South Caradon Mine Dressing Floor Map

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

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South Caradon Mine's dressing floors

South Caradon Mine’s 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

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

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>

Holman’s Shaft Pumping Engine

Back westwards across Caradon Hill in this post to return to the group of buildings around Rule’s and Holman’s Shafts.

Holman's Shaft from the west

The ‘Man in the Mine’ at South Caradon

This is the most imposing engine house on South Caradon Mine; dominating Caradon Hill’s southern slopes with its massive bulk and its well known  “Man in the Mine” shaped collapse in its western wall. A feature that has recently changed shape after stabilization work. It now resembles a ‘Lady in bobble hat’.

Being built in 1875 this engine house is not shown by Symons in his 1863 map of the Liskeard Mining District.

Holman's Shaft bob wall
Holman’s shaft is situated on the southern slope of Caradon Hill mid-way along the line of the southern lodes. It is located close by the less well preserved remains of Rule’s shaft. Around the shaft is a complex of buildings, tracks, tramways, tips and tunnels. With a prominent location on the southern slopes of Caradon hill the tips and engine house can be seen for many miles across South East Cornwall.

The shaft is sometimes called New Engine Shaft, with Sump Shaft being the original engine shaft.

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

Holman’s engine house has walls still standing to full height although some collapse has occurred around the openings. A result of the collapse on the southern side is a hole the shape of which resembles the outline of a hatted man who has run through the wall! The shaft on the eastern sideHolman's engine House in 2002 of the building is choked with rubbish and is subsiding. On the opposite side is the substantial remains of the boiler house which is sunk below ground level. No chimney exists as it was believed to share the stack with the nearby Rules shaft. Beside the engine house can be seen the remains of a tramway and a track tunnel passing under the spoil tips.

The 70″ engine it housed was built new for the mine by Harvey and Co in 1875. It was installed as a result of the adjacent Rule’s Shaft engine being unable to keep pace with the extra drainage required of the expanding workings underground.
On closure of South Caradon it was bought by West Wheal Grenville where it was restarted in in 1888.


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

The cover of the Kindle reproduction of the Victorian Map has Holman’s distinctive engine house silhouetted in the distance.

Click here to view on Amazon>

The South Caradon remains plotted

Before looking at the last set of engine house at the South Caradon Mine I have had quick diversion into maps, a diversion that gave me the opportunity to play on the OS maps online website

South Caradon Mine panorama

The South Caradon explored with Grid References

‘Minions- An archaeological survey of the Caradon Mining District‘ by Adam Sharpe without doubt is the definitive resource on the industrial archaeology of Caradon Area. And now that the OS Maps on-line website has arrived there is a wonderful opportunity for armchair archaeology. Type in the grid references in the book into the webpage search, pinpoint the site and then switch on the aerial layer- a great way to read the book.  To reduce some of the typing for the South Caradon mine here is a list of hyperlinks to the locations. Enjoy exploring.

Copies of the book are hard to come by, so grab one when you see it.
Click to search for the book on Amazon>

View across the Seaton Valley across Sump's shaft

Western Hillslopes

Holman's shaft seen from Kitto's shaft

Southern hill slopes

South Caradon mine dressing floor area looking north

Seaton Valley floor


A map of South Caradon Mine for Kindle

Extract of Brenton Symons' 1863 map showing South Caradon MineBrenton Symons’ 1863 map of the Liskeard mining district is reproduced in ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863’.

Click here to view on Amazon>

Kitto’s Shaft area in maps

South Caradon Mine’s most easterly shaft

The Caradon website resurrection has continues apace, this time looking at maps and views that cover the last three engine houses described.

Kitto's shaft area panorama
Kitto’s shaft area looking towards the Caradon Hill summit

Kitto’s shaft is South Caradon’s most easterly workings, lying close the boundary with East Caradon Mine. It is a collection of remains close to the car park at Tokenbury Corner that lie hidden behind extensive waste tips.

Although the engine houses are in a poor condition, none are standing more than a metre high, it is still a fascinating collection of remains. It is a historical set of remains as well, for this is the location of the last man engine installed in Cornwall.

Kitto’s Shaft area in 1883

OS map

Annotated OS 1883 map of Kitto's Shaft

In addition to the engine houses this map shows the tramway and leat layout. The tramways link the shaft with the tips, and also the dressing floor in the Seaton Valley. The leats  run westwards to supply the engine houses that lie across the slopes of Caradon Hill.

 

 

 

1 Pumping engine

2 Whim Engine

3 Tramway to dressing floors

4 Track from Tokenbury Corner

Click here to view the site on current OS open Maps>

Kitto’s Shaft area on Google Maps

KittosGoogle

The layout of the Kitto’s shaft area is clearly shown on Google Earth, as is the linear waste tips lying to the south.

Click to view the map on Google Maps>

KittoPanS


41f3tbQ+CnL._SL500_[1]History and progress of mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District

This re-print of the 1863 publication by Webb and Geach is an excellent companion to exploring the history of mining of the Caradon area. Ask your local bookshop to obtain a copy.

Click to search for the book on Amazon>