A little snippet of Cornwall in the British Virgin Islands
My last post on the President Steam Engine in the USA mentioned another remnant of Cornish mining across the Atlantic; the Virgin Gorda engine house. By pure chance that was and engine house that I have had the chance to visit, and so it seemed like a good excuse to locate the files on the laptop, and give them a public airing.
A Caribbean gem of industrial history
My visit to this fascinating site in 2009 was a result of one of those rare occasions where my leisure (Cornish mining History) and professional (Navigation) interests crossed paths. In this case the ship I was navigating anchored off Tortola, and I managed to grab a few hours off in the afternoon to explore.
Whilst my fellow shipmates headed rapidly off in one direction to explore the delights of the Pussers Rum distillery, I headed off in another direction to locate a copper mine.
Copper point- a Surreal Juxtaposition
The scenery that greeted me at Copper Point proved to be ample reward for the
hike across the Island for forsaking the chance to devour ‘Painkiller; cocktails all afternoon. It seemed so surreal, drystone Cornish walls and Caribbean scenery. Vegetation from one Continent growing around the iconic architecture of another.
The engine house was partially standing with its bedstone still in place inside.
Remnants of past industry
This site has remains that are rare in Cornwall; ironwork. Sat among the piles of masonry I found the rusting remains of a boiler. Its survival in this salt laden atmosphere without preservation was remarkable.
The real gem of this site I found after some scrabbling down to the waterline. For there laying partly submerged in the sea lay the engine’s bob.
Partially encrusted in barnacles, and draped in fishing gear the two halves of a Cornish Engine Beam lay on the sand acting as a reminder on how far the Cornish and their technology traveled around the world, chasing the copper, chasing the tin.
The nearest source of refreshments to the site was a bar aptly named The Mine Shaft, and there hung from the ceiling I discovered one final reminder of Cornwall, A St.Piran’s flag. The white on black hung in a wooden shack, in a far off Caribbean Island; a perfect excuse to toast Cousin Jack if there ever was one!
The next post in this blog is planned to finish the series on the President Engine. Meanwhile, if you are a professional navigator, then pop across to have a look at my other blog at Navsregs.