The resurrection of the old South Caradon Mine Website has now reached the stage of digging in and pulling out the transport related pages. It starts off with the network of rails that ran around the bottom of the Seaton Valley to serve the dressing floors.
Transportation of ore around the various processes on the dressing floors required a tramway network that running on different levels along bridges, trestles and embankments.
Its exact layout is open to some speculation with the tracks shown on the 1882 OS map not fully coinciding with the evidence from the one existing Victorian picture.
The Picture below is a detail from this picture and it is fully reproduced in Webb and Geach. Detail within this view gives some fascinating clues to the operation and construction of the tramway and yet also leaves some question unanswered.
Within the photograph one of the mines trucks can be seen sat on a raised track above piles of dressed ore.
The map below an interpretation of the possible track layout based on the following evidence:
1st and 2nd series OS 6″ maps
Earl: Ore Dressing
Maps in CAU, Shambrock, Brown
This layout supports the suggested layout and material flow given on the dressing floor page. The radius of the curves visible in the picture do not coincide well with those in the OS map and it is not clear how the wagons were moved around on the raised walkway.
If anyone on closer inspection of the maps and photograph have alternative suggestions please email me and I will include them in the web site.
1 Ore is delivered from Kitto’s and Holman’s shafts for sorting, ragging, spalling and cobbing in the dressing shed area.
2 Cobbed ore is taken from the dressing shed area up to the crusher for Bucking.
3 After bucking it runs down to the upper valley floor for Jigging
4 The jigged ore sent down the valley.
5 Dressed ore tipped into parcels for sale and shipment by LCR
6 Ore requiring further dressing is trammed back up to the stamps for crushing
7 Crushed Ore is transported to Halven floors by launder in suspension.
Webb and Geach Reprinted
The 1880 photograph from which the photograph on this page was taken is reproduced in full in the Trevithick Society’s re-print of “History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District”.
Webb and Geach published their History and Progress of Mining in the Caradon and Liskeard Districts in 1862, and a new edition was issued the following year. Although predominantly aimed at potential investors, it is clear that the authors also wished to put on record the history of the area. In consequence their book is an invaluable picture of the Liskeard and Caradon area in those early boom times.
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”.
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
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
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.
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 two adits of the South Caradon mine opened out onto the Seaton Valley floor. This was 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.
The 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”.
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
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.
After the last post’s wander into the subject of the May tree fair, the South Caradon Mine series returns. Dando the Monk will re-appear once I have gathered some more photographs of the fair day, meanwhile here is another Cornish engine site.
The remains of a ore crusher and Cornish Stamps
This is one of the least well preserved engine houses of South Caradon Mine. Its chimney is still standing, but the rest of the structure is no more than rubble. It is however, the engine house with the best photographic evidence in existence.
The Stamp engine house was located just above the Seaton valley bottom among the dressing floors. The engine was of 28 inch diameter; it powered a set of 24 headed stamps on the Southern side of the flywheel, and a rotative crusher to the North. These crushed the ore for dressing prior to further treatment on the floors that lay on the valley bottom. A tramway system linked the many shafts with the plant and with other parts of the processing area.
The substantial concrete structure to the south of the stamp engine is the remnant of a screen (grizzly) used in the reworking of the mine waste in more recent years.
The Crusher and stamps
Copper ore was difficult to reduce in size by stamps, they tended to over-crush the ore, resulting in too much being carried over in waste. Hand processing therefore formed an important part of the copper
dressing process right up to the end of the copper mining industry in Cornwall.
Crushers, otherwise known as Cornish Rolls, was a method introduced by John Taylor to mechanically reduce copper ore in size. They use two mechanically powered rollers, between which the rocks were passed for crushing.
The small set of stamps were used to treat the small amount of material that could not be processed by the manual methods or the crusher. The fine material produced by the stamps would be treated on the halvan floors in the lower part of the valley.
The 19th Century view
This extract from a 19th Century photograph (courtesy of Neil Parkhouse collection) clearly shows the layout of the stamp engine complex. The Crusher house is on the left, flywheel in the middle and stamps to the right. The sweep rod is a blur, indicating that the engine was at work at the time of the photograph being taken.
The full 19th century photograph is reproduced in the centre of the Trevithick Society’s reprint of ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’.
I can thank the St.Just Mines Research group for this blog’s drive to bring the old South Caradon Mine website back into life. For it was the opportunity of accompanying the group around the amazing landscape that is South Caradon that inspired me to finally get around to bringing the site back from the dead. Now that the very enjoyable walk has been completed (thanks to the group for the invite, thanks to the sun for a lovely day), the blog will wander off in a few random directions to answer questions raised on the day; starting with the lodes.
The source of South Caradon’s wealth
These views in this post are taken from the footpath opposite the mine, and show the approximate location of the copper lodes on the surface as indicated on the 1863 Geological map and described by Webb and Geach. These sources differ in some details from the closure plans and the description given in Dines.
The Lodes dip to the North (apart from Caunter) so their location underground will shift to the left of the pictures with depth. The view should help to visualize the relationship between the surface remains and the underlying ore lodes, if you disagree with my interpretation please feel free to leave a comment.
Red lines mark the location of the lodes as they strike Eastwards across the Seaton Valley and up the Slopes of Caradon Hill. The grey lines indicates the cross course running parallel to Valley and causing a small amount of Heave in the lodes as they cross its path. The names have been taken from the 1863 map apart from those marked with a question mark that I have taken from Webb and Geach.
The Northern Lodes
Main lode was the first of South Caradon’s lodes to be found and it formed the source for much of the ore in the mines earlier years. The engine house remains of Sump and Pearce’s shaft lie beside this lode, with Pearce’s’ shaft sunk where it outcropped.
Towards the Northern boundary of the sett are a batch of Lodes that gave little success, unfortunately, the richness of the main lode was not to be repeated in this direction.
The Southern Lodes
This view is to the south of the one above, and it shows the lodes that provided the ore for the latter part of the mine’s life.
This Southern group of lodes extend across the South slopes of the Hill to the Eastern boundary of the Sett and then onwards into the adjoining East Caradon mine.
Kitto’s and Caunter lodes provided the largest tonnage of the ore from South Caradon. The Eastern end of the workings was accessed from Kitto’s Shaft.
Geevor Mine Gift shop
My two South Caradon Mine publications, The Last Great Cornish Engineer and the Re-print of Webb and Geach can be found for sale at the Geevor Shop book shop, along with a great range of Cornish Mining publications. This is one of the best places to find Cornish industrial history books. So if you are in the area, pop along, have a cup of tea, and browse the shelves.