South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5: This page looks at the preserved 80″ Pumping Engine housed at Robinson’s Shaft. It was purchased by South Crofty during 1903 for £375. A new house was constructed by J and W Gay at a cost of £1,222.
By November 1906 the engine had been erected in its new home.
The engine house has three storeys.On the top floor is the Beam, the first floor contains the top of the cylinder and the associated valve gear, the ground floor has the cylinder and driver’s controls. Built during 1854 by The Copperhouse Foundry in Hayle, it was designed by Samuel Grouse.
During its life it worked at several mines the final being Tregurtha Downs Mine in Marazion. The original purchase price was £3,400 so South Crofty picked up a bargain.
The engine worked for over 100 years and was the last Cornish Pump employed draining a mine in Cornwall. It finally worked its last stroke on 1st May 1955 when electric pumps replaced it. This wonderful piece of engineering was then greased up and mothballed.
I was lucky enough to have a tour of the interior of the house in 1996, in 2003 there was an incident of vandalism and many parts of the interior were damaged. Today the engine house forms the centre piece of the Heartlands Project.
When decommissioned, the engine was drawing water up the shaft from a depth of 337 fathoms below the adit level. It would work at around 5 strokes per minute, during that time it would draw up around 310 gallons.
The engine worked here for over 50 years, that’s an awful lot of water.
As always at South Crofty this was a flying visit and time was short. I would have loved to have been able to set up careful multiple flash shots and show the engine in all its glory.
I think the results are pretty good. I hope I have done this amazing piece of machinery the justice it deserves.