Dolcoath Mine was commonly known as “The Queen of Cornish Mines”. It was one of the richest and deepest in Cornwall. Probably working as early as the 1730’s as a Copper producer. As the workings became deeper huge tin deposits were discovered which were mined on a massive scale. The mine closed in 1920 having produced 350,000 tons Copper and 80,000 tons of Tin.
Today 2017, it is sad that such a great mine has so little left on the surface to see. With the addition of a new road through the Wheal Harriet site, along with new houses being built below William’s shaft, there is even less now.
The paperwork is from Josiah Thomas who was the Mine Captain from 1867 to 1895. He first introduced compressed air drilling machines to the mine in 1876, also Californian Stamps in 1892. Subsequently appointed managing director of the mine in 1895, he died in October 1901. For more images of this document follow this Link: Mining Documents
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, consequently making it the deepest in Cornwall. When the mine closed there was almost 70 miles of underground passage, which now lie flooded and silent.
A Dolcoath Mine certificate dating from 1911.
An attempted re-opening on the northern section of the mine occurred in 1923, a new shaft was sunk at Roskear to 2000ft. Sadly the attempt failed, but had the shaft been further deepened they would have intersected the South Crofty Roskear lodes. If this had happened things might have been very different, the irony of Cornish Mining.
The surviving Dolcoath 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: This is Harriett’s Engine House, 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, taken in the mid 1990’s.
Dolcoath Mine 3: A side on view of Harriet’s Shaft Engine House.
Dolcoath Mine 4: The open Harriett’s Shaft, this was subsequently capped soon after the image was taken (1996). This shaft when the mine closed had reached 470 Fathoms deep below the adit level.
Dolcoath Mine 5: The remains of the Mine Dry. This is where the miners changed into their underground clothes, it is said there was a tunnel from here to the shaft. Today the buildings are used as a Youth Centre.
Dolcoath Mine 6: The Dry from a slightly different angle, this was built in 1888 when working it was heated by steam from Harriet’s Engine Boiler House.
Dolcoath Mine 7: At Harriet’s Shaft the original winder has been returned to its loadings. For more images follow this Link: Dolcoath Mine Winder
Dolcoath Mine 8: The surviving Engine House at New East Shaft.
Dolcoath Mine 9: This house contained a rotative beam engine that hoisted from New East Shaft, also there was a secondary beam that pumped water from adit level to supply the processing floors. The house was disused in 1894 because it was replaced by a steam winder.
Dolcoath Mine 10: In 1913 it was converted to an electricity substation which was housed in the building on the right of the image.
Dolcoath Mine 11: A close up of the wall, showing the fine brickwork and traces of plaster.
Dolcoath Mine 12: This image was taken from inside the building, the Engine House windows have been bricked over at some time.
Dolcoath Mine 13: Taken in 1999/2000 this is the well preserved Compressor House along with it’s chimney, the building dates from 1883. Sadly, time has not been kind and it is in urgent need of repair.
Dolcoath Mine 14: Another image of the Mine Compressor House. This is the front of the building showing the ornate brickwork around the windows and door.
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.
The unique winding engine at Williams Shaft. At the Poldark Mine Museum there is a working model of this amazing piece of machinery.
Image used here by permission: Mac Waters as featured on www.cornishmemory.com
The bottom of Williams shaft taken in 1912, difficult to believe this was 3000ft underground because the area is so tidy and clean.
This image taken in 1912 reproduced here from: www.gracesguide.co.uk
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 because it would cross a nearby road.
Consequently a winding engine made by Holman Brothers was installed, this 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. As a result the maximum the engine moved was 16ft.
Dolcoath Mine 15: The Winding Engine House on Williams Shaft as it was in mid 1990’s. (Before stabilisation) 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.
Dolcoath Mine 16: A general view of the site, it was cleared and renovated in the early 2000’s.
Dolcoath Mine 17: The gable end of the William’s Shaft Winder House.
Dolcoath Mine 18: The finely finished internal wall of the Winding House.
Dolcoath Mine 19: Another image of the interior, at the time the photo was taken the building was in danger of collapsing. Thankfully it has received some remedial attention.
Dolcoath Mine 20: The holes in the wall were to support the moving floor on which the winder was mounted.
Dolcoath Mine 21: Taken from the foundations of the compressor house at Williams Shaftt. In the distance the headframe over New Cooks Kitchen Shaft at South Crofty Mine.
Dolcoath Mine 22: The 60″ Pumping Engine House at Stray Park Mine, this became part of the Queen of Mines in 1870.
Dolcoath Mine 23: Stray Park was never a profitable Mine, it was one of those that always showed more promises than results. Subsequently sold to the company for just under £2,000. The site has also been cleared and stabilised.
The next few general images were taken around the site. Almost all were taken in the early 1990’s the area is now heavily overgrown. A sad ending to such a great mine.
Dolcoath Mine 24: A view towards the Engine House at New East Shaft. In the background is the headframe of South Crofty Mine. In the foreground is the stump of a chimney along with a base of an engine house.
Dolcoath Mine 25: A view from the edge of the mine sett. This is looking towards the Engine Houses of Cook’s Kitchen Mine and the headframe of South Crofty on the left.
Dolcoath Mine 26: Looking across the stump of a second Engine House on the site, in the background is the Compressor House.
Dolcoath Mine 27: Finally, looking across the bridge over the railway into the 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.
Harriet’s Shaft Winder