Tag Archives: Cornish mining

Exploring South Caradon Mine by Maps

What a difference a few years make on the internet. When I first published the views of South Caradon website online map resources were sparse; but now hours can be idled away in virtual exploration.  Therefore rather then just reproduced my original simplistic and dated .gif map of the mine I have brought together some maps now freely available on the internet. Enjoy exploring..Jm

From the National Library of Scotland

Ordnance Survey map of 1882

South Caradon Mine shown on the 1886 OS map

Click to view map on the NLS website

This is the best map easily available of the mine site. It shows the buildings all still standing, along with the tramways, leats, shafts,  and ponds. To view the map visit the excellent NLS website.

Click here to view the map>

Google Maps

Ariel view

An amazing resource for the industrial archaeologists. Matching the features shown on the view with the NLS map is a great way to interpret the site.

Google Steet View

This view is taken between Holman’s and Kitto’s shafts.

Cornwall Council Interactive Map

This is a multilayered resource that gives access to archaeological data of all the key remains on South Caradon mine.  Visit the Council’s website and click on the icons to discover more.

South Caradon Mine area showing the historic remains

Click to view the map on the Cornwall Council website

Click here to view>

Ordnance Survey on line map

OS map 2017

A freely available map showing all the main landscape features.

Screen capture of map in 2017

Cllick to view map on the OS webite

Click here to view>

British Geological Survey

Sheet 337

This sheet shows the geology of the Caradon Hill area. Some of the important lodes and cross-courses are also shown. The map is available on the BGS website.

Extract of BGS geological map.

Click to view on BGS website

From the ‘View of South Caradon’ website

Here is the original gif image from my original website. A simple map, but one that does explain the layout of the mine.

South Caradon Mine layout


wp-1453408124105.jpegBrenton Symons’s 1863 Geological Map

South Caradon Mine is included on this map of the Liskeard Mining district. The full map is available in the Kindle Publication ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863’.

Click here for the book’s Amazon page>

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South Caradon Mine- history

I have decided to commence the views of South Caradon mine Website resurrection with a few posts on its history. So to here is a few words extracted from the old website to get started. 

A Victorian enterprise

South Caradon Mine was born in the early Victorian period, during the decades of social

A view of Holman's and Rule's shaft

Holman’s Shaft

unrest and change caused by the Industrial revolution. The mine started production in 1838 at the beginning of the Victorian era and raised its last ton of ore towards the end of the Queen’s reign in 1890.

Its peak production coincided with the “high” Victorian years, represented by the Great Exhibition of 1851, a time when Britain became the workshop of the world. Its final struggles for survival occurred in the late Victorian years, a period when the whole country was feeling the impact of industrialization abroad. This was a true Victorian enterprise.

Early history

Tin extraction in the area has a long history, but much of the evidence of earlier streaming in the Seaton Valley has been lost beneath the upheaval caused by South Caradon Mine. A small section of tin streaming remains exist in the upper part of the sett, and nearby. the huge open scar of Gonamena openworks dominates the landscape.

Milestones in Cornish history

South Caradon’s History is also set against a backdrop of great changes within Cornwall. Its founding was towards the end of the great copper boom initiated by the advances made in steam engine technology in the Duchy. Its growth in the 1840’s occurred when the Western mines were closing due to the exhaustion of their reserves.wpid-wp-1427407113584.jpeg

The 1860s were to mark the collapse of the industry and lead to poverty and a emigration on a massive scale. Cornwall’s population has never recovered to its 1860’s levels, and today descendants of the Cornish miners can be found all over the world.
Another great change occurred in 1859 when Brunel’s railway bridge was opened at nearby Saltash. The river Tamar was finally no longer the physical border it had represented since the Dark ages, splitting British from invaders, Celt from Anglo Saxon, Cornish from English. The Railway age removed Cornwall’s traditional isolation from the rest of Britain.

Geography influences History

A major factor in South Caradon’s history was its location in the eastern part of

Liskeard mining map 1863

Brenton Symon’s Map of the Liskeard and Ludcott Mining District

Cornwall. The large granite mass of Caradon Hill overlooks an area that is many miles from the rich mineral deposits of West Cornwall. A separation that  influenced the late development of copper mining in the district. This late start placed the mine in a position of having large copper reserves available when mines in the West started to fail. Unfortunately, this also left the mine struggling in its later years against the rapidly falling price of copper.

These factors led to the migration of miners across Cornwall into the Caradon region, and caused huge social changes in the area. When South Caradon finally closed, it left miners with no prospects of work anywhere else in Cornwall. Many went to England to find work in factories of coal mines, but large numbers emigrated to work hard rock mines all around the world.

The Hypocrisy of the finance market

Many speculators believed that little copper lay east of Truro and it was left to practical miners to disprove this theory. The Clymo brothers and Thomas Kittow worked on a previous abandoned trial adit and struck copper. Even after the discovery of the lodes, the money markets of London refused to risk money on the mine.

View of Graylands

Graylands House in Liskeard This large house was built on the wealth from the mine. Constructed for Peter Clymo in 1855 it was originally named Dean House.

The miners therefore funded the mine’s development themselves, and became extremely wealthy in the process. Once copper mining had become established however, speculators jumped on the bandwagon forming a multitude of mines with the word “Caradon” in their title hoping to attract unwary investors. Most of these ventures proved unsuccessful and helped give Cornish mining a poor reputation for investment.

A Mine Operated by Miners

Being left in the hands of skilled miners gave South Caradon mine several advantages financially over those owned by “up country” investors. For most of its life the mine operated under the Cost book system as regulated by Cornish Stannary law. This system was extremely simple and success often depended on balancing investment in new exploration with the profitable extraction of ore. The practical skills of the Clymo brothers allowed them to get the most out this large mine for many years without resorting to forming a public company.

A wealth still underground?

A downside of the late timing of the venture was that it was hit by the fall in the price of copper. It was the low price of copper that closed the mine, not the lack of available ore. For example in 1864 the mine made over £57,000 from the sale of about 5,700 tons of ore. In 1880 however, over 6,800 was sold to give only £30,000. This halving of the ore price was to cause costs to outstrip revenue and lead to the mines closure when workable reserves where still available underground.

Next is this series will be a timeline of the mine’s history.


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The Liskeard Mining District in 1863

Brenton Symon’s map of the Liskeard mining district is available in Kindle format.

Click here to view on Amazon>

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A melody of Cornish Engine Houses

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This series of posts on the President Steam Engine in Philadelphia USA now takes a brief DSCF2663diversion that takes it back to Cornwall.  When I started to build this post my idea was a simple one of hunting around the corners of my laptop to discover some photographs of Cornish Engine houses that could be used as a comparison with the images of the President.  However, as I started to copy the images onto this page it dawned on me that here was an opportunity to reflect on the role of the engine houses in our landscape, a reflection that may form an introduction to the final part of the President series.

Cornish Engine Houses a reflection

Cornwall’s landscape is adorned with the iconic shape of disused mine engine houses, DSCF2658and their images are scattered throughout its culture. Book covers, websites, gifts,  postcards, calendars, business logos, and road signs all pull on the strong identity it portrays. Some of its importance in the Cornish physical and cultural landscapes arises from the sheer physical bulk of the structures; apart from castles there are no other historic remains that demand such attention as the empty shells that once housed the large Cornish Steam engines. However, there is more to their importance than just physical size, and this post will reflect on some of those other factors.

Aesthetic value

A combination of dramatic landscapes and dramatic buildings often combined to DSCF4135produce some amazing scenery. Sometimes it is the setting of the engine house, sometimes it is the architecture of the building, sometimes it is nature’s encroachment and occasionally it is a combination of all of these that provides such rich landscape value.

There is a great irony is this, for many of these views started as scenes of industrial chaos. Every square foot of ground around the engine houses would have been taken up with a haphazard mess of tips, buildings, shafts, tramways and debris. The air would have been thick with smoke and fumes, the streams running with toxic waste and the defining sounds of stamps would have drowned out nature.DSCF9727

But time and nature have now softened these grand industrial landscapes, a process that has left just the engine houses standing as isolated remains of the once huge industrial complexes.

Not all engine houses have such value, some are unfortunate to be in locations that hold no visual pleasure, and others are of designs or proportions that simply do not please the eye. But there are a few engine houses whose presence creates some of the most memorable scenery in the world, Wheal Coates and Bottallack fall firmly into that category.

Political value

whimsillThis may a appear an unusual value to place on industrial heritage, however the visual reminder of the engine houses keep within the public consciousness that this once a land alive with industry, a land of mass employment.

The UK has transformed itself into a service industry based society, and Cornwall is perceived from the outside as a holiday destination or bolt hole for second home owners or those seeking lifestyle changes. And yet Cornwall was once one of the biggest industrialised regions in the world. Mining and its associated industries employed tens of thousands or workers, whilst Cornish Technology and engineering lead the world.

PumpviewupWhilst the engine houses still stand, they act as a reminder that this was once a working landscape, that there is more to the economy that property prices, holiday lets and Poldark souvenirs. Such a reminder has a value for the future, especially for future generations wishing to find work west of the Tamar.

Historic Value

Many engine houses remain standing whilst the scenes of industry that once surrounded dscf9312them have long disappeared. In doing so they act as pegs onto which to hang tales of history. Without them there would be little left to mark the existence of the thousands of Huels, Wheals, and Consols that once crammed every corner of Cornwall.

Each mine had a stories worth discovering; sometimes wealth, sometimes losses and sometimes fraud. There are tales of death, tales of innovation and countless tales of hope.  In some cases it is the engine house itself thatW7 provides a stepping stone into history, marking technological advances or famous engineers.

Such an example is Austen’s engine house at Fowey Consols, at which so many threads of history can be followed back and forward in time. Those threads lead to many other engine houses, many of which have fascinating stories to tell.

Amenity Value

We are in an era dominated by the virtual world, a world where the physical holds less and less

PhnxPOwNwallSun

importance. In such a world some of the  Cornish Engine houses have found a small, but important role of providing purpose  to a location.  Such a purpose can attract us into the location to photograph, paint, record, explore, or just look at the building. They can become the reason for a journey, or a ‘croust’ stop along the way. Often such stops may stir up some curiosity to discover more, to ask questions that may lead to more journeys.

I find a walk in Cornwall is rarely historically sterile, every bump, dip, building relic or lump of fallen masonry seems to have the potential for significance. This richness

wpid-wp-1422994037468.jpegof landscape only became truly apparent tome on walks in many other parts of Britain where a footpath was just a footpath; nothing to find, nothing to explore.

A reflection taken forward

After that brief detour into Cornish engine house I will return in the next post to the USA  with some more words about the President Engine.  In doing so I should;  now be able to grasp the significance of its engine house more clearly after reflecting some of our own heritage here in Kernow.

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Pennance

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Webb and Geach explored- The miscellaneous mines

A wander through the ‘History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’

CaradonCopperPan

That is the final post covering the mines within the miscellaneous section of Webb and Geach’s book  completed. So before this blog leaves the topic for some William West related topics here is an index of the posts.

These posts explores some of the smaller mines described within Webb and Geach’s  book of the Liskeard mining district in east Cornwall. This 1863 publication is currently available in paperback from the Trevthick Society, ISBN 978 0904040 88 3.wpid-wp-1441052784407.png

Each of the posts explores the mine sites through maps available on the internet, so by following the links a virtual exploration of the locations can be undertaken. The mines covered are all listed in the section titled ‘Miscellaneous’ within the book ( pages 98-102). In describing these mines Webb and Geach state-

“Several lodes in various parts of this district have been formerly worked, mostly for tin, but are now abandoned, many of them for long periods.”

Predictably, many of this mines have little or no evidence on maps, even by the 1880’s little remained on the Ordnance Survey maps. Tantalising traces do remain however, of some of these unsuccessful attempts to mine in the area around Caradon Hill.

Brwestcraddockmoorsymonsenton Symons’ map of 1863 contains evidence of many of these mines, and a copy of that amazing Victorian Cartography forms part of ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863‘ publication.

Its been great fun exploring these little known Cornish mines through the screen of my Kindle Fire. But William West of Tredenham, The Last Great Cornish Engineer is again requiring some fresh research. So this blog will be leaving Webb and Geach for a while, but will return in the future to look at some of the more successful mines of the Liskeard District.

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Dunsley Wheal Phoenix- Webb and Geach explored

Here is the last post in this series of exploring mines described by Webb and Geach within the ‘miscellaneous mines’ section.  Dunsley Wheal Phoenix’s description is on page 101 of the Trevithick Society’s reprint of The History and Progress of mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District.

Dunsley Wheal Phoenix is located beside the Upton Cross to Minions road on Bodmin Moor. This was one of the few mines described within the miscellaneous chapter that has left clear evidence on the maps available free on the internet.

OS 1883

Cornwall XXVIII.NW (includes: Linkinhorne; St Cleer.)
Surveyed: 1881 to 1882, Published: 1883

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Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland website> Click here for map

OS Map 2016

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Click here to view the current OS map>

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Click here for OS aerial view> 

Google 2016

dunsleygoogle2016

Click here for current Google map>

Google street view

Cornwall Council

dunsleycornwall2016

PRN : 0
MINE NAME : Dunsley Wheal Phoenix
HOUSE NAME : –
SITE TYPE : ENGINE HOUSE
FORM : EXTANT
DATE : –
START DATE :
END DATE :
PERIOD :
SM NO. :
SM PRN :
SURVIVAL : <50% SURVIVAL
CONDITION : N/A
SOURCE : 1880 1ST EDITION OS
WHS AREA : Caradon Mining District
WHS AREA ID : A9
Click here for Cornwall Council interactive map>

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Webb and Geach Explored-West Craddock Moor Mine

West Craddock Moor Mine on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

This is a post in the series exploring the Webb and Geach’s book ‘History and progress of mining in the Liskeard and Caradon district‘ through maps available on the internet. West Craddock Moor is one of the small mines listed in the miscellaneous section of the book (page 100). These mines by their nature have left little or no trace, and despite much peering I can find no evidence of this one on any of the maps apart from Brenton Symons‘.

 

Cornwall XXVIII.NW (includes: Linkinhorne; St Cleer.) Surveyed: 1881 to 1882
Published: 1883

os1883westcraddockmoor

Produced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Click Here for OS 1883 Map on the Library’s excellent website>

Brenton Symons

westcraddockmoorsymons

Extract from Brenton Symons’ 1863 map

OS 2016

westcraddockmooros2016

Click here for map>

Google Earth 2016

westcradockmoorgoogle2016

Current Google Earth Map

Cornwall Council interactive map

westcraddockmoorcau2016Reference : MCO38680
Name : WEST CRADDOCK MOOR – Post Medieval mine
Monument type : MINE
Period : Post Medieval
Form : EXTANT STRUCTURE

Click here for map>

 

 

Click here for Heritage Gateway information>


For Webb and Geach and other John Manley’s books-click here>

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East Penhargate Mine

The next of the small ‘miscellaneous; mines described by Webb and Geach had no evidence of its existence, apart from a sett name, on Brenton Symons’ map. The trace of a possible shaft and tip/adit can be seen on the OS 1883 map in the location shown on the Cornwall interactive map.  

 “…there is as yet nothing of moment doing, the company not being quite formed” Webb and Geach page 100

OS 1883

Cornwall XXVIII.NE (includes: Linkinhorne; South Hill; St Ive.)Surveyed: 1881 to 1882
Published: 1883

eastpennhargare1880is

Produced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Click  here for the map on the Library’s excellent website>

OS 2016

east-penhargate-os-2016

To view the current map on the OS website click here>

 

Google Maps

epenhargategoogle

Click here to explore the map>

There may be a small patch of undergrowth in the possible location of the tip/adit.  Also, a  circular, slightly discolored  patch of grass in the field may indicate the shaft position.

Cornwall Council

east-penhargate-cau-2016

Click here for interactive map>

Note this map also lists  a Penhargate Wood mine at this location.

“PRN (CORNWALL) : 0
SITE NAME : EAST PENHARGET MINE
SITE TYPE : MINE
FORM :
EPOCH :
PERIOD :
MRO INDEX : 1
SOURCE : CC-A11

Reference : MCO12397
Name : PENHARGET WOOD – Post Medieval mine
Monument type : MINE
Period : Post Medieval
Form : EXTANT STRUCTURE
Summary : Four shafts, the remains of a building, a spoil tip and a circular earth bank (possibly a whim) are visible on air photographs”

Click here for Heritage Gateway Entry>

 

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The Man Engine- who invented it?

The Levant Man engine disaster will be forever linked with the word ‘Man Engine’.

Iron straps holding the man engine rod to the beam separated the miners  from a successful journey and death. On that day the 20 October 1919, the tired overworked metal straps gave way and 31  miners fell to their deaths. It shattered a community, and it shattered the reputation of the man engine.

But it is not that day that this post will recall, nor a day many earlier in 1842 when Michael’s Loam‘s invention first started transporting miners at Trasavean mine. It will instead recall a day in 1851, an event at Fowey Consols, and an engineer called William West.

On that day, the 28th July 1851, an assorted crowd of mine owners, politicians, mineral lords, local gentry and even the Prussian foreign minister gathered at Fowey Consols. They were there to witness the starting of a new man engine, and of course the expectation of a grand count house dinner afterwards.

OS1881FoweyConsols

Once Lord Vivian had made the formal announcements to start the man engine, the 30 foot diameter water wheel started to turn. About every 10 seconds it completed a revolution, each of these revolutions turned through gears a flywheel that spun at three times of the speed of the waterwheel. It would be in obvious to the guests how this power was transferred to the shaft. A crank changed the wheel’s turning into horizontal motion to transfer the power to the shaft, where a large balance bob, resembling a beam of a beam engine, rotated the motion 90 degrees to an 8″ wooden rod that descended into the depths of the shaft.

To many in the crowd this was nothing new, it looked just like the system used at shaft mouths all over Cornwall to power pumps. It was down the shaft where West and his co-designer John Puckey had worked their magic. Looking down the shaft they would have seen the long rod rising and falling twelve feet. At every 12 feet on the rod was fixed a one foot square platform, and corresponding to these were platforms on the shaft wall. At this stage,  many of the guests would not have been able to comprehend how men could descend to the great depths of the mine on such an arrangement. But once the miners started to stand on the platforms, once the mesmerizing dance of the man engine started, the simplistic beauty of the man engine became clear.

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The dance went like this:
As the rod reaches the top of its stroke step onto the platform on the rod, and hold on tight to the handle in front of you.  The rod descends 12 feet, and then step off sideways to a fixed platform on the shaft wall. Wait as the rod rises to bring the next platform up to meet you, step on and repeat. Repeat, and repeat, 12 feet at a time until you descend into the dark levels and stopes of the mine where your work lay. To ascend the shaft, just reverse the dance.

Once those important guests had witnessed the miners one after another descend out of their view it would have made sense how important West and Puckey’s new machine was.

Some would have seen the potential to save many lives. Falling off wet slippery ladders on those long climbs could be a thing of the past. More significantly huge numbers lives could be saved from removing the physical onslaught caused by climbing the equivalent of a mountain every working day of their lives.  This onslaught on the body that had to be undertaken after a long, hard shift of hard labour, and one that took the miner from the stifling heat of the depths to often the bitter cold of the surface. The result was predictable, heart and lungs took the brunt of the strain, and early death would follow.  So, some who watched on that day saw the machine through the eyes of the social good it would bring, but others saw it differently.

They saw the increase in  speed of miners disappearing beneath their feet as a increase in their private wealth. Every minute saved from climbing ladders was a minute usedman%20engine for productive work. The more imaginative saw beyond that to more profits.  Less tired miners reaching their workplace would be more productive, more profits. Less tired miners live longer, keeping their valuable experience, more profits. Older miners could now continue to work the deeper levels, more experience where it was needed, more profits.

This man engine of West’s was good for miners, and good for profits.

To those that had seen one of the  Loam’s man engines at work this one before them a Fowey Consols was visibly superior. Loam had staked the claim as the man engine inventor, and as a reward had received a hard fought for prize from the Cornwall Pyrotechnic Society.

On a Loam engine there was two rods, two oscillating rods with platforms, and the dance was different. Miners had to step from moving rod to moving rod. There was no room for error, and their was no fixed platform on which to pause.  More importantly for the shareholders in the crowd, those who were watching their profits rise, the twin rods could only carry half as many miners for the same number of strokes. A counter-intuitive result, but one that arises from West’s engine being able to move miners up and down at the same time.

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William West built man engines

Once that meal in the counthouse was consumed, the port drunk, and the speeches made, the guests dispersed with memories of that miner’s dance. West and Puckey had proudly demonstrated their new engine, an from then on only their design would be installed. Every man engine built after that date would have a single rod, including the one that so tragically failed in 1919.

West installed the last man engine at Jopes Shaft, South Caradon in 1872. The engine was later moved to Kitto’s shaft.

 

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Kitto’s Shaft at South Caradon Mine

Popular history is often deceptive. Its simplification creates wonderful story, but the deeper truth is always more interesting. This is such a case, for neither did Michael Loam invent this man engine, or the man engine was a machine that killed miners, it saved thousands and the one that was used all over Cornwall was invented by West and Puckey.


Click here for ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer’- William West

Click here for the Navsbooks store William West book shelf.

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On the Economy of the Mines of Cornwall and Devon 1814

Here it is, the latest of my historic publication transcriptions on Cornish Mining.

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In 1814, the mining genius, John Taylor, published a definite description of the ‘Cornish Mining System’, and this new publication by re-produces that important paper in a modern format, and includes additional information from a John Manley. 

Cornish mining methods dominated metal mining in the 19th Century. Cornwall’s miner’s and engineers exported their skills worldwide, wherever there was copper and tin underground, there was a Cornishman. Alongside the technical skills often came the financial and management systems of Cornish mining, it is those systems that this book describes. 

John Taylor’s name dominates the history of British metal mining. A key part to his success was the use of the ‘Cornish system’, a system that he describes clearly within this book. His words have been supplemented by additional material from the Editor. 

This short publication is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the workings of the Victorian mining industry. 

Click here for the book on Amazon>

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