West Wheal Towan Mine often known as Wheal Tye, is situated along the cliffs from Porthtowan Beach. The square stack on the site is certainly a prominent landmark that can be seen for miles. The remains here date from activity during the 1920’s reworking.
The area is home to many small mines of the past including: Wheal Vincent, Wheal Fox, Wheal West, Wheal Clarence, Sterran, and Wheal Lushington to name but a few. The cliffs are riddles with adits and many shafts can be seen along that stretch of coastline.
Ben Sumpter local Mine Historian and Explorer has kindly given me some history of the site for this page.
The remains of the concrete stuff there is of the 1921 rework of West Wheal Towan. It was made in connection with Wheal Sally down in the little coomb near Kerriack cove.Wheal Sally sunk an incline shaft for no real reason in the 20s and it’s thought this was done to make some money disappear off the accounts of West Towan.
I can’t find the incorporation date of either but West Towan appeared to still be keeping books in 1946 (maybe just a wartime thing?).
The works on the headland are very old though. The coast between Portreath and Porthtowan was always known as Nancekuke cliff. No recorded named exist for any of the many interesting coves and coastal features where you would expect them to elsewhere. The commons were left as waste or moorland prior to the mid 19thC.
Mining is first hinted at in the 1580s when a nationwide for non-lead/silver metals were prospected for on request by the queen. Copper being found in the cliff of “Luggan” seems to suggest this area. Tin mines for all accounts came along later, but were very productive.
There are many accounts of the group of Tin bounds we know today throughout the mid 18th Century such as: “110 sacks of Tin ore sold from Wheal Sterran, Wheal West, Wheal Tye, Wheal Fox – all in Nancekuke downs, Feb 27 1760”
The name Sterran could be a bastardisation of “Starne” or “Star” meaning saddle but often applied to offshore little islands of rock. For example here; That there is the Pennals Star, which may be a corruption of Starne.
Wheal Tye means “Work of the Adit”. It indicates the adit at the back of the sea cave (Philip’s Cavern) was driven very early, even by the 1750s. Kerriack Cove or more “Carrack” means “Rocky Cove”.
Presumably none of the other coves have names because they weren’t suitable for fishing.
There are a few more details on the mine to be found here “Wheal Towan”.
Finally I would like to thank Ben Sumpter for the historical information on this page. The site has consequently been stabilised to preserve the remains.