Newest Review: ... to 1930. Now the story probably has two parts, the winding engine and the mine itself, some parts boring and some not depending on how y... more
A letter to Smark1985.
Member Name: ANDREWSJK
Date: 11/10/01, updated on 20/11/01 (112 review reads)
Advantages: Top of a cliff., Nice buildings., Well restored.
Disadvantages: Top of a cliff., Long way down if you slip !!, Geevor is newer.
Well, I did get into Cornwall despite all your attempts to stop me, and in another op I will tell you how I achieved this. Once into Cornwall it was my intention to secure a job, my first idea was to be an Underwater Fish Farmer at The Lizard. The job had the following attractions:-
1. Free wetsuit and snorkel
2. Unlimited use of the company bathysphere.
3. Plenty of time ashore.
4. Would suit man with dry sense of humour.
However I do not possess a dogfish so I had to give this idea up !!
My next idea was to become a Tin Miner. To get the relevant experience I went to Levant in Steam at Trewellard, Pendeen St. Just. I telephoned them on 01736 786156, to book an appointment, and found the mine is about 7 miles from both Lands End and St. Ives.
The mine is normally £3 to get into, but it is a National Trust property managed by the Trevithick Trust so old cheapskate here got in for nothing being a member. Levant is the oldest beam engine in the country, and the mine is famous for its undersea rich deposits of copper and tin, extending for more than a mile out to sea. This was a working mine from the end of the eighteenth century to 1930. Now the story probably has two parts, the winding engine and the mine itself, some parts boring and some not depending on how you look at it.
To me some details of the engine are boring, so I'll get that out of the way first !! It was Britain's first beam engine preserved on its working site privately in 1935, which led to the formation of the Cornish Engines Preservation Society, now the Trevithick Society (just call me anorak from now on !!). The engine was built in 1840 by Harvey and Co. of nearby Hayle, and is said to have been designed by Francis Mitchell, of a Cornish engineering family (but not a Dooyoo member at that time !!). The engine has been owned by The National Trust since 1967 along with others including two at East Pool in Camborne. <
The engine was put back into working order by a group of people known as the Greasy Gang of the Trevithick Trust between 1984 and 1992. In 1990 the sum of £128,000 was raised to complete the restoration, and to put the engine back into steam. The engine's duty was to raise ore from the deep levels via a shaft (called Skip). The engine itself has such features as an overhead rocking beam weighing 4500lb, and 17.4ft. long, a 12.2ft diameter flywheel weighing 8600lb with large wooden brakes and a double-acting cylinder with a 27 inch bore and a 4 ft stroke.
Blimey, I hope you are as bored with all the technical details as me, though for anybody who would like more details The Trevithick Trust has a website at www.trevithicktrust.com. For me, I'm just going to blather on about the interesting bits now.
Firstly, the mine buildings nestle just on top of a cliff, the most westerly in the country. The engine house has been restored, and that was my first place to visit. Certainly it is very large and impressive, and is in working order a maximum of four days a week, depending on the month of visit. It is basically a two storey building allowing one to walk all around and about the engine, quite fascinating seeing such a large piece of machinery at work.
However, the point of my interview to become a Tin Miner, seeing the mine. I was led outside onto the cliff edge, and down to the first shaft. The first shaft I looked down was actually about two hundred feet deep, and the nice man explained there were about twenty tunnels off that running out to sea.
The second shaft was about 800 feet deep and actually had a lift about big enough to carry a suitcase and into which four men used to descend in about 5 minutes, with the wooden framework of the lift bashing around on the side of the shaft. At this point I was wondering about the wisdom of my selection of job, particularly as arsenic is contained in the ore extract !!
as then led outside, and told to descend the cliff as the miners, women and children used to. Having descended to 100 feet above the crashing Atlantic Ocean, you then enter the mine across a ladder above the ocean to an adit (or entrance) in the opposite cliff face. The temperature outside is 10 degrees which might hit you when leaving the tunnel at a temperature of 90 degrees.
The Trevithick Trust also has a lighthouse at Pendeen, and the Geevor Tin Mine, which is much larger and more modern, costing about £6 to visit, but at this point I decided to return to my car, via some of the buildings still undergoing restoration, but please Smarky give my apologies, and the Tin Miner job to a Cornishman.