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 on the ocean floor. 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.
A view of the site taken in 1905.
Photo P200269. Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey.
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 images on this page have been taken over several years from the mid 1990’s to the present day.
The site as it is today. A place of past great riches, hard work, respect and sadness.
The ruined Levant Mine 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.
The remains of one of the Levant Mine powder houses. The concreted area in the foreground dates back to when Geevor were sealing the breach in the mine.
A closer view of the Levant Mine buildings, visible between the Boiler and Engine House is the headframe for Skip Shaft erected by Geevor Mine during the re-working.
This Engine 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.
To see more about the site follow the link to the National Trust Website: Levant Mine
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.
The 45″ Pumping Engine House from the boiler house side.
An image taken further back, the remains of the wall on the left belong to the ruined Levant Mine Count House.
Looking across one of the Count House floor, a small fireplace is in the wall, and ornate ceramic tiles are laid in a block. Sadly souvenir hunters have removed some of them.
This was taken in the early 1990’s the buildings in the foreground were used by Geevor Mine, the one on the right held the winder. These have now been adapted for use by the National Trust.
Looking back towards the head gear over Skip Shaft, the cooling pond for the engine is in the foreground.
The twin drums of the Levant Mine winder pointing towards Skip Shaft. They do not align correctly as the headframe was erected by Geevor for an electric winder.
A closer look at the enclosed headframe over Skip Shaft.
Skip Shaft headgear from the path to the Zawn, this is now blocked off as it is quite dangerous down there. The retaining wall dates to when the mine was working.
A view down Levant Mine Skip Shaft, I was lucky to get down there recently,there are more images on this page: Levant Mine Skip Shaft
Looking upto the cluster of buildings at Levant Mine.
Walking back up the hill a slightly closer image.
The stack belonging to the ill fated Man Engine, the site of the accident in 1919.
A view of the whole site from the remains of the Man Engine.
Looking across the remains of the Levant Mine 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 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.
It is one of the most impressive chimney’s remaining in Cornwall.
Looking across the scant remains of the Stamps Engine House towards the Compressor House in the background. The 32″ engine here drove 76 heads of Cornish Stamps, in front 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 walls in the foreground are the remains of the smithy and mine workshops.
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.
This held a Holmans four-cylinder cross-triple-expansion compressor, which powered drills underground. The concrete foundations were for a Horizontal Winding Engine that was never installed, this was planned to serve a new vertical shaft to replace the crooked and narrow Skip Shaft.
An image of the Levant Mine Compressor House from the boiler side, in the foreground are the remains of settling ponds.
A side view of the Compressor House, the roofline can be clearly seen on the base of the chimney, the loadings for the Winding Engine that was never installed are on the right of the image.
The Calciner Stack at Levant Mine, there is very little left of the labyrinth leading from the Calciners which was demolished due to safety concerns.
The remains of the modern Tin recovery floors erected in 1922. The foundations for the stamps can be clearly seen.
The concrete pillars here make very interesting subjects to photograph.
The mill here was equipped with 24 Frue Vanners which replaced the Buddles around the Calciners.
The mill had several types of stamps installed, Frazer and Chalmers, Nissan and Californian.
One of four Calciners at the Levant Dressing Floors, these were erected in the 1870’s, in the foreground is a large Buddle.
The remains of a Copper precipitation tank in front of the Calciners.
A closer image of the Calciners, the flue would have been situated behind them.
A second pair of Buddles on the “old” Dressing Floors.
A wider view of the site, when working this would have been covered in timber buildings.
The extensive Slimes Settling Tanks on the Dressing Floors.
When the mine was working, the Slimes from the Mill and Dressing floors were fed into here to settle out. The water was then drained off, the remaining mud was moved to tanks were it would dry, then it was fed back into the milling process to recover any remaining Tin content.
Sluice gates below the Slimes Tanks for draining off the water.
A Buddle frames the image of the “old” Dressing Floors.
A closer image of the settling tanks.
A final image looking back at the Mill and Dressing Floors.
Looking back at the processing site from the cliff path.
Looking over the “New” Dressing Floors up to Geevor Mine, taken soon after the mine closed.
Walking up Levant Road the intrepid explorer will come to one of my favourite sites, Guide Shaft, Higher Bal of Levant Mine.
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.
The Higher Bal Engine House from the front, the dramatic sky really adds to the image.
The loadings have been recently “made safe” by the National Trust, in my opinion………badly.
Framed by the retaining wall, an image of the Engine House from up the lane, it is one of my favourite subjects to take photographs of.
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.
Levant Mine Skip Shaft