Tolgus Tin Works is situated in the Portreath Valley on the B3300. The plant dates from during the 1860’s, it worked until the late 1980’s when the low price of Tin forced its closure.
I spent a day at the Tolgus Tin works in May 2012, the plant is a photographers paradise with textures and patterns everywhere. Also I have tried to be different, looking for photographs where others might walk past. I had time to study the machinery and choose my angles carefully.
The purpose of the plant was to recover Tin from ore supplied by small local mines and to rework locally sourced dump material. Also the slimes which was the processed waste from other mines, usually dumped into the stream which flows past the works. The stream also supplied power for the huge range of machinery based on the site.
The first few images on the page are of the roofs of the buildings. These were very diverse having been patched up many times in the past. The angles and textures were very pleasing to the eye.
The following images were taken in the outside section of the mill.
The rest of the photographs are taken inside the mill itself. Sadly the sun that had been out decided to disappear behind clouds. The covered mill is very interesting with machinery that is over 100 years old and some more modern plant that is still used in the industry today.
In one of the side rooms there were two small Ball Mills. These are rotating cylinders filled with metal balls. When the ore slurry is added the action of the balls in the cylinder break up the material to release the fine particles of Tin.
Shaking Tables are a modern way of separating the fine Tin particles from the processed material. The table is shaken continuously by an electric drive unit which has an arm and a spring attached to the table top.
A constant stream of water containing the particles is fed across the table top. On the deck surface are “riffles” which holds the heavier metallic material in lines. The lighter waste is carried away by the water. The mill also has both James and Holmans tables.
Holmans Tables are still made in Cornwall today.
The plant contains the only surviving original set of Cornish Stamps in Europe. Powered by water this machine crushes the ore bearing rocks into a fine powder which would release the Tin held within. The Cornish Round Frames and Shaking Tables would then remove the valuable metal from the crushed material.
The next few images on the page are of a Cornish Round Frame. These were widely used in the Tin process for recovering the finest particles of Tin from the processed “Slimes”. The mixture holding the remaining particles of Tin is fed onto the revolving timber deck of the frame.
The weight of the Tin material causes it to remain on the table whilst the waste drains off below. Then after a while the table is cleaned with water and the concentrate is removed. This was the final part of the process, the slimes could be treated several times to remove as much of the valuable metal as possible.
My thanks go to Graham Williams for the chance he gave me to see this amazing place. It’s open to the public and well worth a visit.