Dolcoath Mine

Known as “The Queen of Cornish Mines” Dolcoath was one of the richest and deepest mines in Cornwall. The mine was working as early as the 1730’s as a Copper producer, the mine deepened and started to discover huge tin deposits which were mined on a massive scale, the mine closed in 1920 having produced 350,000 tons Copper and 80,000 tons of Tin.
In 1895 a new shaft on the sett called Williams Shaft was started and completed in 1912, the shaft is 17ft in diameter and is 3300ft deep, thus making it the deepest in Cornwall. When the mine closed there was almost 70 miles of underground passage.
An attempted re-opening on the northern section of the mine occurred in 1923, a new shaft was sunk at Roskear to 2000ft. The attempt failed, but had the shaft been furthur deepened they would have intersected the South Crofty Roskear lodes. If this had happened and Crofty had not brought the land things might have been very different, the ironys of Cornish Mining.
The surviving mine buildings have recently been stabilised (late 1990’s), most of my images were taken in the mid 90’s before the work was carried out.

Dolcoath Mine 1

Harriett’s Engine House on Dolcoath Mine, built in 1860. It contained a 60″ Pumping Engine built by the Perran Foundry, this was re-cylindered in 1865 to 65″. This image is taken from the Boiler House side.

Dolcoath Mine 2

A second image of Harriett’s Shaft Pumping Engine House.

Dolcoath Mine 3

The open Harriett’s Shaft, this was capped soon after the image was taken (1996). This shaft when Dolcoath Mine closed was 470 Fathoms deep below the adit level.

Dolcoath Mine 4

Looking across the bridge over the railway into the Dolcoath Mine site, the building in the background is the Compressor House, the concrete foundations to the right of the image are where the compressors were mounted.

Dolcoath Mine 5

The Dolcoath Mine Compressor House, from here the compressed air was fed to the underground rockdrills, the building dates from 1883.

Dolcoath Mine 6

The front of the Compressor House showing the ornate brickwork around the windows and door.

Dolcoath Mine 7

The Dolcoath Engine House at New East Shaft. This house contained a rotative beam engine that hoisted from New East Shaft, there was a secondary beam that pumped water from adit level to supply the processing floors. The house was disused in 1894 when it was replaced by a steam winder. In 1913 it was converted to an electricity substation which was housed in the building in the foreground.

Dolcoath Mine 8

A second image of New East Shaft Engine House, the building for the substation is on the right of the image.

Dolcoath Mine 9

The Dolcoath Mine Dry, this is where the miners changed into their underground clothes.

Cornish Mine Images, Dolcoath Mine

The headframe over Dolcoath Mine, Williams Shaft.
Photograph reproduced here from

Dolcoath Mine 10

The Winding Engine House on Williams Shaft as it is today. In the foreground are the legs of a gantry which enabled water to be pumped from here to the research establishment at Nancekuke during the 1950’s. The shaft here was sunk between 1895 and 1912, its vertical to 3000ft where it meets the Dolcoath Main Lode. At the bottom of the shaft is a chamber which contained a battery of electric pumps. The winding arrangement here was unique, the winder could not be placed far enough from the shaft as it would cross a nearby road. Therefore a winding engine made by Holman Brothers was installed that was mounted on rails and could literally move along the walls of the house. This enabled the winder driver to keep a straight approach to the headgear over the shaft, the maximum the engine moved was 16ft.

Dolcoath Mine 11

A second image of the front of the William’s Shaft Winder House, the camera is in the middle of the shaft area.

Dolcoath Mine 12

The gable end of the William’s Shaft Winder House.

Dolcoath Mine 13

A wider view showing the gantry over the shaft.

Dolcoath Mine 14

The internal wall of the Williams Shaft Winder House at Dolcoath Mine, the rows of holes in the brickwork are where the floating floor was supported that allowed the engine to move.

Dolcoath Archive 1

An image showing the interior of the Winding House, the drum to carry the wire was over 20ft long, the wheels that allowed the engine to move can be seen in the bottom right hand corner.
Image reproduced here with permission of Roy Morton.

Dolcoath Mine 15

An image of the inside wall, clearly showing the mounting holes for the moving winder.

Dolcoath Mine 16

Through the window is the gantry over the shaft.

Dolcoath Archive 2

An image of Rag Frames being constructed, these were down stream from the Dolcoath Dressing Floors and were designed to catch the very fine particles of Tin, the size of the mine site is difficult to imagine today as there is so little left.
Image reproduced here with permission of Roy Morton.

Dolcoath Mine 17

The 60″ Pumping Engine House at Stray Park Mine, this became part of Dolcoath in 1870.

Dolcoath Mine Winder