Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1

Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1: The majority of the images on this page were taken during one of my visits to the site during summer of 1992. The mine had only been officially closed for a short time, I am very sad that I never had the chance to get underground there.

My thanks go to Mr Paul Chesterfield who has supplied some extra information on the images. He was an electrician employed at the mine when it was open.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.1
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.1: A general view of the site. To the left of No 2 headframe (rear) is the workshop building. The block was split into 3, with the electricians shop closest. Then the mechanical fitting workshop in the middle with the welding and fabrication shop the farthest from the shaft.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.2
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.2: It was a sad day when the headframes were removed. The upright tanks infront of the rear No.2 shaft form part of a water treatment plant. This was installed after the mine discharged contaminated water into the River Fal during 1992 when the adit plug failed.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.3
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.3: The conveyor belt, with the shaft headframes behind. In the bottom right of the image is the feed to the processing plant up on the hill, the radial stacker can also be seen. The rocks hoisted up Clemow’s shaft were dropped onto the first conveyor, then on to the radial stacker which was a second conveyor that ran on rails in an arc of approx 180 degrees to deposit the rocks for crushing over a larger area allowing the loader to work one end of the pile whilst the conveyor was still running.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.4
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.4: A view from outside the site, in the foreground is a disused shaft from the earlier workings. In the background it the Tailings Lagoon, this was where the waste material from the processing plant was stored.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.5
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.5: Another from the same position as the previous image, on the left is the crusher house. On the right is the mill and mine offices.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.6
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.6: A final image from this angle of the mill buildings and offices.
I have included an account by Stu Peters about his time at Wheal Jane Mine.
After many years adventuring and working abroad I had returned to Cornwall where I had been born. My mother had a cottage in the little village of Troon in the hills above Camborne.
While I was looking for further adventures, in order to help out with the groceries I took a job at the Pendarves Mine literally just down the road from Troon. This was a reopening of the old mine to work the Tryphena lode where reasonable concentrations of tin and copper ores had been mined in the late eighteen hundreds.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.7
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.7: A view of the crusher house and its associated buildings.
I started at the bottom of the employment ladder, an onsetter. My work was to manage the loading and unloading of the men and materials on their way to and from the underground workings via the cage. Suspended on a steel cable in the shaft, the cage, capable of holding perhaps 20 men, was controlled by a series of electrical ring signals using a switch which communicated instructions to the winder driver.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.8
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.8: A good image showing some of the Mine Buildings. This gives a good feeling of the desolation of the site.
He was situated some 50 meters away in the winder house where the cable wound on to a massive drum. The cage would be positioned according to the bell rings which designated the level to which the cage was to be lowered. One ring for ‘up’ and two rings for ‘down’ following the number of rings for which level to position the cage.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.9
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.9: Many thousands of core samples dumped behind the old geology offices.
Some months went by and then news spread of the re-opening of a mine in the Chacewater area, Wheal Jane. The operating company, Goldfields, had built a ‘mining’ village above Truro. Here the company, following the South African model, were prepared to house their employees at a nominal rent. Wow, almost unheard of in Cornwall this was an opportunity not to be missed.  I went!
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.10
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.10: Another image of the dumped core samples.
By this time I had moved on, or rather ‘down’, into the mine and had some experience in the underground activity of ‘tramming’. This was moving the mined ore from chutes into the side-tipper trams which were then tipped into a ‘raise’. Here gravity dropped the ore to the lower reaches of the shaft then to be poured into a hopper in the shaft to be raised to the surface where it was tipped out to be transported to the mill for treatment.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.11
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.11: Some of the buildings on the site. The structure with the shallow pitched roof was the drill shop where the pneumatic drills were overhauled and repaired. Beyond this is the High Voltage substation where the 3300 volt electricity was distributed.
I moved on and also gained experience in handling the Holman Silver ‘Rock drill’. This compressed-air powered beast was the miners weapon of choice to penetrate the obdurate granite from which Cornwall is built.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.12
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.12: This is taken from where there used to be a headframe looking back to the Winder House on the left of the image. The pipes on the floor are pumping water from underground to be treated to remove the acidic content.
Almost 300 million years ago, massive granite intrusions rose from the underlying magma and formed the Cornish peninsula. As it cooled, fissures formed and mineralized liquids forced their way up through these fissures. They in turn cooled and their minerals crystalized out forming the steeply inclined lodes running through the granite. Gold, zinc, copper, tin, arsenic and a sprinkling of other materials. All are present within these lodes. Initially discovered in the stream beds tin, silver and gold had been eroded out of the exposed lodes. Thus the treasures of Cornwall were discovered.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.13
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.13: Another view of the pipes from a different angle.
The resultant rush of mining activity brought prosperity to the South-West of England. The Poldark novels reveal much of the trials and tribulations of the Cornish mine owners. But this is not a geological lesson, this is my experience of Cornish mining.
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.14
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.14: The interior of Clemow’s winder house. The electric motor and the drums holding the wire rope can be seen.
The Wheal Jane ‘Main Lode’ inclines about 70 degrees to the south, the mine was developed with access tunnels some 25 meters through the hanging wall. Here the stopes could discharge the ore via scrapers into ore chutes. Working a scraper where twin brakes controlled the up and down movement was a hot and noisy experience. Dust billowed up despite the water-sprays which went to increasing the humidity leaving one with a fine layer of mud on every exposed surface.
Cornish Mine Images
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.15: A second closer image of the winder.
The thermal gradient in the granite is quite steep with lots of water. Also with the mildly radioactive gas, Radon to contend with. Now to the real work – high-speed development! A two man team on drive development had a fixed routine. At the start of the shift we would descend to our level and walk to the face where we had left it drilled and charged with explosive. This was done at the end of the previous shift after everybody had been withdrawn and surfaced. The charges set throughout the mine were electrically fired leaving the fumes to be cleared overnight.
Cornish Mine Images
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.16: An image of the conveyor belt leading from the crusher to the mill.
At the start of the shift, our work cycle started. If we had got it right the ‘lifters’, those explosives at the very bottom of the tunnel (and fired last) would have thrown the blasted rock back from the face. Then we could start to clear it using an ‘Eimco’ rocker shovel. This was a track-mounted compressed-air driven device which could throw a bucketful of shattered rock over itself into the tipper truck immediately behind.
Cornish Mine Images
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.17: An external view of the Primary Crusher House.
Clear the blasted rock, lay another couple of meters of track. Then extend the services compressed air, water and ventilation pipes. Drill a few roofbolts if it warranted it after barring down any hanging rocks and then mark out the newly exposed rock face. The next job, set up our rock-drills on their airlegs and start drilling after a very careful inspection to check for any unexploded holes.
Cornish Mine Images
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.18: A closer image of the crusher house, this was finally demolished in 2014.
The drilling took time and care because a poorly marked and drilled face would not break cleanly and give us trouble on the next shift. We would usually be following a 3-inch diameter diamond drill hole. This not only gave the explosives a place to start the cut but acted as a safety probe.
Many of the old mines were not properly mapped out. So to drill or blast into an old shaft (often filled with water) would be a fatal event. After drilling the face, some 40 holes in a careful pattern to obtain a clean face after blasting. We would load the holes with explosives, dynamite or later ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil) then set the detonators in a very carefully planned pattern. We used millisecond delays radiating outwards from the central cut to maximize the efficiency of the blast.
This working sequence would take just about the whole shift. Finally tired and dirty we would check the wiring one final time then make the final electrical connection to the central blasting ring as we left.
So this was the life of the development miner. Work hard, play hard. Happy times!
Cornish Mine Images
Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 1.19: A final image of the crusher house showing the buildings behind.

Wheal Jane Mine Gallery 2


error: Copyright Simon Jones 2022