Levant Mine, the mine under the sea. The mine worked from 1820-1930, producing 130,000 tons Copper, 24,000 tons Tin and 4,000 tons Arsenic returning £2.25 million pounds. Recorded mining on this site goes back to 1670 when shallow Copper deposits were mined. Levant Mine was opened in 1820 and was a major Copper producer until the 1850’s when Tin took over as the major production. There were submarine levels to the mine, the 278 fathom level was a mile long and went out under the sea. To aid the transport of ore underground Pit Ponies were used, this is the only mine in Cornwall where they were employed, when Geevor entered the workings in the 1970’s the stable area still had evidence of straw on the ground. There was one area called the “40 backs” where the miners had mined very close to the seabed, it was said in rough weather boulders could be heard moving above the miners. The level was reached by a vertical shaft from a cavern on the 210 fathom level, here a boiler and winding engine were erected, the heat and smoke must have made this a dreadful place to work.
The mine suffered an awful accident on 20th October 1919 when the 62 year old Man Engine (a device for transporting miners underground) failed. The accident occurred at the end of a shift when the miners were returning to the surface. The rod which controlled the movement broke, throwing those riding it down the 266 fathom deep shaft (1 Fathom = 6ft). A total of 31 lives were lost with 19 men being injured. The mine continued to work but never really recovered from this accident, even with new machinery and processing areas the site was finally closed in 1930.
In the 1970’s the mine was drained and re-worked by Geevor Mine, this was made possible after a breach on the seabed entering the workings had been sealed, a mile out to sea in the “40 Backs” mentioned above. Regrettably the Levant Miners had left very little for the modern miners and the attempt was unsuccessful.
The ruined engine house was the home to the mines 45″ pumping engine. The complete building is the winding house serving Skip Shaft, the house contains a preserved and working 27″ Whim engine. This engine was made in 1840 by Harvey’s of Hayle, when the mine closed in the 1930’s it was saved from the scrap men by a team of enthusiasts. It was restored to its former glory during the 1980’s by Trevithick Society, the engine is now run and maintained by the National Trust and is open to the public. Perched above the cliffs on the left of the image is the engine pond. The mines adit is directly below in the Levant Zawn.
A closer view of the Levant buildings, just visible over the Boiler House is the top of the headframe for Skip Shaft erected by Geevor Mine during the re-working, in the background is the stack for the Stamps Engine House.
An image of the front of the Pumping Engine House, the stack for the Levant Whim is behind and the headframe for Skip Shaft is on the right. This house was build in 1835 for a 40″ pumping engine, this was later enlarged to a 45″ when the mine got deeper. As with most mines near the sea there was very little water to pump.
A second view of the Pumping Engine House, in the foreground are the remains of the stack for the Boiler House.
The remains of one of Levant’s powder houses.
The twin drums of the Whim Engine pointing towards the headframe on Skip Shaft.
A final view of the Pumping Engine House, the shaft is behind the wooden fence.
Looking across the skant remains of the Stamps Engine House towards the Compressor House in the background. The 32″ engine here drove 76 heads of Cornish Stamps, infront of the house was a shallow shaft to adit level from which the the engine pumped water to the dressing floors . This worked until the early 1920’s when a new mill containing Californian Stamps was built and brought into service.
The 1901 Compressor House at Levant Mine, this produced the air for the drills being used underground. In 1920 it was modernised to produce both air and electricity for the mine complex. The walls in the foreground are the remains of the smithy and mine workshops.
Looking across the remains of the Miner’s Dry. This was a timber building built in 1889. For the time it was a well equipped with a heating boiler and baths, two of which can be seen in the foreground. The circular depression in the foreground is the top of the spiral staircase which led to a tunnel which reached the top of the man engine shaft. Since this photograph was taken this has been excavated and is open to the public. In the background are the chimneys of the Compressor House, the Stamps Engine and the Calciner.
The ruins of the Compressor House.
An interior image of the Compressor House with the stack of the Stamps Engine in the background. The Steam Compressor engine in this building was constructed by Holman Brothers of Camborne in 1901, it was possibly the largest engine they ever built. At over 60ft long the flywheel alone weighed 20 tons. The large hole in the floor in the image is where it was mounted, the boilers were housed on the other side of the wall. In 1920 the engine was replaced by more modern electric generators which supplied power to the mill, and compressors for the underground rockdrills.
An image of the Compressor House from the boiler side, in the foreground are the remains of settling ponds.
The Calciner Stack at Levant Mine, there is very little left of the labyrinth leading from the Calciners.
One of four Calciners at the Levant Dressing Floors, these were erected in the 1870’s.
Looking across settling pits at the bank of four Levant Calciners.
The Calciners framed in the foreground by one of the Buddles used for Tin recovery.
Detail of the Calciner wall showing the supurb brickwork.
Two better preserved Buddles on the Dressing Floors.
Higher Bal (Higher Levant) Mine, this is the area around Guide Shaft. This was originally one of the primary shafts of Spearn Consols Mine, purchased by Levant in 1880 development commenced in 1887. The impressive retaining wall in the image is holding back a considerable burrow around the shaft. A stairway leads to the top of the mound, since this image was taken a blocked doorway has been cleared which leads to the shaft.
The Engine House on Guide Shaft, this contained a 35″ dual action engine which both wound and pumped from the shaft, the extensive mountings for the machinery can be clearly seen. In the background on the skyline is the headframe over Victory Shaft at Geevor Mine.
A moody picture of the Engine House, lit by the evening sun against dark clouds, a few minutes after I took this the heavens opened, luckily I was well on the way back to the pub up the road.
A final image of Guide Shaft, taken across a recently cut field it makes the image very effective.
The cliffs here are very exposed to the elements and the old miners must be pitied, on a stormy day it can be miserable but on a good day the area can not be beaten for dramatic scenery and beauty.
Poldice Mine Arsenic Works Gallery