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HER Number:42686
Name:PENDEEN CONSOLS - Modern mine

Summary

Pendeen Mine, later Pendeen Consols and known as New Levant in 1871. It was worked as part of the Boscaswell Downs Tin and Copper Mines.

Grid Reference:SW 3811 3581
Parish:St Just, Penwith, Cornwall
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Protected Status: None recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Cornwall PROJECT ID: IN
  • National Mapping Programme (Morph No.): 286.2
  • Primary Record No. (1985-2009): 42686
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)
  • SMR No. (OS Quarter-sheet and SMR No.): SW33NE 1

Monument Type(s):

  • MINE (20th Century - 1901 AD to 2000 AD)

Full description

Pendeen Mine, later Pendeen Consols. Known as New Levant in 1871. Worked as part of Boscaswell Downs Tin and Copper Mines (1912); sett taken up by Geevor, but not worked. Copper, Tin, Lead. Lodes: Great Pendeen or Guide, Lead, Great Spar, Main, Portheras (also known as Great Spar), Terris or Iron, un-named shown by Symons in 1857 (b1) as running south-eastwards through the Enys. An engine house at SW 3790 3555 is shown on Symons map of 1857 (b1) and the mine is marked on the OS map of 1908 (b4). Noall in 1973 gives a history of the mine and locates dressing floors and calciners at SW 3813 3523 (b8).
Pendeen was another of the St.Just mines whose workings extended out under the sea-bed. Unlike Geevor (42730), Levant (42729), Botallack (42723) or the St.Just United mines (42702), however, Pendeen seems to have come to a premature and untimely end before its full potential could be realised. The main working period of the mine began in 1853, when a cost-book company was promoted to work the sett. Within six months of work being started, three lodes were found, and by 1855 a 24" pumping engine had been purchased. As the seaward portions of the lodes soon proved to be far richer than their extensions inland, they were pursued northwards and westwards, where rich copper ore began to be found in the deeper levels of the mine.
Unfortunately, although the lodes showed promise, the ground was geologically complex, whilst disputes between the mineral owner, the Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall about dues on the ores raised did nothing to help the mine. Production and development continued through the 1860's, but the results were not encouraging, despite early promises. By 1870, this state of affairs had not improved, and despite some indications of better ground, and of lodes yet unworked, the mine was suspended. The sale notice of 1870 listed a 40" pumping engine as well as the original 24", a 19" whim/crusher engine, a 32" stamps engine and the remainder of the equipment. The mine as an independent concern was never re-worked, though the ground was re-tried as part of the Boscaswell Downs (42745) sett in 1907 - details are given Dines (b6). The sett was later taken up by Geevor but not worked.
Site surveyed by Sharpe in 1992 (b9). There is not much to see where the heart of Pendeen mine once stood. The engine houses have been levelled, or survive only as fragments of field walling, the count house is a private dwelling, much altered in appearance, where buildings and cobbled yards stood there is a bare and featureless car park. Most of the shafts have been infilled, and the dumps have been robbed for hardcore. Only in the valley to the south, where the dressing floors once stood can much be seen (though some of these buildings probably relate to other mines, or to Boscaswell Downs(42745) and Boscaswell Cliff mines to the south).
Engine shaft was probably at SW 3813 3585. Its position is almost certainly that indicated by a rectangular area cordoned off with rusting drill steels and the remains of a wire fence (though evidence from the OS in 1877 suggest that the shaft might have been at SW 3811 3581 to the south, in a sub-rectangular grassy area). Brown (b10) places the original 24" pumping engine on the eastern side of the shaft, the later 45" pumping engine to the south (nearer the alternative site). There is little to see at the first site, whilst at the second, masonry incorporated into field walls might be the last remains of the engine house. The winding/crushing engine house seems to have been to the west. Brown (b10) places this engine house at SW 3809 3580 (now a grassy field); the OS showed nothing at this site in 1877, but there was a roofless rectangular structure at SW 3809 3583, where traces of foundations can be seen in the car park surface. Although Noall (b8) implies that both pumping engines were for sale in 1870, it would seem unlikely that the mine would have continued to operate both machines, and it more probable that only the larger was still in use by that date. The surface of the car park shows some traces of cobbling, presumably the remains of a surfaced yard. At SW 3815 3579 are the remains of a circular stone explosives magazine, whilst a near-complete building at SW 3810 3581 might have been the mine smithy. The (converted and extended) count house is at SW 3800 3582.
Much of the waste material was probably dumped over the nearby cliff. Small dumps on the cliff edge on either side of the zawn at SW 3814 3590 are probably the last remnants of this activity. There must have been an adit in the back of the zawn, but subsidence of the waste tips and fly tipping seem to have obscured any traces of such a feature.
Greenwood's Shaft lay to the south (SW 3815 3547), but no sign of any mining features survives in this large pasture field now. To the north of the Lighthouse lies Old Whim Shaft on Lead Lode (SW 3790 3595) accompanied by a small dump of material (suggesting that the shaft was cut to no great depth) and a well-preserved horse whim platform. A line of shallow pits lead away to the north-east (centred SW 3792 3598), whilst on the cliff-face below can be seen two trial adits (SW 3794 3602), approached by a narrow footpath. The line of Lead Lode is preserved as a narrow zawn running in from the north-west (SW 3788 3599), at the back of which is a probable adit.
No adit could be seen on Great Spar Lode to the south, though there are some signs of one heading north-east from SW 3782 3595. There may also be an adit running in a similar direction at the head of a fault line running between the Enys (SW 3769 3556) and the mainland, cutting into Pendeen Head to the north-east at SW 3785 3578. Traces of shallow pits were found on the back of this probable lode at SW 3767 3544 to the south-west, whilst at SW 3765 3539 to the north of Mill Zawn, a lode outcrop has clearly been worked in a large earthy "cave", at the rear of which is a short drive.
No adit could be seen on Portheras Lode, which intersects the coast at SW 3791 3565. The lode is well defined here as a band of quartz and a prominent cliff face aligned north-west - south-east. There may have been an adit at beach level. Terris Lode is aligned north-west - south-east like its companions. An adit and zawn workings are visible at SW 3787 3556, whilst on the clifftop above (SW 3791 3555) is a collared open shaft (surrounded by a wire fence) and a well-preserved horse whim platform. There are no traces of workings extending inland on any of the lodes to the west of Pendeen Watch, nor any on the lode running through the Enys shown by Symons, though there is a slight zawn at SW 3775 3553 that may have been enhanced by mining.
The 1876 Ordnance Survey show a leat taken from the reservoir to the south of the road passing downslope to a small elongated rectangular structure (of which slight traces survive at SW 3815 3536) which might have been a set of water-powered tin stamps. Immediately downslope were the Pendeen Consols dressing floors, powered by a steam stamping engine (SW 3811 3539). Although the stone core of the engine house and its loadings just survive, there is little evidence (except for a few overgrown terraces) of the buildings, buddle floors and settling strips that once lay downslope, and which are shown in detail by the Ordnance Survey (OS, 1876).
At the foot of these floors, the water was passed back to the stream, to be collected once again in a large pond at SW 3794 3539. This has been partially reinstated by the reconstruction of its earth dam (reinforced with black plastic sheeting), but there are a series of ruinous structures on the south side of the pond site (at SW 3796 3538) which appear to post-date 1876 (OS 1st edition 1:2500 sheet 67/6), and which may relate to the documented re-use of dressing floors in the valley by Boscaswell United mines after the closure of Pendeen Consols. Below the large pond, water was passed to a pair of large rectangular tanks (SW 3791 3539), now rather infilled with silts and vegetation, before passing to another rectangular structure (SW 3788 3538) of which a massive section of walling alone survives, and, via another sub-rectangular stone structure (SW 3787 3537), possibly once a wheelpit, back to the stream.
The next dressing floor lay only a few metres downslope. At SW 3785 3535 is the surviving stonework of a small stamping mill - the wheelpit now entirely filled with overgrown silts on the south side of the small structure. The valley becomes narrow by this point, and it may be that the small triangular pond at SW 3778 3533 is associated with the remainder of the small dressing floors at SW 3777 3535 on the northern side of the valley (though it could equally have been a header pond for one of the leats which runs away to the south along this hillside to feed coastal sites and, eventually, Geevor Mine). The dressing floor to the north consists of four small conjoined structures immediately on the streamward side of the footpath that runs through the valley. They have become infilled with vegetation and material eroded from the path, but probably housed buddles and other dressing equipment. The final dressing floors in the valley begin at SW 3770 3537, where the water from the stream was led into a small sub-rectangular pond via a short leat.
Below this header pond were a cluster of four very small rectangular buildings whose functions are not immediately apparent (SW 3768 3537), nearby a small rectangular settling tank (SW 3766 3537), and just above the workings on the north side of the zawn, a pair of small centreless buddles or circular thickening pits (SW 3765 3539). On the opposite bank of the stream are three very small circular features (SW 3768 3537) which may have been buddles, whilst to their south-west (SW 3767 3536) is a small tank which may also have been part of the same site. These features lie in very marshy ground. The very small scale and vernacular build of this set of floors in particular suggests a relatively early date - possibly an undocumented working of Wheal Caroline (Caroline Lode runs through the zawn. The location of this mine is uncertain - it may have lain to the south-east near Calartha). This may be the tin "mill" which gave its name to Mill Zawn, though any of the other candidates upstream might also have served (the structure at SW 3785 3535 might have been a small corn mill).
Although not strictly within the purview of this report, mention should also be made of the Pendeen Fishing Station at SW 385 385. This is a relatively rare survivor of what was once far more commonplace around the coast of the county during the C19 - the "palace" or pilchard cellar associated with slipways, capstans, sheds and other buildings, many of which were contained within a stone-walled yard, the headquarters of a "seine" of boats. The fishing station, though partly derelict, is still in active use, and the slipways and some of the buildings are maintained, although the capstan has gone, along with some of the associated buildings, whose platforms and ruins can be seen on the slopes to the south and east of the main structure. This is a little interpreted industry, and rather more could be made of this site, which might benefit from some statutory protection and conservation of the remaining original.


<1> Symons, R, 1857, Map of the St Just Mining District (Bibliographic reference). SCO4522.

RAF, 1951, 540/518/4199 (Photographic Record). SCO13297.

<2> Spargo, T, 1865, The Mines of Cornwall, PT 1, 16 (Bibliographic reference). SCO4470.

NMR, 1961, HAW/SW 3735/1 (Photographic Record). SCO13742.

<3> Reid, C & Flett, JS, 1907, The Geology of the Land's End District, 115 (Bibliographic reference). SCO4244.

PMB, 1973, FSL 7330/1/146&7 (Photographic Record). SCO15677.

<4> Ordnance Survey, 1900s, 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (Cartographic materials). SCO4050.

CAU, 1986, F6/68 (Photographic Record). SCO16974.

<5> Collins, JH, 1912, Observations on the West of England Mining Region, 546 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3168.

<6> Dines, HG, 1956, The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England, 91 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3217.

<7> Ordnance Survey, 1970s, 1:10,000 OS Map (Cartographic materials). SCO4045.

<8> Noall, C, 1973, The St Just Mining District, Monograph on Mining History No 5, 152-158 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3998.

<9> Sharpe, A, 1992, St Just, an Archaeological Survey of the Mining District Vol 2, 199-205 (Bibliographic reference). SCO4373.

<10> Brown, K, 1990, A Survey of Engine Houses in Cornwall (Unpublished document). SCO2923.

Sources / Further Reading

[p1]SCO13297 - Photographic Record: RAF. 1951. 540/518/4199. ABP.
[1]SCO4522 - Bibliographic reference: Symons, R. 1857. Map of the St Just Mining District.
[p2]SCO13742 - Photographic Record: NMR. 1961. HAW/SW 3735/1. ABP.
[2]SCO4470 - Bibliographic reference: Spargo, T. 1865. The Mines of Cornwall. PT 1, 16.
[p3]SCO15677 - Photographic Record: PMB. 1973. FSL 7330/1/146&7. ABP.
[3]SCO4244 - Bibliographic reference: Reid, C & Flett, JS. 1907. The Geology of the Land's End District. 115.
[p4]SCO16974 - Photographic Record: CAU. 1986. F6/68. ABP.
[4]SCO4050 - Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1900s. 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map.
[5]SCO3168 - Bibliographic reference: Collins, JH. 1912. Observations on the West of England Mining Region. 546.
[6]SCO3217 - Bibliographic reference: Dines, HG. 1956. The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England. 91.
[7]SCO4045 - Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1970s. 1:10,000 OS Map.
[8]SCO3998 - Bibliographic reference: Noall, C. 1973. The St Just Mining District, Monograph on Mining History No 5. 152-158.
[9]SCO4373 - Bibliographic reference: Sharpe, A. 1992. St Just, an Archaeological Survey of the Mining District Vol 2. 199-205.
[10]SCO2923 - Unpublished document: Brown, K. 1990. A Survey of Engine Houses in Cornwall. MS At CAU.

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Related records

42745Related to: BOSCASWELL DOWNS - Post Medieval mine (Monument)