The Caradon Mining District: high up on Bodmin Moor lies Caradon Hill. This was the setting for one of Cornwall’s typical “Boom and Bust” scenarios.
This area has been the site of tin streaming for many hundreds of years, however it was not until the 1830’s when a large Copper deposit was discovered at South Caradon Mine that large scale mining commenced on both sides of the hill. South Caradon Mine worked during the years 1837-1885. Whilst working it became the third largest producer of Copper in Cornwall.
Around the Granite outcrop of Caradon Hill many more mines opened up. While hoping to capitalise on South Caradon’s success many adopted the name “Caradon” in theirs hoping to tempt prospective share holders in investing in their mine.
The boom lasted to the 1890’s when the last mines closed due to low prices and much of the ground being worked out.
The whole area is a wealth of Mining remains, with many engine houses and impressive views, it is well worth a visit. The majority of the images below were taken in the 1990’s on many visits and long walks taking photographs for the Exploring Cornish Mines series of Books. For additional information on the area follow this link. Caradon Hill
The first section of images look at The Phoenix and neighbouring Mines.
Caradon Mining District 1: The first image on this page is of Houseman’s 50″ Pumping Engine House of South Phoenix Mine. This was used as a dwelling hence the windows in the built up bob wall, today it’s a visitor centre for the area. The mine worked from 1847-1892 producing a total of 419 tons of Tin.
Caradon Mining District 2: Another image of South Phoenix Mine looking across the dressing floors.
Caradon Mining District 3: In the foreground are the remains of the Compressor House dating from a reworking during the early C20th.
Caradon Mining District 4: The surviving Engine House of New Phoenix Mine. Houseman’s Engine House can be seen through the gap in the wall.
Caradon Mining District 5: A second image of New Phoenix framed by the wall of a ruined building.
Caradon Mining District 6: The remains of Silver Valley Mine. A small concern dating from the early 20th Century, the Engine House of New Phoenix is in the background. Because the workings are very close together they are often named incorrectly.
Caradon Mining District 7: Machinery foundations at Silver Valley Mine, there was an attempted reworking of the site during the Second World War by a group of Canadian Royal Engineers. The attempt however was a failure when the mine unexpectedly flooded.
Caradon Mining District 8: The remains of the Engine House at Craddock Moor Mine. This worked from 1844 – 1873 producing 20,080 Tons of Copper.
Caradon Mining District 9: West Phoenix Mine, Polkinghorne’s Shaft, the rare sight of a mellyer stone of a Horse Whim.
Caradon Mining District 10: West Phoenix Mine, all that remains of the Engine Houses at Norris’s Shaft. Sadly the two Engine Houses were used for demolition practice during World War 2, almost totally destroying them.
Phoenix United Mine. This dates from 1907 when an Australian company took the lease on the mine. The engine was the last to be built in Cornwall by Holmans Brothers of Camborne. After building this complex and investing huge amounts the company ran out of money and the mine consequently closed in 1914.
The mine worked in total from 1848-1898 producing 16,352 ton Tin and 82,686 tons of Copper. While the final reworking 1907- 1914 produced only 95 Tons of Tin Concentrate, the shaft here is some 200 Fathoms deep.
Caradon Mining District 11: The fine 80″ Pumping Engine House on the Prince of Wales Shaft of Phoenix United Mine.
Caradon Mining District 12: The impressive dressed stone archway in the bob wall of the Prince of Wales Engine House.
Caradon Mining District 13: One of the arched doorways allowing access to the main boiler house.
Caradon Mining District 14: Another image of the Boiler House wall, the standard of the brickwork is amazing.
The next group of images look at the remain of Wheal Jenkin and Marke Valley Mines. From 1881 these worked as Marke Valley Consols Mines.
Caradon Mining District 15: Wheal Jenkin Mine, the Pumping Engine House at Bellingham’s Shaft. The chimney for this house stood on the ground to the front, this collapsed into old underground workings. A similar collapse has recently happened at the rear and is awaiting stabilisation. The mine worked from 1830-1890 producing 292 tons of Tin, the chimney in the background belongs to the Stamps Engine House.
Caradon Mining District 16: An image of the rear showing the remains of the boiler house.
Caradon Mining District 17: The shaft here reached a final depth of 100 Fathoms. The Engine House was built in around 1881 when the mine was reopened as part of Marke Valley Consols Mines. The house here contained a secondhand 70″ engine.
Caradon Mining District 18: Behind the house in the fenced off area to the right in the image was a large open gunnis.
Caradon Mining District 19: Wheal Jenkin Stamps Engine House, in a sorry state of repair. In the foreground is a buried section of rising main, behind the moor stretches into the distance.
Caradon Mining District 20: A front view of the Stamps Engine House. This drove 40 heads of stamps with extensive dressing floors. In the rear Bellingham’s Pumping Engine House can be also seen.
Caradon Mining District 21: The same from the other side, time has not treated it well. This for some reason is a favourite Engine House of mine.
Caradon Mining District 22: A closer image of the collapsing Stamps Engine House.
Caradon Mining District 23: Another image of the Stamps House. The slot for the flywheel can be seen in the bob wall. Also the front loadings for the stamps batteries.
Caradon Mining District 24: Marke Valley Mine Salisbury Shaft. This Engine House was for a 26″ Whim Engine.
Caradon Mining District 25: A second wider view of Salisbury Shaft, the second chimney on the left belongs to the Pumping Engine House. During the years 1837 – 1890 the mine produced 128,500 Tons of Copper and 393 Tons of Tin.
Caradon Mining District 26: A closer view of the Whim Engine House, sadly it was in a very bad state of repair when I took the photograph in 1997.
Caradon Mining District 27: Salisbury Shaft Pumping Engine House, this was built in 1855 for a 70″ engine made in St Blazey by William West. However, once again the house had suffered over the years.
Caradon Mining District 28: The Engine House has a fine arched doorway, the shaft was still open when I visited the site.
On the South Western side of Caradon Hill is South Caradon Mine. It is the jewel of the Caradon Mining District, a huge Copper deposit was discovered here in 1836 which started the mining boom in this area.
Caradon Mining District 29: South Caradon Mine Rule and Holman Shafts Engine Houses, Caradon Hill is in the background. The boom years were from 1833 until about 1870 the total output was over 200,000 of Copper ore. The Engine Houses contained a 40″ and the closer was for a 70″ Engine
Caradon District 30: The South Caradon Mine dressing floors in the Seaton Valley. The dumps belong to West Caradon Mine, the stack belongs to Elliot’s Shaft.
The Caradon Mining District is an extraordinary area, I have walked it in the winter months and the summer. It has it’s own mini environment, This is defiantly one of my best days out.
East Cornwall Mining District