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>


Webb and Geach Explored-Caradon Copper Mine

Caradon Copper Mine seen from the footpath in 2005

Page 99 of Trevithick Society’s reprint of Webb and Geach’s book ‘The history and progress of mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’ ,  provides the starting point for this post, a virtual exploration of the Caradon Copper Mine.

Caradon Copper Mine

“To work these an engine was erected with all necessary buildings; but though the shaft was sunk to a good depth; and the mine worked for some years, a corresponding success was not met with, and they eventually sold the machinery and abandoned the concern.” Webb and Geach

Ordnance Survey Cornwall XXVIII.SW Surveyed: 1881 to 1882 Published: 1886

Produced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Click here for the Map on Library of Scotland website>

Current OS map

CaradonCopperOS2016To see the location on a current OS map click here>




Google Maps

CaradonCopperGoogle2016Click here to explore the map>





Google Street View

Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council interactive map>

CaradonCopperCornwallReference : MCO11918
Name : CARADON – Post Medieval mine
Monument type : MINE
Period : Post Medieval
Summary : Caradon copper mine commenced work in 1844, was renamed Trethevy Copper Mine in 1849 and was disused by 1863

wpid-wp-1441052784407.pngFor Webb and Geach and other John Manley’s books-click here>


John Taylor-Mining entrepreneur and Engineer


John Taylor in 1825 by Sir Thomas Lawrence

John Taylor was one of the most remarkable characters involved in the British Mining industry. He is the subject of my next Trevithick Society talk, and the next series of posts on this blog will part of my preparations for that presentation. So if you want to know more about this amazing Victorian, follow along and enjoy the journey.

Brenton Symons’ Victorian Map of the Liskeard Mining District-page complete

A chance to present Brenton Symons’ cartography to the Caradon Geology group was great opportunity to get some feedback on its geology. Normally my audience are Cornish mining history experts, so discussions on rocks made a change to delving into the details of engine houses.


In attempting to understand the strength and weakness of map my focus was on its intended customers; the potential mine investors. My talk at Liskeard brought to light an alternative view point however, that is the current buyers of geological maps. No longer is it the extraction of wealth beneath the ground that attracts geological interests but the ability to build on its surface. Instead of mining investors there are civil engineers; housing estates, supermarkets, wind turbines and road improvements have replaced shafts, stopes and adits.

Now that the talk is complete, I have launched a new page dedicated to the map, a page that includes an index to my posts on the Liskeard map. Click here to view.

Time to move on to the next presentation. A presentation about a genius in the British Mining industry who died in the year that Brenton Symons published his map,1863.  The genius that was John Taylor will be the topic of the next series of blogs.

The geology of Caradon- The lodes

This post is the fourth in the series looking at the geology of the Caradon Hill area in Cornwall through the information shown on a amazing Victorian map. So far the posts have covered the granite, cross-courses and elvans; and now it looks at the most important feature- the lodes.


For the majority, if not all, of the buyers of Brenton Symons’ map the lodes  are the features they would have had the most interest in. For lodes are where the potential of wealth lay, their fickle nature driving the fortunes and losses of the industry.

Lodes are cracks or pressure filled with minerals, from which the miners extracted the ore. They were normally vertical, or near-vertical; often extending for considerable distances. In other parts of Britain they are known as a veins or seams.

Brenton Symon’s displayed lodes as red lines, dotted when their existence had not been confirmed. This post summarises the lodes in the immediate area around Caradon Hill, near Liskeard.


The number of lodes
The modern British Geological map denotes the location of 9 lodes whilst Brenton Symon showed 89 in the same area. This massive discrepancy is a clear example of how every map reflects the priorities of its maker, sponsors or potential customers.  The Victorian customers were focused on the red lines cluttering the maps, but modern geologist have little use for the information.

The direction of the lodes ( the Course)
In this part of Cornwall tin and copper lodes broadly run east to west and lead north to south. In general tin lodes are in or near the granite, copper near the granite contact, and lead in the killas. This pattern is reflected in Symons’ map which has all bar three of the lodes in that Caradon area running east to west.

Not all the lodes run purely east to west; some trend slightly to the north, and some to the south. The distribution according to Symons is:


East to west 20 percent
East by North 2 percent
East by south 78 percent

However, a transcription of the course of the lodes onto a modern 1:25000 map reveals a different picture:
East to west 21 percent
East by North 58 percent
East by south 5 percent

This is a discrepancy highlights an error in datum between the two maps, an error

that must be considered when using the older publication.

Dip or underlie is the angle of slope of a lode.
The underlie is the angle measured from the vertical, whilst the dip is the angle measured from the surface.

Dip is shown on the Victorian map by arrows on the side of the lode. A summary of the dip shown in the mine setts around Caradon Hill is:
None shown 32 percent
Southerly 14 percent
Northerly 53 percent

Length of the lodes
By transposing the lodes onto a modern Ordnance Survey map it is possible to determine the length of the lodes in the area. The average length is .3km, with the longest shown being 2.5km. The majority of the lodes ony have short runs:

Less then .5k 79 percent
.5 to 1km 13 percent
1km plus 8 percent

The average lode in the Caradon area therefore runs East by North, is .3km long and dips to the north.

Brenton Symon’s map is far superior to the modern map as a source of information on lodes, as long as the datum discrepancy is allowed for- the next post will look at the map information displayed on a modern map.

Click here for information about how to obtain a copy of the 1863 map.

The Geology of Caradon Hill- Cross-courses

This post continues the exploration of  the geology of Brenton Symons’ Victorian map of the Liskeard mining district’ with a wander around the cross-courses of the Caradon Hill area. My last post in the series came up with the conclusion that the modern British Geological map was more accurate than the 18th century publication, but a lot less pleasing on the eye. This post will put the two maps head to head on the topic of cross-courses.


What is a cross course?
A cross course is a mineral vein running a near right angles to the predominant lode direction in an area. Cross-courses are normally non metallic but sometimes will carry lead and silver.

In Cornwall Cross-courses normally run in a north to south direction, apart from the in the St. Just area. Where a cross-course intersects a lode it throws it off its regular course; a break in the lode’s course called a ‘heave’.

Cross-courses gave mixed fortunes to a mine. Sometimes the heave would cause difficulties in tracing lodes,  they also could form a route for water to follow, a route that increased the risk of flooding workings.  On the plus side, cross-courses gave a line of softer rock for miners to follow, a weakness exploited to drive adits and cross-cuts.

Brenton Symons and Cross-Courses
Brenton Symons’ map denotes cross-courses by thick light grey lines. Their presence can also be detected by heaves in the lodes.  This post describes the location of the  cross-courses in the Caradon Hill area, and compares it with the information given in the contemporary Webb and Geach book,  and a modern BGS map. The cross-courses have been named by the mine setts through which they pass.

“There  are  several  cross-courses  running  through  the  country,  both  in  Killas  and  granite,  and  which  are found  as  is  usually  the  case,  to  influence  the  deposits  of  ore  wherever they  intersect  the  lodes.” Webb and Geach

The Cross-Courses

Wheal Pollard-Wheal Norris, Caradon Hill (Vale)

This long cross-course runs close to the main engine shafts of all three mines. Symons shows it becoming indistinct for a portion of its southern section, where he has assumed its course.

The British Geological Survey mao does not show the cross-course at all. The modern map does show some faults forming part of contact,

Webb and Geach mention the large cross-course in Wheal Norris and Caradon Hill mines. The latter mine used its weakness to drive an adit. Smaller cross-courses are mentioned in the book, but are not shown on the map.

Wheal Norris
This  sett  is  in  the  parish  of  St.  Cleer,  and  adjoins  Craddock  Moor  Mine,  having  the  same  lodes  traversing  it  for  500  fathoms  in  length.  There  are  in the  sett  nine  discovered  lodes,  which  are  at  right  angles  crossed  by  one  large cross-course  and  three  smaller  ones,  against  which  the  lodes  generally  make poor,  and  are  disarranged.

On  the  cross-course  directly  west  of  Carter’s  Shaft  a  cross-cut  has  been driven  north  40  fathoms,  intersecting  at  the  adit  level  two  large  masterly lodes

Caradon Hill
This  adit  has  been  driven  on  the  great  cross-course,  which  is  30  feet  wide, and  five  promising  lodes  have  been  cut,  producing  tin  and  copper;  it  is  still being  driven,  and  it  is  intended  to  proceed  with  it  through  the  entire  width  of the  sett,  with  a  view  to  cut  other  lodes  which  are  known  to  exist.

Craddock Moor-West Caradon
This cross-course cuts across the southeast corner of Craddock Moor’s sett, where Fox’s shaft is sunk on its course. No heave is evident on the lodes.

Yet again the BGS do not denote the existence of the cross-course. And yet again Webb and Geach describe more cross-courses than those shown by Symons.

Craddock Moor
There are  five  cross-courses  known  to  intersect  the  lodes,  three  of  which  are  from Caradon  Consols  which  is  immediately  south.

Gonomena-West Caradon

A consistent heave is shown by Brenton Symons; all the lodes western portions are displaced northwards. The BGS do not show the feature. Brenton Symons names it has the ‘West Caradon cross-course’ and the ‘Great Cross-course’ , ad states the feature was used to work the mine, and that it gave a heave if 2 to 6 fathoms. As in the previous cross-courses it is apparent that the  Victorian map only displayed the most significant cross courses.

The  boundary  cross-course  is  in  the  eastern  ground,  and  has  a  left-hand heave  displacing  the  lode  about  seven  fathoms.  West  Caradon  cross-course runs  through  the  centre  of  the  sett,  causing  a  right  hand-heave  of  about  three fathoms.  In  the  western  ground  three  other  cross-veins  come  in  from  West  Caradon and Craddock Moor, but these have not yet been seen in the mine.

West Caradon
These  lodes  are intersected  at  right  angles  by  numerous  cross-courses,  one  or  two  being  of a  large  size,  heaving  the  lodes  to  the  right  from  2  to  6  fathoms.  The  great cross-course  which  runs  through  the  centre  of  the  mine,  has  been  of  the  up most  service  in  working  the  mine  both  quickly  and  economically,  the  crosscuts  driven  on  its  course  costing  from  about  50s.  to  60s.  per  fathom,  which would  otherwise  have  to  be  driven  through  the  hard  granite,  at  a  cost  of  £12 or £14 per fathom.

South Caradon

This is Y shaped cross-course runs up the eastern slope of the Seaton valley, passing close to Jope’s shaft, and through Sump Shaft. The split of the Y is close north of Sump Shaft. The Cross-course causes the lodes western portions to be heaved norhwards.

This is the only cross course shown by the British Gelogicalk Survey. BGS show a single Cross-course running on the east of the Seaton River. It enters Gonomena set where its is heaved by a lode and then follows the western side of the openworks for a short distance. This coincides with the South Caradon Y cross course and a part of the great cross course. The gap in between the cross-courses shown by Symons coincides roughly with the heave shown by BGS

South Caradon
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  Jope’s  Shaft,  heaving all  the  lodes  to  the  right  hand  regularly

The Great Cross-course


South Caradon-Gonomena-South Phoenix-Phoenix
This cross course extends across a large portion of the map, from South Caradon to Phoenix. Its southern section, where it is called the boundary cross-course, is not directly shown by Brenton Symons. It can be identified however, by a heave in the lodes beneath the Seaton River.

This cross-course is shown only by the BGS in its southern section as it passes through the South Caradon and Gonamena Setts.


South Caradon
Greenhill  Lode  is  driven  west  at  the  125  to  the cross-course about fathoms in length, 85  and contains  green  carbonate, grey  ore,  and  rich  oxide  of copper;  the  154  and  166 are  being  driven  to  get  under  this  ore,  in  the  confident  expectation  of  making  large  returns.  One  of  the  great  objects  of  the  adventurers  is  the  driving  of  the  126  cross-cut  south  on  the  great  cross-course, to  cut  Rosedown  and  Marke  Valley  lodes.

in a  deep  valley  streamed  for  tin,  is  a  large  cross-course  –  a  continuation,  in  fact, of  the  West  Caradon  boundary  cross-course,  which  there,  as  well  as  in  South Phoenix,  heaves  the  lodes  to  the  left  hand  about  10  fathoms.  This  crosscourse  is  many  fathoms  wide,  but  has  never  been  seen  at  the  Phoenix  Mines; as,  although  they  have  driven  on  a  course  of  ore  close  to  it,  they  were  afraid to  proceed,  on  account  of  the  probable  great  influx  of  water  that  would  ensue.

Wheal Hooper-South Caradon


This cross-course may hold a clue to a mystery engine house. Its northern termination is close to the location of an isolated chimney whose purpose is not known. Symons shows and engine house located on the cross-course, a location that suggests that a shaft may have been sunk there in order to serve a cross-cut driven on the cross-course. This possible explanation for the mystery chimney is supported by the fact that the cross-course proved to be of great use to Wheal Hooper.

This is another cross-course is not shown by BGS.

Wheal Hooper
A cross-course,  which  has  been  of  considerable  utility  in  working  the  mine inexpensively,  stretches  across  the  sett,  bearing  a  few  degrees  west  of  north, and  intersecting  the  lodes  obliquely.  It  is  of  inconsiderable  magnitude,  and does  not  appear  to  affect  the  lodes  to  any  great  extent. WG

Glasgow Caradon


Brenton Symons shows three cross courses, each one associated with shafts or adits.  The eastern cross-course has a heave of the western parts of the lodes to the north. This heave is similar to that shown on other cross-courses, that is the ground on the western side in moved northwards, or the eastern southwards.

Non of the Glasgow Caradon lodes are shown by BGS.

“He  drove  an  adit  south  on  a  large  crosscourse  about  four  feet  in  width,  and  cut  several  lodes.”

“A  cross-cut  from  the adit  has  been  driven  north  on  a  cross-course,  in  which  two  lodes  with  a  north underlie  have  been  cut,  containing  kindly  looking  gossan.

Marke Valley Consols
The Victorian map appears to show a short cross-course running northwards from one of the lode, close west of the dressing floors. Webb and Geach describes a cross-course that crosses all the lodes, a description that does not coincide with the map details.
No cross-courses are shown by BGS.

“South of  these  are  three  known  lodes,  one  of  which,  named  New  Lode,  has  been worked  to  the  80;  the  other  two  have  been  nearly  intersected  by  the  crosscourse  which  crosses  the  lodes  at  right  angles,  and  is  a  little  west  of  the  old whim shaft.”


1 Wheal Pollard-Wheal Norris, Caradon Hill (Vale)
2 Craddock Moor-West Caradon
3 Gonomena-West Caradon
4 The Great Cross-course
5 South Caradon
6 Wheal Hooper-South Caradon
7 Glasgow Caradon
8 Marke Valley Console

Brenton Symons shows more cross-courses then the BGS, but less then those listed by webb and Geach.
Where a cross-course causes a heave, the ground to the west is northwards.
The cross-courses have been utilised by many of the mines for driving cross-cuts or adits.

Brenton Symons V British Geological Survey

Brenton Symons has the upper hand for this one. The Victorian map shows six cross-courses, whilst the BGS only one. The details described within the pages of Webb and Geach give credibility to the cross-course positions shown by Symons.  Therefore when it comes to cross-courses the Brenton Symons map is far superior to its modern counterpart.

Brenton Symons 1- BGS 1, Now a draw. Next round will be the elvans. 

Phoenix United Mine in 1863-According to ‘Webb and Geach’


This is an extract from ” Webb and Geach- History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District”,  published in 1863. This Victorian book was written as a reference source for those considering investing in the mines of Southeast Cornwall.

In addition to its description of Phoenix United Mine, the extract gives an example of the use of Victorian Cornish mining terminology.

Phoenix Mines
This  is a rectangular piece of ground 760 fathoms in length  by 500 in width, and is located  in  the  south-western  corner  of  the  parish  of  Linkinghorne. The  Western  Boundary  of  the  sett  extends  along  the  top  of  a  ridge  known  as the  Cheesewring.  From  the  top  of  this  hill,  as  far  as  the  eye  can  reach,  westward  and  north  nothing  is  visible  but  bare  conical  hills,  covered  with  short heath  sloping  on  every  side  to  marshy  bottoms.  Eastward  the  whole  length of  the  sett  is  laid  out  like  a  map  beneath  the  observer.  The  hill,  falling  at  first  precipitously  to  a  deep  narrow  vale,  rises  sharply  for  a  short  distance,  when the  level  and  cultivated  land  is  reached.  It  is  on  the  summit  of  this  small  plateau that the buildings and works of the present Company are placed.

There  is  only  one  lode  operated  on,  and  this  at  surface  runs  through  the  entire length  of  the  rectangle.  The  lode  backed  up  close  to  surface,  and  was  laid open  by  the  old  men  for  about  a  mile  in  length  in  their  efforts  to  discover and  raise  tin,  large  quantities  of  which  they  returned.  This  and  other  lodes which  they  also  backed  up  strongly  attracted  the  attention  of  some  mining 
speculators  and  they  about  1836  formed  themselves  into  a  Company,  under  the  title  of  the  “Cornwall  Great  United“,  which  also  comprised  several other  mines  in  the  county.  They  held  a  lease  of  considerable  extent  of  Duchy Land,  which  included  the  present  Phoenix  Mines,  West  Phoenix,  South  Phoenix  and  parts  of  North  Phoenix  and  West  Sharp  Tor.  Under  their  management,  these  mines  were  named,  Stow’s  Mine,  Clanacombe  (present Phoenix  Mines),  Greenhill  Mine,  Wheal  Prosper,  and  Wheal  Jenkin.  These last  three  having  been  noticed  in  South  Phoenix  paper,  will  not  be  again  referred  to  here. A stamping  engine  was  erected,  which  produced  considerable quantities of low-priced  tin ore raised from the  Stow’s Mine.

After  working  several  years,  without  any  good  result,  and  having  spent  the whole  of  their  paid  up  capital,  amounting  to  upwards  of  £50,000,  they  were compelled  to  abandon  the  adventure.  A  portion  of  the  adventurers,  however, still  un-dismayed,  and  seeking  to  retrieve  a  portion  of  their  losses,  obtained in  December  1842  a  renewal  of  the  lease,  nominally,  for  twenty-one  years; but  the  lease  was  ante-dated  about  twelve  months,  thus  practically  reducing it to only twenty years’  duration. This  lease  reduced  the  sett  to  the  limits  before  described.  And  the  title  of  the Phoenix  Mines  was  given  to  the  Company. 

After  a  further  outlay  of  £12,425, the  mines  became  profitable  in  November  1852,  since  which  time  to  December  1861  regular  half-yearly  dividends  have  been  declared.  After  a  steady perseverance  and  the  large  outlay  of  £62,425,  the  concern  was  brought  into a paying state. There  seemed  now  every  probability  that  the  shareholders  would  be  reimbursed  their  original  deficit.  But  at  the  end  of  1858,  the  working  became so  deep  and  the  water  so  fast,  that,  in  order  to  carry  the  mine  profitably,  it  was deemed necessary to erect additional and more powerful machinery, involving  the  expenditure  of  some  thousands  of  pounds.  The  lease  terminating  in  1861, it  was  considered  by  the  shareholders  inexpedient  to  sink  such  a  sum  until they  were  assured  by  the  Duchy  of  a  renewal  of  the  lease.  It  appears,  however, that  the  Duchy  and  the  Committee  could  not  agree  upon  terms,  and  the  lease was  ultimately  granted  to  some  of  the  principle  adventurers  in  South  Phoenix, who  have  been  in  occupation  for  about  eleven  months. 

At  the  time  when the  Cornwall  Great  United  first  commenced  their  explorations,  there  was scarcely  a  mine  in  the  neighbourhood;  even  the  celebrated  South  Caradon  was  not  as  yet  dreamt  of,  and  it  was  indeed  exceedingly  against  the  reports  of several  able  mining  agents  that  the  Company  persevered.  No  one  can  refuse to  admit  that  the  working  of  the  mine  was  the  foundation  of  the  great  mineral discoveries  which  shortly  resulted;  and  it  is  not  exaggerating  too  say  that £100,000  has  been  laid  out  on  the  Duchy  Property  in  the  immediate  vicinity, entirely  on  the  strength of  Phoenix  Mines,  indeed  mostly  promoted by its adventurers.

The  lode  in  this  sett is  so  different  in  every  respect  to  those  of the  rest  of  the  district south,  as  to  merit  a  full description.  In  the  village  of  Upton  the  back of  the  lode  is  seen  in the  road  300  fathoms west  –  the  East  Phoenix  Company  works it;  still  west  250  fms. it  is  worked  as  Clanacombe  Mine.  The  back of  the  lode  to  the  west of  this  point  has  been so  wrought  upon  by ancient  and  modern miners  for  a  mile  as  to be  seen  at  a  considerable  distance.  After crossing  the  valley before  alluded  to,  the course  of  the  lode  runs to  the  summit  of  the Cheesewring  ridge,  where  it  was  first  worked  as  Stow’s  Mine;  it  then falls  down  the  western  slope  to  West  Phoenix  Mine,  now  abandoned.  It will  be  seen,  then,  that  there  are  four  distinct  mines  working  this  remarkable lode. At  the  Stow’s  Mine  West,  the  lode  contained  towards  the  surface  immense masses  of  highly  ferruginous  gossan,  becoming,  however,  as  it  approached Clanacombe  Mine,  less  impregnated  with  iron;  gossan  was  here  found  in one  place  200  fathoms  deep,  intermixed  with  grey  ore.  In  depth  the  matrix is  generally  composed  of  large  quantities  of  blue  capel,  carrying  a  leader  of quartz  and  iron,  in  which  the  ore  makes;  a  quantity  of  blue  and  green  carbonate  is  also  found.  There  is  a  little  chlorite;  butfluor-spar,  found  plentifully  in most  of  the  southern  lodes,  has  never  been  seen  here. 

A  marked  difference will  thus  be  observed  in  this  lode  (as  in  that  of  Sharp  Tor),  compared  to  those of the Caradon, little more than a linear mile to the south. At  Stow’s  Mine  large  returns  of  tin  were  made  by  the  Cornwall  Great  United  above  the  adit.  They  drained  the  mine  by  a  deep  adit,  taken  up  the  foot of  the  hill,  and  driven  westward  250  fathoms  to  Stow’s  Shaft,  with  which it  communicates  100  fathoms  below  surface.  Under  the  late  Capt.  Samuel  Seccombe‘s  management,  this  shaft  was  sunk  45  fathoms  below  adit,  and levels  driven  east  and  west,  but  the  lode  was  found  unproductive.  The  engine  not  being  powerful  enough  to  continue  below  the  45,  and  no  promising  indications  justifying  the  erection  of  more  powerful  machinery,  this portion  of  the  mine  was  suspended. 

In  Clanacombe  Mine  a  rich  course  of ore  was  discovered  at  the  86.  The  principle  bunches  of  ore  were  between  the 120th  and  the  161st  fathom  levels;  the  ore  holding  down  to  the  216,  which  is at  present  the  deepest  level  in  the  mine;  130  fathoms  west  of  the  old  sump,  in a  deep  valley  streamed  for  tin,  is  a  large  cross-course  –  a  continuation,  in  fact, of  the  West  Caradon  boundary  cross-course,  which  there,  as  well  as  in  South Phoenix,  heaves  the  lodes  to  the  left  hand  about  10  fathoms.  This  crosscourse  is  many  fathoms  wide,  but  has  never  been  seen  at  the  Phoenix  Mines; as,  although  they  have  driven  on  a  course  of  ore  close  to  it,  they  were  afraid to  proceed,  on  account  of  the  probable  great  influx  of  water  that  would  ensue. The  present  workings  are  in  granite,  but  a  tongue  of  killas  is  deposited  in  the south-eastern  portion  of  the  sett,  in  which  is  a  promising  lode  worked  on  the backs  for  a  long  distance,  and  called  the  Snuff-box  Lode.  To  cut  this  lode,  a cross-cut  is  being  driven  from  the  old  sump  south  about  70  fathoms,  and  it  is expected  that  in  a  short  time  it  will  be  seen.  The  underlay  shaft,  on  which  a 60-inch  engine  is  being  erected,  is  about  80  fathoms  east  of  the  old  sump,  and is  down  to  the  186.  These  mines  have  returned  £105,000  in  dividends. mine  is  divided  into  200  shares,  and  employs  about  250  persons.  Pay-day, second Saturday in the month.


Although Webb and Geach gave an what appears to be an  extensive account of the mine’s operations in 1863, they failed to mention William West’s buy-out of the Company, and his transformation of Phoenix United into a tin mine. A major omission that indicates how well William West hid his plan to take control of the mine.

Webb and Geach’s book is available in paperback from the Trevithick Society. For more information about the book click here>