with copper ore dressing.
On the valley floor below and down stream of the Yard can be seen some cobbled flooring. These cobbles are the remains of the large main processing shed, of which some of the northern walls still remain.
Towards the Count House site another level of cobbled flooring exists. This coincides with the structure shown below. Possibly a sorting floor or where spalling was undertaken.
The full 1880 photograph of the South Caradon Mine is re-produced in the ‘History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon Distict’, a paperback printed by the Trevithick Society.