South Caradon Mine Counthouse in the 1880s

South Caradon Mine’s Count House

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>Count House

It’s back to exploring South Caradon’s views; filling in the gaps on the valley floor view.

The centre of the mine’s administration

Many Cornish Mines have left impressive Count houses, but not at South Caradon. Its derelict state possibly arising from its location deep within the dressing floors. This is not a location to be developed into a grand home, farmhouse or Nursing Home, it is a location where buildings  have been left to crumble.

The role of the count house

Mine count houses where normally imposing buildings, from which the mine was administered and the mine’s accounts kept. Traditionally, the bidding for work by the miners was carried out at the front of the  count houses, at the steps of the front door.

The remains of the count house

The area of South Caradon mine counthouse

On the terrace above the valley floor and down stream of the Yard is the sparse remains of the count house. In 1937 this stood to a substantial height but today only its foundations and a small pile if rubble remains. 

However , the nearby the count houses of West Caradon, East Caradon and Glasgow Caradon remain standing and in use as residences or hotels.

The Count House in the 19th  century

South Caradon Mine Counthouse in the 1880s

This photograph of the building shows it to be a rambling construction with several extensions added to its rear. The nearest corner appears to be of wood construction, and presumably the grand entrance is on the north side, hidden from the camera.

At that entrance the  miners would bid to take part in an auction (The setting) for work. This was an important part of the ‘Cornish system’ , the subject of the book described in my last post.


Second Hand Books

In addition to my own paperbacks and Kindle publications I sometimes also have a small selection of second hand books for sale, some on mining, some on railways, some on maritime and whenever possible some on maps. I say ‘sometimes’ because the listings are closed whenever I am more than a day away from the increasingly evasive post offices and their restricted opening hours.

Click here to see the current stock on Amazon>

If the shelves area empty try another day, when my travels may have brought me past a post office counter.

Advertisements

South Caradon Mine Yard

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>The Yard

The revival of the South Caradon website continues with more detail from the view of South Caradon dressing floor area. The original web page has been updated in this post with some pictures taken on a recent visit to the site.​ 

This is one of the most distinctive remains on the Seaton Valley floor. Within its walls some of the day to day logistics of running South Caradon mine were conducted.

The yard

South Caradon Mine yard

Above the main adit and below Donkey pond can clearly be seen the walls of an enclosed square yard. Although the structure has the appearance of a farm or domestic building it was built in the 1860’s as part of the improvements in South Caradon’s processing facilities and included two miners’ dries.

The dries provided important facilities in improving the miners welfare. In these buildings the workers could change their wet working clothes for a dry set prior to their walk home. This was not a luxury but an important factor in reducing the high death rates from lung disease.

The dry's chimney at South Caradon Mine
The miner’s dry chimney.

A modern track now cuts across the yard, breaching the walls at each end as it does so. The chimney that can be seen to the south of the yard served a boiler that provided the steam for the Dry. Around the yard was also located storage sheds, a wash house and even a barber’s shop.

The decision to invest in such a large set of buildings probably stemmed from the owner’s experience working underground as a miners.

A view of the yard In the 19th century

South Caradon Yard in the 19th Century

In this late 19 century view the Southerly wall can be seen with the dry’s chimney on the uphill side. The gate into the yard can just be made out (closed) and skylights or vents appear to exist in the roof.


Caradon Mining Books

Here are some suggested book searches on Amazon.

South Caradon Main Adit

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>Main Adit

South Caradon Main adit

There has been pause in these South Caradon Posts, a pause with a good reason. I have been off with the St. Neot local history group and Digventures in another part of the moor, and in another era of its history. But now it is time to leave the Bronze age behind and return to the 19th Century.

The Birth Place of South Caradon Mine

This is the location from which the Clymo’s started their great enterprise. The level dug in from here hit the great wealth of copper that lay undiscovered under Caradon Hill.

The great copper wealth discovered

The adit was originally started  by a miner called Ennor, backed by Devonport adventurers. He ceased exploration before the copper was found, and the lease changed hands several times before the Clymos restarted the prospecting in 1833.

Large exposures of Gozzan on the valley side led them to this area and according to Collins the Adit was started at a point adjacent to an outcrop of a lode exposed in the stream bed. Collins then goes on to explain…

“As they advanced into the deeper ground which the rapid rise of the hill gave them, the small patches of copper ore which at first discernible became larger and more numerous; the lode also began to increase in size, and to give strong indications of leading to a great body of copper ore.

These anticipation’s were fully verified as the development proceeded, but it was only by the exercise of the greatest determination , and the straining of their small resources to the uppermost, that the Clymos were enabled to hold on to the stake until the prize was won”

Hamilton Jenkin stated that these favourable indications started to occur at 50 fathoms in from the entrance.

The Adit

The two adits of the South Caradon mine opened out onto the Seaton Valley floor. This Pipe in the South Caradon Mine main aditwas the lowest level at which water could be naturally drained out of the mine.
The Adit opened out onto the dressing floors today the adit is marked by a gated pipe installed by the Caradon Hill Project. No access exists through the adit to the underground workings. The approximate line of the lodes can be seen on the landscape through Sump and Pearce’s shafts.

1833 –The year  in perspective

William IV was still King with the Whigs in power lead by Earl Grey (for whom the tea was made). This was  a period of social change after the passing of  first reform bill of 1832, the abolition of colonial slavery and the first factory act.

An era passed in Cornwall, with the death of Richard Trevithick, whose development of the steam engine had made deep mining in Cornwall possible. Another  era was starting with the formation of the GWR, whose arrival in Cornwall in later years would open up the Duchy to the rest of the UK.


wpid-wp-1438632155953.jpegThe Liskeard Mining District in 1863

The geology of the Caradon mining district is depicted in this Victorian map by Brenton Symons, a map made available in Kindle format in “The Liskeard Mining District in 1863”.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Views of South Caradon

Navsbooks>South Caradon> Views

My original South Caradon website was based on a series of views of the mine from the footpath that runs through West Caradon Mine. As time as moved on, and so has my digital camera, this post is based on some new photographs.

This is one of the most amazing and intense industrial heritage views on Cornwall. It is one packed with detail, packed with history, packed with industrial remains.

The view across the Seaton Valley

ScardonViewNumbered

This 2018 view is taken from the tips of West Caradon Mine and shows a valley rich with remains. Runing from left to right in the foreground is the Seaton River, its course following the boundary cross-course.

Click here for a map of the area>

Key to the view

The next set of posts in this series will explore some of the features in the view not yet described in this blog.

The view down the valley

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

This view, also taken in 2018 looks down the Seaton Valley. South Caradon Mine is to the left, and West Caradon to the right.


Brenton Symons’s 1863  Map on Kindle

South Caradon Mine is included on Brenton Symon’s map of the Liskeard Mining district. wp-1453408124105.jpegThe full map is available in the Kindle Publication ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863’.

Click here for the book’s Amazon page>

South Caradon mine from the East Caradon Mine

South Caradon Mine in 1863 by Webb and Geach

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine>History>1863

After a run of maps and engine houses its time for this blog to return to some history. This time its my favorite period in history 1862-3.

An extract from ‘The History and Progress of Mining in Webb and Geach Book Coverthe Caradon and Liskeard districts’

Webb and Geach description of of South Caradon Mine captures the mine at the peak of its success.

A modern reprint of the full book is available in paperback from the Trevithick Society.

The South Caradon Sett

“This is an extensive sett, but of a most irregular shape, having a linear distance between its extreme points of two miles, which in no place exceeds 650 fathoms. The Sett so accommodates itself to the lodes, however, that there is a clear course of at least a mile on the most productive of them, decreasing in width as it extends in a triangular shape northward, where the lodes have not yet been sufficiently tried to prove their value.

Commencing at the northern corner, which is close to the Old Wheal Jenkin mines, the eastern boundary (a compact and durable fence, lately built by the present proprietors of both the soil and minerals) runs along close by “The Caradon Mine”, now included in the West Rose Down Sett, whence it extends across Caradon Hill, passing within a few fathoms of East Caradon New Engine shaft. It then has the Launceston and Liskeard road as a boundary as far as Newton around which estate and Bladda it winds (excluding the cultivated land south). It then takes the road from Bladda to Crows nest, from whence, turning sharply to the North, it has first East Agar, and afterwards West Caradon and Gonomena mines as its western boundary, a stream of water which rushes down a deep gully bounding the sett for three quarters of a mile .”

The lodes and shafts

“To form some idea of the extent and position of the mineral wealth of this valuable property, it will be necessary to trouble the reader with a concise description. Commencing, then South: Kitto’s South lode comes first in order. Then Kitto’s North lode and Caunter lode; these two run parallel and close to each other their whole

Clymo's Shaft

distance, and it should be noted that although when first cut the direction then seemed to proclaim it a caunter, it soon took a regular course east and west. These two have been, par excellence, the productive lodes not only of this mine, but of the district, and it is mostly from them that the profits of the mine have been made. These lodes are unwatered by a 60 inch engine on Rules shaft, and a 32 inch on kitto’s , the most eastern shaft on these lodes is a distance from East Caradon New Engine shaft (Which works the caunter lode) a little over 200 fathoms. These lodes are worked as deep as 180 fathoms under adit in South Caradon, and still continue as productive as ever, and are worked nearly 600 fathoms in length. Next in rotation is Jope’s Lode, which as engine of 42 inch diameter drains.

Further north are Clymo’s, Pearce’s and Dowding’s lodes. The main lode next in order was first discovered and worked on in the mine, and was very productive. There were several lodes on which little has been done, including Mendue’s which has been so rich in West Caradon. Webb’s and Gerald’s lodes still north, and have been productive. Father still, the whole of Gonomena veins cross a short part of the sett, although they are untried here. It will be seen that the whole of the Caradon lodes  traverse the sett, bearing about 8 north of west. These are intersected at right angles by several cross courses, the easternmost, near Jopes shaft, heaving all the lodes to the right hand regularly. There is nothing that can be called an elvan course, although numerous patches occur near the lode and favourably affect it. The junction of killas with granite occurs a little south of Caunter and Kitto’s lode.”

By 1863 it can be seen that the centre of production has moved eastwards and southwards. Caunter and Kitto’s lodes are  described as the source of most of the mine’s profits. The mine was still growing in output at the time of this report, and yet it was beginning to feel the impact of a drop in the price of copper.

The lodes are stated as being worked 180 fathoms under adit. That is over 1000 feet under the the level of the valley, or about the same depth down as Caradon Hill is above sea level! The scale of the workings visible above ground pale to insignificance to the invisible workings beneath.

The Mine buildings

“From the top of the western slope of  Caradon hill an excellent birds eye view offersJope's Shaft Engine House Cylinder arch itself to the observer: Immediately below all the mine workings and buildings are clearly seen, most of them in the narrow gully before alluded to, where every inch of available space is occupied by railways, ore floors engines, stamps, and the many appliances for the economical conduction of mining enterprise.

Immense masses of granite debris or “deads”, as technically termed, intrude themselves everywhere. In addition to the machinery already adverted to, there  is on the old sump a 45 inch pumping engine, the first erected in the district, and which has worked uninterruptedly for twenty six years; a 30 inch engine does the crushing. There is also a 22 inch winding engine at Jope’s shaft, a 24  inch at rules and a 22 inch at kitto’s, and a water winding engine at old sump. The ores are reduced by water-power.

It commenced to work in 1836, when an adit was driven on the main lode. At this time there were no mines working the lodes on the southern slope of the Caradon range, nor was it remotely supposed by any one that such a splendid run of congenial strata existed there.”

This is the “narrow gully” described, formed from the valley of the Seaton River.

By the time of this report, Kitto’s shaft is operation at eastern boundary of the sett.

 

The Company

“The adventurers of this mine have lately presented Mr. and Mrs. Norris, the proprietors of the land, with a handsome piece of plate, as proof of the esteem in which they are held, and of their kind and considerate conduct in the renewal of their lease in May 1862.

South Caradon mine from the East Caradon Mine

The mine is divided into 512 shares, on which 25s. was originally paid: for that small outlay, £365 per share has been returned to the fortunate adventures, amounting to the aggregate of £197,632. It shows the importance such a mine as this must be to the neighbourhood in which it may be placed, when it is mentioned that £600,000 have been paid to labourers and merchants and £43,000 in dues to the Lord. There are engaged in various occupations at this concern 650 persons.
The purser is Mr. T Kitto of Linkinghorne. The manager is Mr. Peter Clymo of Liskeard. The agents, Captains Rule, Pearce, Holman and May. Pay-day, the second Saturday in the month.”

South Caradon’s output was  to peak over the following 15 years. This report was written only a couple years before the fall in the value of copper being sold. A fall caused by the drop in copper price, a price which had already dropped from its summit of about £13 in the 1850’s.
The significant impact of South Caradon on the economy of the area is commented on by Webb and Geach. The second Saturday in each month was no doubt an important day in the surrounding towns and villages.

Notes from a General meeting

General meeting held 25th November 1862   

“Agents report
I am happy in being able to state that our prospects are still very good, with every probability of a continuance.

The general meetings are held two monthly; the next meeting will be held January 27th 1863.”

An optimistic report, but the decline in mine’s fortunes had already started. It was now having to raise more and more copper to maintain the same profits. The copper price was on its downward trend towards the £3 per ton of ore of the 1880’s, and the mine’s final closure.


Cover of the Liskeard Mining District in 1863 book coverThe Liskeard Mining District in 1863

This Kindle edition of Brenton Symons’s 1863 map makes a perfect companion to the Webb and Geach book.

Click here to view on Amazon>

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

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>