Cobbled flooring at South Caradon Mine

South Caradon Dressing Sheds

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine>Maps>Dressing Sheds

The dressing shed floors in 2018

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.

Click for information on the dressing process at South Caradon>

Click for a map of the dressing floor>

The dressing shed in 1880

A rare surviving example of dressing floors cobbled flooring

Cobbled flooring at South Caradon Mine

This is one of the gems of the South Caradon’s remains; a feature closely associated with copper ore dressing.

The flooring

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.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe 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.

Click here to find the book 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

The Man engine returns to Cornwall

The Man Engine drinks

Cornish Mining Heritage inspiring the future

A brief pause in the South Caradon Mine posts; but a pause that is justified, and a pause that is relevant. 

Last weekend I had the chance of sharing the experience of seeing Will Colman’s amazing Man Engine puppet resurrect itself  above a soggy field at the Cornwall Show ground. It was an experience I shared with thousands of other hardy onlookers, one of which was my young grandson. It was an experience he would never forget, and that was surely the aim of all the event.

A reflection on the show

This showmanship, with its mixture of awe, Cornish humor,  facts, and a hint of fear The Man Engine Resurrection Tourforged a link in his memory with the now, and the past. A link that maybe would inspire him to explore the past, and the landscape around him.

Far more importantly though, the razzmatazz on that rain sodden field would give him, and all the other children in the field an alternative view of the future.

Cornwall was in the past was a place of invention, engineering and  industry. Great engineers and engineering came from the land west of the Tamar.  And today, the mineral wealth beneath the feet of the crowds watching the man engine is calling investors, calling skills, calling speculators. Drilling rigs are working across Cornwall, The Man Engine and St.Piran's flagand pumps are about to start removing the water that fill long silent levels and shafts.

So perhaps, just perhaps, some of those younger members of the crowd in that wet field will grow up with more options to find work in their home country than their parents. And perhaps, the man engine would have played a part in inspiring some of them to become engineers- this country needs its engineers back.

The real man engine and William West

William West (The Last Great Cornish Engineer) played an important role in the W50development of the original man engine.  One of my earlier posts in this blog tells that story.

South Caradon Mine was the site of one of his engines, I have some pictures of the site on the page on Jope’s Shaft.

My next post in this series will explore the location of the other shaft associated with a man engine, Kitto’s shaft.


 

image

The Last Great Cornish Engineer

To learn more about William West of Tredenham, the inventor of the man engine, have a read of The Last Great Cornish Engineer– a paperback published by the Trevithick Society.

Click here to find a copy on Amazon>

Or ask at your local independent bookstore.

Rule’s Shaft Pumping Engine at South Caradon Mine

Rule's engine house at South Caradon mine

The resurrection of the ‘Views of South Caradon’ website now moves out of the Seaton Valley to the engine houses that lie on the southern slopes of Caradon Hill.

The Ruin of Rule’s Engine House

This engine house is a stark contrast to its nearby neighbor at Holman’s shaft. Whilst Holman’s massive house dominates the southern slopes of Caradon Hill, Rule’s has only one corner standing to full height, the remainder being no more than a pile of rubble.

Rules Engine House at South Caradon Mine

A military exercise was the probable cause of the transformation of this Cornish engine house into collapsed ruins.  It originally housed a 40″ engine (Kenneth Brown), which proved to be insufficient to pump the mine as it expanded eastwards, and therefore was supplemented by its larger neighbor. The engine at Rule’s was installed in 1863 as a result of the mine extending its workings eastwards, away from its original focus in the Seaton Valley.  The engine was originally working at South Garras Mine, near Truro. Webb and Geach state that the engine was 60″.

Click here for a map of the Holman’s/Rule’s engine house complex>

Rule’s ruined condition makes it a challenge to determine its layout; its shaft was on the eastern side, and its boiler house to the north. These boilers may have shared a chimney with Holman’s shaft boilers.


41f3tbQ+CnL._SL500_[1]As seen on the Cover of the Trevithick Society’s re-print of ‘Webb and Geach’

South Caradon’s Rule’s shaft engine house the ruins adorns the cover of ‘History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’.

Click here to find the paperback on Amazon>

Jope’s Shaft- The maps

The area around South Caradon Mine’s Jope’s shaft in maps and images

Jope's shaft seen from the west

The rescuing of the old ‘Views of South Caradon’ website has just gained an additional purpose . I will be assisting a mining history group interpret this amazing Cornish mining landscape in a couple months time, so this posts will build towards a resource for their visit.

Jope’s shaft is a fascinating little corner of South Caradon Mine. It is South Caradon’s most westerly shaft on the rich-long run of southern lodes, located on the eastern slopes of the valley at the bottom end of the Seaton Coombe.

The shaft can boast having the most complete engine house structure on the mine, despite of its cloak of Ivy. However, it also possess one of least well preserved engine houses, no more than a mere pile of masonry hidden among the trees.

This is shaft with some historic remains, for this is where William West built the last man engine in Cornwall. It is also where he may have built one of the rare examples of a Sim’s compound engine.

Jope’s Shaft in Maps

Jope’s Shaft area in 1863

Jope's Shaft in 1863

This extract of Brenton Symons’s 1863 map shows the pumping house as P.E and whim engine as W.E. Lodes are shown by the red lines and the cross-course by light grey. The shaft is shown sunk pm Jope’s Lode, close west of the cross-course.

The ‘View of South Caradon map’
jopemap

Not the most cartographic accurate map I know, and the style is definitely leaning towards the ‘simplistic’, but this map rescued from my now long-dead  website shows well the features around the shaft. One omission is the possible site of a steam capstan engine on the shaft side of the boiler house.

Ordnance Survey 2018

The 2018 map shows the engine house, boiler house, and magazine; it does not however show the chimney and remains of winding engine house.

Click here for full map>

JopesOS

Google Air

The engine house and stack are clear, but the whim/man engine and the linking trench are hidden beneath the line of trees.

1886 OS Map

Cornwall XXVIII.SW (includes: St Cleer.) Surveyed: 1881 to 1882
Published: 1886

The National Library of Scotland have an excellent version of this map on-line. But, unfortunately due to copyright restrictions this cannot be re-produced here.

Click here to view map> 

Some structures in the area

The Magazine

This small structure lies to the north-east of the engine house. It would have housed the gunpowder required by the miners for blasting.

Powder Magazine at Jope's Shaft

The steam Capstan

Jope's shaft steam Capstan

On the south side of the boiler house are some loadings and a pit that may have been associated with some sort of machinery. The Minions Survey suggests that this may have been the site of a small steam capstan. If so, this is another link with William West, who introduced the use of steam capstans in Devon and Cornwall. This part of the remains has undergone some changes as part of the Caradon Hill project building stabilization work.


wp-1453408124105.jpegA Victorian Map of the area

Brenton Symons’s 1863 map of the Liskeard mining district is available in Kindle Format, and it is free for those with Kindle Unlimited.

Click here to visit the book’s page on Amazon>

Jope’s Shaft-Winding and Man-engine

The site of the last man engine in Cornwall

Whilst Jope’s pumping engine house is the best preserved one on South Caradon mine, its whim engine house is he worst; merely a pile of rubble hidden beneath the trees. This engine was adapted  by William West to drive one of his man engines, a man engine that would be last last built in Cornwall.

Jope's Shaft whim engine

The 24″ winding engine lay to the south east of the shaft, its site now marked by moss covered masonry rubble, the largest pile marking the site of the chimney.  The whim engine was installed in 1864.

On the north eastern side of the engine house can be found the most interesting feature of the engine house, the loadings for the whim, and later the man engine. From these loadings a trench can traced up to the angle bob pit at the edge of the shaft. Along this trench ran the drive rod for the man engine that West installed here in 1872. The man engine was powered by the whim engine, which have also continued to be used for winding between shift changes. The man engine moved to the eastern part of the set at Kitto’s shaft in 1882-3.

The man engine trench

The design of man engine installed here was the single rod type, a design first introduced by William West at Fowey Consols in 1852.


 William Last the Great Cornish Engineer

wpid-wp-1415226867597.jpegThe fascinating story of William West of Tredenham is told in this paperback published by the Trevithick Society.

Click here to find on Amazon>

South Caradon Mine-The area around Sump Shaft

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine>Maps>Sump Shaft

This post looks at the area of the two engine houses described so far in the series, those of Sump Shaft. It uses the map from my original website, then adds a few more from the resources now available online.

South Caradon Mine Sump Shaft in the snow

Sump shaft is the deepest on the mine and was sometimes called Engine shaft. Around it lies a complex of buildings that include a winding engine, pump engine, capstan engine and an explosives magazine.

The expanse of dumps below the buildings give a clue to the far larger scale of construction that lay below the ground, out of sight.
The shaft at 250 fathoms deep formed the lowest point of the mine and the point to which water drained, the sump. This hole in the ground extends 1500 ft below the level of the valley floor in modern measurements this is 457 metres, almost half a kilometre!
Caradon Hill itself only rises 371 meters above sea level, and Sump shaft is almost four times as deep as the height between the valley floor and the hill’s summit.

The Sump Shaft area in Maps

Layout of structures at Sump Shaft

South Caradon Mine Sump shaft area map
The layout of the buildings around Sump Shaft

This is a complex area of remains containing the structures associated with the extraction of ores from the Northern lodes. The winding engine at Sump shaft provided the power to wind at Pearce’s through a set of flat rods.

This map was resurrected from the old TeamManley website, along with some minor typo’s. As of yet I have not managed to find an easy way of re-editing, so sometime in the future it will be updated with a replacement version.

More information on the structures shown on the map

Sump Shaft as shown by the OS in 1906

South Caradon Mine Sump Shaft area in 1906
Extract From the Ordnance Survey 25″ 1906 Map

This map shows the Sump shaft area in 1906, the buildings have lost there roofs, but the outlines are clearly shown.  The full map can be seen on the excellent National Library of Scotland Website.

Sump Shaft from the air

South Caradon Sump Shaft area in google Earth
Google Earth view of Sump Shaft

This Google Earth view was captured from Google Maps in 2017. The outline of the pumping engine house is seen in the top left quadrant, with the stump of the chimney clearly visible. The winding house chimney is to the right of the center. The prominent chimney, casting a long shadow is that of the capstan engine.

The mine in 2017

OS map of South Caradon Mine Sump shaft
OS Map of the Sump Shaft area in 2017

OS Maps online was used to obtain this screen shot. The Grid Ref cross hair sits above the centre of Sump Shaft.

Next in this series of posts on South Caradon Mine will be the distinctive Structure of Pearce’s Shaft.


OS Explorer Map of Bodmin Moor

Map number 109 is the best map available to explore the area of South Caradon Mine.

Click here to find the map on Amazon>

Sump Shaft Winding Engine House at South Caradon Mine

The South Caradon post series continue with the second of the engine houses at Sump shaft.

A horizontal whim engine house

Sump shaft winding engine house lies up-slope of Sump Shaft, and in addition to winding at Sump shaft this engine provided power by flat-rods to Pearce’s shaft higher up the hill.

A 22 inch horizontal engine was housed in this building (some sources state a 16/30″). The was engine designed by William West, and was probably installed in 1844 (ref CAU) .
Horizontal engines did not require a substantial bob wall and the structure was therefore lighter than a traditional Cornish Engine house.

SX26558 70033

The engine house in the 1880s

SumpWindCloseOld

The picture clearly shows that the  sump shaft winding engine  house was not a traditional Cornish beam engine structure. The boiler house is sited on this side, and its lean to roof can be seen, the loadings and flywheel are on the opposite hidden face.The headgear of Pearce’s shaft lies to the left of the view and the chimney on the right was believed to have served a steam capstan.

This house now has two partial walls and a partial height chimney still standing. On the left side are the loadings for the winding drum and flat rods crank. On the opposite wall low walls mark the position of a long narrow boiler house with the chimney on its uphill side. The boiler house may have been extended to the south to accommodate a second boiler.

The engine house in 2012

These pictures were taken soon after the Caradon Hill Project had stabilised the structure.

SumpWindingEngineHouse

This view looks up slope towards Pearce’s Shaft. The ruined western and northern walls are closest to the camera, with the best preserved southern wall to the right of the view.

SumpWindingFromEast

Looking from the north-east corner, the whim cage loadings are on the right.

SumpWindingInside

The inside of the winding house, looking up the alignment of flat-rods

SumpWindingLoading

Looking down the loadings towards Sump Shaft and its pumping engine house. The tips in the background are those of West Caradon Mine.

Flat rods, Flatrods, Flat-rods
Horizontal wood or iron rods used for communicating power from one part of a mine to another.  Flat-rods were often used to transfer power from an engine, or waterwheel to a remote shaft. The rods ran on rollers, or pivoted arms.


Books about William West

South Caradon’s Engineer

Cover of the Last Great Cornish Engineer Book cover of the Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham

South Caradon Sump Shaft Pumping Engine House

Now this series of posts on South Caradon Mine starts to dive down into the detail, to look at the individual structures on this amazing piece of Cornish Industrial Heritage.

The first Cornish Engine house of many

SX 2651970048

South Caradon’s Sump Shaft engine house has great historic importance, for it was here that the South Caradon mine installed its first steam engine, and it was here that the first engine house was built of what would become a major copper mining district of Caradon.

This was also the engine house that started the famous engineer William West’s long standing association with the mine’s steam engines. He would go on to install many engines on the site, and become the dominant engineer of the the district.

The engine

This building housed the first engine to be installed at the mine. It was built in 1837, and

sumpwing1
Sump Shaft Pumping Engine in 2010

different sources place its size at 30″, 35″ or 45″ cylinder diameter. Prior to its construction the pump was powered by flat-rods driven by a water wheel located downslope from the shaft.

As the workings expanded underground, and the original engine could not keep up with the water,  a larger 50″ engine was installed (possibly in the late 1840’s),  and this engine was still in place when the mine was finally closed.

Sump Shaft engine house in images

The engine house just before closure

South Caradon Sump Shaft pumping engine house in the 1880s.

This picture is an Enlargement of the 18th Century Picture from the
Neil Parkhouse Collection. The complete picture is contained in my reprint of Webb and Geach’s book. The shaft lies on the right of the picture with the headgear standing above it.

The Engine house in 2010

These images are resurrected from my original South Caradon website. They are images of the engine house before the Caradon Hill Project’s preservation work,

Sump Shaft pump engine house bob walltaken at a time when the house was in its gradual decay towards becoming a pile of rubble.

The Bob Wall

This view looks across the blocked shaft towards the ivy clad bob wall.

Bob Wall -The bob wall supported the bob or beam of the engine, and therefore was the strongest wall of an engine house.  It would be between four and seven feet thick, and often constructed of dressed granite. In a pumping engine the bob wall was adjacent to the shaft.

 

Sump Shaft engine house plug doorway

The view from the inside looking towards the shaft

The dressed granite arch is that of the Plug doorway. This doorway was at the driver’s floor level and gave him a view of the condenser and pitwork.

The inside of the engine house is in poor condition, and little can be seen of the internal layout.

A view of the boiler house

Sump Shaft boiler house

The layout of the boiler house is clear in this view with the seats of the three Cornish boilers discernible, and the flue openings visible at the far end of the house. Only a stump remains of the stack.

Boiler houses were generally of a far lighter construction than the engine houses they served. Remains are therefore less visible, and often non-existent.

The engine House in 2012

Sump Shaft Pumping engine house bob wall

Between the this images and the previous ones a major change had occurred at Sump shaft. The buildings had been cleaned, restored and stabalised. The decay has been paused, natures reclamation has been halted and the remains have been preserved for future generations to explore.

This is another view of the bob wall. The ivy has gone and the stonework re-pointed.

Sump Shaft Pumping Engine House site

The layout of the Pumping engine house is captured in this view.  From left to right the remains are: Shaft-Engine house-Boiler house.

Sump Shaft Pump Engine house site

The Engine House in 2015

Sump shaft engine houses in the snow

Snow came to South East Cornwall in 2015, bringing with it crystal clear light that brought the buildings into sharp contrast.  This view was caught over those rare crisp cold days, and it shows well the extent of the engine house remains. Only two walls now stand; the bob wall to the left, and the partial remains of the wing wall to the right.

Wing Walls-The side walls of an engine house.
Wing walls were about 2’6″ to 3’6″ thick. Being the weakest walls these were often the first parts of the building to collapse.


wpid-wp-1438632680446.pngWebb and Geach

The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District

This paperback contains the Victorian Photograph mentioned in this post.

If you are visiting the area then pop into the excellent bookshop in Liskeard for a copy.

Click here to learn more about the book>

South Caradon Mine- A timeline

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine>History>Timeline

The recovery of the ‘Views of South Caradon’ continues with the history theme. In this post I will rescue the timeline from its geocities vault, and along the way add some cross referenced dates from other time lines on this blog. Should be interesting to see how the histories interwine. The photographs on this post come from a series I took in 2015 on a rare occasion when the South Caradon site was covered in snow and bathed in bright sunshine.

1833 to 1890

View across the Seaton Valley across Sump's shaft

Six decades of industrial industry

The mine started in the Seaton Valley but its production moved eastwards in the later part of the history. The richest part of the mine lay in these easterly lodes.

Early working

1662

First record of mineral workings in the area at the Gonamena open works.

Early 19th century

 

A promise of wealth

Experience in the west of the Cornwall suggested that copper deposits probably existed under Caradon Hill. Large deposits of fine gozzen near the surface suggested that workable mineral lodes would exist deeper down. These gozzans may have been worked for tin. Attempts at finding copper had been made by small groups of miners driving adits into the hillside, but with no success prior to the South Caradon find.

Missed chances

On each lease transfer the opportunity of huge wealth was missed by the leaseholder, at one point the sett sold for less than a guinea.


1801
William West was born at Dolcoath

1817 to 1819 William West works at Dolcoath fitting shop

Ennor’s Trial

A miner called Ennor working for a group of Plymouth and Devonport adventurers dug an adit in from the Seaton Valley. This was probably at the location of what became main lode adit.

Some indications of minerals may have been found, but the trial was abandoned on advice of experts. The lease then changes hands several times, often for very small amounts.

The startLooking towards Holman;s and Rule's shafts in the snow

1831 West was Engaged by  J. T. Austin at Fowey Consols

1833

The miner James Clymo and members of the Kittow family started looking for Copper in the area. An adit running eastwards from the Seaton Valley was the starting point of their enterprise.

1834 Austen’s Engine is started

1834-1835

Despite shortage or resources the miners continue to persevere in extending the adit, following promising signs of mineralization deeper into the hill.

1835 Trial of Austen’s engine

1836

The adventurers perseverance and determination is rewarded when the main ore body is discovered, but no investors in London could be found to finance the venture. The original miners therefore financed the mine themselves.

1836 -1838 Cornwall Great United Mining Association worked the mines that would become Phoenix United.

1837

Sump shaft engine houses in the snowFirst returns are made for the mine after just over £327 had been paid out. 130 tons of ore (of 10% metal) is produced. Ref: Shambrock (Allan gives this production as starting in 1838)

The first engine was installed at sump shaft by William West.
Within a few years South Caradon became one of the biggest copper mines in the world.

 

William West started working for South Caradon mine


The story goes…

That James Clymo offered the shares to a mine adventurer on the coach back from London. The adventurer refused the shares at £5 each. A few months later the shares fetched £2000 each!

Another story is of two maidens who sold some rough land to a lawyer and immediately learnt about the discovery of copper beneath its surface. By the following day they had repurchased the land claiming that they where sentimentally attached to it.
The lawyer heard about the copper the following morning…..just that bit too late
1837 West became the Fowey Consols sole engineer


The Victorian period starts

1839 West patented the double-beat self acting valve

The rise

1840’s

The mines in West Cornwall suffered a decline but South Caradon’s success sparked a mining boom around Caradon Hill. The mine was producing nearly 4,000 tons of ore a year.

1842 Wheal Phoenix was formed

1848 St. Blazey foundry is established by West

1850’s

1850 William West commenced his association with Phoenix United Mine

What is in a name?

The success of the mine sparked a rush of mines being named with the magic word The wast tios of West Caradon Mine in the snow“Caradon” in their title, in the hope of attracting investors. A practice that became far too common after 1850, and earned the term “market mining”. None of these mines ever came near of matching the success of South Caradon.

  • Caradon Consols
  • Caradon Vale
  • East Caradon
  • Caradon Copper
  • Great Caradon
  • New West Caradon
  • Glasgow Caradon Consols
  • New South Caradon
  • The Caradon Mine
  • West Caradon Mine
  • Wheal Caradon Mine

Tredhenam  house is built

1852 West installed his first Man engine at Fowey Consols

The Fall

1863 Brenton Symons publishes his map of the Caradon mining District and Webb and Geach produce their book.

Mid-1860’s

The price of copper drops, despite large amounts of ore being produced profits start to fall.
Nearly 6,000 tons of ore a year was being produced by South Caradon.
The mine became the biggest copper producer in Cornwall. But profits still fell.

1864 The Liskeard and District is Bank formed

 1867 Fowey Consols failed

1868 West obtains majority shares in Phoenix United

1879 William West Dies

1880

Work Stopped at the mine

1883

A limited company was formed to raise more capital, and attempts are made to keep the mine more profitable by extending the eastern part of the workings.

The Death

1885

Work Ceases, despite having copper reserves the mine was too expensive to run with the low price of copper. A picture of the mine prior to closure

1889

Attempts made to re-work the mine, but with no success.
The venture planned to run East Caradon, Glasgow Caradon and South Caradon as one mine.

1890

Final closure.
The site becomes mine history.

View across South Caradon Mine to the borth west

 

The end of an Industry

When the South Caradon Mine pumps stopped the water rose to flood the workings of adjacent mines forcing them to close. Even Railways suffered. 1885 saw the Liskeard and Caradon Railway going into receivership. A railway whose existence was dependent on the wealth produced by the South Caradon Mine.

Other Time lines on  this blog


BookshopLiskeard

A Great Book Shop

To find books about the history of the Caradon Hill area pop in to the excellent book shop at Liskeard. They keep some well stocked shelves on Cornish local history, including my two paperbacks on William West– The Last Great Cornish Engineer, and the Liskeard Mining District .