South Caradon Mine Yard

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>The Yard

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

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

The yard

South Caradon Mine yard

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

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

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

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

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

A view of the yard In the 19th century

South Caradon Yard in the 19th Century

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


Caradon Mining Books

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South Caradon Main Adit

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>Main Adit

South Caradon Main adit

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

The Birth Place of South Caradon Mine

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

The great copper wealth discovered

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

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

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

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

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

The Adit

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

1833 –The year  in perspective

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

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


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

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

Click here to view on Amazon>

Views of South Caradon

Navsbooks>South Caradon> Views

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

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

The view across the Seaton Valley

ScardonViewNumbered

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

Click here for a map of the area>

Key to the view

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

The view down the valley

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

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


Brenton Symons’s 1863  Map on Kindle

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

Click here for the book’s Amazon page>

South Caradon Mine Dressing Floor Map

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Maps>Dressing Floor

The last post of the series brought back the maps from my original website that showed the processes and structures within the South Caradon Mine dressing floor. This  post follows on from those maps with a reproduction of an Ordnance Survey 1885 map of the area, a map that I have magnified as much as the image quality allows.

A map of the Seaton Valley in 1883

An extract from the OS 1885 map showing the Caradon Mine dressing floor
OS 25″ Map 1885

This map was published in the year of the mine’s closure, it therefore shows the dressing floors in their final layout.

Key features shown

  • Donkey Pond- 2334South Caradon Mine's dressing floors
  • The yard-2335
  • The large shed- The coffin shape structure to the west of the yard
  • The count house- Structure north of 2336
  • The stamps and crusher- Structure south of 2336
  • The Halvan floors-The various circles and rectangles in the southern part of the map

More Maps

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

South Caradon Mine’s dressing floor

Navsbooks>South Caradon Mine> Dressing Floor

South Caradon Mine's dressing floor, looking south

The Dressing floor operation at South Caradon

This resurrection of the old South Caradon website is an excuse to bring back some of those basic paintbrush drawn .gifs of may years ago, (I loved Kawasaki green in those days), and also brush off my theory of the dressing floor material flow. Its a theory that seems to have survived the test of time. But off course if you have your own views on how the dressing floor operated, please leave a message.

floormap

The Seaton Valley housed the central dressing floors of South Caradon Mine, a complex of structures and buildings that has left  a confusing legacy of terraces, low walls and rubble. No definitive description of the function of the structures exist but it is possible to attempt an interpretation of the remains that will give an insight into the traditional processes involved in preparing copper ore for sale.

Copper ore  processing

dressingThe layout of a copper mines dressing floors  was greatly influenced by the properties of its main ore Charcopyrite. This ore tended to be hard and brittle with the unwanted property of easily breaking into a very fine powder. Tin mines traditionally operated by stamping all the ore and then classifying and concentrating the crushed rock through a series of physical processes using water. Such an approach applied to Copper ore would lead to large amounts of the ore being carried through the system as fine waste. Instead series of manual processing, sorting and picking operations were utilised, leaving stamping for only the most hardest of rocks.

Sorting the Ore

Hand sorting was fundamental in reducing the amount or rock to be processed and it was started even before the ore was brought to the surface, much of the waste being left underground. At the dressing floors the rock was sorted in four main types.

  • Deads: Containing no ore and was tipped in burrows
  • Prills: Pure ore that required no further processing
  • Drage: Ore mixed with gangue that required hand processing
  • Halvans: Low value ore that needed stamping before treatment

Processing the Drage

South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

It was this processing that gave a copper dressing floor its distinctive properties. Drage was dressed by a series of manually intensive tasks that took place in assorted lightly built structures crowded in valley bottoms. South Caradon used hundreds of employees to undertake this work, the majority of which were females called  Bal Maidens. The large shed and area around it was the focal point for this work and its foundation area and adjacent cobbled spalling floors can still be seen.
In the later period of the mine’s life Bucking and Jigging had been mechanized using a steam powered crusher and jigging machines in one of the sheds. The bucking mill was mounted powered by the

stamps steam engine, and was located in the building to the north of its flywheel.

Processing the Halvans

Halvans were treated like tin ore and the Halvans floor resembled a smaller version of a tin mine’s dressing floor. The rock was first crushed in the set of Cornish stamps before passing through a set of tanks and buddles to separate the denser ore from the gangue. Little remains of South Caradon’s 24 head of stamps, or its engine apart from the bank upon which it stood, some fragments of wood and the flywheel loadings.

Of the dressing floors only a small parts of some of the tanks remain exposed, the rest has been buried beneath landfill of alluvial deposits.

Flow of material through the dressing floorsscdress

I have taken the suggestions of  various publications  combined them with the photograph from the Neil Parkhouse collection ( as reproduced in Webb and Geach), and applied a  simplified Copper dressing model to arrive at this suggestion. Since the production of this diagram I have produced a map of the tramway network that supports and expands on this interpretation of the remains.

Two flows of raw material are shown in this diagram. Drage processing is in red and Halvan in white, some material is shown returning back from Jigging for re-bucking or stamping.

The Drage processing flow

Hand sorting, ragging, spalling, cobbing and possibly jigging were most likely carried out on the cobbled floor area and within the large shed. Bucking was probably a powered process using the crushing mill and jigging was also powered . I have therefore suggested that the lower shed was used for jigging, this being supported by the tramway layout.

The Halvan processing flow

The lower Seaton Valley area is described by CAU as being used for waste treatment. This is undoubtedly the Halvan floors, and old OS maps show what is probably buddles and tanks (trunks) in this area. The fines for this area would have been produced from by the stamps, and again the tramway layout supports this suggestion.This lower floor area has disappeared under tipped landfill and alluvial mud leaving little evidence.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe Trevithick Society have reprinted Webb and Geach’s  ‘The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’; a reprint that includes the fascinating Niel Parkhouse collection photograph.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Holman’s and Rule’s Shaft complex Map

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Maps>Holman’s and Rule’s

South Caradon Mine’s best known set of mine buildings

Recycling one of the original website maps did not do this area justice, so instead I have dug up an image captured from an 1885 Ordnance survey map; the ability to digitally magnify the original brings out the detail crammed into this small area. 

The 1885 map

Holman's and Rule's Shafts area
OS 25″ map, 1885

This map was published in 1885, based on an 1883 survey. It therefore was printed in the year of the mine’s closure. As such, it captures the workings at their maximum extent.

Click here for a description of the mine in 1885>

The complex shown on the map

The engine houses

The most southerly building is Holman’s Shaft pumping engine house, withHolman's Shaft bob wall its boiler house situated on the western side Close north of that is Rule’s Shaft pumping engine house, again with the boiler house to the west. The two engines share a chimney on the opposite side of the track. The building on the northern side of the track is the winding engine for both shafts, with the loadings for the winding cages clearly indicated to the west of the horizontal whim engine’s house.

Tramways and leats

Running from east to west is the mine’s tramway, linking kitto’s Shaft to the dressing floors. Other tramways run from Holman’s shaft to the waste tips.

Three parallel leats are shown, along with ‘aqueducts’ (launders), and two boiler ponds.

Click here to explore more maps of South Caradon Mine>


 

wp-1453408124105.jpegBrenton Symons’s 1863  Map on Kindle

South Caradon Mine is included on Brenton Symon’s 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>

South Caradon Mine Stamp Engine

Navsbooks>South Caradon>Views>Stamp Engine
StampEngine2018

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. StampsLoading.jpg

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

img_20160329_0845550_rewind_kindlephoto-9819468.jpg

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.

Click here for more information about John Taylor and the Crusher>

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

W59Stampsengine

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.


Webb and Geach Book CoverThe 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’.

Click here to view on Amazon>